Amazon Announces the $199 Kindle Fire Tablet and Three Kindle E-Readers

As expected, Amazon.com Inc.’s CEO Jeff Bezos announced the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and a trio of new Kindle e-readers two carrying the name and capability, “Touch”. The Fire will have a 7-inch screen and run on a heavily modified version of Google, Inc.’s Android operating system. Included with the Fire will be a one-month trial to Amazon’s “Prime” service that includes no-additional charge streaming videos and two-day shipping on many of the products sold by the world’s largest online retailer.

First shown were the new Kindle e-readers two of which will utilize an improved e-ink screen with touch capabilities, allowing the company to remove the keyboard and other function buttons.  Page-turning will be accomplished by touching various segments of the screen and be easily done with one-hand.

Pricing for the WiFi version of the new Kindle Touch was set at $99 with ads or $149 ad-free and the Kindle Touch 3G version that reportedly will work in over 100 countries is priced at $149/$189. There is no additional charge for data usage on the 3G model. Mr. Bezos then presented a non-touch screen/non-physical keyboard equipped WiFi Kindle that will sell for $79/$109

While Mr. Bezos didn’t give specifics the devices all look smaller than the existing third-generation Kindles and will have better battery life than existing devices.

The touch-screen Kindles will be available for pre-order shortly and ship on November 21 while the non-touch-screen model is available for sale/shipment today.

The new 14.6 ounce Amazon Kindle Fire tablet is powered by a dual-core CPU, 7-inch IPS display that’s protected by Corning, Inc.’s “Gorilla Glass”. The device will rely heavily on Amazon’s cloud services. Synchronization will be handled by the same Whispersync system that Amazon utilizes with their existing Kindles. This means that if you’re watching a movie, listening to music, or reading a book on one device and move to another device you’ll be able to seamlessly pickup at the same spot. A connection to a PC will not be necessary.

The Kindle Fire is based on Google’s Android, but the user interface doesn’t resemble any Android device released to date. Among other apps, Amazon is providing its own web browser named, “Silk” which will utilize Amazon’s back-end servers to cache and speed-up web page display on the devices’ display in a process they’re calling, “Dynamic Split Browsing”.

The Amazon Kindle Fire will ship on November 15 and is available for pre-order today for $199.

The devices are now available for sale/pre-order.

Posted in: Android related, eBook Readers, News, Tablets, Ultra Portables

15 comments… add one

  • Julie September 28, 2011, 11:31 am

    Call me crazy, but I just ordered all three. :) I do wish the Fire was available in a 3G version though…

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  • Andy Chen September 28, 2011, 11:39 am

    Very, very curious about how the browsing is like. Flash support?

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  • Zackogenic September 28, 2011, 11:59 am

    Yes, the Kindle Fire has Flash.

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  • Ken Schoenberg September 28, 2011, 1:52 pm

    Im in…ordered a 3G Kindle Touch and the Fire. Tablets now will outnumber people in my house.

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  • David September 28, 2011, 6:57 pm

    Only available in the US though :(

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  • James September 28, 2011, 8:10 pm

    @David – The new base model Kindle e-reader is up for pre-order on Amazon UK, while they say Amazon.com does support shipping to non-UK areas too.

    The Kindle Fire is still a bit of a experiment for Amazon. So likely they’ll do a internal release once they’re sure they got a winner and also move on to the 10″ model they are considering making as well.

    @Julie – There’s a few things the Kindle Fire is lacking… No Microphone, No Bluetooth, No GPS, No G-Sensor, No Cameras, and No card reader for expanding storage capacity.

    So it’s heavily reliant on the cloud services, with only 8GB of internal capacity that’s likely shared with system requirements.

    Though use of one of the new WiFi portable hard drives may be a viable alternative for portable capacity needs. While some peripheral makers are starting to adopt WiFi for connecting mouse, keyboards, etc that could make up for the lack of bluetooth.

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  • Ken Schoenberg September 28, 2011, 8:29 pm

    @David – Amazon execs have already stated “stay tuned” for international versions. So, I’d expect to see them shipping to other Amazon.com countries shortly.

    There’s also word that there could be a 10″ model forthcoming.

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  • Ken Schoenberg September 29, 2011, 8:32 am

    Here’s a video of Kindle Fire part of the presentation from yesterday. http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/28/video-jeff-bezos-kindle-fire/

    @James – I wouldn’t say that the Kindle Fire is lacking those things. It’s a pure content consumption device. I think we’re going to see the tablet market become a bit more segmented in order for devices to hit price points that are more consumer friendly than the current available devices. Y’know, what…maybe I’ll write an article about that rather than draft that darn licensing agreement I’m supposed to do … :)

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  • James September 30, 2011, 2:58 pm

    @Ken Schoenberg – Fragmentation may be the case, already people carry multiple devices, but there are some things that have come to be expected.

