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Sep 282011
 
eBook sales have skyrocketed in the last four years

eBook sales have skyrocketed in the last four years. (Photo from Engadget)

After much speculation and many leaks for at least the last year, the open secret that was Amazon’s new Android-based color eBook reader/tablet has been confirmed at a press release in New York this morning.

The release of the Fire – for that is its name, an obvious derivative of the Kindle name given to its previous generation of eBook readers, and which begs the question ‘what will the next generation to come of eReaders be called?’) – was no great surprise, but its price was, coming in lower than most commentators had expected – $199.

More surprising were some of the other items also announced at the release event, including not one but three new version of the Kindle.  A new touch screen based Kindle with 3G wireless connectivity (as well as Wi-Fi too) priced at either $149 or $189 depending on if one will accept a very mild degree of advertising on the unit; a second identical unit except without the 3G connectivity for $99 or $139; and a non-touch screen (and also sans keyboard) Kindle for $79 or $109 were also announced.

The $79/109 Kindle is available for immediate shipping, the Fire will be released on 15 November and the two Touch Kindles on 21 November.  Needless to say, pre-orders are now being accepted on Amazon’s site.

So should you buy one of these new devices, and if so, which?

A fuller answer to that question will be released later today, but for now, a quick heads-up.  If you already have a Kindle, there’s little need to upgrade to a new Kindle, but the Fire might be of interest.

The Fire has a 7″ color screen, and does double duty as an Android tablet.  It might make sense for people who read books/magazines that have color content in them that can’t be seen on a regular Kindle screen, and if you want to use your reader for other things such as web browsing, email, and games, then at $199 the Fire is much better priced than comparable other tablet products.

If you don’t yet have an eReader, and if you are certain that you’ll only want to read fiction/novels on an eReader, you don’t need the added value of the color screen and all the extendable Android capabilities and apps, and in that case, we’d probably suggest you choose the $99 Touch (better battery life but same screen as the non-Touch unit which is only $20 less, and the 3G connectivity in the $149 Touch 3G is of little value).

Full details, of course, on Amazon’s website.  And much more analysis and recommendations coming soon from here.

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