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The rumored Amazon Android tablet just took a step out of the vaporware closet today, in a report from TechCrunch‘s MG Siegler.
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.
The Amazon first Tablet will be dubbed the Kindle, but has more in common with the Nook Color than any previous iteration of the Kindle. The specs, while quite good for something that’s a bit more than an ereader, are pretty underwhelming when compared to current Honeycomb tablets. But Amazon’s not really aiming for the tablet market so much as the enhanced ereader market. Unfortunately one of Siegler’s stipulations for getting to handle the device was that he was not allowed to publish any pictures.
What we’re hearing is that the first Amazon Kindle tablet will be a 7-inch capacitive touch device that supports 2-finger multitouch. It will feature full color, a backlit screen, and no e-ink. It runs a single core chip of unknown design and speed, and has 6GB of built-in storage. The reasoning behind limited storage is, of course, cloud storage for things like music and movies. There’s a micro USB port for charging the device. There will be no physical navigation buttons, but it will rely instead on single taps of the screen to bring up menus. There will be no cameras.
The OS, under the surface, is Android, but a pre-2.2 version with a wholly redesigned Kindle UI. Siegler describes it thus:
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.
Above the dock is the status bar (time, battery, etc) and this doubles as a notification tray. When apps have updates, or when new subscriptions are ready for you to view, they appear here. The top bar shows “YOUR NAME’s Kindle” and then the number of notifications you have in bright orange. It looks quite nice.
There is no trace of Google apps, or the Android market. This baby is all Amazon and is deeply integrated with all of their services, as expected. The music will come from Amazon’s cloud player, the books from Kindle, the videos from Amazon Prime, and the apps from the Amazon store. The only thing that’s Google is the default web browser. The initial offering will be wifi-only, with a 3G version later.
As for Amazon’s other rumored 10-inch tablet, that project is still in the works, but will only come to fruition if the 7-inch device proves popular. The Kindle will be priced at a comfy $250, but the big draw (aside from Amazon services) for customers that are deciding between this and a Nook Color is that Amazon is giving a free year of Amazon Prime with purchase. This is an effective swat at both B&N and Netflix. The new Kindle is in its final stages, and will be out in Q4 in time for Christmas.
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