Amazon Kindle Fire: A $199 Kindle Tabletby Jason Inofuentes on September 28, 2011 9:54 AM EST
Kindle Touch and New Kindle
No one announces just one product at an event these days, and Amazon is no different. Along with the Kindle Fire, Amazon saw fit to refresh their line of e-readers. E-reader enthusiasts, you know who you are, will recognize the technology behind the new Kindle Touch from the likes of the new Nook and the Kobo. The IR sensor laden e-ink display allows touch inputs to be received and elicit page turns and other UI interactions. Now devoid of many of its buttons, including the full QWERTY keyboard of its predecessors, the Kindle Touch is smaller than the Kindle 3 and comes at a new price point, $99. For that you get the WiFi model which promises faster page refreshes and so on. Free global wireless internet for life is the promise of the 3G variant, which at just a $50 premium makes it a terribly good bargain.
Also joining the keyboardless clan is the new Kindle. This device shares the new e-ink panel with the Touch, but makes do with a hand full of navigation buttons in lieu of the touch screen. The device is significantly lighter and smaller than its predecessor, no doubt owing much to the loss of the keyboard, and brings the e-reader market to a new price target at just $79. The new Kindle will be offered in WiFi only guise, so bibiliphilic globetrotters will have to make do with the Kindle Touch 3G. Amazon also saw fit to unite its AmazonLocal deals service with the Special Offers that graced the last generation of Kindles. The new ads will be displayed as screensavers on the entire e-ink line and are promised to maintain a certain aesthetic so that a buyer would hardly notice that it's not just a pretty screensaver.
Leading up to the announcement, I expected that Amazon would leverage its media offerings to make a tablet that could compete with Apple on content. Beyond that I had no idea what would be in store. It comes as little suprise though that Amazon saw fit to completely obfuscate the Android platform beneath a UI that steers the argument decidedly in favor of the tablet as media consumptive device. Based on these first looks, the UI is elegant and friendly, and the hardware is sufficient enough to provide a good media experience. And at $199, no other tablet offers as compelling a combination of services, content and value. We can't wait to get our hands on the Kindle Fire and discover whether Amazon has set the tablet market ablaze, or simply joined the other kindling.