The smaller tablet wars are heating up and classrooms around the world are going to be the big winners. Amazon just announced the new Kindle Fire and the most important feature to know about is, of course, the price. But there’s another feature too. We’ll get to that shortly.
Note: Amazon announced a slew of great tablets today. There’s the entry-level e-reader Kindle Paperwhite which starts $119. The Kindle Fire HD is 8.9″ and starts at $299. A great deal. But not as cheap as the smaller ‘New Kindle Fire.’ We’re talking about the smaller 7″ Fire below, just FYI.
It’s a shocking $159. That’s $40 less than Google’s Nexus 7 and a kajillion dollars (exact term) less than the current iPad. While the new Kindle Fire may not have all the bells and whistles of the iPad, the price will make any 1:1 classroom reconsider iPads.
First off, what should you expect in the new gadget? Well, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would like it if you didn’t refer to it as a gadget. He called it a ‘service-oriented slate’ which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue but is at least a bit more accurate. The service-oriented slate packs 1GB of RAM (twice the previous model), a front-facing camera, better battery life, and starts shipping on September 14th.
Amazon announced a new feature to the Kindle that classrooms should know about. It’s called Kindle FreeTime and is a special mode that you can enable to create a safe digital environment. FreeTime makes it easier for younger users to use the device and not have parents or teachers worry.
Administrators (parents, teachers, etc.) can create separate profiles that let you choose what younger uses can access and for how long. This is a great feature that I’m sure we can expect to see in many other tablets (ahem, iPad, ahem) in the very near future.
Also, Amazon has slashed the price of the oldest Kindle to just $69 as it clears out inventory. Another great opportunity to do a 1:1 classroom on the super cheap!
The new Kindle Fire has a lot of buzz now but will it actually succeed in taking a big chunk of the tablet market? Here’s a roundup of what folks are saying at the announcement:
“This could easily be the product that beats the iPad particularly for those of us who are readers, easy and innovative in design and use with unique features like X-Ray which allows you to become far more intimate with what you are reading,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum suggested Amazon might have felt forced to make the move.
“Amazon is clearly spooked by Google’s Nexus 7 coming in at $200 for a much more capable device,” she said.
“Amazon has a massive advantage in the UK because of its brand name and the fact it will have its devices promoted and sold in Waterstones book stores later this year,” Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller magazine said. “But I wouldn’t write off the Nook or Kobo at this point. “Barnes and Noble has done well in the US, and, if it puts a bit of oomph behind the Nook’s launch, it could gain some traction – though that will be a big ask. And Kobo has the cash of a rich parent, Japan’s Rakuten, to support it.”