Amazon's Kindle Fire has just been officially unveiled, bringing Android tablets at a killer price point and sold as a mass-market content-consumption device, plus a new, cheaper, Kindle Touch.
A True Firestarter?
Android tablets have sold a few million, true but none of them have been sold with the fervor, marketing or content ammunition that Apple has been able to provide. Until now, possibly. At an event in New York, Amazon unveiled its Kindle Fire, a partner device -- not a successor -- to the original Kindle e-readers.
When the Kindle Fire goes on sale on November 15, expect massive sales, as Amazon's front page (in fact most pages) will be splashed with the device. Hundreds of millions of visitors will see an ideal gadget for them to view their Amazon content from e-books, listen to and watch music and movies, play games and do a little socializing. It already has a product page.
Users won't likely care about Android, the processors, memory or connectivity. Instead they will just want assurance that it will play all their media, and offer an easy method to buy more of it. And with partners including CBS, NBC Universal and Fox, there is a lot of content. For those who do want a little tech-spec love, the details are:
- Screen 7" LCD
- Price US$ 199
- Processor - dual core (unspecified)
- OS Android (under an Amazon layer)
- Connectivity: WiFi-only
- 30-day Amazon Prime subscription
- No camera or microphone
- No 3G
- Two-point multitouch only, not one for fast typists.
Extra features including WhisperSync that can link your movie to a smart TV, which will pick up where you left off. Amazon Cloud storage will provide free additional on-demand memory and the newsstand front end will show new content magazines and so on, and it multitasks, so you can listen to music and read books at the same time.
UPDATE: The device, as suspected, locks the user out of the underlying Android OS, but according to the Register, Amazon won't be stopping those who want a cheap tablet from rooting the device and running their own flavor of Android. Check out the new Amazon advert for Kindle Fire here:
Smooth as Silk Browsing
One major feature is that the browser makes use of Amazon's EC2 servers to do some of the legwork when rendering web pages on the tablet. Called Amazon Silk, it uses dynamic split browsing to render what is easy to do on your device with complex stuff left to the cloud, such as large image files or complex web apps, with only the required result downloaded, faster than it would take to download the big stuff.
Also at the event was a new Kindle device, the Touch model, a $99 silver device with an IR touchscreen, or a $149 3G model if you want to download on the go. These are lighter and faster than previous models. These will start shipping on November 21. There will also be a cheaper $79 basic Kindle model to really round out of the offering.
So, Kindle Fire is a media machine, ready to work in tandem with Amazon.com. The company didn't show any tricky media features, beyond WhisperSync, or boast about its power, because it's not about any of that. Will consumers buy it in huge numbers? Amazon said it is building millions of them, so clearly it has great expectations. Let us know what you think.