By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Dallas — AT&T announced price and availability dates for the LTE-equipped 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablet and the delayed HTC One flagship smartphone.
The LTE-equipped version of the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD Kindle will be available through AT&T-owned stores beginning April 5, expanding distribution of the 4G LTE tablet beyond Amazon’s website.
AT&T will sell the 32GB version of the $399 4G tablet, but for a limited time the carrier will cut the price to $249 if users sign up for a two-year data plan. Consumers who don’t opt for a two-year contract can add the tablet to AT&T's Mobile Share plans starting at $10/month to share a bucket of data with other mobile devices.
The tablet also operates in AT&T’s HSPA+ markets.
Last September, Amazon launched the Kindle Fire HD line in 7-inch and 8.9-inch versions of the high-definition device. Only the 8.9-inch model became available in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/LTE versions.
In becoming the first U.S. carrier to announce an availability date for HTC’s One, AT&T said it will offer the 4G LTE Android 4.1 handset beginning April 19 at $199 with two-year contract for the 32GB version and $299 for the 64GB version. AT&T said it will be the only U.S. carrier at launch to offer the 64GB version.
In March, HTC announced that it postponed worldwide shipments of the One. The previous month, the company promised sales would begin in March through more than 185 carriers in more than 80 countries, including the U.S. As it turned out, the HTC One became available in the last week of March only in three countries, and the company said the device would be rolled out across Europe, North America and most of Asia-Pacific before the end of April.
The One, which HTC is counting on to reverse sliding worldwide sales, was rolled out with great fanfare in February, when president Jason Mackenzie contended the phone does not reflect “just another set of incremental improvements.” The One, promoted as the first phone with all-aluminum unibody chassis, offers such new features as live-stream information feeds on homescreen tiles, an UltraPixel front camera that captures 300 percent more light than traditional smartphone camera sensors, ability to simultaneously take a picture and three-second HD video, and ability to automatically stitch together these photos and videos into a Highlights Video with background music, transitions and effects. It also features 1.7 GHz quad-core processor and 4.7-inch 1080p screen.
The live-stream feature is called Blink Screen, which constantly feeds social-network updates, HTC-curated information services incorporating content from 1,400 sources such as ESPN and Reuters, and other content to homescreen tiles that extend below the screen. Key applications such as calendar and music player also appear on homescreen tiles. Consumers can swipe to the left or right of the home screen to get to the traditional Android view of rows of app icons.
HTC Zoe is the feature that lets users simultaneously capture a picture and three-second HD video and automatically stitch together multiple photos and videos into a Highlights Video with background music, transitions and effects.
Other U.S. carriers have also committed to selling the phone but hadn’t announced availability dates as of this posting. The other carriers are AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Cincinnati Bell. The phone will also be available at launch through exclusive indirect launch partner Best Buy.
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