You thought the Nook was the leading e-book reader? Think again. The Kindle Colour ereader is coming.
And now we know when. The birth of the Kindle Fire was officially announced by Amazon at a New York press conference, along with other new and improved Kindle versions for black-and-white fans. The date for release is set as November 15th.
Recent sales reports have been suggesting that Nook colour ereader sales have overtaken those of the Kindle. But it will be no surprise to see all that change with the imminent arrival of the tablet-like, $199 low-priced Kindle colour in the next few months leading up to Christmas 2011. In fact, the new model may well be set to challenge even the might Apple iPad with a range of features that bring it firmly into the realms of full color multi-functional mobile devices.
The rumours were right. Amazon surely will be taking all steps to make sure the new color Kindle Fire will blow the competition away. That means it'll need to have more features and a lower price than the Nook at least, plus we'll be expecting a top class display that handles colours with vibrancy.
The Kindle Fire is around half the size of an iPad, a similar size in fact to the Nook Color. But the similarities end there. The Fire promises instant access to the huge selection of digital ebook, music, and video content in Amazon’s download services libraries. It promises a much improved experience over the limited black and white Kindles that have been so successful.
With a vibrant color IPS touchscreen - comfortable to hold at just 14.6 ounces in weight - and an extra-wide viewing angle, free content storage in Amazon's Cloud, plus instant web access via a high speed mobile browser, the Kindle Fire looks certain to be a winner.
When it arrives, the launch is sure to blow the ebook and ereader markets wide open, with new options for readers to enjoy magazines, comics, and books with full colour illustrations. Of course that's something that tablets - and some other color ereaders - have been able to do for some time, but ereaders are different. They appeal to a different subset of buyers. Amazon expect the Kindle Fire is to sell over 3 million units by the end of the year.
We all know the great things about the black and white Kindle. We love the battery life. We love how easy and fast it is to buy ebooks and download. We love being able to try before buying with sample extracts of books. It's easy to read. It's easy to carry around.
But will the color Kindle be just as great? Will it beat the opposition when it takes a spot in our colour ereader comparison table. Let's find out exactly what's coming.......
How Will The Kindle Fire Colour Ereader Work?
The new Kindle Fire will work using the Google Android operating system as a basis for the Kindle OS that runs on top, and features a dual-core processor that will deliver fast and powerful performance.
The 7 inch LCD color touchscreen delivers 16 million colors at a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels and uses IPS technology to deliver a near 170 degree wide viewing angle. It'll come with ultra high speed Wi-Fi internet connectivity via Amazon Silk - Amazon's high speed web access service. And you won't need to worry about dropping it. The screen will be made of toughened Gorilla glass.
There's no camera. Amazon are not positioning the new Kindle to act as a laptop/tablet/notebook replacement. The whole package is designed to entice owners to get everything they need from Amazon's in house services. The focus is well and truly on content and media.
What Does It Look like?
The Kindle colour physically sports a very simple design with no buttons other than a power on/off and appears to be very similar to a Blackberry Playbook. Amazon state that the LCD display ''is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic.''
That should make it tough enough to be dropped a few times!!
What's The Memory Capability?
The Fire comes with 8GB of internal memory. Amazon say that's enough for 80 apps plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
But really, who needs memory? The Kindle Fire also gives you free access to Amazon's clod based storage service. You can store all of your Kindle content for free and access it easily in seconds.
What Sizes Will Be Available?
The first model is confirmed as a 7 inch display. Rumours are this may be followed up by a later release of a 10 inch version.
What Battery Life Can I Expect From The Kindle Fire?
Amazon state you'll get up to 8 hours of continuous reading time or 7.5 hours of video playback, though this will vary of course if wireless is turned on or if you're carrying out high power usage activity such as web browsing or downloading content.
What Do I Get Extra With A Colour Kindle?
Thanks to the Google Android operating system, the new Kindle will give extra options for using various apps - including music and movies - that will be available from the online Amazon apps store.
The Kindle Fire gives you:
•Access to 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books
•Amazon Appstore - thousands of popular apps and games
•Ultra-fast web browsing - using the Amazon Silk web browser
•Free cloud storage for all your Amazon content - Forget about memory - Kindle Fire gives you free storage for all your Amazon digital content in the Amazon Cloud. Your books, movies, music and apps are available instantly to stream or download for free
•Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle
•Fast, powerful dual-core processor. Lets you stream music while browsing the web or read books and download videos at the same time.
