amazon-official-kindle-touchEngadget has a couple of first looks at the new Kindle and Kindle Touch, including a video of the Touch in action (that doesn’t seem to be working at the time of this writing). As expected, the loss of the keyboard handicaps the basic Kindle slightly, as now any letter-based interactions have to be entered through an on-screen virtual keyboard. But on the other hand, for a “pure” e-reader, typing is only something you do occasionally anyway, so it may not be that much of a handicap in the long run. Certainly Kobo and Sony don’t seem to have found it so.

As for the Kindle Touch, Engadget calls the touch screen “fairly responsive” with a good refresh rate, and notes that the on-screen touch-sensitive keyboard works well: “[A]ctivities like [performing a search] and typing are performed quite quickly for an E-Ink device.”

Update: Ars Technica has a first-looks post, too.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hill at our sister blog Gamertell looks at the Fire in light of the gaming activities Amazon has been promoting lately. Hill points out that games are the most lucrative app category on the Amazon app store. He notes that Jeff Bezos played Fruit Ninja on the Fire as part of the demonstration, and that this and Amazon’s other appstore games are the kind of low-overhead, high-addiction games that have been so popular with iOS devices as well, and closes with the question:

So when it comes to gaming on a tablet, which would you prefer between a $400+ tablet with questionable future support and a $199 tablet powered by the internet’s largest online retailer?

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen Apple, the undisputed king of the tablet hill, cast as any kind of a tablet underdog. I have to applaud the sheer chutzpah of this approach, if nothing else.

But I doubt that gaming is going to be any kind of a primary driver of either iPad or Fire sales. You don’t get hooked on Plants vs. Zombies or Cut the Rope and then go look for a mobile device just to play it. That sort of gaming is what you find the device can do too after you originally bought it for other purposes.

And when you compare the iPad to the Fire directly, there really isn’t a comparison there: the iPad is still more powerful and capable of doing more things, which is why people want it. No, I think the iPad’s catbird seat in the tablet market is safe for a while yet. It may be even after the 10” Fire comes out. It’s going to take more than low-overhead gaming performance to knock Apple off the top.


  1. There’s no doubt that Apple’s hardware is better. But they will compete against one another, and at that price point the Fire will be “good enough” for a lot of people.

    Everyone does the iPad comparison, but to my mind the people who just got really screwed are Samsung, HTC, RIM, and the like.

    There’s Apple, now there’s Amazon, and then there’s everyone else…

  2. Kindle Fire has no accelerometer, which is key to many of the iOS games. Nor does the Fire have a gyroscope. The slower CPU will also limit games’ functionality on the Fire.

    Some games will play just as well on the Fire.

    But frankly I don’t see games as being as important to the Fire as they are to the iOS platform. Books and music and streaming video are much more important. Books being far ahead of the others.

    The talk of games does raise the question of ‘apps’ on the eink Kindles vs apps on the Kindle Fire. Amazon will need 2 ‘app stores’ now, yes? With the eink app store continuing to languish somewhere between Intel’s app store for netbooks and a hole in the ground. Good for sudoku and crossword puzzles, not much else?

  3. Michael – I agree with your comments fully.

    Asotir – Why are books so important ? People for whom eBooks are so important are surely unlikely to chose the Fire. They have no need for it. The people who fork out for this Fire will expect more. And gaming is the fastest growing segment on tablets these days.

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