Kindle Fire

by Danny Zawacki

Maybe Amazon read my post, The high-end Kindle, maybe they didn’t. However, the news has been confirmed by Amazon that they are going to start selling a few new Kindles. I wish I had a reason to replace my Kindle 3 because these new ones look like a treat.

The Kindle comes in 3.5 new varieties (the Kindle Touch has a 3G option). The new Kindles are the Kindle Fire, the Kindle Touch, and the Kindle (the Kindle 3 has been renamed “Kindle Keyboard”).

The new basic Kindle model comes in as the smallest Kindle yet. It does this by removing the keyboard and leaving only the 5-way controller and the page-turn buttons on the side. The keyboard is now onscreen and I can imagine that it’s similar to using the SYM key on my old Kindle 3, it’s not the greatest but it definitely could be worse. Plus, who uses the keyboard that often? I mostly use mine when I use the browser and since the basic Kindle comes only with WiFi, I have a feeling you’ll be using this mostly as a e reader. The Kindle is little more than a slimmed down version of the old one. It can be purchased for $80 if you get ad-supported or $100 without ads (the ads only show up while on the home screen or while the device is not being used). I’d say if you’re looking for a device to read books for cheap, this is a great way to go.

The Kindle Touch is a device I’d like to play with. At a glance, it seems to have all the features of the Kindle 3 but it removes the keyboard and replaces it with a touch screen. To change a page, all you need to do is tap the screen. The Kindle Touch also claims a two-month battery life while reading. If this is true, it gives you an even greener device than the Kindle 3, which only claims one month. The feature which I’d most like to use is the new X-Ray feature which gives you access to information about the books’ content. Amazon explains this as access to the bones of the book and every important phrase or character. As an English major, this would have made my life infinitely easier when I had to write papers. I could easily have gathered all the passages about my topic. If I had to go back and do college all over again, I’d buy the Kindle touch ($99 with ads, $139 without ads) before I bought anything else.

Finally, the Kindle Fire which was what I feared when I first read about it weeks ago. However, I feared it for the wrong reasons. I overestimated Amazon’s stupidity and clearly they have very little in the ereader sphere. The Kindle Fire is a tablet as tablets currently are. Except it’s priced so competitively that I don’t see a reason not to try it. It comes in at $199 which is less than half of the $499 you’d pay for an Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Kindle Fire currently only comes in an 8Gb model. It had a color touch screen, access to the Amazon Appstore an a boatload of features which has me drooling. My favorite part of the product description is where Amazon describes how its device can check multiple email accounts for you all in one place (I may have misread this). But they go on to state that if you don’t like their native software that your more than free to install your own choice from the Appstore. While not having used a tablet before, this seems to be taking a stab at others on the market.

The Kindle Fire can read books, like a Kindle should. It can watch television and movies, from Amazon. It has games like Angry Birds (which is enough to convince me to buy any device). Magazines are no problem nor are children’s books nor comic books (also a reason for me to get the Kindle Fire). Plus there is a whole slew of apps in the Appstore.

I worry about the screen size being too small. It’s an inch bigger than my Kindle and I could see that being a problem, especially with my clumsy and large fingertips. I’ve got a feeling that Amazon will release a larger screen version in the future.

So, all of this being said, who wants to buy me a new Kindle?