After about an hour of hands-on time with the tablet, Siegler seems confident that it will be a hot item this holiday season. Of course, that seemed clear since we first caught wind of Amazon’s tablet ambitions, which hinted that the company was aiming for an inexpensive entry, like Barnes and Noble’s popular Nook Color, that was deeply integrated with Amazon’s services.
Amazon also plans to offer free Prime subscriptions with the tablet. The premium service typically costs $79 a year and offers perks like free two-day shipping and access to Amazon’s Instant Video. A free Prime membership alone would net Amazon plenty of interested buyers, but at $250 the tablet seems like a downright steal (that will also ingeniously tempt owners into buying more stuff from Amazon).
The tablet runs a heavily customized version of Android 2.2, and Siegler writes that it “looks nothing like the Android you’re used to seeing.” The main screen features a carousel of all your content on the device (or linked to your Amazon account), and it sounds like the interface shares little with the stock Android setup. The Kindle tablet is so deeply customized, Siegler says, that there’s no Android Market, only Amazon’s Android marketplace, and no default Android apps from Google.
For the most part, this sounds like Barnes and Noble’s approach to the Nook Color, which also runs a custom version of Android with no access to standard Android applications. The big difference with Amazon’s tablet is that it will be marketed as a tablet from the start. For whatever reason, it took Barnes and Noble some time to bring tablet-like features to the Nook Color, like games and an app store.
Hardware-wise, the Kindle tablet sports a slightly rubberized rear, says Siegler. He compares it to the BlackBerry PlayBook — a good sign since I’ve found that tablet to be one of the better-designed pieces of hardware on the market.
As expected, the tablet is deeply integrated with Amazon’s services, like its Cloud Music Player and Instant Video offerings. Indeed, the device seems built for streaming, as Siegler notes that it only has a small amount of storage (around 6 gigabytes, but I’m assuming that’s free space available on an 8-gigabyte storage drive).
The Kindle tablet doesn’t include a camera, and Siegler notes that it may only support two-finger multitouch capabilities (the iPad and most other tablets support 10-finger multitouch). It may also run a single-core processor, which makes sense since it likely doesn’t need to do much heavy lifting, like playing 1080p HD video.
So what of the rumored 10-inch Amazon tablet? That device, which is said to run a quad-core processor and be a more direct competitor to the iPad, is scheduled to launch in the first quarter of next year if the 7-inch tablet does well enough.
Amazon may forgo releasing a touchscreen version of the traditional Kindle, Siegler says, but that’s still speculation so far. Intriguingly, he also says that Amazon is working on a multi-touch tablet/e-reader hybrid device that runs on an E-Ink screen.