News

New Amazon tablets feature 24/7 ‘mayday’ feature

New Amazon tablets feature 24/7 ‘mayday’ feature

In this image distributed on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, Amazon.com Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the all-new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9'', right, and Kindle Fire HDX 7'' tablet in Seattle." Photo: Reuters

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc unveiled two new high-definition tablets on Tuesday with a unique on-screen helpdesk feature it hopes will give it an advantage over devices from rivals Apple Inc and Google Inc.

The new Kindle Fire HDX tablets feature what Amazon has called the ‘Mayday Button’, which instantly brings up a video chat with a tech-support representative who can tell a user how to operate the device or even do it for them remotely.

Amazon said the service is free for HDX customers, is available at all times, and is aiming for a 15-second maximum response time. Users can move the video box around the screen as it suits them and they cannot be seen by the Amazon representative.

The world’s largest Internet retailer takes a different approach to the tablet market than Apple, selling its Kindle devices at close to cost then profiting off the sale of digital content such as video and music, or physical goods like books from its website. Since Amazon took the plunge into the then-nascent tablet market with the Kindle Fire in 2011, the devices have proven to be effective vending machines for purchases.

It is unclear how the up-close-and-personal support feature will affect the underlying cost of supporting the Kindle.

“This is the kind of feature that we are well-suited to do,” said Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, showing off the new tablets to reporters at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters on Tuesday. “Many of the things we’ve done marry together high-tech with heavy lifting. This is one of those things.”

Amazon would not say how many support staff were behind the Mayday service, but Bezos said the company was training “thousands” and was prepared to hire more people if needed.

“We’ll be ready for Christmas morning, which is always a very big tech support day for us,” said Bezos.

The new tablets, one with a 7-inch (18cm) screen and one with an 8.9-inch screen, are lighter and more powerful than the last Kindle HD line and appear to be aimed at Apple’s market-leading iPad. Amazon’s new HDX tablets come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage sizes.

The smaller Kindle Fire HDX tablet starts at $229 and the bigger tablet starts at $379, both for 16GB wifi-only models. By comparison, Apple’s 16GB wifi iPad mini starts at $329, and its 16GB full-sized wifi iPad starts at $499. To see comparative prices, click on

Amazon is taking pre-orders immediately for wifi-only models, with shipping scheduled for October for the 7-inch tablet and November for the 8.9-inch tablet. Wireless 4G versions of both will also be available, for $100 extra, later this year.

In addition, Amazon is selling an updated version of its Kindle Fire HD for $139, down from $199 for the last generation.

Together, Amazon is hoping the new offerings will give it a bigger share of the exploding tablet market, currently led by Apple’s iPad, followed by Samsung’s Galaxy range of tablets running Google’s Android system.

To promote profitable cross-selling, Amazon has extended its popular ‘X-Ray’ feature, which now allows users to buy music featured in TV shows and films at the touch of a button.

The new tablets run on the latest version of Amazon’s Fire OS, codenamed ‘Mojito’, which is its own operating system based on Google’s Android.

Recent Headlines

12 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Oregon Trail,’ ‘Sonic’ join World Video Game Hall of Fame

videogamehall2016AP

Last year, "Super Mario Bros." and "Pong" were among the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 is just as strong.

15 hours ago in Entertainment

Seth MacFarlane returning to Fox with new sci-fi series

sethmacfarlane536713938826

The "Family Guy" star is producing a new series set 300 years in the future.

16 hours ago in Music

Corey Taylor lands ‘Sharknado’ role

coreytaylor61861556506

The Slipknot star joins other musicians - including Wayne Newton and Vince Neil - in the upcoming SyFy channel movie.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

Channing Tatum bringing ‘Magic Mike’ to Sin City

20-overlay-3

The actor, who starred and produced in both the 2012 film and its 2015 sequel "Magic Mike XXL" made the announcement in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, revealing "Magic Mike Live" will be coming to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in March, 2017.

18 hours ago in Entertainment

YouTube plans online TV service

youtubeREUTERS

YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a bundle of cable TV channels streamed over the Internet.