Amazon has clearly set its sights on the market leading iPad with the introduction of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 fully loaded at $499, a price set to compete against Apple’s entry level model. The previous generation Kindle Fire was priced at half the price of the iPad but this new revision is set to compete against the iPad in both specs and price.
Fully loaded vs entry level
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G offers a fully loaded 32 GB 4G LTE model at $499 to compete against iPad’s 16 GB wi-fi only version at the same price. To get a comparable iPad, you will have to pay $729 for the iPad 3 with 32 GB with 4G LTE.
Screen and resolution
Coming in at 8.9”, just shy of the iPad’s 9.7”, the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9 offers a 1920×1200 HD display with polarizing filter and anti-glare technology for rich color and deep contrast from any viewing angle. The 8.9” model features 254 ppi, effectively indistinguishable from iPad’s 264 ppi screen. The smaller Kindle Fire HD features a 7” display at 1280-by-800 resolution.
Weight and thickness
The Kindle HD 8.9 is lighter than the iPad at 1.25 pounds compared to iPad’s 1.44/1.46 pounds. It is also thinner at 8.8 mm compared to the iPad’s 9.4 mm. But the small 7” model of the Kindle HD is thicker at 10.3mm.
Wi-Fi and 4G
The Kindle Fire models feature a dual-band, dual antenna configuration and Amazon claims it is 40% faster than the iPad 3. On the 4G side, Amazon is offering a 250 mb/ month data plan for $50/ year compared to a comparable AT&T plan of $180/ year for the iPad. Obviously, this is not enough for streaming anything. No word from Amazon on what options are available for more data.
Amazon claims 11 hours of battery life compared to iPad’s 10 hours. But there is no way to accurately compare battery life among models and manufacturers have been known to vastly exaggerate battery life. What is known is that Apple is very good at optimizing battery life and usually leaves the competition in the dust in this regard.
The iPad features a 5 mp rear camera and 0.3 mp front camera. The Kindle HD falls short in this regard opting for a single front camera which Amazon simply labels as HD. No word yet on how many megapixels.
The Kindle HD offers Dolby stereo speakers compared to the iPad’s single mono speaker.
If you like to read and watch movies, this is where the Kindle Fire HD really shines. Amazon Prime ($79/ year) customers get a vast selection of books and movies. With Prime, Kindle owners can borrow any title from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library for free, as frequently as a book a month, with no waiting and no due dates. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library features over 180,000 titles. Prime members also enjoy unlimited, commercial-free streaming of over 25,000 popular movies and TV episodes.
If you like apps, no one can touch Apple’s vast selection of nearly 1/4 million apps.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 may look like a clear winner on paper but reality is often far different from numbers on paper. In the end, it comes down to user experience and perceived value.
8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD
- 16 GB – $299
- 32 GB – $369
- 32 GB with 4G LTE – $499
- 64 GB with 4G LTE – $599
- 16 GB – $499
- 32 GB – $599
- 64 GB – $699
- 16 GB with 4G LTE – $629
- 32 GB with 4G LTE – $729
- 64 GB with 4G LTE – $829