Yesterday, Amazon, who has long sold a variety of Kindle e-readers, announced their first, true tablet computer, the Kindle Fire.

Despite the fact that the tablet marketplace is already over saturated, the Kindle Fire is shaping up to be a significant contender.

At the core of the device is a 7-inch touchscreen that boasts the same IPS tech as Apple’s iPad. Heck, they even compare it to the iPad in their marketing copy, which is ballsy. IPS provides a wide viewing angle without diminishing the screen’s clarity. Spec wise it has a 1024×600 resolution at at 169 ppi with 16 million colors. There is also a dual-core processor on board, though Amazon has yet to tell us the brand and speed.

All of Amazon’s Kindles have been billed as extremely portable devices, and the Fire is no exception. It measures 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ and weighs just 14.6oz. By comparison Apple’s iPad weighs 21.28oz and is by default is larger in size given its screen.

Built-in storage starts and ends at 8GB. However, Amazon is offering unlimited cloud storage for any apps, music, videos, etc that you purchase directly from Amazon. There doesn’t appear to be an SD card slot for expansion, but you could always invest in Seagate Wireless hard drive, which we just reviewed.

The battery caps out at 8 hours of continuous reading, and Amazon says that number diminishes by just .5 hours when watching video. Of course that will vary by wireless usage, such as streaming a movie from their Amazon Prime video service, but that’s to be expected.

A micro-USB, 3.5-inch headphone jack and top mounted speaker round out the basic feature set.

Now in terms of an operating system, Amazon chose Android. They’ve added their own skin, which is common on Android devices. They’ve also infused it with a proprietary web browser, called Amazon Silk, which sends some of the web processing to the cloud. In other words it’s fast, and web pages will be digested in the cloud and on the device, and then presented to you, the user, in a seamless fashion. Unfortunately, at least for now, the Kindle Fire is limited to WiFi connectivity only, which is a departure from their other kindle devices, which included 3G connectivity in the price of the hardware. Keep in mind you can surf the web, download movies and stream all sorts of content to this tablet. So it’s likely will see a 3G version in the future, pending the success of this iteration.

The Amazon Kindle Fire will begin shipping November 15th, for $199. They’re taking preorders now on a first come first serve basis.

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Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."