At Amazon's press event in Santa Monica on Thursday, the world's largest online retailer added a new member to the Kindle family, named "Kindle PaperWhite."
"We love to invent, we love to pioneer," began Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. "People don't want gadgets anymore, they want services."
Bezos called the Kindle Fire a service rather than a gadget, since the device combines content with the cloud, but the PaperWhite could easily belong in the same category. The new PaperWhite may not have the access to movies and TV episodes like the Kindle Fire, but it certainly looks to enhance the Kindle experience by making it more customizable for different readers and situations.
The new Kindle Paperwhite is thinner, lighter and has a higher resolution screen. The new display will be a monochromatic display - so no e-ink color for this newly-revised Kindle e-reader - but it will have a higher resolution of 220 ppi, a capacitive touchscreen that lays on top of the PaperWhite display, and a "patented light guide."
"Light is directed down the display; the opposite of an LCD display," Bezos said. "It makes it really easy to read outside; just the right amount of light."
The effect is similar to Barnes & Noble's recently-released Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight, but this new patented light guide allows for eight weeks of battery life with the light on. The light can also be adjusted at any time, as well as the font size and style.
As far as tech specs goes, Bezos called the new Kindle PaperWhite "thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback." The e-reader weighs 7.9 ounces - the same weight as the traditional Kindle - and is 9.1 mm thick, which is even a few millimeters thinner than the new iPad.
But the Kindle Paperwhite is also a smarter e-reader than its predecessors. Amazon has a new feature called "Time To Read," which calculates your average reading speed over time, and also helps readers stay on track with the books they're reading. If a reader gets two-thirds of a way through a book and a minor character resurfaces that they may have forgotten, the new device will let readers easily flip back to the character's first appearance, as well as a short bio of the character. And speaking of bios, this new feature will have full bibliographies and author biographies.
What about price? Many hoped Amazon would ship its new Kindle Paperwhite at that $99 sweet spot, but Amazon decided to sell the new e-reader for $119. Amazon will also sell a version of the Paperwhite with 3G connectivity for $179. (The Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight, the closest competitor to the Paperwhite, sells for $139.
Customers can pre-order their tablets starting right now, and Amazon has set the release date for the device on Oct. 1.
On Wednesday night, Amazon strategically "leaked" an ad for its newest line of Kindle e-readers and tablets a day ahead of the company's planned launch event for those products.
Check out Amazon's teaser video embedded at the bottom of the page.
Stay tuned to IBTimes later today for more information coming from Amazon's Kindle event.