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.