    Even cheaper tablets have memory card expansion, HDMI is becoming standard through the whole range of products as even netbooks will have them starting with Cedar Trail, very few devices don’t have bluetooth these days, and microphone is necessary for voice dictations and audio note taking.

    Only those who only expect this to be just an expansion of the existing Kindle line would be fine with most of these features being missing.

    While most of those missing features may not really be needed, it would have gone a long way if they at least included something like a full USB port to make adding functionality possible.

    Even the iPad lets you add functionality with dock port accessories for example.

    Just Bluetooth for adding accessories and HDMI to take better advantage of the video streaming services would have gone a long way to enhancing the Kindle Fire’s appeal. Especially since the TI OMAP 4 can easily handle full 1080P.

    Though at $199 it will still appeal to a large number of people but the lack of amenities means you still have to add the cost of other devices to cover what it can’t do and that lessens the bargain.

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  • Ken Schoenberg September 30, 2011, 5:23 pm

    @James – I don’t think the hdmi port is at all necessary on the Kindle Fire. I don’t think it’s being utilized on most tablets. There are a myriad of ways to see that same content on a TV, Computer from Amazon without it streaming from the tablet.

    Bluetooth was a little more surprising to me, but lets remember that it does have a USB port (albeit micro) so an adapter is possible…I guess. There’s always the 3.5″ audio output.

    I’ve written a longer article on the device that should go live in the near future. I think Amazon made some tough choices to get a device down to $200 and I believe it is going to be a huge seller.

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  • tony_bostony September 30, 2011, 5:26 pm

    Wow, you really cannot beat the 199 price. Competitor-wise, BN better step things WAY up. I wonder if sideloading will be possible. You figure – dual-core can’t just be for reading and cloud services :)

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  • James September 30, 2011, 8:21 pm

    @Ken Schoenberg – I disagree, other tablets don’t offer video streaming services. Remember the Kindle Fire is intended to profit from Amazon services. So omitting the HDMI is more a big deal for the Kindle Fire than it would be for other tablets.

    While other devices are more likely to make deals with service providers like Netflix.

    Take me for example, I’m a Amazon Premium member but have hardly ever taken advantage of their streaming service. Partly because it hasn’t been convenient enough for me.

    Something like the Kindle Fire could have gotten me to use that service more if I could have outputted it easily to a TV without having to switch to another device. Especially if I’m not in my own home or the alternative device has some issues like using more power when the low powered tablet could have easily handled it.

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  • James September 30, 2011, 8:22 pm

    @Ken Schoenberg – Forgot to mention that microUSB has no power. So most USB devices won’t work unless you can provide external power and you’d likely need an OTG cable adapter to activate host mode to even try.

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  • Ken Schoenberg October 1, 2011, 3:22 am

    @James – how many HDMI ports does the iPad have? Indications such as Amazon’s popularity list also have the HDMI dongle for the iPad not being that hot a seller.
    Remember there are other ways to get video off a device. Apple uses AirPlay, Android has doubleTwist.

    Hey, there are going to be people that are unsatisfied with the Kindle-Fire’s limited feature set. I’ve read that some find the lack of a 3G option a deal killer too.

    Even a device like the 5″ Samsung Galaxy WiFi 5.0 that costs $75 more doesn’t have the port. However, for around $60 you can buy a Roku box and have access to Amazon, Netflix, etc.

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  • James October 2, 2011, 6:10 pm

    @Ken Schoenberg – You can add a HDMI to the iPad through the dock adapters. No such optional feature for the Kindle Fire!

    While Amazon is not going to give you other ways to get video off the device. You’ll have to use a different device with access to their streaming service instead. So you’ll have to rely on their service keeping track of what you are watching, not that everyone wants to be tracked either, in order to switch to another device.

    However, all that is just adding more cost than simply including the port in the first place or even allowing it to be added with an accessory and whole other devices will cost you more and add hassle of set up as well.

    Amazon is really marketing their services and not really so much the device. Aside from the custom UI and a few exclusive features, you might as well get another tablet and just load up the Amazon apps to get access to their services. Otherwise you’re going to have to get multiple devices to cover every usage scenario you may go through that isn’t covered by the Kindle Fire.

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