Surprise! Amazon Kindle Fire Costs $199

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Tuned for conspicuous media consumption, Amazon’s Android tablet looks like a Christmas Number 1

Amazon has announced its long-awaited Android tablet, the Kindle Fire, and undercut Apple’s iPad by greater than had been expected.

Analysts had been predicting the effects of a $249 Amazon tablet, halving Apple’s $499 price, but in New York today, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos today announced a 7 inch tablet, with Wi-Fi, but no camera or 3G networking, costing $199 (which would be £127 in the UK, if gadget prices were ever converted pound-for dollar).

A content consumption device

The Kindle Fire will pack a dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP4 processor, weigh 14.6 oz, and sport a 1024×600 resolution Gorilla Glass screen.  It will have 8GB of  storage and a claimed battery life of eight hours of reading or 7 1/2 hours of video playback.

It’s also got a headphone jack and speakers, but no microphone, so don’t expect to use it as a communications device.

Amazon has added its own user interface to Android and tightly integrated the Fire with its content, so users will be encouraged to use Amazon’s Android App Store as well as all Amazon’s online content selling channels, eased by itsw own “lightning fast”  browser, called Silk which operates as a proxy optimised for mobile use, similar to the Opera browser.

Amazon already has the back-end capability to support a surge of content distribution, on its EC2 cloud platform, which could put it ahead of Apple’s content distribution system, the iCloud, which is not yet available in the UK.

At the time of writing there is no word on delivery dates, but Amazon would be seriously missing a trick not to get it out in time for Christmas.

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