The biggest news out of the Amazon press conference today seems to be that they’ve learned from the HP TouchPad fire sale – If you can beat the iPad on price point, you can give Apple a run for their money regardless of any other factors. However, unlike the TouchPad, the newly introduced Kindle Fire tablet doesn’t seem to be lacking in hardware and since it is based on Android, it means you don’t have to compromise on app availability.
The 6″ regular Kindle moves to a $79 price point. The $79 model is with Special Offers and costs $109 without Special Offers. According to the press release, its’ specs improved along with its price:
The latest generation Kindle features a new design that is 30 percent lighter at just 5.98 ounces, 18 percent smaller, and turns pages 10 percent faster. Kindle is now small and light enough to fit easily in your pocket and carry with you everywhere, yet it still features the same 6-inch, most advanced electronic ink display that reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.
The new Kindle is available today at http://www.amazon.com/kindle
Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G
Kindle Touch makes it easier to turn pages with its touch sensor. It’s also lighter, smaller, and has extra-long battery life. It comes with a built-in WiFi adapter that works with any hotspot and gives you access to AT&T hotspots.
Amazon also introduced a new feature called X-ray:
Amazon invented X-Ray, a new feature that lets customers explore the “bones of the book.” With a single tap, readers can see all the passages across a book that mention ideas, fictional characters, historical figures, places or topics that interest them, as well as more detailed descriptions from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon’s community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers. Amazon built X-Ray using its expertise in language processing and machine learning, access to significant storage and computing resources with Amazon S3 and EC2, and a deep library of book and character information. The vision is to have every important phrase in every book.
Kindle Touch is $99 with special offers, $139 without. http://www.amazon.com/KindleTouch
Kindle Touch 3G is the Kindle Touch model but with built-in 3G with no contract or commitment required to use it. It also include built-in WiFi for $149 with special offers. It costs $189 to opt-out of the special offers.
You can pre-order both the Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G now and they’ll begin shipping November 21st.
While the previous Kindles have been traditional e-readers using e-ink displays, the Kindle Fire is a true tablet. It boasts a 7-inch full-color touchscreen at 1024×600 resolution, a dual core CPU, and weighs in at 14.6 ounces. The battery life is reported at “Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off.”
You can watch TV and movies from Amazon Instant Video, find songs on Amazon MP3, and, of course, read Amazon Kindle books, magazines, and newspapers. It also includes access to the Android Apps from Amazon. The Kindle’s WhisperSync technology expands to allow you to pause a video on one device and continue from another.
You can pre-order now for $199 at www.amazon.com/KindleFire and Kindle Fires will start shipping November 15th.
Exclusive to the Kindle Fire is a mobile browser called Amazon Silk. It utilizes Amazon’s EC2 to split the browser between the local device and the cloud to remove limitations of mobile browsers and speed up web access by caching everything in one place before transfer. Amazon Silk was a big enough feature to warrant its own press release.
This hardware looks pretty promising and the price point seems to ease the decision making of getting an e-reader versus a tablet. With Kindle recently opening up to lending from public libraries, it has taken one big reason I was looking at other e-readers. I’ll have to look a bit more at each offering to determine if something is worth purchasing. I’d rather spend the extra money to avoid the special offers but with upgrading my Android smartphone soon, I’m not sure the tablet is a worthwhile investment for me at this time. I’d rather get a Kindle for less money and more battery life.
I think Amazon’s PR could use some work after this event. Their announcement was great and is sure to challenge the iPad’s dominance of the market. However, I think they could have greatly improved the press related factors of the announcement by:
- offering a video streaming of the event
- don’t leak key details to select press to be published before the event
- Have the details of the announcement go live on the website as they’re announced. Amazon.com didn’t reflect any of the new announcements until much later
- Provide press releases on the announcements like the website, much more punctually, to be the official source of information