Sep 25, 2013 (11:09 AM EDT)
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Breaks Tablet Ground

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(click image for larger view) on Wednesday introduced its third-generation Kindle Fire tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX, featuring a variant of Google's Android operating system called Fire OS and a dedicated help button.

CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement said that Amazon's goal with its "Mayday" button is to revolutionize tech support. "With a single tap, an Amazon expert will appear on your Fire HDX and can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you -- whatever works best," he said.

Though devoting a button to customer support might be taken as an admission of product complexity, Amazon nonetheless portrays the move as one its customers welcome by pointing to approving testimonials. The Mayday button might make the Kindle Fire HDX more appealing to a technically disinclined audience, a group more inclined to buy content than to seek it out for free.

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Amazon could certainly use more buyers of its hardware. Although the company has not released unit sales figures for its Kindle Fire line, it ranked sixth in tablet unit sales during the second quarter of 2013, according to IDC. That means its unit sales during the quarter came to fewer than 1.4 million, about 10 times fewer than the number of Apple iPads sold during the same period.

Amazon says it aims to respond to the year-round, 24/7 tech support call button in 15 seconds or less. In a nod to privacy concerns, the company said that although the user can see Amazon's tech support representative, the representative cannot see the user.

The Kindle Fire HDX comes in two screen sizes: 7 inches at 323 ppi or 8.9 inches at 339 ppi. The larger model's 2560-by-1600-pixel screen is similar to Google's Nexus 10 (2560-by-1600 pixels at 300 ppi) and exceeds Apple's iPad with Retina display (2048-by-1536 pixels at 264 ppi), although an updated iPad is expected next month. The Kindle Fire HDX includes a 2.2-GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor with 2 GB of internal memory and an Adreno 300 GPU.