Hey, check out this beaut. It’s the 8.9-inch version of Amazon’s new Fire HD tablet. The company trotted several of the 7-inch models, but the big daddy was a rare bird indeed — thankfully, however, we were able to get up close and personal with the thing. It’s almost a shame that this guy shares a name with last year’s model. This feels like a completely different bird — Amazon set out to make a slate that can compete with some of the top models out there, and from some passing impressions, this thing seems to stack up. Of course, we’re going to have to wait until we can actually spend some more time with it before passing judgement. Peep some more photos of the newer, bigger Kindle Fire in the gallery below.
Alas, we’ve not been able to get our hands on Amazon’s diminutive new 7-inch, $199 Kindle Fire tablet just yet, but we were treated to a lengthy demo of the thing courtesy of an Amazon rep, answering many of our questions and showing us just what how the thing performs. How does it fare? Very well, thank you very much. More details after the break.
Part of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire pitch is its promise of Amazon Silk — a “split browser” exclusive to the tablet that gets the heavy lifting done on its EC2 cloud servers and promises faster access as a result. Dubbed Silk to represent an “invisible, yet incredibly strong connection”, it takes advantage of Amazon’s existing speedy connections, and that so many sites are already hosted on its servers to speed up web access. Another feature is its ability to learn from previous web surfers and use their data to determine how to render a page, and which sites to precache on the device before you even select the next link. While mobile browsers like Skyfire and Opera have offered speed boosting proxies before, Amazon thinks its AWS prowess and the addition of “dynamic decisions” about what to render locally or in the cloud takes it to another level. Read our live blog of the event for more details, or check out the video explanation and press release after the break.
Okay, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but Amazon finally has a tablet, and as expected its name picks up where the Kindle left off: Fire. Of course, rumors of an Amazon tablet date back to this time last year (if not before), but it seems that Jeff and co. have wisely chosen to get this thing out on the open market before having yet another wild and wacky holiday quarter. Bloomberg has curiously reported on some of the details before the event itself kicks off, noting that the 7-inch device will run a version of Android while acting much like a “souped-up Kindle.” The real kicker, however, is the price — at just $199, it’s bound to turn heads, regardless of whether you were interested in a slate before. Naturally, that bargain-bin sticker explains the lack of an embedded camera and microphone, though consumers will find WiFi (no 3G, sadly) and a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime. It’s also quite clear that Amazon’s hoping to make a bigger splash on the content side of things than has been made already by Apple, and with the deals flowing like wine, we wouldn’t be shocked if it does just that.
Shortly after information started leaking out about the warmly-named Amazon tablet, gdgt offered up some supplementary details from sources explaining why the Fire looks an awful lot like the PlayBook. According to the anonymous informants, the thing was built using the same template as RIM’s device. Apparently the product is more or less being rushed out the door to make it out in time for the holidays. It seems that there may be another pressing reason for the rush to bring the reader-friendly tablet to market — namely a much improved second generation device, which is currently on-tap for the first quarter of next year. Why so close? Well, the newer tablet’s release date has supposedly been secured for some time, while its predecessor was pushed back for various reasons. It wouldn’t be the first time that Amazon launched two Kindle products months apart, with the Kindle DX arriving shortly after the Kindle 2. It’s not exactly the same thing, given that one device wasn’t meant to replace the other, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for the company’s ability to schedule. There are still some questions here, of course — even if the above is true (and that’s certainly a big “if”), that doesn’t mean that this second-gen tablet will hit its own mark. If it does, however, a lot of early adopters may get burned by the Fire.
It wasn’t that long ago that we were jonesing for a Nexus One on Verizon. What HTC gave us instead was the Droid Incredible, with the same 1GHz Snapdragon CPU and gorgeous 3.7-inch AMOLED display — not to mention a better camera (8 megapixel vs. five), 8GB of built-in flash storage, an optical trackpad, HTC’s Sense UI on top of Eclair, and a dash of funky industrial design. The Incredible was an impressive phone with a lovely camera, marred only by questionable battery life and lack of supply, forcing HTC to build a Super LCD-equipped model to satisfy demand. Judging by the popularity of the Incredible, it came as no surprise that following HTC’s announcement at MWC, the Incredible S eventually became Verizon’s Droid Incredible 2. With a 4-inch Super LCD display, global CDMA / GSM radio, front-facing camera, updated internals (including 768 MB of RAM), trick capacitive buttons, and a Froyo-flavored serving of Sense, the Incredible 2 seems like a worthy successor to last year’s Incredible. Does it live up to our expectations or is it just another fish in the crowded sea of Android? Does it significantly improve upon the original formula or is it merely a refresh? Hit the break for our review.
We’ve already seen Apple boast that it’s sold 15 million iPads in 2010 and commanded more than a 90 percent market share, but IDC has now come in and provided a broader picture of the tablet market as a whole — and e-readers, too. Not surprisingly, it too found that the tablet industry is basically all about Apple at the moment, although its market share did dip from a whopping 93 percent in the third quarter to 73 percent in Q4, which averages out to 83 percent for the year — all told, there were 18 million tablets sold in 2010. Things are a bit more competitive in the e-reader market — where there were 12 million devices sold — although Amazon is still head and shoulders above everyone else with a 48 percent share. Interestingly, it’s followed not by Barnes & Noble as you might expect but by Pandigital, which just eeked into the number two spot for Q4 (though B&N is slightly ahead for the full year). Hanvon came in fourth based largely on strong sales in China, and Sony rounded out the top five with sales of 800,000 units in 2010. Check out the press release after the break for some additional details