Amazon has announced new models that means its cheapest tablet will be half the price of its most expensive dedicated e-reader. It seems to be an attempt to extend its range to capture the extremes of both markets.
The Kindle Voyage starts $199, double the cost of the current flagship Paperwhite model. There’s an extra $20 fee if you don’t want ads on the lock screen. The standard model is Wi-Fi only, or you can get a 3G model with unlimited use for $60 extra.
The main improvements are a 300ppi display (compared with 212ppi on the Paperwhite), an automatic light that adjusts to ambient conditions, the ability to “turn a page” without having to move a finger by simply pushing down on the bezel, and a reduction in thickness from 9.1mm to 7.6mm. The main casing is aluminum rather than plastic.
It’s very clearly designed and marketed as a luxury model. From a specs perspective, it’s hard to justify paying double the money for these differences, but it could appeal to those who feel they have to have the best.
It’s the opposite story in the Fire tablet range (which will no longer carry the Kindle name.) There’s a new version of the seven-inch Fire HD, coming in at $140, with the main tweaks being faster graphics processing and the addition of a rear camera.
There’s also a new six-inch model that starts at $99 for an 8GB model with lock screen ads. It’s otherwise much the same as the seven-inch edition; Amazon says its a response to so many people buying cheap models from other companies and then returning them. Breaking under the $100 barrier could certainly be enough for those on a budget to decide to stick with a brand they recognize.
Both the six- and seven-inch models will be available in Kids editions that cost $50 extra. That gets you a rubber case, a two-year no-questions-asked replacement guarantee, and a one-year subscription to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, which includes access to books, videos, apps and games. That alone normally costs $60 a year if you aren’t a Prime member, so if you plan to use it the deal works out as good value.