Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Exists. Details Here! (No E-Ink. Frown.)
I didn’t even know what there was an Amazon Kindle tablet in the works. This marks me as naive, stupid, some combination of the two, and also a silly assholes. Now I know.
And I have details.
It’s called simply the “Amazon Kindle”. But it’s not like any Kindle you’ve seen before. It displays content in full color. It has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen. And it runs Android.
Rumors of Amazon making a full-fledged tablet device have persisted for a while. I believe we were one of the first to report on the possibilityfrom a credible source – the same person whoaccurately called Amazon’s Android Appstore. That source was dead-on again, it just took Amazon longer than anticipated to get the device ready to go. They’re now close.
How do I know all of this? Well, not only have I heard about the device, I’ve seen it and used it. And I’m happy to report that it’s going to be a big deal. Huge, potentially.
First of all, before every commenter asks, no, sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share. That was the one condition of me getting this information. So instead you’ll have to rely on my prose to draw a picture of the device in your head. Or you can just look at a BlackBerry PlayBook – because it looks very similar in terms of form-factor.
So here’s what I know and what I saw:
Again, the device is a 7-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen. It is multi-touch, but from what I saw, I believe the reports that it relies on a two-finger multi-touch (instead of 10-finger, like the iPad uses) are accurate. This will be the first Kindle with a full-color screen. And yes, it is back-lit. There is no e-ink to be found anywhere on this device.
Earlier this week, reports suggested that a 7-inch Amazon tablet could be released in October, with a larger, 10-inch version to follow next year. That’s somewhat accurate. As of right now, Amazon’s only definitive plan is to release this 7-inch Kindle tablet and they’re targeting the end of November to do that. The version I saw was a DVT (Design Verification Testing) unit. These have started floating around the company. It’s ready, they’re just tweaking the software now. If it’s not in production yet, it will be very soon.
Originally, Amazon had planned to launch a 7-inch and a 10-inch tablet at the same time. But that plan changed this summer. Now they’re betting everything on the 7-inch. If it’s a hit, they will release the more expensive 10-inch tablet in Q1 2012.
So how much will the 7-inch Kindle cost? $250.
Yes, Amazon has been able to trim the cost of the device to half of the entry-level iPad. And it will be the same price as Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color, which this will very obviously compete with directly. Both have 7-inch color touch screens. Both run Android.
And this is where things get really interesting. As anticipated, Amazon has forked Android to build their own version for the Kindle. Simply put: it looks nothing like the Android you’re used to seeing.
The interface is all Amazon and Kindle. It’s black, dark blue, and a bunch of orange. The main screen is a carousel that looks like Cover Flow in iTunes which displays all the content you have on the device. This includes books, apps, movies, etc. Below the main carousel is a dock to pin your favorite items in one easy-to-access place. When you turn the device horizontally, the dock disappears below the fold.
As far as the existing e-ink-based Kindles, all I’ve heard is that they’ll continue to co-exist with this new tablet (though the DX may or may not stick around). They’ll simply be the low-end, low-cost Kindles, whereas this new one will be the high-end one (at least until the 10-inch version comes out, if it does). One source said it doesn’t seem likely that Amazon is going to release a touch-screen e-ink Kindle, like the new Nook, anytime soon. But none of that is confirmed, it’s simply speculation based on the emphasis on getting this new tablet to market.
Oh and one more thing: Amazon has been working on a multi-touch screen/e-ink hybrid tablet device. But that’s nowhere near completion, I’m told. So for now, this new Kindle will have to do.
I have a Kindle. My girlfriend has an iPad. As much as I covet her wunder-device for the variety of things it can do: from streaming Netflix, to browsing the web while laying down on my ass like a lazy fuck, to playing Groove Coaster, there’s one thing I don’t envy her for: reading 0n it. Reading on backlit bullshit blows compares to e-ink. Yeah, I said it.
Which is why this Amazon Kindle tablet doesn’t do much for me.