Like the Nook it has a light, but unlike the Nook, Amazon says the light is actually for when you are reading in bright situations, not dark.
It sounds counterintuitive but the new lighting system makes black text much crisper and blacker when it is turned on. Amazon says the technology, which it home-brewed itself, is meant to make the e-reader more like a book.
Amazon broke precedent when it aired an ad during Wednesday night's NFL kickoff, showing two devices that appeared to be the new Kindle Fire, Amazon's 7-inch tablet, and a new Kindle Paperwhite e-reader ahead of Thursday's official announcement. Normally these announcements are shrouded in secrecy, and today's press event opened with a replay of the ad.
"Last year there were over two dozen Android tablets launched and no one bought them," Bezos said. "People don't want gadgets anymore. They want services."
The market of affordable 7-inch tablets, spawned by Kindle Fire, is getting crowded. Amazon and Barnes & Noble carry the most popular devices, but Google is nipping at their heels. Motorola, Samsung, Kobo and a host of other Android tablet manufacturers have also joined the club.
Apple, which has dominated the tablet market overall with the iPad, is rumored to be releasing a smaller version -- the so-called "iPad Mini" -- in October.
In June, Google announced Nexus 7, a 7-inch color tablet also priced at $199, which seemed aimed at putting out Amazon's Fire. The 16GB version briefly sold out after the device went on sale in July, and it's estimated Google could sell up to 8 million devices by the end of the year, more than double the sales it was expecting, ComputerWorld.com reported.
But according to Amazon, the Kindle Fire has been the No. 1 selling product on its site over the past year, commanding 22 percent of the tablet market. Prior to today's announcement, Amazon said their previous Kindle Fire model sold out last month.