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Amazon launches its Kindle Fire tablet

Cheaper than expected at $199
Wed Sep 28 2011, 16:21

ONLINE RETAILER Amazon launched its Kindle Fire tablet at a press conference in New York today.

The $199 7in IPS ultra-wide display, dual-core processor tablet weighs 14.6oz. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at the launch that Amazon will ship "millions" of the devices, which run a customised version of Android, from 15 November.

All of the content on the device is backed up in the cloud so users can delete things when they want. Content available will include 100,000 movies and TV shows, a million songs, apps from the Amazon Appstore and magazines.

The content search works locally, in the cloud, and on the web, according to Bezos. Things you interacted with most recently will be on top, like the movie you just watched or a subscription you just downloaded or a webpage you just viewed.

It has a Gorilla Glass display and, like other Kindles, it's pre-registered and knows your name out of the box. However, there is not a 3G version - it runs on WiFi only.

The Fire has 16 million colours in high resolution and 169 pixels per inch. It uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology, similar technology to the Ipad, for an extra-wide viewing angle.

It runs Silk, which is a split web browser that "partially lives in EC2 and partially on Kindle Fire". The Silk browser stores a cache of common files from around the web in Amazon's EC2 cloud, so none of it is stored on the device, and it all comes from a single server. Silk observes aggregate user behaviour and can start predictively loading the next page you might want before you click through.

Amazon does all the heavy lifting on the backend, and then serves optimised files to the device over a "dedicated channel". The end result will seem like a regular web browser, except a lot faster.

Amazon launched the Fire tablet alongside three Kindles, two of which have a touchscreen. The WiFi only version is priced at $99 while the Kindle touch 3G costs $149 and has free 3G wireless. It's 75 per cent lighter than previous versions.

Amazon also launched a $79 Kindle that is not a touchscreen device and is 30 per cent lighter than the orginal Kindle at 5.98oz. It will cost £89 in the UK and ships from 12 October.

"We're building premium products at non-premium prices," Bezos said.

It looks like the Amazon tablet could prove to be a real threat in the market, given its widely available content and $199 price tag. µ


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