Amazon Launch the Kindle Fire
After a huge amount of speculation and hype, the final pieces of the new Kindle tablet jigsaw were put into place, although sadly without news of a UK release date.
Price : $199 in the US
Release Date: Available to pre-order US only, Shipping November 15 approx
This new addition to the Kindle lineup is an altogether different beast from the current Kindles as it eschews the e-ink screen for a vibrant 7" colour touchscreen which allows Amazon to offer content delivery of magazines, movies, applications and games.
With a dual-core processor and 7 inch display utilising toughened 'Gorilla Glass' for added resilience to the rough life as a mobile device the tablet looks stunning. The 8gb of built in storage may sound a little mean, but with online storage avaiable it should suit the needs of most users adequately. Wi-Fi is also build in, but sadly not 3G although this has not been ruled out for future generations of Kindle Fire. Of course if you really need to have mobile 3G you can use one of the many mobile broadband personal wireless routers which fit neatly in your pocket.
Software wise the tablet does run on Android as anticipated, albeit a very customised version of Android 2.x as opposed to the more recent Honeycomb 3.0 branch. The Kindle Fire user interface is very slick and is very much built around Amazon's media services with prominent access to eBooks, Music and Video as well cloud services like Cloud Player and Cloud Drive through a Cover-Flow style graphical browser.
The device has web browsing built in of course coming in the flavour of Amazon Silk which uses Amazon's EC2 cluster to make surfing as fast as possible by caching and predicting content load requirements.
Via the built in Wi-Fi there is integration with Amazon WhisperSync which means that if you are reading a book it will be fully synchronised with all other Kindle devices and apps. This will also be the case for TV shows.
Being based on Android, there is access to a wide range of apps like the ever popular Angry Birds as well as productivity and organisational software. Also pre-installed will be applications for Facebook, Twitter and Netflix (US) as well as an application for email.
With a 7 inch screen and a weight of just 413g the Kindle Fire is a very direct competitor to the iPod touch as things stand with the possibility of a 10" version in the pipeline which will be aimed more at the iPad market. Whilst the specs are nothing incredible, the price point of just $199 leaves the Kindle Fire in a very strong position as a desirable and affordable alternative.
What about the reading experience?
The fundamental principle of the Kindle family, reading books has not been forgotten in the Kindle Fire and although the LCD screen is not quite as adept as an e-ink display, all the functionality is there with the added enhancement of colour which opens the door to children's books and reference material.
The impact of the Kindle Fire on reading has been discussed further in an article we have over on The Guardian
The only thing missing from what sounds like a terrific product launch is an news of a release in the UK. Come on Amazon, show us Brits some love