With faster quad-core CPUs, sharper screens and built-in tech support, Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet lineup just got a major upgrade, giving the online retailer a formidable one-two punch against the Nexus 7 and upcoming iPads. The Kindle Fire HDX line is now available for pre-order on Amazon, starting at $229 for the 7-inch model and $379 for the 8.9-inch version.
Both slates have been bolstered with sharper displays and better processors. The 7-inch HDX has a 1920 x 1200 screen, a 2.2-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 8-MP rear-facing camera. As previously rumored, the 8.9-inch model boasts a 2560 x 1600 screen and is boosted by an Adreno 330 GPU. The 8.9-inch HDX has slimmed down to 13.2 ounces, which is 34 percent lighter than the previous iteration.
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New to both models is the "Mayday" feature, which is a built-in help button that connects users to Amazon's 24/7 customer support center. The Mayday button allows you to see your customer service rep, who can walk you through any of the tablet's features by annotating and interacting with your HDX's screen. Though they appear on the display, customer service agents won't be able to see the user. On the official product page, Amazon claims that users shouldn't have to wait more than 15 seconds for live help when using Mayday.
Amazon has also updated its standard Kindle Fire HD 7-inch, which packs a 1280 x 800 display and 1.5-GHz CPU for a wallet-friendly starting price of $139.
With the affordable Nexus 7 attracting a lot of attention and a new iPad line on the horizon, Amazon's new Kindle HDX should still resonate with shoppers looking for easy access to gobs of content. Stay tuned for our full review of both slates.