A week shy of Apple's Sept. 12 media event, Amazon has unveiled what is most likely going to be the iPad's biggest competitor with an 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD with built-in 4G LTE data. It's $499, but contains 16 GB more than Apple's base-model iPad and already has the LTE modem. In addition, Amazon is offering a 250 MB-per-month data plan for the LTE Kindle Fire HD for $50 a year. That plan also includes 20 GB of cloud storage and a $10 credit in Amazon's app store.
Similar data pricing for the iPad is $14.99 a month for 250 MB from AT&T and 1 GB a month for $20 from Verizon. To get the LTE iPad, you need to pay $629 for 16 GB as opposed to Amazon's 32 GB for $499.
This could be the deal-breaker for some people. Like Apple, Amazon already has a plethora of content built into its ecosystem and CEO Jeff Bezos described the devices as content-delivery services. The third-generation iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, not that much bigger than the larger Kindle Fire HD. With the data plan combined with content and a larger capacity at a lower price point, the Kindle Fire HD has placed itself as a serious contender to take on the iPad going into the holiday season.
Amazon also announced a number of other devices, including a 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD for $199, which Engadget already has gotten to try, and a $159 basic Kindle Fire. A new model of the e-ink Kindle called the Kindle Paperwhite introduces a capacitive touchscreen and a front-lit display that has a much higher resolution and eliminates the need for a Kindle cover with a built-in reading light.
With Apple's event six days away, there's plenty of time for the company to respond. Expect to see Apple challenge Amazon in regards to user experience, the amount of apps available in the App Store and hardware build. Then, there's the plethora of rumors surrounding a supposed "iPad mini." There's plenty of time for Apple to steal Amazon's thunder, and it's going to make next week's event more interesting than ever.