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Preview: Amazon's tablet Kindle Fire

tech reviews Updated: Sep 29, 2011 20:49 IST

Amazon has finally unveiled its much awaited tablet 'Kindle Fire'. The Android based tablet from the world's largest online retailer would sell at a highly attractive price of $199. The company's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos launched the Kindle Fire tablet along with two brand new versions of the Kindle e-reader devices at an event in New York. This marks Amazon's entry into the already exploding tablet market, dominated easily by Apple's iPad.

The Kindle Fire tablet is powered by a 1GHz dual core CPU which is supported by a 512 MB RAM. There is a limited storage of just 8GB on board. The display is a 7-inch IPS panel with a Gorilla glass cover. The multi-touch display would offer a 1024x600 resolution. There is no camera or microphone available. There isn't a 3G version either.

Kindle Fire runs on a highly customized version of Android. Amazon has worked hard on forking it to ensure it lives up to its image of being an easy-to-use tablet. Fire would enable Amazon to sell all of its streaming services directly to the users. Users will have to use Amazon's own AppStore and there are hardly any Google apps initially on the device. Currently there are around 10,000 applications in Amazon's AppStore and if Fire's sales meet their expectations, more and more developers would be interested in moving to their AppStore. Amazon has also introduced a revolutionary web browser, called Silk, which is neatly tied up to its cloud computing platform and will make web browsing even quicker on its Fire tablets.

Amazon kindle

Amazon promises a battery backup of about 8 hours which sounds promising for an Android based tablet. The charge time for a full back up is however 4 hours, depending on the power source. If Amazon is able to pull off such a feat, it can give other tablet makers a run for their money. However the lack of a 3G version would definitely hurt Amazon's sales expectations. It might become a deal-breaker for certain consumers who demand an always-on Internet connectivity.

The Amazon Kindle Fire will sell for $199 and will initially be available only in the US. This is obviously due to its dependence on Amazon's streaming services which are limited to the US. Analysts believe that Amazon isn't making any real money by selling the Kindle Fire at such a price, so they're relying on bulk sales and hoping to make up for the profits by selling streaming services. It's a well thought out business plan, something HP's TouchPad and RIM's PlayBook lacked.

You cannot directly compare Kindle Fire with the top selling Apple iPad as yet. iPad caters to the high-end consumers and offers a rather exciting overall package of features whereas Amazon's Kindle Fire is more like a common man's choice for a tablet. It cannot replace a computing device due to its very basic feature set but it can quickly become a high selling affordable tablet for the masses.
Amazon has already started accepting pre-orders for the Kindle Fire on its site. It would start shipping only during late November and orders would be processed on a first come first serve basis.