$199 Kindle Fire, $99 Kindle Touch unveiled (live blog)

Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire is a 7-inch tablet with a dual-core processor, wireless syncing, and free cloud storage. Meanwhile, the $99 Kindle Touch e-reader is designed to rival the Nook Touch.

Media watchers gather in New York for Amazon's event. Sarah Tew/CNET

Editor's note: We used Cover It Live to cover Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos unveiling of new Kindle devices today in New York. If you missed the live blog, you can still replay it in the embedded component at the bottom of this post. Replaying the event will give you all the live updates along with commentary from our readers and CNET writers. You can also read our edited transcript below about the company's key announcements.

To sum it up, Bezos unveiled a $99 Wi-Fi only, no-button Kindle Touch e-reader and a $149 Kindle Touch 3G--both designed to rival the Nook Touch. He also showed off a redesigned basic, non-touch Kindle e-reader for $79. The big news of the morning was the $199 Kindle Fire tablet . The 7-inch, 14.6-ounce tablet--Amazon's first foray into tablets--features a color touch screen, a dual-core processor, wireless syncing, free Amazon Cloud storage, and Amazon's new Silk browser.

The transcript of the live blog starts here:

10:03-04 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Event starting now. Interviews with Kindle users on screen. Very lifestyle-y. All about e-ink.

10:08-10 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): The $79 Kindle being reported everywhere is dirt cheap. Is that close enough to free for most people?

If prices for both the e-ink and tablet versions are so competitive, people are going to have a hard time making up their minds as to which is better. Not a bad problem to have.

10:11-12 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): OK, sorry, was having issues. Bezos on stage. Talking Cloud reader. Whispersync now. Popular highlights, wonderful features on Kindle, real page numbers. Says it's more technically challenging to do real page numbers. Now talking Kindle Singles.

10:12 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Which still don't work on all Kindle books...

10:13 -14 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Bezos looking fairly dapper.

On to the the library lending feature. Kindle is "end to end service." Here it is...Kindle Touch. Infrared touch like Nook Touch.

What we've been waiting for...smaller, lighter, whitish color. Looks like it has audio. Speaker on front.

10:15 a.m. ET (John Falcone): This is updated e-ink model, I'm guessing.

10:15-17 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): No buttons on device..."People like to read singlehanded." Going over "tap zones" on device. People can now use left hand only through new tap zones. Starting demo now...

Under the light, this model looks more carbon or gray colored. Probably two models. New feature called X-Ray--looks at bones of the book, whatever that means.

10:17 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Bones of the book?

10:18 a.m. ET (David Carnoy:): It's a kind of search feature. Brings up Wikipedia entries for terms, etc...

10:19-20 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Not sure how that will fly.

The Barnes and Noble touch Nook is a very clean-looking device. The old-fashioned keyboard on the Kindle had to go sometime.

10:20 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Wow. Price point is $99!

10:21 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Pretty good. Pretty...pretty good. $99 price point plus new design...win-win.

10:21 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Looks really thin. He's holding carbon-colored version. Has Audible support. Kindle Touch 3G, too...

10:22 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): 3G comes with the $99 price?

10:22 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): "Free 3G" again. $149. Top-of-the-line Kindle.

10:22 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Ahh. How many people use the Kindle w/ 3G?

10:22 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Wi-Fi only is $99. "We're going to sell many millions of these," Bezos says. Duh.

10:22 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Many millions.

10:23 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): "What if you don't need touch?" he's now asking. New $79 Kindle without touch. Wow again. Eighteen percent smaller.

10:24 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Is the touch Kindle significantly smaller than the non-touch? That would be the big factor for most, I'd think.

10:24-26 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Faster page turns. "Making premium products at non-premium prices." Devices seem about the same size. $79 model ships today. On to Special Offers...

Showing whole family of new Kindles. New ad.

10:27 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): It seems like a Special Offers Kindle should be able to get to free by next year at the latest. Or, hopefully, that's the goal.

10:27 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): OK, we're talking about movies, MP3s, here comes tablet... Talking app store. Amazon Prime.

10:29 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): So to clarify, looks like the $79 Kindle has ads/Special Offers. Not a surprise.

10:29-31 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Talking Prime up. Talking partners. Mentions CBS. CBS owns CNET for those who don't know.

10:31 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Amazon Prime=Amazon's iCloud/Xbox Live. Or, it's starting to seem that way. Get everyone to pay that yearly fee...

