The holiday shopping season is almost here, and the speed with which new gadgets are being announced, it looks like this is going to be a difficult year to make choices. Recently, we’ve seen product launches from the likes of Nokia, Motorola and Amazon, and, of course, Apple. And don’t forget that Microsoft’s Windows 8 is just weeks away.
While Nokia and Motorola both had sleek new phones to show us, Amazon blew me away with updates to its highly successful Kindle Fire and e-readers. Will they be what your family wants as a gift this year? More than likely at lease one person you know will be putting these items on their wish list.
While the original Kindle Fire really was responsible for setting off the craze for 7-inch tablets, it had a distinct feeling of not being a finished, polished product. To that end, the device has gotten some technical bumps this year – namely a doubling of its memory – and a price drop from $199 to $159. If you’re looking for a tablet that doesn’t cost a lot, this may be the way to go.
Taking the Fire’s place at $199 is the new Kindle Fire HD. This new device has a crisper display capable of playing video up to 720p, doubles the memory from 8GB to 16GB, and adds new features like an HD front-facing video camera so you can make video calls with friends and family. This one feels a lot more like what the original Fire should have been.
If you just aren’t sure if a 7-inch screen is enough for you, then you might want to check out the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. As the name implies, this device features an 8.9-inch screen and comes with 16GB of storage for $299, or 32GB for $369.
The lower priced Kindle Fire 8.9 models are Wi-Fi only, but if you want to use them while out of the house, you might want to go for AT&T 4G LTE wireless. Offered in 32GB ($499) and 64GB ($599) capacities, these devices will get you 250MB of data per month for an annual payment of $50. Included in that price is 20GB of Cloud Drive storage and a $10 Amazon Appstore credit, definitely giving you more value for your money.
Finally, in the Kindle e-reader family, the basic Kindle received a price cut down to $69, making it one of the most affordable options on the market. If you’re looking for something with a bit more pizzazz, than the new Kindle Paperwhite is a solid option.
With a new illuminated screen, the Paperwhite will let you read both in the dark and bright sunlight, and has 62 percent more pixels than previous versions for the crispest resolution of any Kindle yet. You can pick one of these up for as low as $119 (if you’re willing to put up with minimal advertising), or $139 for an ad-free experience. If you want to add 3G cellular capabilities, expect to pay $179 with ads and $199 without.
Amazon has moved well beyond just being a retailer into being a bona fide hardware manufacturer. Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of the company, recently admitted that these products are sold at such low prices because the company is counting on customers adding lots of content later. Of course, there’s no reason you have to buy extra content.