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The Kindle Fire: Amazon’s Answer to the iPad

Looks like the tablet family just got a whole lot bigger. Today, Amazon announced three new e-reading products with impressively low price points that are sure to tantalize even the most fanatical luddites amongst us. Along with an upgrade to their original Kindle, Amazon released two touchscreen e-readers called the “Kindle Touch,” one with free 3G wireless capabilities and one without. What’s so cool about the Kindle Touch is that even though it incorporates the multitouch technology we’ve grown accustomed to in our mobile devices, it still eschews LED backlit screens in favor of E Ink, a format that makes the reading experience much more akin to reading printed copies. It’s also easier to read E Ink in bright environments than it is to do so on backlit devices like the iPad.

But perhaps the most exciting product announced today is the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s answer to the iPad. With a price point significantly lower than the iPad, and no camera or microphone capabilities, the Kindle Fire isn’t a direct competitor to the iPad, but it’s definitely a significant stride in that direction. It’s a smaller color screen device that comes loaded with access to Amazon’s impressive entertainment database of movies, music and books. The tablet runs on Android OS, making it easy to sync your Google and Amazon accounts on the device. The Kindle Fire’s affordable price is what makes it a formidable opponent. A Kindle Fire device is just $199, compared to $499 for the least expensive iPad model.

The Kindle Fire will also give you access to magazines, newspapers and books, making it an important new platform for journalists. “Choose from hundreds of titles, such as Bon AppetitElle, and Oprah,” reads the Fire’s official product description. ”Special editions of titles like Vanity FairWired, and GQ come with built-in video, audio and other interactive features.”

While $199 is still nothing to scoff at, it’s exciting to see more affordable tablets enter the marketplace. As print numbers continue to dwindle and tablets become more ubiquitous, it’s more important than ever for journalists and news organizations to think seriously about app development and the tablet reading experience.

All three new products will be shipped out in November and are available for pre-order on the Amazon website.

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