Amazon's Kindle Fire; At $199, finally a viable college tablet

Summary:Amazon's next-generation Kindle, the "Fire" has been announced and demonstrated this morning. Finally, college students have a cheaper iPad alternative.

Finally -- at long last, something to appease the student market. Priced at $199, the Android-powered tablet is the next-generation Kindle, boasting a 7-inch, colour display with Wi-Fi connectivity -- but without a camera, microphone, or a 3G connection.

Amazon Kindle Fire (Source: Bloomberg)

Amazon Kindle 'Fire' (Image via Bloomberg)

The last three points alone -- if anything -- bolsters the impending relationship between the upcoming tablet and college students.

Though 3G is not a necessity for a college-focused laptop, Wi-Fi functionality often designated to campus and the college library is a must.

But the killer feature here is the price: at $199, it is a viable competitor to the iPad in at least student circles.

Focusing on what students do the most -- downloading books, reading, using social media and more reading, the Kindle Fire will have the best of both worlds. But the absence of 3G should come as a blessing. Not only do students not need yet another mobile contract to contend with on a monthly basis, it offers a connection to social media on the move that can allow certain distractions to not get in the way of productivity.

Calling it an 'iPad competitor' can be fair; but 'killer', perhaps not.

Though students have taken to the iPad particularly well, with many wealthy schools offering the tablet as part of the schooling year, less wealthy schools have also been given the chance to access the technologies the iPad gives.

Still, the iPad is for an elite students with the available funds, but offers little in terms of 'at the desk' productivity'. While the iPad is a valid and reasonable device for browsing and socialisation, meaningful tasks are still taken to the desktop or laptop for -- essay writing and research as a prime focus.

For reading, however, many younger people as previously discussed may not find the iPad a viable reading resource. iBooks are still expensive, PDFs have to be manually loaded to the tablet.

Amazon's Fire, however, could break the mould. It won't kill the iPad, but will offer a bridge between tablets -- just as the iPad was meant to bridge the desktop with the laptop.

Related:

Topics: Amazon, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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