Amazon is the next to step up to the tablet plate, and it looks like it’s trying to do it right, as it unveiled its Kindle Fire tablet at an event in New York today.
The Kindle Fire is a compact tablet, sporting a 7-inch screen and looks to challenge the competition with a competitive starting price point of $199. It will run Google’s Android OS, but it will be heavily skinned to reflect the retailer’s focus on media like movies, magazines, and music. Sweetening the deal is the fact that it will come with a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which is the company’s premium service that offers benefits like free two-day shipping and access to streaming movies.
There will not, however, be a 3G model available; it will only have Wi-Fi connectivity. This is probably part of Amazon’s means of keeping the Kindle Fire’s price down, but it may somewhat hamper the convenience that many users are used to.
The Kindle Fire will be powered by a dual-core processor that can support multi-tasking and will weigh in at 14.6 ounces. It will also have access to the Amazon Android App Store, sport an IPS display protected by Gorilla Glass, and allow all user media to be stored for free using Amazon Cloud Storage.
Syncing will apparently be a lot more convenient due to the cloud storage, allowing users to delete and re-acquire content whenever they want. Similarly, the Kindle Fire will come pre-registered with your Amazon credentials, so all of the content from customers’ libraries will already be available on the tablet when it arrives.
Amazon’s WhisperSync technology, which lets users resume where they left off in a particular eBook when moving from one device from another, will now work with other types of media on the Kindle Fire, like movies and TV shows. So for example, users can be watching a movie on their tablet, come home, and then switch to their TV and pick up right where they stopped.
The Kindle Fire will feature a “split browser” called Amazon Silk for a faster internet browsing experience. Using cloud rendering and caching in combination with traditional browsing methods, Amazon Silk will have the ability to pre-render and then download the content of a webpage all in one shot. It will also intelligently determine what needs to be off-loaded to provide the fastest experience, so the content being sent down to the device will be optimized. For example, large images will be downsized to fit the screen resolution.
But perhaps most important is the announcement that the Kindle Fire will ship on November 15.
Amazon is the most recent contender to attempt to dethrone the iPad, the reigning champion tablet in the market from Apple. The online retailer has a chance to succeed where others have failed, given its low price-point — which looks great next to the cheapest iPad, which is $499 — and the sheer amount of media content that Amazon possesses, especially eBooks. Being able to offer so much downloadable and streaming content will ostensibly allow the Kindle Fire to keep up with the content from Apple’s ever-growing App Store, which has been one of the main reasons for the iPad’s success.
Amazon also revealed three new Kindle eReader models, which you can read about here in our full story. TabletPCReview was in New York for the event. Please check back for our hands-on impressions of the device.