Updated 1:06 pm ET, Wednesday, September 28
Amazon couldn’t keep it contained for long: The existence of The Kindle Fire, the company’s new full color, 7-inch screen tablet computer, was confirmed by a Bloomberg report on Wednesday, minutes before an Amazon press event kicked-off in New York at 10 am ET.
At 7-inches, the Kindle Fire will be smaller than its main rival, Apple’s iPad, which features a 10-inch display. And it’ll be missing some of the main features of the iPad, including 3G connectivity (the Kindle Fire will only be able to connect to the Internet via WiFi) and a camera (in the case of the iPad 2. The original iPad doesn’t have a camera, either).
But the Kindle Fire’s main eye-popping feature is its price: $199, less than half the cost of the $499 iPad 2. That price also nets customers a free 30-day subscription to Amazon Prime, the company’s bundle discount shipping and instant video streaming deal, which normally costs $79-a-year.
First update: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has officially unveiled the Kindle Fire on the stage at a New York (along with three other, cheaper black-and-white e-ink Kindles.) Here’s the first TV ad for the Kindle Fire, posted on the Kindle YouTube channel:
The device boasts a host of features, including the ability to synch wirelessly with Amazon’s cloud server, EC2 (Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud), what Amazon calls “Whispersynch.” Unlike the iPad, all the content is accessed through a single, constant interface, Ars Technica reports. Apps and specific e-books or magazine issues can pinned to the interface for easy access as later. The content is automatically displayed in reverse-chronological order.
The popular iOS game “Fruit Ninja,” also made a an appearance, with Bezos playing it on the Kindle Fire.
Bezos also proudly showed-off the Kindle’s built-in web browser, Silk, which offers “split architecture,” storing memory-intensive parts of the web-browsing experience on Amazon’s cloud and other less-intensive parts locally on the device itself. Unlike the iPad, it will support Adobe Flash-based web experiences.
Here’s a video of the Silk browser as explained by Amazon engineers:
Bezos confirmed the Kindle price at $199 and said it is available for pre-order now, along with the other new Kindle devices. It will ship on November 15.
Second update: Scanning Amazon’s website, a TPM staffer points out that the new $79 Kindle (the basic device), $99 Kindle Touch and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G, are actually that cheap thanks to Amazon’s “Special Offers” discount, which presents display advertisements on the bottom of the screen or over the entire screen when the device isn’t being read. That ad service discount comes as a default, but getting rid of it costs an extra $30-$40 depending on the device. The Fire doesn’t offer any such discount. See here:
As Amazon explains in the case of the Kindle Touch 3G:
Special Offers & Sponsored Screensavers Receive special offers directly on your Kindle 3G. Examples of past special offers include: $10 for $20 Amazon.com Gift Card Save up to $500 off Amazon’s already low prices on select HDTVs $1 for a Kindle book, choose from thousands of books Spend $10 on Kindle books and get a free $10 Amazon.com Gift Card Special offers and sponsored screensavers display on the Kindle screensaver and on the bottom of the home screen—they don’t interrupt reading.
Third update: Here are the basic technical specifications of the Kindle Fire:
Size: 7.5” x 4.7” x 0.45” (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm)
Weight: 14.6 oz
Screen Size: 7” multi-touch display (though it is only a “two-point” touch interface compared to the iPad’s 10-point, as Reuters notes)
Resolution: 1,024 x 600
Built-in storage: 8GB, which Amazon says is “enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.”
Processor: Texas Instruments ARM-based dual-core OMAP CPU, as speculated by Tech Radar (Amazon has yet to confirm).
USB port: Yes, 2.0 with micro-connector
Audio port: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
Battery: Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback/ 4 hours for full charge.
Fourth update: Hands-on videos of the device in action have been posted at This Is My Next. The videos reveal that the Silk browser offers desktop-style tabbed browsing, which, as the Amazon rep notes, is “not common in mobile browsing.” A demo of multi-tasking while audio was playing did evidence some slight hiccups, with the device stalling when attempting to load the Silk Favorites page.