•Amazon Prime members get unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows. Any digital media that you're watching through the cloud services can be paused and continued again at any time.
•New types of content - DC comics announced they'll partner exclusively with Amazon to to get a collection of over 100 popular comic titles on the distribution list.
And to cap it all, the new Kindle models - including the Kindle Fire - bring you a new, next generation file format known as Kindle format 8 (KF8). This enables a range of new enhanced features including support for HTML5, text overlaid on background images, embedded fonts, drop capitals, bullet and number lists, and more.
The new format will let Kindle Fire owners read books that work best by displaying rich colours and text - cookbooks, kids books, encyclopedias, engineering manuals, and graphic comic books.
How Easy Is The Kindle Fire To Use?
The new models interface is designed to be extra simple to use - a basic screen that delivers your content options in a carousel format with an easy to reach tray for your favourites.
It's fast, and speed always helps ease of use. None of us want to wait for a processor to clunk through its memory to give us exactly what we've chosen. Fast means highly effective, almost instant changing between services and content.
How Much Will A Color Kindle It Cost?
At an unbelievably low price of $199, the Kindle Fire is all set to give Apple iPad fans something to think about.
How Good Is The Internet Access?
The Kindle Fire offers Amazon Silk for web access. That's a revolutionary, cloud-accelerated browser that uses a "split browser" architecture to make use of the high power and speed of Amazon's Web Services cloud.
Simply put, Amazon give you access to their powerful data centre network which places you between the Kindle Fire and the internet.
It's a solution which detects your surfing patterns and pre-renders the pages you use the most. Known as 'predictive rendering', it's an impressively clever feature that you probably won't even notice. You'll just know it's very fast.
The solution is a clever one because the Fire's processor is slower than an iPads. Using Amazon Silk as the browser reduces the load on the device's processor, speeding up load times.
The downside is privacy - or lack of it to be exact. Because you're using Amazon's web to access the wider internet, in theory they'll be able to know every move you make online. It's unlikely this could be used for any subversive reasons, though clearly a profile could be built which would open you to specific advertising. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
The longer term aspects are interesting. Amazon are giving you an internet within the internet. When you click through to an external website, all that website will see will be an Amazon cloud IP address. That could have implications for companies such as Google who have been working hard to build their search engine to deliver personalised search results. In theory, they'll no longer know it's you, and they won't be able to deliver those personalised results. That could ultimately hit ad revenues.
If the privacy issues worry you, the Amazon Silk browser can be turned off. That may be worth considering as long as you're OK to sacrifice a drop in speed.
Will The Kindle Colour Be A Success?
It's almost inconceivable that it won't, with two big names in one package with Amazon and Google and a $199 price tag that looks to be ultra competitive.
Add the colour capabilities and the options to use apps just as in the latest tablet PCs, and it could be that the Nook colour may well have a big fight on its hands when the Kindle color hits the shelves before Christmas.
Kindle fans will be able to read a wide range of bestsellers, children's books, comic books, textbooks, and cookbooks in vibrant color. The Kindle Store already offers over 1 million books, including 800,000 titles at $9.99 or less. In addition, over 2 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available
Amazon look sure to have a major chance of equalling the success of the Kindle with the Kindle colour, and seem sure to market it in a way that it acts as a portal for users to connect to their ebook and Amazon Android Appstore services, along with their Cloud Player music service and the Amazon Instant Video player for movies.
In fact, the only likely reason the Kindle color reader won't be a success would be if there was a backlash against ereaders in general. That's highly unlikely given their recent success. There will be current Kindle users though - who love their device to bits - who just want to read books. If you sit inside that group, Amazon have thought about you already with their release of new and improved 'standard' Kindle models.
Does The Kindle Fire Work As An iPad Competitor?
The new colour Kindle is obviously going to be compared regularly to Apple's iPad. The two devices are operating in similar ways, and offering similar benefits. Amazon are clearly positioning their award winning Kindle to offer serious competition.
So when we start to compare the Kindle Fire against the iPad, what stands out?
First up, the price. The Fire wins this hands down, At $199 it's way under the iPad price.
When you look at the technology angle, the Fire's high resolution 169 pixels per inch display beats the iPad's 132. Overall though, the iPad's strong feature range comes out on top with it's in built camera and microphone which are lacking in the Kindle.
But processing power counts for a lot too, especially if you're looking to play processor hungry games. The reality is that the majority of Customers are going to want a color Kindle for it's content delivery rather than for endless hardcore gaming.
