In hopes of riding the current tablet wave sweeping consumers, E-commerce behemoth Amazon.com today launched a $199 tablet it’s calling the Kindle Fire.
As expected, it’s a 7-inch touchscreen device running a custom version of Google’s Android software.
Can Kindle Fire Catch Fire
* The dual-processor tablet weighs 14.6-oz, is WiFi only and does not support 3G connectivity.
* It comes with 8GB of internal storage (supposedly enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books).
* As for battery life, Amazon is promising up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off.
* Kindle Fire includes a browser called Amazon Silk (yes, it supports Flash) and free cloud storage.
Amazon plans to start shipping the Kindle Fire from November 15, in time for the rich pickings of the holiday shopping season.
The Bad and the Good
Kindle Fire lacks a camera or a microphone.
Bad – This means you can’t use the device to make Skype video calls the way you can with the iPad 2.
If even regular Skype (i.e. non-video version) does not work on the Kindle Fire a lot of folks are going to be disappointed.
Amazon’s main rival the Apple iPad has both WiFi and 3G versions and sports a 9.7-inch screen.
Bad – As we’ve said in some of our earlier posts, the 7-inch screen is rather small for a tablet.
An ideal size for a tablet is closer to 10-inches.
After all, you’re not going to be just reading books or magazines on the tablet.
If you’re like the average American, you’re gonna look at the tablet as more of an entertainment device to watch TV shows, the occasional movie and play video games than to pore over Tolstoy or Gibbon.
Kindle Fire will have a two-point touch screen unlike the 10-point iPad
Bad – Gamers are not going to be pleased with the 2-point touchscreen
Pricing the Kindle Fire at $199 expands the tablet’s reach.
Good – Given the fairly low price of $199, we expect consumers in North America, who can’t afford the iPad (pricing starts at $499), will snap up the Kindle Fire.
Hey, the Kindle Fire could also be a big draw in countries like India where people hanker for a tablet but can’t afford the $499 price-tag for an iPad.
Of course, ultimately the sales will depend on the reviews of the product and how well it performs in the real world. On a stage, even Aishwarya Rai looks sexy when gussied up. But without her makeup we bet Ash would scare young children. 😉
It seems Amazon has tied the Kindle Fire to its huge content reservoir of books, movies, music and apps a la the iPad to Apple’s iTunes. Samsung, Acer, Asus, HP (its TouchPad tablet recently discontinued) and scores of other tablet vendors do not have that advantage.
Good – Kindle Fire consumers can pick up from the 11,000 streaming titles as well as rent/buy 100,000 movies and TV shows, and purchase 1 million e-books and 17 million songs.
It’s almost certain that Amazon is taking a financial hit on the Kindle Fire hardware in hopes of making money on the content and other purchases consumers make on its web site.
Good – All content on the Kindle Fire can be backed up on the Amazon Cloud wirelessly.
If the Kindle Fire works well, it could be the first real competitor to the Apple iPad, which has swept the market and crushed all rivals.
By the way, Kindle Fire includes a 30-day free subscription to Amazon Prime that gives you unlimited streaming access to 11,000 movies and TV shows besides 2-day shipping on purchase of hard-goods on the Amazon web site.
Upgrades to Kindle E-Reader
Amazon also rolled out an upgrade to its existing Kindle Reader, adding a touchscreen to the e-reading device.
It’s called Kindle Touch and the black and white device costs $99 for the WiFi only version and $149 for the WiFi plus 3G version.
This is a good move because Barnes & Noble’s Nook touchscreen reader had started eating into the Kindle Reader business.
At the low end, Amazon added a non-touchscreen Kindle Reader for $79.
Hey, that’s less than a trip to new Jersey to watch a crappy Bollywood film and have a meal in Edison, NJ.
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So which one do you think I should go with,Nookbook or Amazon’s Kindle Fire?????
Wait a few days for the first reviews of Kindle Fire and if they’re positive, we’d recommend Kindle Fire over the Nook because you can do so much more.
Also, Barnes & Noble will have to slash prices on both Nook Color and Nook if it wants to stay in the game.
Of course, if you can rob a bank or get your grandma to conveniently pop off leaving you with all the savings she hoarded up selling her knitting and babysitting unruly neighborhood brats (like you?), we’d recommend the iPad 2. 😉
Actually she did “babysit” me for the early part of my life while my parents were fighting for custody (dont ask!) but as far as knitting goes,she never made much from that to my knowledge.
I’ll keep checking SI for the latest tech reviews before I make a decision
As a pretty happy owner of a Nook Color… The answer is it depends.
