Kindle Fire

Along with a set of three new, more traditional-style Kindle e-readers, Amazon today revealed what we all knew was coming: the Kindle Fire, an Android-powered tablet that may have just single-handedly killed off every other Android tablet on the market.

The Fire sports a 7-inch, multi-touch screen with a 1024×600 resolution. It measures in at 7.5 inches x 4.7 inches x 0.45 inches and weighs 14.6 ounces. The iPad, by comparison, has a 9.7-inch screen with a 1024×768 resolution, weighs 1.33 pounds, and measures in at 9.5 inches x 7.31 inches x 0.34 inches.

One significant difference between the Fire and iPad is that the Fire will run on a heavily-modified version of the Android operating system, though it will still have access to Android apps like Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, and so on. The Fire doesn’t have a camera or microphone, and its only physical button is for powering it on and off (i.e. changing the volume won’t be as convenient as it could be).

The Fire will, for now, be Wi-Fi-only. A version with a larger screen will reportedly be released in 2012.

Other noteworthy aspects about the device is its fairly small 8GB of storage. That might be an issue if you wish to load up on your own content, but any and all Amazon digital content will be stored in the Amazon Cloud. The web browser uses Amazon’s new Silk technology where web pages are pre-loaded on Amazon’s servers, making them faster to load on your device. (The browser also supports Flash, one thing the iPad can’t say.)

Kindle Fire

What really sets the Fire apart from other Android tablets is the price: it will cost only $199, far less than competing tablets and a full $300 cheaper than the lowest-priced iPad. The low price is possible because Amazon is banking on users taking advantage of the content it can easily provide — books, movies, TV shows, magazines, and music. Included with the Fire will be a 30-day subscription to Amazon Prime, the $79-per-year service that grants free two-day shipping on anything sold by Amazon as well as access to its Netflix-style movie and TV show-streaming service.

With gaming being the most popular use for tablets, it’ll support plenty of games — we’ve already seen Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Fruit Ninja, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies among the games available for it, and there’s a great deal more waiting on Amazon’s Android marketplace. Assuming the device catches on — and at $199, that seems highly likely — support from game developers will continue to be there.

The Fire can be pre-ordered now and will be released on November 15 in the United States.

By Chris Pereira