In the fleeting moments I had with Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet, I noticed one major thing: It lost a lot of weight. The engineers at Amazon managed to slim down their flagship tablet in every dimension. The new Kindle Fire HDX is lighter by 23 per cent for the smaller model and 34 per cent for the full-sized one. The slimmer profile is made possible by a new, lighter magnesium alloy body, a touch screen with fewer layers than before and a frame that is about one-quarter narrower all around the edge of the screen.
Add to that the company's claim that the Kindle Fire HDX processor is three times as fast as last year's Kindle Fire HD, and Amazon.com Inc. seems to have an attractive holiday gift option on its hands.
In my hands, at an event for reporters Tuesday, the weight reduction is noticeable. I own a year-old 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and find it chunky. Trying to read a book on it with one hand is like doing so with a big hardcover book. Eventually, your wrist will need a break.
The new HDX with a 7-inch screen, measured diagonally, is now lighter than the iPad Mini, at 10.7 ounces compared with 10.9 ounces. Google's new Nexus 7 is lighter than both, though, at 10.2 ounces. The Kindle Fire HDX has a starting price of $229, a $100 less than the Mini.
For dedicated reading, you might prefer a lighter e-reader, such as the Kindle Paperwhite, at 7.3 ounces. But my tendons appreciate the effort Amazon has made to slim down the Fire. And you need a tablet if you want to do more than read.
The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX is also significantly lighter, at 13.2 ounces, than a full-size iPad, at 23 ounces. Of course, the smaller screen - 0.8 inches shorter on the diagonal - contributes to Amazon's under-sized achievement here. The larger Kindle Fire HDX starts at $379, or $120 less than the iPad.
The new Kindle Fire HDX devices sport a "unibody,"