Amazon today announced some big news in the world of portable devices, with the release of three new, crazy affordable products that are expected to really shake things up in the marketplace.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Finally, Amazon enters into the über competitive world of tablets. And from what I can tell, they did it well and will be a force to be reckoned with. While the Fire doesn’t have all the assets you’ll get with an iPad and other tablets—there’s no camera, mic, and it’s not 3G/4G-compatible—it is the perfect (and affordable) happy medium for folks who want a mobile, web-ready device, but really have no use for all the fancy bells and whistles that come with other tablets. Initial public testing shows that it’s lightning-fast, visually crisp (the pixels-per-inch ratio actually exceeds the iPad, meaning the display is noticeably better), and at just 14.6 ounces, it’s super lightweight. Oh, and did I mention? It might only have 8GB storage, but it utilizes Amazon’s amazingly efficient cloud technology, which means there’s no need for files to be downloaded onto the tablet in order for you to access them. And the best part? The Fire will be introduced to the market at the astoundingly low cost of just $199.
Amazon Kindle Touch
The tried and true Kindle is also getting an upgrade, doing away with all those pesky buttons we are increasingly growing to dislike, amid this evolving age of touchscreen everything. The display is identical to its predecessors, but now you’ll be able to do everything on-screen. Another great feature is the addition of X-Ray, which will let you seamlessly look up information about the text you’re reading, whether it’s a definition or a Wikipedia entry for something more in-depth. How cool is that? The other nifty detail? Its price: $99.
But hey, maybe you're a creature of habit and don't like such quick changes. If that's you, the standard Kindle that you’ve grown to love, which is still evolving in its own right, may be more your speed. While the physical keyboard has been replaced by an on-screen keyboard, you’ll still find some basic navigation buttons. Not to mention, the device is significantly smaller and lighter—it’s just under 6 ounces. It’s by far the ultimate compact, travel-friendly e-reader. And with a price point set at a mind-blowing $79, it really can’t be beat.
I don’t know about you, but reading about these devices left me salivating at my desk. (Fingers crossed that none of my fellow editors noticed!)
Each device is available to order at Amazon.com right now, though the Fire and Touch are currently pre-orders. The Fire will begin shipping November 15, while the Touch will ship November 21. The basic Kindle is available immediately.
Joshua Pramis is a digital associate editor and resident tech guru at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuapramis