The new Kindle and Amazon Fire tablet

Amazon today announced a new tablet computer called the Kindle Fire, and a redesigned, smaller, lighter and cheaper Kindle.

The Kindle Fire confirms rumours we reported on earlier, and is being sold alongside the new Kindle e-readers in direct competition to Apple’s iPad. It will retail for $199 in the US, but here’s no word on UK pricing as yet.

The new Kindles cost £89, while a design that includes a keyboard is available for £109 or £149 for the 3G equipped model.

The Kindle Fire is Amazon’s entry into the tablet computing market, in competition with iPad, BlackBerry’s Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It has a 7-inch LCD screen, and runs a modified version of the Google Android OS.

The Fire’s interface puts the Amazon store front and centre, with home screen links to Amazon’s digital lockers, Amazon Cloud and Player and Cloud Drive. It sports a browser called Silk, which has a custom designed Amazon Store browser within it.

Unlike the Kindle, the Amazon Fire can play music and video downloads from the store, and has a built-in e-reader app for eBook downloads as well as digital magazine and newspaper editions.

The new Kindle offers the same reading size as the old Kindles, but in a design that is 18 per cent smaller and 30 per cent lighter. Amazon claims it uses ‘the most advanced E-Ink screen’ technology available, with a super high contrast display and no back glare when reading in the sun.

The Kindle has had a software overhaul too, and now includes free cloud back up for storing purchases and free eBooks online, and an improved Kindle Store interface.

For crime fiction fans the good news is the drop in price and the reductions in weight and size. We are huge fans of the mark II Kindle, and can’t wait to get our hands on the newer version.

The new Kindle is available to pre-order here

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