Hands-on with Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet

Amazon announced big upgrades to its Kindle family today in Santa Monica, and we were there to try these devices first-hand before they ship later this fall. While improvements to older models and dropped prices were great news to those looking to pinch a few pennies, the real superstar today were the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and Kindle Fire HD — the latter of which is now complete with a 4G LTE wireless upgrade.

Kindle Paperwhite

Check out our full review of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

hands on with kindle paperwhite and fire hd

With the Kindle Paperwhite, the latest from Amazon’s budget e-book is tiny but powerful. The added feature tools are available by tapping the top of the page, bringing down a menu with options like Home, Search, X-Ray, and Backlight. The graphics are soft, and with a 212 pixels per inch spec, the total visual experience is crisper and easier on the eyes. All this, for eight weeks of battery life per full charge. E-ink has honestly never looked better.

hands on with kindle paperwhite and fire hd x ray

The most buzzed-about feature here is the X-Ray function, which allows you to search through the book for recurring terms or characters, highlighting in a timeline where in the book they appear. Clicking on the names of each character brings up blurbs of where they are mentioned, the pages that accompany that storyline, and tapping takes you to that specific paragraph. You can search either through the entire book, page, or just chapters if you need a reminder of what’s happening in the book.

hands on with kindle paperwhite and fire hd backlightThe illuminated display, sharp text, high contrast and white background take legibility to another level here. You also have the option of several font faces and sizes to fit your reading preference. Like former versions of the Kindle, highlighting a word brings up the definition from the Oxford American Dictionary to help those who may be unfamiliar with particular vernaculars.

If you are wondering how long until a chapter or the book is over, a “Time To Read” feature also estimates how many minutes are left in the chapter or book, so you can decide whether to continue reading to the end of the chapter or take a rest for the moment. Like previous Kindles, it will also display a percentage of where you are in the book to track progress.

merriam webster dictionary embraces meme emoji other tech words kindle paperwhiteAt 7.5 ounces, the Kindle Paperwhite is no paperweight; the device is tiny and lightweight, comparable to heaviness of a wallet or cardholder. You can also store books on the Amazon Cloud for backup purposes when switching devices and retrieving books from your library.

The Kindle Paperwhite is available for order today and ships October 1, starting at $120 for Wi-Fi and $180 for Wi-Fi and 3G. 

Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Fire HD hands-on

The biggest waves from today’s announcement undoubtedly came from the new Kindle Fire HD, thanks to its amazing price structure. With the Fire reportedly accounting for 22 percent of tablet sales in the United States, the Fire HD is slated to be a huge competitor to the Google Nexus 7 and the rumored iPad Mini.

Compared to the original Kindle Fire, the Fire HD is slightly bigger — with visible stereo speakers wrapped across its back casing. The weight is unnoticeably different than the old Fire, while the Fire HD is just a tad thinner with more rounded corners and a matte body finish.

Kindle Fire HD v Kindle Fire

The Fire HD’s ultra-vivid graphics are truly impressive for a budget-price device. The 7-inch version has resolution of 1280 by 800 pixels, while the 8.9-inch version boasts a full 1920 by 1200 pixels, giving it density of 254 pixels per inch.

Kindle Fire HD lockpageTI’s OMAP4 processor felt swift, quickly loading content without delay. Amazon’s anti-glare technology has definitely improved; I didn’t find myself having trouble angling the device for the photographs to not get awkward spotlight reflections. 

Of course, X-Ray technology is also available in the Fire HD — this time for movies, textbooks, and e-books. In the movie setting, you can tap the movie as it’s streaming for a list of actors currently on the scene. Tapping again on a particular actor pauses the film and brings up an IMDb summary of the actor’s profile, including movies he or she is recognized for and recent appearances. I’m not sure how many people will actually use this feature, but it’s definitely neat especially for someone like me who likes to IMDb movies after I’ve seen them — if only to read goofs and trivia.

Kindle Fire X-Ray movies

X-Ray for textbook works a bit more like a glossary. You can search recurring terms mentioned in your textbook, and the Fire HD can bring up instances of appearance as well as show relevant photos or links to YouTube videos.

Amazon has tried to drive home that the new Kindle devices are made to be a “service,” a gadget that you don’t just buy, but use for commerce. For example, you can play a video game and pause to see relevant products to the game, such as a toy of the main character. If you have your Amazon account set up, you can one-click buy the item as well as earn power-ups and special add-ons in the game thanks to that purchase. This is one way Amazon is integrating all aspects of what it offers into one remote application, making people more likely to buy — and buy from Amazon. 

Kindle Fire HD v Fire back

The Kindle Fire HD is available in 7-inch and 8.9-inch displays, both with 16GB of storage, priced at $200 and $300, respectively. The Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE wireless and 32GB of internal storage is Amazon’s top-tier gadget, priced at $499. Customers have the option of purchasing a whopping 250MB of data per month, 20GB of cloud storage, and $10 credit to the Amazon’s Appstore for just $50 a year.

Check out our full review of the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7.

Mobile

The Galaxy A8s is Samsung's first with a hole-punch camera cutout

Samsung is building exciting, technologically innovative midrange phones, and the latest to be revealed is the new Samsung Galaxy A8s, which may give us an idea of what the new Samsung Galaxy S10 will look like.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Deals

The Kobo Clara HD, one of the best Kindle alternatives, is now on sale

One of the more popular Kindle alternatives (and one that stands tall as one of our favorite ereaders) is Kobo. Among the best of Kobo's offerings is the awesome Kobo Clara HD, and it's now on sale for the holidays for just $100 from…
Mobile

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.
Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Mobile

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.
Mobile

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.
Gaming

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.