Amazon has officially unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet, its Android-powered colour alternative to the eink Kindle. And, of course, an alternative to the iPad and the horde of other Android tablets.
The Amazon Kindle Fire has a 7in screen, runs a heavily customised version of Google OS Android and comes with Wi-Fi connectivity only – there’s no 3G on offer here. This tablet’s real stand-out bullet point is its price. At $199 it undercuts all the big-name Android tablets – although we expect US-to-UK conversion rates mean we won’t end up paying less than £179. However, that’s a figure we’ll be perfectly happy with if its performance is up to expectations. It’ll hit the US on 15 November, but we may have to wait until next year.
Kindle Fire – mostly yum
Rather than being Android-centric, using the Kindle Fire will seem Amazon-centric, based around access to the Amazon Appstore, Amazon MP3, the Kindle bookstore, Amazon store, and other Amazon streaming services currently in the works for us little islanders. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at the Kindle Fire’s launch, “We don’t think of the Kindle Fire as a tablet. We think of it as a service.” This is an intriguing proposition, an approach not yet taken by a tablet maker.
In this age of the tablet, it’s impossible not to compare it to other tabs, despite Bezos’s claims. What’s interesting hardware-wise here is that there are no nav buttons. Everything is handled with the touchscreen. There are no cameras either, features we have always felt are largely redundant on a big (for a portable) device.
Other than these aberrations, the Kindle Fire absolutely supplies the spec goods. It uses a 7in 1024×600 pixel IPS display fronted by strong, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, is powered by a dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP processor (MHz TBC) and weighs around 410g. That’s significantly heavier than the 250g Kindle, but much lighter than the 600g Apple iPad 2.The battery life is rated at eight hours.
Multi-tasking is supported, no big surprise in an Android device, but exactly how well it is implemented in Amazon’s custom UI will have to be something we test first-hand. Amazon claims it’ll have access to 100,000 TV shows and movies, although this could be something us UK folk have to wait for. Is the deal not sweet enough yet? The Kindle Fire comes with a free month’s trial of Amazon Prime. If that won’t convince you, nothing will.
We’ll be back with more UK release details as they appear.