Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took a page from Steve Jobs's playbook at a keynote in New York City this morning, where he played up the success of current-generation devices before announcing four new models. The new Kindle lineup starts at $79 and tops out at $199 with the Kindle Fire, a 7" tablet scheduled to ship on November 15 (though Amazon has already started taking pre-orders).
The Kindle Fire runs Android, and it'll let you grab Android apps and games from Amazon's App Store. As expected, though, the device's user interface looks nothing like the Android we're all familiar with. Amazon looks to be promoting the device as a consumption vector for movies, TV shows, music, books, graphic novels, and magazines. The tablet comes with one month's free subscription to Amazon Prime, which offers unlimited access to "over 11,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost."
Like any self-respecting tablet, the Kindle Fire also has a web browser—but there, too, Amazon has strayed from the norm. The firm has implemented something it calls Amazon Silk, a "'split browser' architecture that accelerates the power of the mobile device hardware by using the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services Cloud." In other words, the Kindle Fire has a cloud-accelerated web browser. That ought to make surfing the web more tolerable on the rather small display, which has a resolution of only 1024x600.
On the hardware side of things, the Kindle Fire weighs just under 15 ounces (413 g), measures 0.45" (11.4 mm) in thickness, and packs a dual-core processor and 8GB of internal storage capacity. There's 802.11n Wi-Fi, a micro-USB 2.0 port, a 1/8" audio jack, and some stereo speakers. Amazon quotes eight hours of battery life for "continuous reading" and 7.5 hours for video playback. The 8GB of built-in storage is supplemented by Cloud Drive, so users will be able to re-download purchased content at will if they remove it from the device.
You can find more details on the Kindle Fire pre-order page.
In addition to the Kindle Fire, Amazon has announced the Kindle touch, a new e-book reader that has a touch screen instead of a hardware keyboard. It weighs 7.8 ounces (220 g), has a thickness of 0.4" (10.1 mm), and purportedly has the same two-month battery life as the third-gen Kindle. Amazon is offering a $99 Wi-Fi version and a $149 3G version the Kindle touch, both scheduled to ship on November 21. If you can't wait, the fourth device Amazon announced today is available right now: a $79 e-paper Kindle that has buttons and a five-way controller but no keyboard.