Amazon recently announced a revolutionary new tablet device at a briefing in Manhattan. Dubbed the Kindle Fire, the company has clearly designed a tablet computer for direct competition with the iPad. With a 7″ screen and a $199 price tag, consumers might assume that it’s an underpowered, over-sized smartphone, but there’s far more to the mobile device than meets the eye.
Educational aspects of this new competitor are endless, from basic applications to the most useful tools teachers can use in order to maximize their time with every student.
The Fire has nearly the same dimensions as the Kindle Keyboard (Amazon’s new name for the old standard Kindles) and weighs in just under a pound at 14.6 ounces. The 7″ multi-touch display has a resolution of 1024×600 and is protected by Gorilla Glass.
Currently, the only wireless option is Wi-Fi b/g/n, so the device will rely on a local connection for retrieving new content, but the industry expects a 3G version early next year. The device only has 8 GB of onboard storage, but that will be supplemented by Amazon’s cloud storage and should be enough for the average user.
The tablet has a USB port, a 3.5 mm audio jack and stereo speakers but, unsurprisingly considering its price, does not include a webcam or microphone.
The Kindle Fire uses Google’s Android operating system, which will allow Fire owners to make use of Amazon’s Appstore for Android. Though they won’t have access to Google’s App Marketplace, the offerings in Amazon’s Appstore will suit the needs of most consumers perfectly.
Amazon takes great care to keep its Appstore free from low-quality and offensive content, letting users know that only the best apps will be available from Amazon.
Storing files on a mobile device has long presented problems. What do users do when they run out of space? On most devices, they remove any items they can bear to part with and add new ones, tethering their device to a desktop or laptop computer. Individuals and businesses are now finding diverse solutions for their online file storage needs.
Where some businesses are beginning to use an integrated approach combining dedicated servers and cloud computing, or migrating to the cloud entirely; many individual consumers are using Dropbox and Google Docs for their file storage needs.
With the Kindle Fire, though, no computer is necessary and users are free from worrying about available space or deleting an item they may want later. Because the Kindle Fire is linked to the user’s Amazon account, which includes 5 GB of free storage on Amazon’s Cloud Drive, the Fire can synchronize files with the web via Wi-Fi connection.
Users can upgrade their storage for a yearly fee and have the option of uploading all of their music files to the service without it counting against their limit, allowing them to swap as much music as they would like on the fly. Other items stored in the user’s account will be available as well, from spreadsheets to photos while all content purchased from Amazon will be stored for free.
Additionally, both students and teachers will be able to use a new feature which allows them to rent textbooks electronically from Amazon. This is exclusive to the Kindle Fire, and will undoubtedly change the landscape of $700 (or more) textbook expenses per semester, and allow teachers to directly pull from their own texts in order to teach.
This does not even touch the green aspect to the Kindle Fire, since it will be saving the paper wasted on the new textbooks which professors revise and then reprint so students have to pay again.
Since this is being launched as an extension of Amazon.com, there is an added edge of competition which will help in the push against the iPad. The result of the competition meets the needs of both the student and teacher naturally, given both are pandering to the wants of the two parties.
Anyone not wanting to spend the $400-$900 for the iPad will have a much better option in the Kindle Fire. For students on a limited income who have to budget for every semester, the Fire will more than pay for itself.
Joseph Baker’s business experience in management and technology spans more than 15 years. A leader of development and management teams, he also implemented budget reductions professionally and as an independent contractor. Joseph led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and worked extensively with small businesses. He is an advocate for educational reform and a proponent of social media integration.
Check out all of Joseph’s Edudemic article here.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management. Would you like to write for Edudemic?