There's only one day to go before Amazon is expected to launch its first Android-based media tablet at a press conference in Manhattan, and if leaked reports are correct we have a good idea what to expect. It will be a black 7-incher that looks much like RIM's PlayBook, and it will be called the Kindle Fire. It will ship in November, so UK users are unlikely to see it this year. The predicted price is $249, which is half the price of an Apple iPad 2, though some people think it might be closer to $300. It could cost roughly twice as much as a Wi-Fi only monochrome Kindle, currently $114.
The name was proclaimed by MG Siegler at Techcrunch last night in a post headlined On Wednesday, Amazon Will Unveil The "Kindle Fire". Since kindle could be associated with kindling wood, it sounds plausible.
In an earlier post, Siegler said "it looks very similar in terms of form-factor" to the BlackBerry PlayBook. Ryan Block confirmed this yesterday at the gdgt site with a post that said The Amazon tablet will look like a PlayBook -- because it basically is.
According to Block, the connection is Quanta, which is a major Taiwanese contract manufacturer and ODM (original design manufacturer), and which we know is making Amazon's tablet. Quanta helped Amazon to "'shortcut' the development process by using the PlayBook as their hardware template," says Block.
They're not identical, of course, and the Amazon Fire doesn't have the RIM PlayBook's built-in cameras. However, the PlayBook is a very nice bit of hardware. It's much lighter and far more portable than an Apple iPad 2 (see table below) and it fits my suits' jacket pockets perfectly. Portability is obviously more important for an e-reader like the Fire than for a general-purpose tablet, though Amazon is also working on a 10-inch tablet for launch next year.
Videos look superb on the PlayBook's high-pixel-definition screen, so I hope Amazon doesn't use a cheaper screen simply to bring the price down. Barnes & Noble's rival Nook Color reportedly has a bright, clear screen, and Amazon will know that if people get more enjoyment from consuming media on the Fire, then it stands to sell more content.
And selling content is what it's really about.
RIM PlayBook vs Apple iPad 2
Screen size: 7 inches vs 9.7 inches
Screen resolution: 1024 x 600 vs 1024 x 768
Dimensions: 130 x 193 x 10mm vs 241 x 186 x 9 mm
Weight: 400g vs 601g