The much awaited tablet offering from online retailer Amazon is finally here. The Kindle Fire as it’s being called – a rather odd name – features all the goodness that the Android OS has to offer its users. Along with the new tablet device Amazon has also announced a couple of updates to their popular Kindle e-Book reader called the Kindle Touch in both Wi-Fi only and 3G models and a third model sans touchscreen simply called the Kindle that’s Wi-Fi only. The non-touch e-Book reader, like its touch sensitive brother, will also be devoid of a keyboard like their predecessors.
It's finally official
What’s been revealed so far is that it definitely is an Android device that runs on a Dual core processor but the version is still unknown. We haven’t come across a 7-inch (multi-touch) Honeycomb device yet, so chances are this could be the first. Amazon has however customised the UI to a large extent. It seems to give their customers a wide reach in terms of content consumption and access to all of their services including –
- full Amazon Cloud support for storage,
- pre-registered to your Amazon.com account to provide easy access to your your digital content, Amazon WhisperSync that will also support videos streaming for Movies and TV shows and
- One free month’s worth of Amazon Prime that includes 2 day shipping for products bought online through the service and commercial free video streams from Prime Instant Video.
Another new addition to the segment, in terms of tablet technology is the introduction of Amazon’s new browser called Amazon Silk. This custom feature showcases a “split browser” architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud. The Silk browser software resides both on Kindle Fire and on the massive server fleet that comprises the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). With each page request, Silk is designed to dynamically determine a division of labor between the mobile hardware and Amazon EC2 (i.e. which browser sub-components run where) that takes into consideration factors like network conditions, page complexity and cached content. Here’s a closer look –
Amazon mentions a rich color on a 7-inch full color LCD touchscreen that delivers 16 million colors in high resolution and 169 pixels per inch that translates to a 600 x 1024 pixel resolution like the HTC Flyer. Amazon also says that the Kindle Fire’s display is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, which makes it quite durable.
Looks easy enough for kids to use
The Fire also seems to be a Wi-Fi only model with no 3G data connectivity support. Whether or not USB connectivity for a high speed data dongle is provisioned for is also unknown. Judging from the pictures though, it seems rather unlikely. The Kindle Fire will also be equipped with 8GB of internal storage. It weighs in at just about 413g and is 11.4mm in depth making it quite manageable as far as smaller tablets go. Amazon also claims the Fire can dish out 7.5 hours of video playback which seems reasonable and realistic enough.
The Fire is unfortunately available only for the US for now and is priced at a rather affordable $199 (Rs, 9,700). With competition like the HTC Flyer and BlackBerry Playbook, the Fire could prove to be a real winner. However, in the land of 10-inch tablets like the iPad 2, Galaxy Tab 750 and the Tab 8.9, the lack of a telephony option via VOIP or the lack of a camera of any kind, is going to make the Kindle Fire fight real hard to stay in the top spot.
The next-gen Kindle called the Kindle Touch is priced at just $99 (Rs. 4,844) for the Wi-Fi only model (2GB) and $149 (Rs. 7,290) for the 3G + Wi-Fi device (4GB). Amazon has done away with their QWERTY keypad styling and gone with a 6-inch electronic ink display. The Touch model uses IR sensors to read gestures and with this new slim lightweight design, portability has been enhanced.
It's all about the touch factor now
These new e-Book readers from Amazon will also feature a new service called “X-Ray” that lets customers explore the “bones of the book.” With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon's community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers.
The new Kindles are designed to be super portable
Like the previous models and the Kindle Fire, the new Kindle e-Book readers will also be available only for the US consumer base. Whether or not the Kindle Fire will find a space on the Indian shelf is a question we have no answer to just yet, just crossed fingers.
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