September 25, 2013 - 15:49 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Amazon is refreshing its line-up of tablet computers with new devices called Kindle Fire HDX, which are significantly faster and lighter than the previous generation the Associated Press reports.
The 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions also have sharper, more colorful displays than older models, and both have more pixels per inch than the latest iPad.
To help those who are unfamiliar with tablets, the new Kindles come with a feature called "Mayday", which allows users to summon a live customer service representative in a tiny video window. The helpers can explain new features or troubleshoot problems while guiding users with on-screen hand scribbles. They can even take control of the device from afar.
CEO Jeff Bezos introduced the feature to reporters Tuesday, Sept 24, saying it is "completely unique" and takes advantage of Amazon's massive cloud computing and customer service infrastructure. It also builds on Amazon.com Inc.'s reputation for excellent customer service.
"You shouldn't have to be afraid of your device," Bezos said.
The Kindle HDX models come with Qualcomm's quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, which is top of the line for tablets. Amazon said they are three times faster than the older Kindle Fire line. For graphics functions, the HDX models are four times faster than before.
One analyst said the facility should help Amazon to stand out from other tablets, including Google's Nexus and Apple's iPad.
"The new Mayday feature is a clever way to reach out to new tablet users," BBC quoted Thomas Husson, principal analyst at tech advisers Forrester, as saying. "Coupled with an affordable price for the lower-end Kindle Fire HD and new entertainment content and features, Amazon is clearly willing to appeal to the masses."
While the new features should help Amazon attract new customers, one expert warned that some might have security concerns about the firm building in software that allowed a third party to take over the tablet.
"With any device that has any kind of remote access on it, there is always going to be that risk that it could be either hacked or abused," said Chris Green, from the Davies Murphy Group consultancy. "But it's such a small danger that the benefits outweigh the risks, and the average consumer or business user shouldn't be put off from storing useful information because they fear it could be compromised."
Amazon also unveiled new "origami covers" that lie flat when closed over the screen but can be folded and snapped into place as a stand that works both in horizontal and vertical position. They'll come in seven different colors and be sold separately for between $45 and $70.
While the new Kindles are upgraded in several ways, Amazon also cut the price on what will be its entry-level 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire HD with 8 gigabytes of memory, to $139 from a $199 version that had 16 GB of memory. That makes the tablet just $20 more than Amazon's latest dedicated e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kindle Fire HD is sheathed in a new magnesium alloy body like the HDX models, but has the same screen resolution and processing power of the older model.
In the May-July period, Kindles accounted for 17 percent of all tablets sold in the U.S., compared to 48 percent for Apple's iPad and 8 percent for Samsung's Galaxy line, according to research firm NPD Group.
Globally, Amazon's shipments in the April-June quarter were down 59 percent from a year earlier at 470,000, NPD said. That compared to 14.6 million for Apple's iPad, down 17 percent from a year ago, and 10.8 million for Samsung's Galaxy line, up 539 percent. Amazon sells most of its Kindles around the Christmas holidays, Baker said.