Amazon announces a new Fire tablet for $50–Will the iPad have a true challenger at last?

Ah, the Amazon Fire. Originally just known as the Kindle Fire, this was Amazon’s attempt to get into the growing smart tablet market, and considering they’ve had regular hardware improvements, including the amazingly cheap Fire HD 6 (which as of this writing, is available for $100 USD or your regional equivalent), I’d say they’ve made a resounding success. While it is a fork of Android, it’s managed to come into it’s own in the past few years. And now, my astonishment, it’s been announced that there will soon be a $50 model coming out by the end of the month.

My reaction can be summed up in two words: “You what?”

I am actually kind of ecstatic about this, to be frank. As someone who can call himself the proud owner of a Kindle Paperwhite, I know for a fact that Amazon can make some damn good hardware. I’ve always wanted to own one of the Fire series of tablets, but I was never quite able to save up the money needed to get one because the price of even the cheapest model might take me months just to have the money to buy one, not including taxes and shipping. Now, I can actually legitimately save up for one and have it by my birthday, or even Christmas, if I so desired. Considering that most tablets for that price tend to be bootleg hardware, having a proper smart device at that price is almost like a fever dream. Oh, but rest assured, my friends, that this device is indeed real, and so is the steal of a deal.

$50 for a smart tablet not enough of a bargain? How about buying five of them and getting the sixth for free? You read that right; you can buy these babies in a six-pack with a promo code they offer on the product page. Do you see Apple doing that kind of deal? I didn’t think so. Way to go, Amazon; you’ve basically managed to provide the perfect Christmas gift for the whole family.

But what about the technical aspects? For the sake of comparison, I’m going to be comparing the specs and features of the $50 Fire with the $269 iPad mini 2. Both use an IPS Display, with the Fire’s resolution being 1024×600 while the iPad mini has a 2048 x 1536. Both have a camera capable of 720p HD video and a front-facing camera for Skype, while the iPad has the ability to do 1080p with its video camera. The battery life is more in the iPad’s favor with a purported 10-hour battery life. However, durability is in the Fire’s favor, showing it to be twice as durable as its competitors’ higher end models. Space-wise, the iPad has the initial advantage with 16GB of storage while the Fire has only 8GB. But, the Fire has free cloud storage for Amazon content, and can get upwards of 128GB of space with the Micro SD Card slot. Size and weight-wise, the Fire’s got the clear advantage, being lighter and smaller, though very subtly. While the Fire does lack a lot of the iPad’s fancier gimmicks, it does come with the free Mayday service for when you need fast tech support, and has a vastly more open library of software available thanks to Amazon Underground, and supports far more file formats. Overall, while the iPad does have a lot more going for it on the technical side, it’s still quite expensive, and doesn’t allow for nearly as much room to play around with. It’s hard to pick out a clear winner, but if you want an affordable tablet that has many of the same multimedia capabilities and allows you to keep a lot of your existing content, the Fire may win people over, especially with its new price tag.

On the whole, this is a bold choice for Amazon; on the one hand, they’re selling a somewhat less powerful product that doesn’t have a lot of the fancy bells and whistles of its competitors, but on the other hand, they’re deliberately trying to undercut Apple in the most direct manner possible, and with the price and features that they offer in comparison to the high-end, premium hardware and the great deal of customer respect Amazon tends to offer with their digital content, I could see a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon. I know I’m seriously considering it, because Amazon and I have had a good relationship for a long while.

The new Fire ships on the 30th of September, but you’re able to pre-order it and get as many add-ons to it as you like right now. If you’ve always wanted a tablet that could get stuff done at a reasonable price for a while like I have, you may want to consider getting the Fire ASAP, because with a deal like this, I imagine their stock’s going to be going out pretty damn snappily. As someone who’s had his eye on a nice multimedia device for when he’s away from the PC, this may just be my chance to get on the mobile craze.

Adam Nelon

Certainly not a one-trick pony, this hobbyist writer also enjoys sharing his thoughts on popular television and movies, and always enjoys being the first at the scene. Time permitting, of course.

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