Amazon has raised the Android tablet bar in a serious way by unveiling a cheaper-than-ever 7in Kindle Fire 2 and a new step-up Kindle Fire HD available in both 7in and 8.9in variants.
The new 7-incher upgrades the original Kindle Fire's meagre feature set across the board, but somehow manages to come in at just $159, a full 20% less than the current model.
It boasts a faster processor, double the RAM, and longer battery life.
But it's the Kindle Fire HD that really looks the real deal. Featuring either a 7in display or an 8.9in 1920 x 1200 IPS screen, it measures just 8.8mm thick and comes equipped with a serious technological arsenal under that high-quality display.
The processor is a OMAP 4470 from TI, which Amazon boss Jeff Bezos pointed out can perform 50% more floating point operations per second than a Tegra 3, and boasts significantly higher memory bandwidth.
Dual stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus should ensure the Kindle Fire HD has class-leading audio too, and impressively the tablet boasts twin antennae and matches the New iPad with its ability to tap into both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi signals. And given its HD credentials it's no surprise to see on-board storage boosted to a minimum of 16GB.
But as much as Bezos clearly enjoyed showing off the new Amazon hardware on stage at the Santa Monica launch event, it's clear that Kindle is all about software and services.
So while Android remains very much the glue holding the whole thing together, Amazon's own touch is more pronounced than before, and the new Kindle Fires are packed full of proprietary features.
These include the likes of Whispersync for voice, which lets you synchronise the book you're reading with the corresponding audio book for multi-sensory reading, and X-Ray for movies, which enables you to tap and characters in a film you're watching and pull up their IMDB page on the spot.
All that comes for a rather impressive $199 for the 7-incher, and $299 for the 8.9in variant, with shipping dates pegged at September 14 and September 20 respectively.
Image via Engadget