Amazon unveils Kindle Fire and Touch: Threatens Android cousins more than iPad 2

The worst kept secret since civil servants decided to leave al-Qaeda dossiers on trains, Amazon finally ended the will-they-won’t-they speculation over its entry into the tablet game. The 7 inch Kindle Fire is full-colour dual core tablet running a customised version of Android 3.1 Honeycomb. Unlike the vast majority of 7 inch Android tablets however, the Kindle Fire has a the benefits of Amazon’s content ecosystem and incredible pricing power (the Kindle Fire wanders into impulse buy territory at $199 although what this will mean in Sterling is highly debatable – it most certainly won’t be the £127 that the exchange rate suggests and it may not even come to the UK if certain reports are to be believed).


Some of the highlights of the Kindle Fire include the co-opting of the Kindle’s amazing Whispersync technology and it’s amply use of the cloud, which explains the lack of 3G (when test 3’s MiFi dongle this week it’s been fascinating (yes fascinating) to stare at the screen and watch data charges rocket up for simple services – I’ve used up a gig alone today. I digress). There was also a snazzy new browser called Amazing Silk that leverages Amazon’s cloud prowess to load pages very clearly. They were also keen to point out that you can hold it with one hand.

In essence, the Kindle Fire is what the detractors would derisively label the iPad when it first hit the shores – a device solely for consuming content. Of course they were wrong in the case of the iPad (I’m writing this on one) but in terms of the Kindle Fire it’s not really a criticism. Rather than go on about the Fire’s tablet like qualities, lumping it with its Android brethren, it instead leaned on the strength of the Kindle brand – which places it alongside e-readers – a field in which it is the clear leader.

Of course the old-fashioned Kindle was also thrown some love and received a much needed revamp in the form of the Kindle Touch. All the precious screen real-estate take up by the keyboard has now made way for glorious text. The Kindle Touch uses infrared sensors to interact with your digits. Like it’s big brother the Fire, the Kindle Touch stores info in the cloud, allowing you store thousands of books for free on Amazon’s servers. Also pretty cool was the “X-ray feature” that logs information from dictionaries and Wikipedia pertinent to your text – handy if you suddenly forget what a thurible is (this happened to me the other day and I was incensed). The $99 version of the Kindle Touch is WiFi-only, and there is a $149 version with 3G access. And if you hate touch, there will be $79 non-touch version of the Kindle.

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