I have rooted my NC to do all the cool android stuff. The NC has a mSD card slot that the Fire does not have.
Granted B&N does not do music or video like Amazon. However, the video collection on Amazon is pretty lame.
Amazon is saying unlimited cloud storage… but that is only for Amazon purchased content. Some places show a 5GB limit. So, it is not clear what unlimited storage means. It’s quite possible that after 5GB they might hit you with S3 storage fees.
With the NC, with 8GB on board and a card slot storage limits are no issue. The hacked NC can run the Kindle app as well.
Unless you do a lot of Amazon music and Amazon videos, I’d say go for the Nook.
1. You write: I have rooted my NC to do all the cool android stuff.
Cool and Android seems like a contradiction in terms to this iOS user. 😉
2. It might be interesting to see what the reviewers say about the Kindle Fire. At the launch event in NYC, the reporters were not even allowed to touch it. Source: PC World.
iPad 2 – Toyota Camry
Kindle Fire – Tata Nano
KF is for those who want to own a tablet for the sake of owning a tablet.
It’s a stripped down lousy version of a decent tablet. I think KF is a serious alternative to those who wish to purchase iPod Touch as browsing,reading, video watching could be better becz of bigger screen.
Waiting for the first hands-on review of Kindle Fire.
In the coming battle between Kindle and iPad, other playerss like Nook, Samsung etc might get obliterated.
Amazon has taken an innovative appraoch in peddling tablets which is by starting firesale (selling hardware for a loss) from day one. The idea is to stuff more content into the a**es of Americans and make money out of that (as predicted by SI).
Kindle Fire will be poor man’s tablet or a dead on arrival device. Kindle touch 3g is already is dead. (Who wants to shell out 50 bucks for 3g on an e reader). 79 bucks for a kindle is the best deal of all.
Amen to all to other vendors of tablet.
Yup, $79 for the new Kindle e-reader is a steal
But we suspect it won’t find too many consumer-buyers because people now demand full functionality – browser, video, audio, touchscreen etc.
People may have once been satisfied with the keyboard-based Kindle e-reader but having tasted the iPad, Sony S, Samsung Galaxy, TouchPad, Nook and other touchscreen tablets they now want the touchscreen thingy.
One potential customer for the $79 reader – U.S. libraries that have already started a program to lend Kindle e-books to members.
I have read downloaded free ebooks worth at least 1000 bucks and read on kindle 2 after converting to mobi format. User interface sucks. But 79 bucks is good deal.
If you love reading, the advantage with the iPad 2 is that it supports multiple eBook readers (including Kindle, Google Books, Kobe etc) via dedicated Apps.
On the flip side, the iPad is also a lot expensive. $79 (new low end non-touchscreen Kindle) vs $499 (16GB iPad 2)
I just checked my local library and they have the Kindle books available for download, so I think that that’s going to be their major customer(i.e libraries) for the most part
While you wait to get your e-reader/tablet, you can read Kindle e-books on the PC too.
Apple is peddling 16gig refurbished iPad 2 for the first time (Demand cooling due to touchpad effect). Price is 450. I ll buy one when price drops to 350, probably within a couple of months. Suckers at hp haven’t even shipped my touchpad purchased in firesale.
Refurbished is a pain. On the rare occasion we’ve purchased a refurb product (a Vizio TV for a Gujju friend in Philadelphia who wanted to save on sales tax) it conked out in about six months.
In any case, iPad 2 pricing is unlikely to drop to $350 any time soon even for a refurb.
BTW, Blackberry PlayBook tablet is down to $299 at Staples (we got an e-mail from them yesterday). But does anyone care? Likely not!
Dude. Apple refurbished products cannot be compared to others where they jus clean and ship. Apple replaces the battery, outer casing and charger. In other words, the world ll not know that your girlfriend is not a virgin 😉
Good luck with your iPad hymenoplasty! 😉
But in India, even though it is priced low, it does not make much sense without 3G. Since WiFi is not ubiquitous here. Plus the lack of mic.
But these are things which can be fixed by amazon in the near future.
It is going to be a competition from now on. But who cares, I’m looking for iOS 5 upgrade.
You write: it does not make much sense without 3G. Since WiFi is not ubiquitous here. Plus the lack of mic. But these are things which can be fixed by amazon in the near future.
We do not think it will be fixed in the near future.
Those are hardware things and can’t be added with a software update, if that’s what you’re hinting.
At least, not in the current Kindle Fire.
BTW, why is WiFi not ubiquitous in India? Anyone with a decent router can set it up.