10:31-34 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Now he's on to Web services...CloudFront.

Come on, let's get on with the tablet already. It's hot in here. BTW, if you haven't noticed, wireless connection is dodgy in here.

Rounding up all the services..."We asked ourselves is there some way to bring all these things together into remarkable product offering that customers would love."

Here it comes. Kindle Fire. Simple black border. 7-inch.

Has dual-core processor. Light. 14.6 ounces. All about content.

10:34 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): The PlayBook, reborn!

10:35 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Lots of magazines, of course. "All content is backed up in the cloud so you can delete things when you want."

Wireless syncing.

Has image up of Apple USB connector.

Whispersync will work with movies and TV shows.

10:36 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Amazon's already got iCloud matched. And Amazon has killer back-end servers and cloud-delivery technology.

10:36 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Bookmarks for movies essentially...watch on your TV, then move to your Fire

10:36 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Like Netflix.

10:36-37 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Saves your place.

He's demoing now. Bookshelf interface. Minimalist design for UI.

10:37 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Won't Apple be essentially wireless-syncing this fall, too?

10:37 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): No buttons on front of device.

10:38 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): If this is $199, it will cause Apple and B&N some pain.

10:38 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Does it have that same annoyingly small power button the PlayBook was saddled with?

10:39 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Showing X-Men on the screen. 169 pixels per inch, Gorilla Glass...

10:39 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): The integrated shelf is a clever concept.

10:39-45 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): "Beautiful display," Bezos says channeling Steve Jobs.

Now we're listening to Adele--music player.

Showing books. "You can read with music in the background."

Playing Fruit Ninja game now. He's not very good.

Showing speed of dual-core processor. Smooth gameplay. No 3D game, however.

Showing Amazon Web page from 15 years ago. Only 10k file size.

Showing Amazon today. 63 times bigger...

630 kilobytes...

Looks like he's about to talk about Web surfing...

Challenges of displaying modern Web pages rapidly... Looked for way to accelerate Web browsing through Amazon EC2. Introducing Amazon Silk...new Web browser.

Engineers on screen discussing new Amazon Silk browser.

Talking about adding Amazon's (EC2) cloud computing to browser.

10:46 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Their own browser...interesting move. Not Chrome.

10:46-50 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): "Split browsing--split between front end and backend." Some content cached locally on device it seems.

"Requesting assets running on the cloud..."

Yes, caching involved.

They're claiming to be able to predict your browsing habits and cache pages in advance...

For instance, if you always go to New York Times home page, then business section, it preloads business section before you get there.

Bezos back on stage.

Showing Fire again, talking specs, 14.6 ounces--no battery life spec yet, however.

10:50 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): So, it remembers your habits? Sounds like a way to assist offline browsing, possibly...wonder how this browser influences Safari/Chrome, if it improves the tablet browser experience.

10:50-51 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Here comes price. Bam. $199.

10:51 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Doesn't he know that news is about an hour old?

10:51-52 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): "Unbelievable value," Bezos says. Reiterates, "We're building premium products for premium value." Good marketing line--obviously.

Kindle fire ad on screen now.

Sorry, "Premium products at non-premium prices" is line.

Kindle Fire ships November 15. Can preorder today.

10:52-53 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): This changes the price equation. It's not a $99 HP TouchPad, but it's awfully close--and far better. Looks like Amazon learned from what happened this summer.

10:53-54 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): Press conference coming to a close soon. Overall, more impressive than we expected. We will now get hands on time with devices.

That's end of the press conference. On to the devices. Will try to clarify pricing on Special Offers Kindles.

10:54 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Also made a clever price scale: $149 for Kindle with 3G, only $50 more for the Fire. Very Apple-like.

10:55 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): As I said, will create problems for Barnes & Noble and e-reader makers.

10:55 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): David, thanks for the on-floor coverage. I think it will chip away at Apple a bit, too.

10:55 a.m. ET (David Carnoy): These prices are what people have been waiting for.

10:55-11:00 a.m. ET (Scott Stein): Agreed. Think this is going to chip away at Apple a bit, too. These could also cause a big hit on iPod Touch sales, I'd imagine...same price and functions, in a way.

Thanks for the on-floor coverage, David. And thanks, everyone, for being here and firing off some great comments.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shows off the Kindle Fire tablet. Sarah Tew/CNET



Editors' note: The original, barebones version of this story was published September 27 at 1:14 p.m. PT.

 

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