Today, Amazon lifts the veil on its all-new Kindle lineup. We're anticipating new Kindle Fires in a bunch of different flavors, Kindle Touches that light up the night, and maybe even our very first glimpse at an Amazon phone. So what's the full rundown on today's goodies?
How Many Kindles?
Staples' U.S. retail chief Demos Parneros recently said Amazon was prepping "five or six" new tablets. What that likely means—if there's any basis to it at all—is several storage options in two different sizes. So theoretically, a 7-inch Kindle Fire with 8GB, another with 16GB, and another with 32GB, as well as a 10-inch Fire with those same configurations. However, since it the latest reports say Amazon won't be releasing a 10-inch tablet after all, this could be referring to Kindle Touch with or without special offers. Or—more likely—we shouldn't be listening to the Staples guy for our Amazon rumors.
Similarly, there have also been murmurings of a 4G Kindle Fire. However, that intel comes by way of an analyst and well, analysts say a lot of crap that you'd think they dreamed and said out loud but they wish they hadn't. And while 4G has become table stakes for premium tablets in the last year, it's equally possible that Amazon will forego it to keep the price down.
So what are we really expecting? A new Kindle Fire and a new Kindle Touch, both with cheaper ad-supported options. Oh, and we might just get a glimpse at an Amazon phone.
The rumor that just won't die—literally it's been walking around since before the original Kindle Fire was announced last September—is that Amazon has a 10-inch Kindle Fire waiting in the wings to join the 7-inch guy on stage.
That was all well and good until CNET burst our 10-inch bubble. While it's likely that Amazon has at least been testing a larger device to take on the iPad, it sounds like they may be giving it a pass this time around. Besides, it's got enough on its plate going up against the Nexus 7.
If you want to know what the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch look like, go no further than the commercial Amazon released just last night that shows off both in full effect. The new Kindle Fire appears thinner, with a possibly slightly different aspect ration, but otherwise practically identical to its forebear. The Kindle Touch is black instead of grey, and—though it's hard to tell based just on a commercia—the e-ink certainly seems to pop against that display.
There have been reports that Amazon will add a camera to these new Fires—the current model lacks one—presumably front-facing, for video chatting and weirdo self-portraits. However, the low-end Fire might not actually be capable of snapping pics, some rumors have said. There certainly doesn't appear to be one in the Fire in the ad, though we can't help but think that surely at least one model must have camerability. There are Joneses to keep up with, after all.
The current Fire has a dual-core 1GHz processor and a giant battery that takes up a lot of room. That's so much slower than comparable tablets on the market—the Nexus 7, for example, has a quad-core Tegra 3 chip. So we can speculate that the Fires will get at least a modest bump, to give us something faster and more efficient (in fact, that Tegra 3 sounds just about right). The screen on the new guys will reportedly get a boost, pumping things up to 1280 x 800 resolution. That would change the aspect ratio from 1.71 to 1.60, which wouldn't impact your day to day usage at all so best not to give it a second thought. Also, again, that may be exactly what we saw in that commercial.
To be honest, there hasn't been much in the way of Kindle Fire 2 guts rumors, but it seems safe to speculate that both tablets will be in line with competitors like the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab. Either that or Jeff Bezos goes positively kamizaki on the price.
Please do not be alarmed. The follow-up Fires will probably be priced around the same level as their predecessors. Meaning we're supposedly looking at a base 7-inch model coming in at $200 (or less, depending on features). And if Amazon does intro an ad-supported Kindle Fire, expect that price to drop by another 30ish bucks as well.
The 10-incher, which probably does not exist but just in case, would cost a bit more. We'd anticipate something in the $400 ballpark, since no one undercuts like Amazon. Granted, the 10-inch Galaxy Tab is $400 and no one's really buying that, so Amazon's comparable tablet could possibly go even lower.
Front-lit Kindle Touches?
A Kindle that you can read alone in your bed in the dark. The reports of a front-lit Kindle have been crawling around for some time, and to be honest Amazon would be crazy not to introduce one. The Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight has been out since April—way too much ground for Amazon to give up already on a feature that consumers actively seek out.
The Verge got its hands on some additional details that suggest the Kindle Touch could be rebranded as "Paperwhite." The term "Paperwhite" is possibly a nod to a purported bump in the device's screen quality. The refreshed Kindle will also reportedly lose the button below the display, get a darker grey bezel (as seen in that ad) and have higher resolution, "integrated lighting," and eight weeks of battery life.
A Kindle You Can Call From
And let's not forget the latest-breaking of rumors, which is that Amazon will give a quick flash of a phone that its R&D minions have been cracking on. As the Verge reports, it's thought not to be entirely finished and details are scarce—though presumably it's another thickly skinned Android job—so if it does show up expect it to be a bit of a tease. But that won't stop anyone—including us—from lots and lots of speculation.
Amazon's big day kicks off at 1:30 EST; you can follow along with our liveblog here, and we'll of course be posting all the newness as it's announced.