Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablets: 4 things to know before you buy

Amazon on Thursday proved its ready to battle Apple and Google for tablet domination with a new family of Kindle Fire HD tablets. The new tablets come with a variety of new features including fast data transfer rates, high definition displays, pretty good pricing, and one device even comes with LTE connectivity to keep you connected on the go.

The company is debuting three brand new Fire tablets: the 7-inch Fire HD, Fire HD 8.9 inch and the Fire HD 8.9 inch with 4G LTE wireless ranging in price from $199 to $599 depending on the storage and connectivity options you choose. Amazon also added some upgrades to the original Kindle Fire and priced it at $159. For a complete breakdown of all the new Fire tablets check out “ How the new Kindle Fires impact the tablet landscape .”

Amazon's new tablets look great, but what are some of the more notable features you might want to know about before buying? Here's a look at five things that come to mind.

Ad-supported

Rumblings about ads on the Kindle Fire first surfaced in May, and the rumors turned out to be true for Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablets. The devices will come with advertising on the lock screen and this time there's apparently no escaping them.

Special offers will include deals such as discounts for Amazon digital goods, and third-party advertising from companies such as AT&T, Discover, and Intel. Amazon first introduced special offers in May 2011 when it launched an ad-supported Kindle e-reader. Unlike Amazon's e-readers, however, you won't be able to pay extra to have the special offers removed from your tablet. If you own a new Kindle Fire, you'll be getting ads on your lock screen.

Android 4.0

The Fire tablets are built on Android, but Amazon tries to hide its device's Android underpinnings with the company's own user interface. The company has reportedly said that the two newer tablets, the 7- and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets, are running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, according to Engadget. Amazon was unavailable for comment at the time of this writing.

Pretty good data price

Critics are raving about the AT&T LTE data package you can get with Amazon's $500 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD, but is it really that good? For $50 you get one year of LTE data with a 250MB monthly cap, which works out to about $0.016 cents per megabyte. That's a huge value compared to AT&T's iPad cellular data plan, which costs $15 per month for 250MB, nearly $0.06 per MB. Verizon gets much closer to Amazon's prices with its lowest iPad LTE plan of 1GB per month for $20, about $0.019 per MB.

The problem is that 250MB of cellular data will likely serve only the most casual of data users looking for web browsing and e-mail usage while on the go. If you want more data you can upgrade to 3GB or 5GB data plans from AT&T. Assuming AT&T keeps the pricing the same as with the iPad, you will pay $30 per month for 3GB or $50 per month 5GB.

In addition to LTE data, Amazon's $50 annual charge gets you 20GB of cloud storage via Amazon Cloud Drive and a $10 Appstore for Android credit.

Whispering voices

Amazon is bringing its Whispersync technology to audiobooks and games. Whispersync is the technology that allows you to read a Kindle book on your iPhone while on the subway and then pick-up right where you left off at home using your Kindle e-reader. That syncing technology is now available for Amazon's audiobooks and Appstore games. But, as Jared Newman pointed out earlier, it's unclear if the new Whispersync for audio and games works across non-Amazon devices such as a Samsung Android phone with the Appstore installed.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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