Amazon launches new Kindles and tablet, Kindle Fire

Amazon's tablet price pitched lower than anyone thought, and a new super-cheap Kindle e-reader arrives
Darren Allan

September 28, 2011
Kindle Fire

Amazon’s big press event has just taken place over in New York, and as expected the company unveiled its new low cost Kindle tablet – but also a triplet of new Kindle e-readers, and some other surprises (Kindle eggs, if you will).

Yes, there are no less than four new models of Kindle, the first being a new version of the basic e-reader which is 30% lighter and 18% smaller – minus the keyboard, mind – and it runs a bit faster (page turns are 10% quicker). The other major point is its price reduction to $79.

The Kindle e-reader up from that is the new Kindle Touch, which as the name would suggest adds a touchscreen to the device. It’s pitched at a very cheap $99.

Finally for the traditional e-readers, the top of the range Kindle Touch 3G bolts on 3G capabilities (would you believe) with free data access, as Amazon covers the cost of the connection. This top-of-the-line model costs $149, and all these Kindle e-readers launch on November 21st in the US.

However, there’s a slight catch to these budget prices here, which is that the $79 version of the basic Kindle has ads, sorry, “special offers”, pushed to it by Amazon. It’ll be $30 more for the non-advertising version.

In the UK, this basic Kindle is up for pre-order at £89 – we’re not sure if that’s the ad-version or not, hopefully that’s the ad-free model which is $109 in the States. That would make sense.

Now comes the bad news. Unfortunately the Kindle Touch isn’t going to be available in the UK yet, according to the Guardian who did some digging, and the worse news is that the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s new tablet, won’t be either.

It’s US only to begin with due to its hook-up with the Amazon cloud, which allows all content to be backed up and saved to the cloud.

So what’s the spec and price of the Kindle Fire, that much speculated about piece of hardware we’ve heard so many whispers about over the last few months?

It’s a 7 inch tablet with a full (16 million) colour LCD touchscreen that has a resolution of 1024×600. The Fire comes with a dual-core processor, 8GB of storage and weighs 400 grams, and as expected it has no camera (not even a video chat cam).

Neither does it have 3G – just wi-fi – and these are cost cutting moves which have allowed Amazon to pitch the price low. Lower than the $250 which had previously been rumoured, in fact. The Kindle Fire will actually cost $199, which makes it a truly budget tablet (selling at a fair loss, we’d imagine, despite the corner cutting measures).

In the quantities Amazon is intending to produce the Fire – if the shipment rumours from the far east are correct – it’s a potentially serious threat to the iPad’s market share.

Amazon has naturally hooked its device up to all its services, so it offers Amazon’s MP3 music library, Instant Video, Kindle books of course, and magazines, along with Android apps and games. The tablet is built on Android with a custom Amazon interface.

And one of the big surprises, the price aside, was the fact that Amazon has developed its own browser for the Fire. Amazon Silk is linked into the Amazon Web Services Cloud to accelerate browsing speed, a nifty idea.

The device will also come with a free month of Amazon Prime, offering speedier free shipping on Amazon purchases and gratis streaming movies.

The Kindle Fire will launch on November 15th in the States, although exactly when it will pitch up over here is currently unknown.

We’d expect it, and the e-readers, to make something of an impact this Christmas.

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