One early sign points to a strong holiday season for Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet.
While not even available for shipping yet, Kindle Fire is already the top-selling gadget, based on pre-orders, on the list of Amazon's most popular electronics items.
The $199 Kindle Fire is in the top spot for the second day in a row. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the color touch-tablet Wednesday at a press event in New York, with the promise that Kindle Fire and its new e-reader cousins are "premium products at non-premium prices."
Amazon officials did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the exact number of pre-orders the company has taken for Kindle Fire. The tablet is slated to ship Nov. 15.
Bezos said sales of the new line of Kindles would number in the "millions." That may not be an empty boast. The $79, non-touch Kindle Wi-Fi is second on Amazon's list, the Kindle Touch, at $99, is third, and the $149 Kindle Touch 3G is fourth.
One aspect that makes Kindle Fire so appealing is new browser technology that divides rendering tasks between the device's local processor and Amazon's EC2 cloud servers. Amazon claims the approach leads to faster browsing than what's experienced on competitive offerings, such as Apple's Safari.
Some analysts believe the company is on to something. "In one fell swoop Amazon harnesses its commanding lead in cloud services, the content richness of a leading online retailer and its successful Kindle business strategy to deliver what might become one of most effective antidotes to the mobile bandwidth crunch," said IDC's Al Hilwa.
Kindle Fire also boasts some other impressive specs. The LCD screen displays 16 million colors in high-resolution, at 169 pixels per inch. In-plane switching technology provides wide viewing angles. A dual-core processor, reportedly from Texas Instruments, provides quick responsiveness. The device weighs 14.6 ounces, making it possible for most people to hold in one hand.
Kindle Fire also provides out-of-the-box integration with Amazon subscription services for movies, TV shows, games, and music.
Noticeably absent, at least until the next version, is a microphone or camera of any kind. Kindle Fire is also currently available only with Wi-Fi connectivity. Amazon has not said whether it plans to release a follow-up model with 3G or 4G cellular reception.
Amazon shares were down 2.33%, to $224.35, in midday trading, after briefly spiking Wednesday following the Kindle Fire announcement.
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