Kindle Fire Brings Far Greater Functionality To Kindle Family

Whether or not the new Kindle Fire changes the face of tablet computing as we know it, it has certainly reinvented the Kindle line.  It is cheaper on release than either of the first two Kindle eReaders were, can open virtually any form of media, and runs apps from a well stocked Android App Store.  While yes it does sacrifice the benefits of the Kindle’s characteristic E Ink screen to do this, but other than that things seem to have stayed fairly consistent.

You can, of course, read books on the new Kindle.  Given that it sports a 7″ LCD screen, and the back-lighting that one would expect from said screen, you might not really want to if you’re used to the Kindle already, but you can.  On the flipside, magazines and other illustrated publications will now be easy to read and available in quantity, opening the door to areas of reading largely left untouched by the Kindle platform so far.  Chances are good this will be a big deal in the weeks leading up to launch.

You can also, much more importantly, treat it as a “Kindle for Movies”.  This means shopping, purchasing, downloading, and viewing all from the tablet itself.  Given how much Amazon has recently fleshed out their video selection, it seems likely that this was the real intent behind the Kindle Fire from the start.  It has 8GB worth of storage space, which is enough to store a couple movies if you’re going to be away from the internet for a while, but other than that will mostly be streaming from Amazon’s server cloud.  Normally this would be obnoxious at best, but experience has shown it to be a generally satisfactory way to access music and movies.

Probably the most useful, if unsurprising, aspect of the Kindle Fire will be the Amazon Android App Store offerings.  Although it looks nothing like vanilla Android, this Kindle is running a highly modified version of Android 2.3.  This opens the door to both the thousands of apps and huge numbers right around the corner.  We’ve already seen it using games, email apps, and more.  For such an under-priced device, it seems to have no trouble handling the tasks it is put to (though obviously those tasks wouldn’t be the things to highlight on the day of the press conference anyway, I suppose).

The storage space is limited, which means that you can’t necessarily fit in everything you have at once.  That’s ok, though.  Amazon will store all purchased content in cloud storage until you need it, free of charge.  You should even be able to upload anything you own but don’t buy through Amazon to the Cloud Drive, though at this time only the first 5GB of extra space is free there.

To get you started, the Kindle Fire comes with a month’s worth of Amazon Prime.  This will let users try out the video streaming and get a taste for it.  While Prime membership doesn’t get you unlimited access to everything, the selection is worth checking out.  You will definitely be getting your money’s worth out of this tablet.

Kindle Fire Tablet Coming Wednesday

It is safe to say that the place of Apps in the Kindle hardware line is about to change rather drastically.  This Wednesday a press conference has been scheduled for Jeff Bezos to officially announce and demonstrate the new Kindle Tablet, which we now know to go by the name “Kindle Fire“.

This has seemed like an inevitability for a long while now, and Amazon has certainly done plenty to pave the way for a positive experience.  Moves have been made to lure Android developers over to the Amazon App Store, which makes perfect sense given the current knowledge that the Kindle Fire will be running a highly modified forking of Android 2.1.  While there have been a couple hiccups along the way, in general the Amazon App Store seems to offer a superior experience to the official Google alternative.

Similar strides have been made in setting up the video distribution options.  In recent months Amazon Instant Video has gone from a joke that provided a bit of extra incentive for Amazon Prime adopters to a respectable video library.  Recently they have even signed agreements allowing them to offer movies and television shows held by companies including CBS and Fox, bringing the title count up to tens of thousands.  The Kindle Fire is clearly going to be pushing these services, and should have integrated access to the relevant store built right into the user experience.

Naturally there will also be the option for users to access both Kindle Edition eBooks.  This is not meant to be considered an eReader, however, and the experience is likely to be inferior in some ways to that of the existing Kindle eReader line.  The same is true in a general sense of the music playback capabilities.  While Amazon obviously offers the Kindle Cloud Player, which has comparable functionality to most any similar product on the market, a Tablet is just not the perfect playback device.  Doesn’t mean you can’t do it, of course, just that purpose-made devices will offer superior experiences in these areas.

Overall, the Kindle Fire is likely to impress.  Its 7” back-lit screen is slightly small compared to the iPad, but will meet customer needs in general and lends to a lower price point.  The processor seems to be a dual-core 1.2GHz TI product that will lend the device as much processing power as any comparable tablet on the market today.  Even the operating system, which at first glance would seem to be a slight disadvantage since it is based off of an older version of Android, is reported to have been optimized to the point of a smooth, seamless, and generally superior experience for the user.

Expect to be seeing the first of these tablets ship out in the second week of November, if reports are to be believed.  While it has not been announced for certain yet and will not be before the press conference, it is expected that pre-orders will be taken beginning almost immediately and that they will be priced well under $300.  Possibly as low as $250, with the potential for a great deal of promotional pack-ins for early adopters.  Keep an eye out for more details!