As you've probably heard by now, Amazon has released a new line of Kindles. Last Christmas, my dad gave me what's now called a "Kindle Keyboard", which I love, and use every day.

Why is it called "Kindle Keyboard"? That brings me to my first observation:

The new Kindles don't have physical keyboards.

I don't use the keyboard all the time (my wife uses it on hers a lot more often), but I'd miss it if it weren't there. The new Kindles have on-screen keyboards. That's find on the Kindle Touch, which, as you might have guessed :-), has a touch screen. But on the $79 Kindle, you'll have to navigate around the keyboard using the "five-way controller".

My opinion on that? No, thanks. Better to spend $20 more and get the touch screen -- not just to make the keyboard more useful, but for every feature it enhances. If you're buying one for someone for Christmas, don't be a cheapskate.

The second thing I noticed is that...

The prices Amazon quotes for each model are for the "with special offers" versions.

You can buy them without the ads for $30 to $40 more. And if you do, I'll call you crazy. The ads are not intrusive, and should have a trivial impact on your experience using them.

This is a smart move by Amazon. There's no reason why they should advertize the higher priced versions instead.

Finally, I noticed that...

The Kindle Fire has no camera or microphone.

The Kindle Fire is Amazon's tablet computer. It doesn't use e-ink...and doesn't have the multi-week battery life of the e-ink Kindles...and won't be easy to see in bright sunlight...

Reader Comment:
Nikole Fairview said:
These are some pretty interesting observations about the new Amazon Kindles. I have actually been thinking about getting one of these for awhile but still am not convinced I really want to make the move to a tablet. I do like the fact that, as th...
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It's a completely different beast. And if you're looking for a tablet computer, at $199, it's a very enticing beast.

But the lack of camera and microphone does knock it down a notch.

What I wonder is whether you could plug a webcam into it's USB port. You'd need an adapter, since it uses a micro-B connector rather than the larger connecter that most, if not all, USB webcams use. The question is whether it would even work. That'd make it at least minimally useable for video chat and taking pictures.

My other question is...

How tightly will Amazon lock down the Kindle Fire?

With the e-ink Kindles, Amazon's made it very difficult to monkey around with anything under the hood. For example, I'd like to be able to upload my own screen savers. To do that, you have to "jail break" it.

If they don't lock it down too tightly compared to other tablets, and if it'd work with my Logitec Webcam Pro 9000, the $199 price tag would be a heck of an argument for going with Amazon when the day comes that I get a tablet computer.