Amazon's third generation Kindle will reportedly be joined by a new 7-inch tablet later this fall.
That rumored Amazon tablet we’ve been hearing about for months and months? It’s real, and at least one non-Amazon employee has gotten a firsthand look at it.
“Not only have I heard about the device,” TechCrunch’s MG Siegler says. “I’ve seen it and used it. And I’m happy to report that it’s going to be a big deal. Huge, potentially.”
The tablet Siegler saw has a 7-inch full-color back-lit LCD touchscreen. From the outside, it looks a bit PlayBook-like: black, no buttons and a rubberized back.
According to Siegler’s source, Amazon will sell it at $250 (the same price point as the Nook Color) beginning in mid-to-late November; if the smaller tablet does well, the company may release a 10-inch version next year.
The operating system is based on Android, as was previously surmised. But Amazon has completely overhauled and customized the interface.
The user interface “looks nothing like the Android you’re used to seeing,” Siegler says. The color scheme interface is decidedly Amazon, with theme colors of black, dark blue and orange. The OS supports gestures, but appears to use two-finger multi-touch, as opposed to the iPad’s 10-finger multi-touch. Without a physical home button, you access a navigation menu to return to the home screen by tapping the lower left-hand corner of the display.
Finally, Amazon’s services, from Kindle, Instant Video and Cloud Player to its Android Appstore, are completely integrated and immediately accessible within the OS. It has a Kindle-skinned, tabbed web browser with Google set as the default search engine, but otherwise there’s no Google branding anywhere, which is highly unusual for a device said to be running Android.
After the introduction of its Appstore, it was clear that Amazon wasn’t afraid to embrace Android. An anonymous source tipped off the world that Amazon was prepping both dual and quad-core tablets, and additional reports pegged their official release for this fall.
The version Siegler got to check out was a Design Verification Testing (DVT) unit that’s begun to float around Amazon headquarters for final testing. He believes it’s a single-core device, with just 6 GB of internal storage. (The assumption is that it doesn’t need tons of on-board storage; that’s what Amazon’s Cloud services are for.) The ten-inch version, if released, will have a dual-core processor. There’s no camera built-in to the tablet. It’ll start out as a Wi-Fi only device, but Amazon is working with carriers on developing a 3G model.
What about the current E Ink Kindle? Aren’t tablets and e-readers mortal enemies? Recent studies say absolutely not; many customers own both. Amazon’s plan, according to Siegler’s source, is to continue to make and sell E Ink Kindles as an inexpensive reading device, with no current plans for adding a touchscreen. The new Kindle tablet or tablets will be the premium, touch-driven, multimedia versions.
Oh, and another bonus: An Amazon Prime subscription, normally $79 annually, will reportedly be bundled in with the purchase price. Drool.
Finally, a new tablet I can’t wait to get my hands on.