Amazon announces $199 Kindle Fire

Amazon’s Kindle event happened Wednesday morning and it was even more surprising than it was rumored to be. Amazon confirmed the rumors of a tablet which they are calling the Kindle Fire. In addition to that device the company announced a touch based Kindle as well as a refresh of the current Kindle option.

The Kindle Fire will have a 7 inch, 16 million color display with a resolution of 169 pixels per inch. That resolution is actually better than the iPad’s which is 132 pixels per inch. The screen itself will be protected by Gorilla glass which isn’t a huge surprise. There’s a single port on the device, to charge it, and it weighs only 14.6 ounces. The tablet will boast a dual core processor and will have Wi-Fi. The device does appear to be running on a forked version of Android and has a custom browser developed by Amazon called Amazon Silk. It should be noted that this really doesn’t look like Android at all which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A few things are missing like a camera, 3G, and a microphone but those don’t feel like a big loss considering the audience the device seems to be speaking to. Amazon has created a really wonderful user interface that is reported to be incredibly snappy by those who have had hands on time with the Fire. The other lovely thing is all syncing is done in the background via Wi-Fi so it is completely transparent to the user as long as they are connected to a network.

The most incredible thing about this device is the price. Analysts were projecting the price to be $249 but Amazon took it one step further pricing the Fire at $199. That is only twice the price of the fire sale HP TouchPad and this arguably has more features and better support. While the device is running a highly modified version of Android it may be a good candidate for rooting by motivated modders. I suspect it will take little time for folks to figure out how to get a standard version of Android on the Fire.

The Fire speaks to Amazon having a different vision of what a tablet compared to what is currently being pushed by Apple and the slew of me-too Android tablets that have been released. Amazon wants to bring a simple user experience driven by their content. It seems that the company sees this tablet as an evolution of the eReader instead of a netbook replacement.

The Kindle Fire wasn’t the only thing Amazon showed off at this event. They also debuted a few updates to the e-Ink Kindles. First, a $79 Kindle with Special Offers was announced. Additionally the company showed off their Kindle Touch which is a black and white e-Ink device with touch controls. The lowest model of that device is $99 and has Special Offers and Wi-Fi only with a 3G model coming in at $149 (also with Special Offers).

The $79 Kindle is shipping now while the Kindle Fire is up for preorder and will ship November 15. The Kindle Touch is due to ship a week after the Kindle Fire, on November 21. For $79 the standard Kindle refresh seems like a perfect Christmas present for almost anyone. Do you have any interest in any of these newly announced Kindles? Will you consider the Fire with the hope that it could be hacked to run a full on version of Android?