Amazon Announces Kindle Fire, Setting iPad Market Ablaze

Amazon announced its Android-based Kindle tablet, the Kindle Fire, on Wednesday—as expected—as well as two touch-based Kindle eBook readers and a low-end Kindle eBook reader without touch. But Amazon thoroughly undercut even the wildest estimates for the cost of the eagerly anticipated Kindle Fire, which will retail for just $200.

What's $200 in this market, you ask? It's $50 less than the Nook Color ebook reader and a whopping $300 less than Apple's "cheapest" iPad. But let's look at this another way: If you were to buy all four of Amazon's new Kindle devices, described below, the total cost would be less than the cost of a single 32GB iPad. That's how inexpensive Amazon's devices are. Apple, consider the gauntlet thrown.


Obviously, the Kindle Fire is the most interesting of the devices, since it's a full-featured Android tablet with hooks into Amazon's Apple-like ecosystem. The Fire features a 7" multi-touch display running at 1024 x 600, comes with 8GB of storage (which Amazon says is enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books), and utilizes Wi-Fi (but not 3G) wireless networking. The Kindle Fire gets up to 8 hours of battery life on a charge and can fully recharge in 4 hours.

And like the iPad, the Kindle Fire is backed by a vast array of content—in this case, provided by Amazon. This includes more than "18 million movies, TV shows, songs, apps, games, books, and magazines," Amazon notes, more than 100,000 movies and TV shows from Amazon Instant Video, more than 17 million songs from Amazon MP3, 100 exclusive graphic novels, hundreds of magazines and newspapers, and of course a full range of Android apps and games, including popular titles like Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, Cut the Rope, and more.

The Kindle Fire also integrates closely with Amazon's cloud computing services, including the Amazon Cloud Drive, which can be used to store any Amazon-bought content for free. It also features an exclusive new web browser called Amazon Silk that divvies up site rendering between the device and the cloud, and creates what Amazon calls a much faster web browsing experience. And of course the Kindle Fire, like other Kindles, integrates tightly with your user account.

In addition to the Kindle Fire, Amazon announced three other Kindles, two of which will retail for under $100. The new Kindle costs just $79 and features a new design that is lighter, smaller, and faster than its predecessor.  Next up is the Kindle Touch, which adds a touch screen and costs just $99. And then there's a $149 version of the Kindle Touch, which adds 3G connectivity. The new Kindle is available immediately, but the two Touch versions won't ship until November 21. The Kindle Fire ships November 15. They are all available for preorder today.

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