At a Gamasutra-attended press event in New York today, Amazon confirmed earlier reports that it will be bringing an 7-inch, Android-based LCD tablet to market for $199, with access to games through Amazon’s Android App Store.
The Kindle Fire, as the tablet is called, features a modified version of Android focused on presenting a smoother, more intuitive user interface. Unlike the iPad, which retails for $499 and up, the Fire does not offer a built-in camera, microphone or an option for 3G data connection.
Fire users will have access to all the apps available on Amazon’s Android App Store, which includes a wide selection of games. Titles including Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja were shown at the event, the latter of which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called “uncomfortably therapeutic.”
Bezos stressed that content on the Fire would be backed up to the cloud automatically, allowing users to delete local content from the tablet’s 8GB of internal storage as needed.
“The model that you need to back up all of your own content is a broken model. We feel the same way about syncing,” Bezos said, showing a picture of an iPhone’s USB cable.
He explained: “Syncing… should be done invisibly, in the background, and wirelessly, and it should actually work.”
The device will also connect to the Amazon Prime streaming movie service, as well as Amazon’s MP3 store, Cloud Drive and Kindle Cloud Reader.
The Fire also features a new “split browser,” called Amazon Silk, that splits web page processing between the Fire and Amazon’s EC2 cloud service. Silk will analyze aggregate reading habits of Fire users, to pre-load pages that it thinks users are likely to visit in the near future.
A pre-order page for the new tablet claims the Fire will get up to 8 hours of battery life for continuous reading, or 7.5 hours for video playback, with the Wi-Fi features off. The tablet’s 7-inch screen will support resolutions of up to 1024 x 600 pixels, according to the page.
Amazon also announced the Kindle Touch, a new version of its game–playing e-ink digital reader, that will be available November 21 in a $99 model with WiFi support and a $149 model that includes free 3G service. The company is also offering a non-touch-screen version of the Kindle for $79 starting today.
The new e-ink Kindles will include a new reading feature called X-ray, allowing users to examine the “bones” of a book with a locally stored Wikipedia entries for interesting phrases and historical figures.