Amazon has just unveiled their rumoured tablet, the Kindle Fire, at a press event today, and it certainly hasn’t disappointed. Not in the US anyway.
Running a heavily modified version of Google’s Android and packing a dual-core processor, the Kindle Fire will allow you to do all of the things that you would do on any other tablet. You can browse the web (more on that in a little while), download apps from Amazon’s own app store and consume as much media as you can handle.
The “Amazon Silk” web browser is cloud-accelerated, and as a result, page load times are significantly reduced. According to Amazon, they’ve “refactored and rebuilt the browser software stack to push pieces of the computation into the AWS cloud. This lets Silk do more work, more quickly, and all at once”. The tablet is wi-fi only at the moment, so it will be super speedy when browsing on a local connection, but there’s no doubt that this technology is sure to help massively if a 3G model is released, especially if Amazon adopts Opera mobile’s approach and loads compressed versions of images on web pages to further reduce load times.
Marketed as a content consumption device, the Kindle Fire tablet will allow users in the US to download a host of content including e-books from the Kindle Store, Android applications from Amazon’s own app store, a vast array of music tracks, and movies and TV shows from Amazon’s digital archives. On top of this, you will also be able to download DC comic books and a selection of magazines.
The hardware of the Kindle Fire looks great, and the glass panel on the front of the device is constructed using Gorilla Glass, the same kind used on the back of the iPhone 4 to stop it from smashing in to a million pieces if it’s dropped. Amazon is so confident that the glass won’t see a scratch, one of the promotional images shows the tablet in a bag underneath a set of keys. If that isn’t marketing at it’s finest, I honestly don’t know what is.
This content consumption model that Amazon has adopted is great, and it’s no doubt helped significantly in keeping the cost of the actual tablet down. All of the content that you could want is all waiting for you in one place, but there’s also a big problem with this model: it only applies to those in the US.
In the UK, we can’t rent TV shows and movies from Amazon. Nor can we download applications for Android using the Amazon app store, or even read comics. All of these services are only available across the pond, and it’s for that reason that the tablet won’t be shipping in the UK. At least not right now. At launch, it will be US only, and you can pick it up for $199 with shipping beginning on November 15th.