Amazon is planning a complete overhaul of its Kindle Fire tablet lineup for 2013 and BGR has learned exclusive details about the forthcoming devices. As the first company to put a significant dent in Apple’s tablet market share following the iPad’s debut, expectations are always high when Amazon prepares to launch new hardware. Kindle slates are still the second most desired tablet series behind Apple’s iPad lineup according to one study, and while Samsung passed Amazon last year to steal the No.2 spot in terms of global tablet shipment volume, Samsung is stumbling right now and its new tablets are anything but impressive. As Amazon’s top bookselling rival backs away from tablet hardware and clears some extra space for Amazon to thrive, CEO Jeff Bezos and his team will look to push ahead with brand new devices set to debut in the coming months.
UPDATE: BGR has exclusively reported complete specs for Amazon’s next-generation Kindle Fire HD tablets.
Trusted sources tell BGR that Amazon is currently prepping at least three new Kindle Fire tablets that will launch ahead of the holiday shopping season this year. BGR has previously reported exclusive details about Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet plans on several occasions.
The first new slate from Amazon will be a replacement for the 7-inch Kindle Fire, the company’s entry-level tablet currently being sold for $159. While the display’s diagonal measurement will remain the unchanged, our source says Amazon has gone with a new panel that features a higher resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, the same pixel count presently found on Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. The current base Kindle Fire model uses an IPS display with 1,024 x 600-pixel resolution.
Amazon’s upcoming new tablet lineup will also include a brand new version of the Kindle Fire HD. As is the case with the Kindle Fire, the Kindle Fire HD’s display will be upgraded with an improved panel featuring 1,920 x 1,200-pixel resolution, a substantial upgrade from the 1,280 x 800-pixel screen in the current model. The new display will still measure 7 inches diagonally, our source said.
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.
At this resolution, Amazon’s new high-end tablet will pack even more pixels than Apple’s 9.7-inch Retina display into a smaller 8.9-inch screen — the iPad’s 9.7-inch Retina display features 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution.
Regarding the design of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD tablets, we have been told that Amazon will introduce some big changes in the new models that launch later this year. Whereas the current Kindle Fire HD series features a back that slopes smoothly out toward the edges, as seen in the image above, our sources say the new models feature a more angular design with a flat slope out to the edges instead of a curved slope, and corners that aren’t as rounded. One source described the new look as “chiseled.”
Also of note, the power and volume buttons are no longer located on the side of the tablets. Instead, they have been situated on the sloping area on the case-back and they are positioned to avoid accidental button presses when a tablet is placed on its back. We’re told that the new button design is a big improvement; the button placement on current models is something of a pain point for many Kindle Fire HD users.
Lastly, the new tablets are said to be noticeably lighter than the models they will be replacing, though it is unclear if the launch versions of Amazon’s new tablets will be identical to the pre-production models currently being tested.
In response to a request for comment, an Amazon spokesperson stated that the company does not comment on rumors and speculation.
Pricing for the new tablets has apparently not been finalized at this point, though one source informed us that Amazon is working hard to hit the same price points covered by the current Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablets. Multiple sources said the new tablets will launch sometime this fall, possibly in September around the same time last year’s models began rolling out.