Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kindle Fire - Amazon Enters the Tablet Party

In case you missed it, today Amazon announced a trio of new Kindle devices - the flagship is called the Fire, and sports a 7" full color touch screen, similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and 3" smaller than the iPad.  Amazon built its tablet on the Google Android platform, but it looks nothing like other Android tablets - the interface has been completely customized and integrated with Amazon's services.  If you are a prime member ($79 a year gets you free shipping and video streaming), you can access all of those videos on the Fire, if you have purchased music through Amazon, you can stream it to the Fire and, of course, you can access all of your Kindle books.  The biggest surprise in the announcement is the bottom line - the Fire is priced at just $199!  At less than half the cost of an iPad or Galaxy, it will certainly be tempting for budget conscious consumers eager to jump into the tablet craze.

The Kindle Fire reportedly sports a dual core 800mhz processor (slower than Apple's dual core 1Ghz), and has 8GB of on board storage - to keep performance snappy Amazon thought out of the box and designed a web browser, called Silk, that relies on Amazon's powerful cloud servers to accelerate the web browsing experience.  In the days of dial-up internet many providers used this trick to compress images and optimize pages before they were sent over the phone line - Amazon's demos of the Silk browser do look impressive.

If you are looking for a traditional e-Ink kindle device, Amazon has released two new models - the least expensive of which, a 6" device now sells for only $79 - with $30 of the original $109 price reduced by agreeing to "sponsorship" in the form of advertisements on your home screen and as screen savers.  The next model up, the Kindle Touch ditches the navigation buttons in favor of a touch screen still made of the paper like e-Ink, and sells for $99, again after $40 taken off for "sponsorship".  The pricing is impressive, given that a week ago the least expensive Kindle sold for $114.  For those without high speed internet and wifi, the Kindle Touch is also available with free 3G for $149, Amazon pays for the cost of getting you on line to get your books, this is a great option for those who might not have a computer or internet at home.

We are big fans of Amazon, and use the Kindle App on our Apple iOS devices, with these new low prices and added capabilities, the Kindle is tempting!  I don't think the Fire tablet will challenge the iPad, but the Barnes and Noble Color Nook, priced $50 higher, is a dead man walking.  To me, competition in the tablet market can only bring cooler products at better prices - we will see were Amazon goes with their new tablet.

One note, if you think one of these new Kindles might make a great Christmas present, with the exception of the $79 Kindle, which is available now, they won't ship until Nov 14 and I predict they will sell what they can build before Christmas within a month or less!  Bottom line, if you want one this year, I suggest you visit Amazon and pre-order now!

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