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Amazon intros $199 movie Kindle

And a giant web proxy: is there anything it doesn't now know?

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Amazon has refreshed its entire range of Kindle tablets, adding a seven inch $199 colour Android model, a keyboard-less 4GB Touch model at $99 and a non-touchscreen 2GB $79 version. It also took an aggressive step into TV and movie delivery, bundling free streaming with the new Kindle Fire and a taster for Amazon’s Prime movie delivery store.

The 8GB Fire will draw the most attention, as it undercuts the iPad-clones considerably, and also undercuts Apple’s video streaming pricing. It’s ruthlessly designed around content consumption, playing music from Amazon’s cloud music services and Prime movie store. All come bundled with cloud storage, free video streaming and, for 3G models, Amazon’s WhisperNet.

Users will be able to pause a movie or TV show on one device and resume on another.

The $99 Touch model – it uses infrared to make it more ambidextrous, said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – screams mass market. The cheapest Kindle on sale this morning sets you back $139, or $189 for the 3G model. The floor now drops to $79 and $149.

Amazon has also turned its EC2 servers into a giant fuck-off web proxy, similar to the system devised by Opera, to speed up web browsing. Like Opera, Amazon’s Silk proxy uses server-side aggregation and binary compression to overcome the latencies on the World Wide Wait, claiming 100ms load times can be reduced to 5ms. Unlike Opera, it also makes some behaviour-based guesses to pre-fetch pages it expects you’ll read next.

There’s a disappointingly untechnical promo video here and pictures here.

As I wrote here, the Opera cache is potentially a goldmine of behavioural information – but Opera isn’t inclined to use it commercially, valuing users’ privacy. Will Amazon be so high-minded?

Perhaps that’s a question that answers itself. ®

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