Amazon’s Kindle Fire unveiled — will this be the iPad killer? (live blog)

September 28, 2011

— The new Amazon Kindle Fire is the first tablet to be a real competitor to Apple’s wildly popular iPad.

The tablet will deliver access to streaming video, as well as e-books, apps and music. Analysts say the company will emphasize content and services rather than hardware.

Hayley Tsukayama is New York for the unveiling of Kindle Fire.

10:51 a.m.: Kindle Fire is $199. It ships Nov. 15; pre-orders start today. Bezos says, "We're building premium products at non-premium prices." Time to check out the demo table.


10:43 a.m.: Bezos: "It is difficult, challenging for mobile devices to display modern Web pages rapidly. So we asked ourselves, I wonder if there's some way that we can use the incredible computational horse power of EC2 to accelerate mobile web browsing?" He introduces Amazon Silk -- a split browser: "Partially lives in Amazon EC2, partially lives in Kindle Fire."

He shows a video on how browsers have been made essentially the same way for a very long time. Amazon Silk will address the slow speeds of mobile computing by using the cloud to take over some of the computing. It is intended to increase speeds. Amazon Silk "will seem like a traditional browser, just a lot faster," the video says.

10:41 a.m.: Bezos shows he's not the best Fruit Ninja player, but he does show off the speed of the dual-core processor.

10:33 a.m.: The moment has arrived: Bezos announces the Kindle Fire tablet: 14.6 ounces, dual-core processor, has all the content of Amazon -- 100,000 movies and TV shows, 17 million songs, books, magazines, apps. All content is backed up in the cloud with free Amazon Cloud Storage. Bezos says it will be easy to search all Amazon stores, Newsstand, books, music, video, documents, apps and the Web. It has a bookshelf-like main screen and a carousel that shows recent purchases. The lower shelf lets allows users to pin favorites.

Bezos: “We feel the same way about syncing” taking a dig at Apple’s iPad by showing a white USB cord. Amazon syncing will be Whispersync for all media — users can put movie from Kindle Fire to “living room TV.” He shows off the video and the music on the Fire -- “XMen” and Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” It looks and sounds very good. The music plays in the background as the user reads, and you can pull up the music menu from top menu to make it easy to manage while reading.

10:21 a.m.: A new, non-touch Kindle is unveiled at 5.98 ounces, with built in WiFi. It will sell for $79; same-day shipping.

Bezos talks about Prime Instant Video, and says Amazon is already committed to streaming contracts with content managers, such as CBS, NBC/Universal, Fox. He mentions Amazon Web services (storage, CloudFront), which are used by many companies.

10:17: Bezos introduces the Kindle Touch e-reader, which has no buttons, but has a new touch layout system with a tap-menu touch zone at the top, the previous page in a left column and the next page on the bulk of the screen. It will cost $99.

The Touch also offer integration with encyclopedias, meant to make it easy to look up historical, literary and other information right from the Kindle book. Reference points will be downloaded as a side file with the book.

Bezos also announces the Kindle Touch 3G, which has no annual contract and no data

plan. For $149.

10:05 a.m.: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos takes the stage and says that four years ago he decided to reinvent the book. He reads off some bad reviews of the Kindle, which said that Amazon couldn't compete with Apple’s offerings because the Kindle had no other content.

Kindle works, Bezos says, because it's an end-to-end service. E-ink, makes the Kindle like a printed page, and the reader has long battery life. It also archives books, making it easy to carry thousands of books. Amazon added text to speech and personal e-mail address for documents. It built an ecosystem to “buy once, read everywhere.”

9:58 a.m.: The event is about to start. The last audience members are filing in and taking their seats. The latest buzz is that the Kindle Fire will be a $199, 7-inch tablet, via a report from Bloomberg. The report said it also will come with a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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