Amazon unveils Kindle Fire tablet & Kindle Touch ebook reader
At an event in New York today, Amazon confirmed rumoured plans to release a 7-inch tablet and two new ebook readers, including one with a touchscreen – all to be released before the end of the year.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon’s flagship announcement was its first ever tablet, the Kindle Fire. As revealed by industry insiders, the Kindle Fire features a 7-inch screen and a dual-core processor.
Kindle Fire specs in brief:
Screen: 7-inch display with 1,024 x 600 resolution
Dimensions: 190mm tall, 120mm wide and 11.4mm thick
Weight: 415 grams
Storage: 8GB (80 apps plus 10 films or 800 songs or 6,000 books) + free cloud storage
Battery Life: 8 hours reading, 7.5 hours video
Connections: USB 2.0, 3.5mm headphone
The screen is a colour LCD that uses IPS technology, the same as found in the iPad and iPhone and generally accepted to produce superior picture quality. It features ultra-tough ‘gorilla glass’ to prevent damage to the screen. The Kindle Fire weighs around 415 grams. It has wi-fi built-in, but no 3G version will be sold.
Though based on Android, Amazon has created it own interface that focuses on accessing magazines, newspapers, books, music and video – all of which Amazon will sell directly to users. When users buy a Kindle Fire from Amazon it will come automatically paired to their Amazon account, providing instant access to their digital purchases.
The major selling point, however, is the price. Amazon plans to sell the Kindle Fire in the US for just $199 (£127), undercutting the Apple iPad by a massive $300 (£191). This does mean some compromises, such as a limited 8GB of built-in storage and no cameras or microphone.
Industry sources indicate the Kindle Fire will launch in the UK in January, though no firm date or price has been announced.
Amazon Silk web browser
Another major feature of the Kindle Fire is Amazon’s Silk browser. Amazon believes mobile devices struggle to render complex web pages, so has developed its own browser that takes advantage of Amazon’s own online servers to speed things up.
When you visit a page, some of the loading is performed by an Amazon server, repackaged so it’s smaller and faster to load, and then sent to the device. Amazon calls this a ‘split browser’ since some of the work is done by the device and some by its servers ‘in the cloud’.
Amazon Kindle Touch & Touch 3G
Amazon’s new flagship ebook reader is the Kindle Touch. Like the current Kindle it’ll come in wi-fi only and 3G equipped versions, but it features no buttons and instead relies on the touchscreen for navigating and changing pages.
Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, said the Kindle Touch has the ’most advanced’ e-ink display yet and that the battery life will even longer than the current Kindle, which can last around a month before needing a charge.
Another new feature is what Amazon has dubbed ‘X-Ray’. It’s an enhanced version of dictionary definitions that pulls up information about what’s happening in the book, not just what words mean. For example, if an event in a book were taking place during an historic event, it will pull up information about that event for you to read about. The system works by downloading information from Wikipedia when you purchase any book.
The Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G will cost $99 (£63) and $149 (£95) respectively and go on sale in the US on 21 November. No UK pricing or availability has been announced at present.
New Amazon Kindle
Amazon also unveiled a new version of its entry-level ebook reader (pictured above). It retains buttons for changing pages, and Amazon claims it’s faster than the Kindle 3. Amazon has removed the keyboard, however, making the new Kindle 18% smaller than before and weigh just 170 grams.
Update: The New Amazon Kindle is available to pre-order from Amazon UK for £89. It will go on sale on 12 October.
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