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

in Sports

LeBron, Cavaliers earn NBA Finals spot by sweeping Hawks

Fresh
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives between Atlanta Hawks' Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore (24) during the second half in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA basketball playoffs Sunday, May 24, 2015, in Cleveland.

LeBron James scored 23 points, Kyrie Irving returned after missing two games and the Cleveland Cavaliers reserved a spot in the NBA Finals with a 118-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night to win the Eastern Conference title.

in Sports

Brassard, Lundqvist lead Rangers past Lightning 7-3

Fresh
Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (9) and New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) battle for the puck during the second period of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final during the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Tampa, Fla., Friday, May 22, 2015. The Rangers won 5-1.

Derek Brassard had a hat trick and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 36 shots in another season-saving performance as the New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 Tuesday night to force Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals.

in Sports

49ers QB Kaepernick apologizes for Houston storm post

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Santa Clara, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. The Seahawks 19-3.

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson offered his support. "Praying for all the people in Houston... Healing is on the way!" he wrote on Twitter.

in Sports

Neuer, Mueller, Kroos left off Germany roster vs US

UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifier Group D - Germany (4) v (0) Gibraltar at Grundig Stadium

Featuring: Manuel Neuer,Thomas Müller,Erik Durm,Shkodran Mustafi,Toni Kroos
Where: Nuernberg, Germany
When: 14 Nov 2014
Credit: ATP/WENN.com

The game will be played June 10th in Cologne.

in Entertainment

Oprah, Beyoncé among world’s ‘most powerful’ women

oprah

Other celebrity notables include Taylor Swift, Shakira and Ellen DeGeneres.

Bellingham Traffic