Amazon Debuts Its New Tablet

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Wednesday the release of a full-color tablet device called Fire, as well as three new Kindle E-Ink models starting at $79.

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MICHELE NORRIS, HOST:

From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block, with news of the next big entry into the tablet computing world.

Today, Amazon unveiled the new Kindle Fire. You probably already know the Kindle is an e-reader that's smaller than an iPad. The Fire is about the same size as a Kindle, but it's not just for reading. It's also a platform for games, movies, and music with a fast Web browser.

NPR's Margot Adler was at the big news conference today in New York.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Some of the information about the new Kindle Fire leaked out over the past months. But this morning, CEO Jeff Bezos described it.

JEFF BEZOS: It's light, easy to hold in one hand, 14.6 ounces, and it has all the content, 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, apps from our Android apps store, millions of books, beautiful full-color magazines.

ADLER: Of course you have to buy the content, which Amazon has in spades. But what only leaked out a couple of days ago...

BEZOS: How much is Kindle Fire going to cost? It's $199. We're building premium products at non-premium prices.

ADLER: You get the feeling Amazon could take a loss on the machine and still make money on all the content. Bezos also signaled the company's continued commitment to e-Ink screens with a $79 Kindle, a 3G Kindle for $149 - the Fire is only Wi-Fi - and a touch Kindle for $99; all of them less expensive then Barnes & Noble's Nook.

But the star of the show was the Fire. Bezos played an "X-Men" movie, a videogame, a song on the Fire. Hundreds of reporters and tech writers came to the conference to hear Bezos and to handle the Fire.

SARAH ROTMAN EPPS: Sarah Rotman Epps is a senior analyst with Forrester, a technology market research firm. There were a lot of leaks about this product, she says, the most surprising thing...

ADLER: The price. The price is jaw-droppingly low.

She says it leaves other e-Readers - HP, Motorola, Samsung - in the dust. But will it be a competitor for the iPad? Not for business, it doesn't have a global presence, she says. There's no camera, it's only Wi-Fi. The apps may not be as wide-ranging, but...

EPPS: You know, for the main things that consumers do with tablets: e-mail, Web, playing games, video and music, Amazon nails them all.

ADLER: Another thing the Fire has is a very fast Web browser, and no need to sync things up on your computer. You can watch a movie, change to your TV screen - it will remember where you were.

Andy Ihnatko writes about technology for the Chicago Sun-Times. The biggest surprise for him was Amazon Silk, a new Web browser created for the Kindle Fire.

ANDY IHNATKO: The ability to use massive Cloud servers to recompile any Web page you do to optimize it, so that that tiny screen, that tiny processor can really handle it is really a game changer.

ADLER: The Kindle Fire will be available in the middle of November. Given the many who in this economy can't think of getting themselves an iPad, let alone for their kids this holiday season, it will be interesting to see how well the Kindle's Fire fares.

Margo Adler, NPR News, New York.

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