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Amazon announces $99 Kindle Fire HD, $149 kid-proof model

In addition to the two new Kindle e-readers announced today, Amazon has refreshed the Kindle Fire HD tablets with a 6-inch model for $99 and a 7-inch model for $139. According to the retailer’s specifications of the two new models, Amazon has doubled the speed of the previous generation Fire HD as well as tripled the graphics performance for games.

On both sizes, the Goriila Glass LCD display runs at 1280 x 800 resolution, which is identical to the previous generation. New features added to the Fire HD line include pre-caching video for Amazon Instant Video and content sharing (books, games, apps) between members of the same family. The new line of Kindle Fire HD tablets also come in a variety of colors and will be shipping out to customers in early October.

Related: Amazon Kindle Fire HD 6 review

The retail giant also announced a version of the Kindle Fire HD that’s specifically targeted at rambunctious children. Also available in the same two screen sizes, the Fire HD Kids Edition tablet includes a thick, rubber case that’s framed around the tablet, specifically designed to cushion the tablet when dropped. On top of that, Amazon is also guaranteeing the tablet for two years in case a child does find a way to smash the tablet. Customers that need to return one of the Fire HD Kids Edition tablets will simply drop it in the mail and receive a brand new tablet in return.

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Also included in the price, customers get one year of Freetime Unlimited, a service that offers a bulk of children’s content. That service usually costs a monthly fee between $3 and $10, depending on the number of kids that are using it. The Fire HD Kids Edition tablet will be shipping in late October and will be available in blue, green and pink.

Interestingly, the only tablet in the Kindle Fire line of tablets to not get a refresh was the Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet. It remains at the same $199 price for the base 16GB model with offers. However, the 8.9-inch version of the Kindle Fire HDX did get a significant refresh in speed and sound quality as well as a targeted push towards customers that are seeking a productivity tablet. Approximately 20 percent lighter than Apple’s current iPad Air, the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX is now powered by a 2.5Ghz quad-core processor as well as 2GB of RAM.

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The new 8.9-inch tablet also supports the new Dolby Atmos sound format, ideal for anyone with compatible headphones for simulated surround sound. While the display is the same resolution as last year (2560 x 1600), the Wi-Fi connectivity has been upgraded to 802.11ac for faster connections, assuming you have a supporting router, and a larger battery promises 12 hours of mixed usage compared to the 10 hours promised on last year’s model. This tablet is also shipping in late October for the same MSRP of $379.

Regarding productivity, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch can be used with an optional matching Bluetooth keyboard that’s being sold for an additional $60. Of course, there’s no stand included on the keyboard, unless you also purchase the Origami case for the tablet. That case will connect to the new keyboard using magnets and allow users to use the tablet similar to a laptop. Amazon recommends users combine the new keyboard with WPS Office, a productivity package to allow users to edit Microsoft Office files on the Kindle tablets.