Amazon Kindle Fire – hot on the iPad’s tail?

Kindle Fire game screen closeup

Kindle Fire, magazines on screenThe tablet computer market got a lot more interesting today, with the wraps coming off of the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Amazon has gone for the smaller screen size with the Kindle Fire, a 7 inch multi-touch screen, with 1024 x 600 resolution, as opposed the 9.7 inch screen of the iPad 2. It weighs 413 grams, where the iPad 2 is a little over 600 grams. The Kindle Fire is powered by Android, and while there are apps available to download from Amazon, there is no access to Google’s Android Market app store.

Connectivity to the web is via Wi-Fi, there is no 3G capability with the Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire’s dual-core processor provides good speed, as does the new Amazon Silk Browser. Amazon Silk uses the computing grunt of the Amazon Web Services cloud, and splits the load between the browser and processor of the Kindle Fire itself, plus the server power of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Amazon quote that “round-trip latency is 5 milliseconds or less to most web sites rather than the 100 milliseconds that’s typical over wireless connections”. Amazon also use the knowledge built over years of e-commerce. If you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon you’d be familiar with the “customers who bought this also bought…” suggestion of related products. Amazon aim to do something like this with websites people visit, looking at patterns of internet browsing from Kindle Fire owners.

For example, Silk might observe that 85 percent of visitors to a leading news site next click on that site’s top headline. With that knowledge, EC2 and Silk together make intelligent decisions about pre-pushing content to the Kindle Fire. As a result, the next page a Kindle Fire customer is likely to visit will already be available locally in the device cache, enabling instant rendering to the screen.

Kindle Fire game screen closeupContent? Yup, Amazon can provide content for you, with access to something like 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines and books. The Kindle Fire has 8GB of storage, that translates to “80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books”. On top of the onboard storage, Kindle Fire owners will be able to store content for free in the Amazon Cloud, ready for you to stream or download to the device.

At first glance, I think this thing will sell extremely well. There’s content aplenty, the tech looks good, and the price is very competitive. The only question mark, is if a 7 inch screen provides a good tablet computer experience for everybody? But, if the whole HP TouchPad debacle taught us anything, it is that people are very keen for a keenly-priced tablet computer.

Kindle Fire price and availability

The Kindle Fire will go on sale on November 15… but only for US sale, where the price will be US$199. Amazon have put up a pre-order page for the Amazon Kindle, with the note that “Orders are prioritized on a first come, first served basis.”

Amazon Kindle Fire specifications

  • Display: 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colours
  • Processor: 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU
  • RAM: 512MB
  • System requirements: None, because it’s wireless and doesn’t require a computer
  • On-device storage: 8GB internal. That’s enough for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books
  • Cloud storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
  • Battery life: Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content
  • Charge time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via USB
  • Wi-Fi connectivity: Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or 802.1X standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks
  • USB port: USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
  • Audio: 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers
  • Content formats supported: Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8
  • Size: 190 x 120 x 11.4 mm
  • Weight: 413 grams


What do you think? Would the price of the Kindle Fire drive you from interested in a tablet computer, to a purchaser of a tablet computer? Leave comments about the Kindle Fire in the ‘Leave A Reply’ section, a little further down the page.