Amazon Unveils Kindle Fire HD To Rival iPad

Amazon grew its Kindle family of e-readers Thursday with the launch its new 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD that will take direct aim at Apple's iPad.

The new device, which was unveiled by Amazon at a press event in Santa Monica, Calif., looks more like a full-fledged tablet than any other e-reader in the Kindle lineup, with an 8.9-inch display that boasts a 1,920-by-1,200 resolution. Its screen specs fall slightly short compared to the new iPad's 2,048-by-1,536 Retina display, but they beat out the iPad 2, which has a resolution of 1,024 by 768.

The Kindle Fire HD also features dual stereo speakers, compared to the single speaker found within the first-generation Fire, and is said by Amazon to be the market's first tablet to feature Dolby Digital Plus audio. It comes with two antennas, while competing tablets, including the iPad, only have one. As a result, Amazon said the Kindle Fire HD can outperform the iPad by up to 41 percent when it comes to Wi-Fi speeds.

[Related: Amazon Brings SSD Performance To Cloud With New High I/O Instance ]

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The 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD will be available in a 16-GB version for $299 and 32 GB with 4G LTE version for $499.

Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, the new Kindle Fire HD will also be available in a 7-inch version. This new model is said by Amazon to be 40 percent faster than the first-generation version while offering longer battery and a higher resolution. It's priced at $199.

If history repeats itself, the two new Kindle Fire HD models could become serious contenders to both Apple's iPad and Google's Nexus 7 tablet. Even as a latecomer to the super-competitive tablet market, the first-generation Kindle Fire managed to hold its weight against the almighty iPad, and now it accounts for nearly 22 percent of all U.S. tablet sales, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon has already managed to outdo other tablet rookies, including HP and Research In Motion, which have tried and failed with designs of their own.

NEXT: Kindle Paperwhite, A Revamped Version Of Kindle Touch

The internet giant also took the wraps off its new Kindle Paperwhite, a made-over version of the original Kindle Touch that delivers a front-lit display so users can read more easily in the dark. Bezos said the display on the new device has 212 pixels, or nearly 62 percent more than the first-generation Kindle Touch.

The Paperwhite is also slightly lighter than its original Touch but weighs in the same at 7.5 ounces.

The Kindle Paperwhite will be available in October for $119, and it appears to be Amazon's answer to Barnes & Noble's Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight e-reader. A 3G-ready version of the Kindle Paperwhite was also introduced, which will sell for $179.

Despite the new Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD models taking center stage, Amazon's original Kindle e-reader received a slight makeover, as well. A new version was introduced that has a slightly better screen resolution and a price tag that has been slashed from $79 to $69.