$199 Amazon Kindle Fire Android tablet revealed

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We’ve all known that it’s been coming for a long, long time, but Amazon have finally unveiled their first tablet device. The Amazon Kindle Fire is a 7-inch slate running a heavily customised version of Android, with a focus on media consumption and heavy integration with the Amazon store.

Using an IPS touchscreen display protected by a sheet of Gorilla Glass, the Kindle Fire sports a dual-core processor and weighs 14.6 ounces. In terms of design, it most closely resembles the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, with a thick black bezel; hardly surprising considering Amazon are said to have used manufacturers Quanta to build the device, who also had a hand in making the PlayBook.

Precise dimensions measure up at 190 x 120 x 11.4mm. 8GB of local storage is supplemented by Amazon’s Cloud Drive service, while battery life manages up to 8 hours of reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless switched off. Fully charging the device will take around 4 hours.

However, Amazon have opted to ommit a few tablet mainstay specs; there’s no 3G connectivity with the Kindle Fire, nor a camera or microphone.

As such, it’s all about consumption, and access to the Amazon store is ever-present in the Kindle Fire. As well as shipping with a tablet-optimised Amazon shopping app on board, the re-jigged Android OS features a search bar that sits at the top of the UI that makes searching the Amazon store as easy as searching the web or files locally stored on the device itself.

As well as shipping with Pandora, Twitter, Facebook and Netflix apps pre-installed, the Kindle Fire also comes with a month-long trial of the premium Amazon Prime service. Kindle Fire owners will get access to over 100,000 movies and TV shows, as well as 17 million songs and the extensive wares of the Amazon Android app store and Kindle bookstore.

Magazines will also be a larger feature of the Kindle Fire than the limited way in which they appear on regualr Kindle devices. Full colour, picture heavy renderings, there’s no need to worry about them taking up masses of storage space on the device as they will be stored using the Amazon Cloud Drive service.

The Whispersync tech present in the regular Kindle devices will also carry over to the Kindle Fire. However, it will not just sync pages in eBooks, but chapters and bookmarks in movies too.

Multitasking was also showcased by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the device’s press launch event, jumping quickly between and simultaneously running reading and music apps.

The Kindle Fire will also introduce a brand new web-browsing technology called Silk. The “dynamic split browser”l intelligently adapt sites so that they render as fast as possible on the device, with tasks such memory intensive image processing being carried out “in the cloud”.

Amazon know the strength of an aggressive pricing strategy, and the Kindle Fire manages to be relatively pocket friendly. Priced at $199 in the US, there’s no UK pricing or release date available yet, but we’ll keep you posted once these details trickle in.

Gerald Lynch

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