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Amazon introduces Kindle Fire tablet and more

As expected, Amazon today announced its first fully-functional tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, which will sell for $199 and is sure to have a huge impact on the still-fledgling tablet market. Amazon also used the occasion to overhaul its existing Kindle e-reader line-up, introducing two new touchscreen versions and a basic non-touch Kindle priced at just $79.

With the Kindle Fire, Amazon has decided not to directly challenge Apple’s iPad but is instead offering a product that will instantly appeal to its existing customer base. At the same time, its huge price advantage – the Kindle Fire is $300 less than the cheapest iPad – is likely to attract a wider audience that has so far stayed away from tablets because of cost.

Despite the low price, the Kindle Fire is packed with features. It has a 7-inch multi-touch high resolution display, a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, ultra-fast browsing using an entirely new cloud-based Web browser called Amazon Silk, and full support for e-mail and docs.

But it is in the realm of content that Amazon clearly plans to have the edge over the competition. Millions of books and songs, tens of thousands of TV shows and movies, and thousands of apps and games can be effortlessly downloaded direct from the Amazon store.

And you get to choose exactly how you want your content to be delivered: It can either be downloaded to the device itself or stored for free in the Amazon Cloud, to be streamed wherever and whenever it’s required.

It’s the ability to sync your library and download it at anytime to any device that sets the Kindle apart from other e-readers. With the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s “Whispersync” technology even extends to video. You can start watching a movie on your TV, and then pick up right where you left off on your Kindle Fire.

At $199 there are inevitably some features that are missing. The initial Kindle Fire is Wi-Fi only, and there is no camera or microphone. But here is a device that’s tailor-made for the delivery and consumption of content. It’s not pretending to be a laptop or a device that will change the world, but if you want quick and easy access to books, movies, magazines, music,  web content, and e-mail, then the Kindle Fire does all that at a price that’s going to very hard to beat.

The Kindle Touch ($99) and Kindle Touch 3G ($139) are touchscreen versions of Amazons existing Kindle e-readers and are designed to leapfrog over the competition, most notably Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Again, price is the key – no-one is offering so much in an e-reader for so little cost. There is even a new lighter, non-touch Kindle for $79, filling out a complete range of affordable feature-rich devices.

The new Kindle devices go on sale mid to late-November but are available now for pre-order at Amazon.com.

Comment by Amanda, posted 11/11/2011, 10:28 AM:

My 14-year-old would be over the moon if he got a Fire for Christmas. My concern is how to keep him safe while surfing on a tablet. It's not meant to be kept in one place the whole family can see it, and as far as I know there aren't any parental controls for it, are there?
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