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[personal profile] loopychew
So Amazon had their giant press release regarding the new batch of Kindles yesterday, and I've been mulling it over. Since this has absolutely nothing to do with music gaming and I haven't figured out how to work that newfangled tumblr account of mine, I figured I'd keep to using this as a forum for my thoughts on the situation.

It sounds like all these Kindles are now designed to complement the currently-existing Kindle 3--now rechristened the "Kindle Keyboard"--as opposed to being a replacement, which is a smart move--as much as the current keyboard disappoints (does anyone else who owns one hit 'm' instead of 'n' frequently because of the key positioning?), some people will always prefer a tactile keyboard to a virtual one, and none of the new models have one.

Let's start from the lowest price point up.

Kindle: At $80 (without ads, $110), this is one of the sleeper news hits: finally, an e-book reader connected to one of the most popular e-book platforms around, for less than a Benjamin. That's one major milestone down--it's now more affordable to students. However, this still doesn't work well for lower-income families, since 1) it's Wi-Fi only (how likely is it that someone would own a Wi-Fi router or Wi-Fi hotspot device without owning a computer?) and 2) the Kindle is really a personal device, not well-suited to sharing amongst families (at least with books, if someone's reading one, you can pick up another; it doesn't matter if you own all the books in the world on your Kindle if you've only got one of them and three people who want to read). The five-way switch would make it frustrating to input words if you want to use the Kindle shop, but it should work reasonably for reading, at least. Not good for vision-impaired people, as audiobooks and text-to-speech can't work without speakers. We'll have something that can really benefit the masses once the price gets down to maybe $50 with 3G support (or a good public Wi-Fi system--either way, really a pipe dream if trying to get e-books and readers to lower-income areas where even $50 may not be considered affordable, which I know is a lot of places).

Kindle Touch: Really can't say much until I hear more about the touchscreen, but the shorter profile makes it easier to fit into a pocket without things falling out. Front-facing speaker is nice, too. It's priced to compete directly against the Nook Touch, and it looks like it comes out favorably (more space, speakers for TTS and audiobooks, only $10 more for the 3G edition if you don't mind ads).

Kindle Fire: The belle of the ball, a $200 tablet which, while lacking in cameras and other devices usually taken for granted in tablets, this is both a Kindle in name only. Sure, it reads books and WhisperSyncs them to your system (when connected to Wi-Fi, natch), but this is in reality--for the US, anyway--Amazon's answer to the iTunes ecosystem, and revenge for iBooks. By pricing it at less than half the price of the cheapest iPad, Amazon has put forward a strong entry into the portable media empire. For $50 less than a Nook Color, you have a device with the ability to read lots more media. Granted, it only has limited carrying capacity (8GB will get you a couple of movies at full resolution and no external memory slot to my knowledge), but the price--and the promise of free downloadable media for Prime customers--makes it difficult to resist. If it's a loss leader, the uptick in Prime subscriptions and media purchases--books, Amazon MP3s & videos--should keep it afloat.

Well played, Amazon, well played. I'm not going to buy a new Kindle reader--I haven't even had mine for a year yet--but the Fire looks like something I may get somewhere down the line.


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