Then we can consider Amazon's extra services. It's no secret that the new Kindle is being positioned to lock in owners to Amazon's raft of download and subscription services. And there's nothing wrong with that, those services are high quality and highly desirable. The model has been designed to provide an easy to use interface into Amazon's impressive content collection - videos, music, books, apps.
And Apple will have more competition due to Amazon's existing Customer base. The online store has spent years building up a loyal Customer list by providing high quality products and services, and all with a Customer service focus that ensures we keep going back.
When you add the extra feature of Amazon's super speedy cloud based solution for storage and serving of content, it's not difficult to envisage the Kindle colour model causing Apple executives some sleepless night.
But that's only likely in the US for now, as you'll see in the availability section below. Many of Amazon's cloud based services have yet to make an appearance outside the US. So with the US site the only one to be offering a preorder option for buying the new color version, there's a chance - maybe for some time - for Apple to continue it's domination on a global basis.
By the time Amazon are in a position to launch globally, the iPad may have further cemented it's position as the number one device throughout the European and Asian regions.very chance that
You might notice here that we're in danger of ignoring any other devices outside of these two. There's a good reason for that. There is every chance that the Kindle Fire and the iPad combined will corner the global market, with the lower end firmly sitting with Amazon and the more complex featured high end belonging to Apple.
Only the arrival of another super powered tablet like device seems to offer any chance of disrupting that dominant position.
Availability Around The World
A quick check of the regional Amazon sites will show that the color Kindle currently only has a slot on the US site. There's no sign of it on the UK and Canadian versions. That indicates the Fire may take the same availability route as the Kindle 3 did, with a European launch coming some time after the US.
The reason for that is most likely because Amazon have focussed their content services on the US. And as we've read already, the Kindle colour is all about content.
Colour Kindle Accessories - What's Available As Protection?
Amazon offer a range of nylon and leather Kindle Fire protective cases and covers as protection. Covers come in different colours and are priced at $29.99 for the nylon versions.
For something maybe a little more stylish, six new protective cases are due to be released by Waterfield Designs who are a highly regarded manufacturer of custom sleeves, bags, and cases for dozens of different electronic devices. These can be seen at the online shop at SFBags.com
What's The Next Step In Amazon's Colour Ereader Plan?
It's clear that the Kindle Colour will be a conventional ereader, and is obviously designed to rival the highly popular Nook Colour from Barnes and Noble.
So this leaves the way open for future announcements of another Amazon tablet type ereader.
Studies have shown that many current Ereader owners would be comfortable buying a tablet from the well trusted online operator. Any offering from Amazon which could provide serious rivalry to the Apple Ipad, both in quality and price, would have a huge shot at taking a big chunk of the market. Anything under around $300 should do it.
On top of this they have a potent weapon in the shape of the AppStore. This might provide Amazon with a central point for buyers of all their add on services from a content perspective. That also brings into play Amazon's Cloud Player music offering.
Also you just need to take a look at the potential in Amazon's video streaming options. They've recently signed deals with both CBS and NBC in this area. That gives them powerful options with which to rival the Netflix offering with their Instant Video Player service.
Amazon have recently carried out some major changes to their well known website design - changes which suggest they're trying to optimise for visitors who may be using tablets, or maybe the Kindle colour. This seems like a move to make the site easier for visitors to make use of the services we already mentioned - access to the Amazon Appstore, music download service, Amazon Prime (internet streaming), and others.
Almost certainly the launch of the Kindle colour is signalling the start of the next evolution of Amazon too - maintaining it's product based selling identity while locking in buyers with additional enhanced services.
That could turn out to be a very clever move.
Is It Worth Pre-Ordering a Kindle Fire?
With Amazon's money back guarantees there's almost no downside to ordering early. The risk is low and you're guaranteeing to be among the first to get hold of one. Early reports from Amazon suggest that preorder sales went through the roof during the first few days, and there is a (remote) possibility that supply could fall behind demand.
I you're absolutely certain that you want one, there appear to be no obvious reasons not to step in now and get your name down.
There are some small risks. Barnes & Noble are due to announce the Nook 2 colour ereader soon. It's possible that this could come in cheaper and better. Also it's not unheard of for new devices to encounter shipping or design problems, though this is highly unlikely.
More Info On The Kindle Fire
Here's a collection of useful extra resources. If I haven't answered your questions about the Kindle Fire here on this page, you'll find valuable extra info at these websites.