Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Amazon Reveals New Fire Tablet and Several New Kindles

It was well documented (see previous posts) that Amazon would be revealing their new color touch based tablet today, now officially called the Kindle Fire.

Rather than focusing on specifications, Amazon followed the practice of Apple in revealing features that will be available to Kindle Fire owners. Hey, it's worked for Apple so far so why the heck not, right?

Yeah, no.

One thing to notice is that the Fire's 7 inch screen is not HD since its resolution is 1024x600, but then again neither is the iPad's.

Regarding the processor, all Amazon is saying is that it's a "fast dual core". But they make a point of saying that the tablet is capable of multi-tasking, and running Adobe's Flash, something that still peeves iPad owners like yours truly.

The unit comes with 8GB of on board storage which isn't much. However, Amazon gives you free Amazon Cloud storage for all of your Amazon purchased apps, music, books, and other content. This means the necessity of having a ton of local storage is nearly done away with, UNLESS there's no wi-fi signal available. Major caveat there. There is a micro USB port, but whether this will just charge the unit or allow for external storage remains to be seen.

For anyone who's familiar with the fact that Amazon has a farm of servers that host web content, the next feature of the Fire is very interesting. When using its new "Silk" web browser, the task of browsing and loading web content is split between your device and Amazon's back end of servers to speed things along. THAT is impressive. It means Amazon's servers will do the heavy lifting when browsing the web.

Amazon touts the system requirements as "none, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer". This is of course made possible by the availability of Amazon's cloud, and hits Apple where it hurts; the train wreck that is iTunes which is required software for any of Apple's iPad or iPod line of products. (Are you hearing this Apple?!)

The new Kindle Fire is available for pre-order from Amazon with an announced release date of November 15th for $199.99 ($50 less than my best guess, I'll take that as a win).

Not to be ignored, Amazon also updated its line of Kindle eReaders with touch screens and smaller form factors. The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G are available for $99 and $149 with advertisements on the standby screen.

There is also a slimmer Kindle Wi-Fi sans touch screen and 3G connectivity (there's no other model in this line with 3G, it's simply not available) for $79 with standby screen advertisements.

Surprisingly, Amazon has not reduced the prices of the previous models of Kindle, so if you were hoping to get one super cheap, you'll have to keep hoping, or look for a used one. I'm sure there will be plenty of them available soon.

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