Amazon today unveiled its new 7-inch, color touchscreen tablet - the Kindle Fire. The new tablet's display has been chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, features iPad-like IPS (in-plane switching) technology for wide viewing angles, and delivers 16 million colors in high resolution. Amazon's huge digital content coffers are available to users and the Wi-Fi-only, sub-$200 tablet also includes a browser that shares some of the processing power needed to deliver complex web pages with Amazon's Cloud servers.

The 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.45-inch (190 x 120 x 11.4 mm), 14.6 ounce (413 g) Kindle Fire tablet features a bright, colorful, 1024 x 600 pixel (at 169 ppi), 7-inch multi-touch display with anti-reflective coating. It's powered by a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, and comes with 8GB internal storage - as with other Kindle devices, there's no media card slot for expansion, but users do get free cloud storage for all Amazon content.

A 3G edition of the Kindle Fire has not been announced, so users are restricted to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but Amazon has extended its Whispersync technology into movie and TV territory - so if you start streaming a movie over a cafe's Wi-Fi hotspot, you can resume from where you paused when you link up to your home network.

The device also grants users access to Amazon's immense digital content library. There's over 100,000 movies and TV shows available through Amazon Instant Video, and the Kindle Fire comes with one month's free membership to Amazon Prime, which gives users unlimited streaming of over 11,000 movies and TV shows. Amazon's online digital music store has over 17 million titles, with over a million Kindle e-books, exclusive graphic novels, and magazines and newspapers. Users can also get popular Android apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, with a paid app being offered free every day.

The included Amazon Silk cloud-accelerated browser is said to offer faster browsing thanks to a split architecture that shares the processing load with Amazon's EC2 servers. Supported file formats include Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, PNG, non-DRM AAC, MP3, OGG, and MP4. Amazon says that the Kindle Fire's battery is good for up to eight hours of e-book reading, or 7.5 hours of video playback. Charge time is four hours via the included adapter or via the mini-USB port.

Like its Kindle cousins, the new tablet comes pre-registered to a user's Amazon account to allow full functionality out of the box.

The Kindle Fire has been priced at US$199 and is available from November 15. Naturally, a new range of sleeves and covers has also been announced for the new Kindle device.

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