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The Amazon Kindle Fire - a 5-fact, 5-minute Summary

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The Kindle Fire was first announced last year by Jeff Bezos in an orgy of hype. It was perhaps the most credible, device to threaten Apple's near total domination of the sector that Apple themselves effectively created when they released the iPad having evolved it from the picked-over remains of Microsoft Windows earlier efforts at creating a slate computer.

But now we have the 2012 versions - what do you really need to know?

  1. The idea of the Kindle Fire is that it is an entire ecosystem, rather than simply a product made of mundane hardware and software components. It leads the user from Amazon's extremely successful, but extremely monochrome, Kindle eReader to a vibrantly colourful world consuming movies, magazines, books and Apps all, they hope, purchased from their online store.
  2. The revenue that they expect to channel to this store helps the online giant subsidise the tablet's purchase price, which is also subsidised through various, rather invasive adverts that appear on the homescreen. It's possible to pay to have these adverts removed.
  3. Last Kindle Fire HDyear, we, in the UK, didn't get a chance to savour the delights of the Mark I Kindle Fire because of all the complex rights arrangements involved in granting access to Amazon's ecosystem. But this time, it's different. We do get to try two of this year's three variants of the Fire - the upgrade to the original and the high definition (HD) version in the same 7-inch format.
  4. There's a larger 8.9-inch version that we won't be seeing for a while.
  5. Technically, the new Fire HD is quite strong, but, like the Google Nexus 7 and the Apple iPad, it lacks an SD memory card slot. Perhaps, in each case, these larger companies feel that this restriction helps encourage users to stay within each company's respective ecosystem. The lack of an "external" memory card can be a pain of you want to keep backups at home - or to share photos or music with friends from a different ecosystem - or even friends or older relatives more wedded to the real world.

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