As Apple misses a beat, Amazon is Retina-fying Kindle lineup

By , Jul 25, 2013

Kindle Fire HD (two up, front, portrat, landscape)

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Google event which saw, among other goodies, introduction of the second-generation Nexus 7 tablet with an improved 1,920-by-1,200 screen, the Kindle maker Amazon is now said to be refreshing its Fire tablet family around higher-resolution displays, too.

And as Apple and its Asian suppliers scramble to solve manufacturing challenges that continue to plague a second-generation iPad mini, Amazon’s top-of-the-line Kindle reportedly features a significantly overhauled display that packs 30 percent more pixels than the Retina iPad, into a smaller 8.9-inch screen compared to Apple’s 9.7-inch device. Ouch!

BGR has learned exclusive details about the forthcoming Kindle devices.

Amazon’s current $159 entry-level seven-incher will be improved with a new panel sporting a higher resolution of 1,280-by-800 pixels. That’s the same pixel count as on the Kindle Fire HD and a marked improvement over the device’s current 1,024-by-600 screen.

As for the seven-inch Kindle Fire HD, its current 1,280-by-800 panel will be bumped up to a full HD-friendly 1,920-by-1,200 pixel variant.

Finally, here’s what to expect from the top-of-the-line 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD model:

The third and final piece of the Kindle Fire tablet puzzle in 2013 is an upgraded version of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.

The current 8.9-inch model already features a display with a better-than-1080p resolution at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, but the updated version will bump up the pixel count to 2,560 x 1,600, according to our source.

Apple won’t like that Amazon could beat its bigger Retina iPad with a smaller and more affordable device. Oh, and it surely won’t hurt that Amazon operates an entertainment and content ecosystem that in many aspects matches iTunes.

Design-wise, the new Kindle Fire HD series will feature a chiseled look with “a more angular design with a flat slope out to the edges instead of a curved slope, and corners that aren’t as rounded”.

The upgraded Kindle devices are said to debut “in the coming months”, if sources who spoke to writer Zach Epstein can be trusted. By the way, Amazon’s Kindle Fire was the second-most used tablet brand between June 15 and June 21, 2013.

Google has already beaten Apple to market with its just announced, better-than-full-HD $229 seven-inch Nexus. With that in mind, should Amazon deliver Retina-fied Fires ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season, it will steal market share from the iPad and hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Meanwhile, Apple is thought to adopt a new touchscreen tech for the next iPad mini.

However, its suppliers are reportedly unable to resolve panel yield issues and engineering challenges (power and CPU/GPU requirements) related to driving four times the pixels on a 7.9-inch canvas.

iPad mini (three-up, front, back, profile, black)

Last we heard, Apple has ostensibly returned to Samsung Display for low-power Retina screens for the iPad mini 2 because current supplier AU Optronics couldn’t deliver. According to the rumor-mill whispers (and reliable analyst), those difficulties have pushed back a Retina iPad mini until April of next year.

The company may appease to impatient customers by releasing a slightly cheaper iPad mini variant this year, featuring the same A5 chip a the current model.

Unfortunately, that may not be enough to capture power users who are in the market for a high-resolution tweener tablet with the latest and greatest CPU/GPU combo.

Your move, Apple.

Pictured at the top: Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet.

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  • Alex Dacome

    Apple knows they have the technology and know-how to have a better tablet hut want to squeeze every ounce of profit out of their old tech. CMON apple! My smartphone is more powerful than all of your handheld devices. And guess what? It’s made by samsung. step your game up and maybe I will switch back over!

    • Jason

      Actually power doesn’t always make a difference. As a techie I eagerly, but mistakenly, bought into one of those Samsung thingies, thankfully as a second phone, but it’s up for sale after the summer as I’m bitterly disappointed with both the phone (HTC One is better built) and Android. After making expensive mistakes like that before, lesson learned LOL!

  • Al

    I think with all the Retina hype and amazing displays abound, Apple major concern is how their displays coincide with battery life. I’m sure they don’t want another iPad 3 fiasco, so.. Hopefully with their iPad line up they get it right.

    I’m still rocking the iPad 3 and compared to an iPad 4 in terms of battery life, it doesn’t stack up.

    • Jason

      TBH, I can’t see why everyone likes retina displays. I’d rather the GPU power go to powering amazing graphics than be wasted pushing extra pixels (I’ve had an iPad 1, 2 and now 4). I use a kobo e-reader for reading books anyway. E-ink is still less tiring on the eyes, it’s just the software and CPU on many ereader are klunky!

      • Kurt

        Wow you are a unique creature indeed. Once I went retina I can’t go back. Now that I saw a 1080p 5″ screen it made my iphone look a little blurry. Now I want a 1080p phone.

  • Jason

    The big problem with Kindle is that you have to root it to put useful stuff on as Amazon want you to use their own store (after all they sell the hardware cheaply). And rooting introduces its own issues (security and stability being two). Better off to buy a Nexus 7 if you want an Android device. At least you get access to the Play Store (and side loading if that’s your thing).

    • Dan

      rooting doesn’t affect stability, if you decide to flash a custom rom that’s another thing

      • Jason

        Yes you are right, I stand corrected, it’s just an access all areas pass. But like all things it can be a double edged sword.

        I should’ve said it allows you, or more likely apps, to do things much more easily that can affect stability. You can also easily run apps from memory cards which can be a whole can of pain. And, as you say, you can install a custom ROM depending on how much experimenting you want to do.

        And finally security is definitely an issue for the unwary.

        What is most interesting is can you install a full Linux distro like unbuntu or debian on it? I know you can on many Android installs.

      • Kurt

        Hey Danny boy, can you run apps of the SD card on the Note 2? I thought I read once you can’t. I’d like to get the 16gb and add a microSD card if I can run apps off it. Otherwise I’ll get the 32 gigger

      • Dan

        yeah you can using gl 2 sd (what I use, but there are others), it doesn’t work with everything so you have to try it out. If it doesn’t, just move the obb file to it’s original location. You need to be rooted I believe.

        If you can get the 32GB, get it, only reason i got the 16Gb is because 32 is not available in Canada :(

  • batongxue

    I only want the original Kindle for reading books.
    In terms of tablets, iPad is the one and only choice.
    Maybe iPad and iPad mini make it two and only choices, lol.

  • http://173.58.214.169/ That’s what Siri said!!!

    It would probably sell better if they did not put a boring launcher on it.
    Even my android phone looks better.