Amazon Kindle Fire, not an iPad killer

The Tech blogosphere was abuzz the past month with speculations that Amazon’s Kindle tablet would turn out to be an iPad-Killer. Well, after the announcement from Amazon yesterday, it looks like it’s certainly a game changer in the tablet market, but certainly not an iPad killer as it was touted to be.

The Kindle Fire is a 7 inch tablet running on a dual-core processor with a display resolution of 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi. It’s running a  really custom UI layer, which is optimized to promote and use Amazon’s own services.

They’ve also dumped the stock browser from Android and have released the Amazon Silk, which is a browser which is powered by Amazon’s Cloud services. It moves a lot of computing required by the browser over to their Could service to improve the browsing experience. Here’s what the Amazon Silk team has to say about this new browser and why it’s so different: “Traditional browsers must wait to receive the HTML file in order to begin downloading the other page assets. Silk is different because it learns these page characteristics automatically by aggregating the results of millions of page loads and maintaining this knowledge on EC2. While another browser might still be setting up a connection with the host server, Silk has already pushed content that it knows is associated with the page to Kindle Fire before the site has even instructed the browser where to find it.”

As I see it, it looks like Amazon’s carving a niche for themselves, in the sub $200 tablet market. This is good news for Apple, because it leaves the iPad market untouched, for their niche customers with prices starting at $500. But this translates to bad news for the other tablet manufacturers like Motorola, Asus and Samsung, where their pricing could lead to a lot of potential customers to look at Amazon’s Fire as a much cheaper alternate. But then Amazon’s Fire lacks some of the standard features which come with the other tablets like 3G connectivity, Cameras and extended storage. Extended storage for most people may not be an issue for the users of this tablet, since Amazon’s content is available on the cloud, and you just don’t have to download all the content to the device itself.

The worst hit would be Barnes & Noble’s Nook, since Amazon does have substantially more content in terms of Books, Magazines, Music and Video content. Amazon’s Fire has the potential to wipe them off the map.

For those technically inclined, here a quick overview of the specifications of the Amazon Kindle Fire:

  • 7 inch multi-touch display with  a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixel at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
  • Dual core TI Omap 4 Processor
  • 8GB onboard storage with no expandable storage. According to Amazon this should be enough for  80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
  • Connectivity options – Micro USB, Bluetooth and WiFi
  • No 3G connectivity or GPS
  • 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
  • Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback
  • Amazon’s Content and App Market
  • No Google Android Market
  • No on-board Camera

Not too impressive if you’re looking at a full-fledged tablet, but for the the cost point of $199, it’s pretty good. You’re also stuck to Amazon’s App market and don’t have access to Google’s Android market. Also the lack of GPS & 3G means that GPS based apps, especially location based apps are a no go on the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Coming to availability, it’s available on pre-order and available only for US customers. Seeing that most of their services are US centric, like Music, Apps and Videos, it may take a while for them to roll out an international version. You can check out more details about the device and pre-order it from the Kindle Fire’s Product page on Amazon.

What are your thoughts on the Amazon Kindle fire? Would you buy one for $199 (approximately Rs. 9800 ) if they do open up for international shipping? Let us know by sending in your comments.

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Vinu Thomas

Vinu is a Technical Architect working on Web technologies and a mobile enthusiast, who likes trying out new gadgets and apps. You can follow him on Twitter @vinuthomas

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