Amazon Announces Updated Kindle Fire

As tablets increasingly become the web browsing device of choice, Amazon is looking to secure the market for its popular and affordable Kindle Fire. Reuters reports that the company's event in Santa Monica today could be the stage to announce an updated version of the Kindle Fire, which PCMag reports is currently out of stock in its current form. 

Production costs for the Kindle Fire have decreased since the tablet's inception, allowing Amazon to dip its price in competition with more robust tablets such as Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad. 

Amazon's goal appears to be establishing enough of a significant customer base that continued purchases of digital content on the Kindle Fire will recover the difference in sale price. The advantage Amazon has over its competitors is that it offers a one-click payment system for the digital goods now working their way further into the mainstream. 

The low-priced Kindle Fire, only $199 for the most recent model, garnered Amazon one fifth of the US tablet market. The latest version of the tablet, however, will likely have added features, including a larger screen and Nokia's mapping software. Whether Amazon can drop the price below $199 is an interesting question, between lower cost of production, added features, advertisements, and the promise of its digital marketplace reaching more users. 

ZDnet has noted the new Kindle Fire will feature a high resolution screen at 1280 x 600 pixels, enabling it to show HD (720p) videos. Other potential features discussed in the preview include a thinner, more metallic design, a camera to support Skype, and an illuminated display -- all areas in which competing tablets have had an edge over the Kindle Fire. It is also expected that Amazon will offer another basic Kindle supported by advertisements at a lower price and with fewer new features. 

Updated (3:10 pm):

Amazon has revealed that its new tablet will be called the Kindle Fire HD, with the biggest enhancements made on its screen. The Fire HD's 8.9-inch, 1920 x 1200 display (254 ppi) has a polarizing filter on the screen to cut down on glare, while the touch sensor is laminated to provide better sharpness and contrast.

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Internally, the Fire HD has a TI OMAP 4470 processor, and will be, USA Today reports, the first tablet with MIMO technology, making WiFi speeds up to 41 percent faster than the iPad 3. It is also the first tablet with Dolby Digital Plus and contains two dual stereo speakers.

Even with all of these improvements, the Kindle Fire HD will sell starting at $159. A smaller screen model is available for pre-order and ships September 14, while the 8.9'' Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE ships November 20 at $499.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, emphasized the Kindle Fire is a service at its core. The hardware is essential to the function of the digital service and that is why the company has taken strides to scale up the features and specs on its tablets. 

One of the new features Bezos discussed is Time to Read, where the Kindle detects your reading speed and estimates how long it should to take to complete a book or chapter. He also discussed the growing venue for authors to self-publish on Kindle Direct Publish. 

A live update review from Engadget can be seen here

To pre-order the 8.9'' Kindle Fire HD, visit Amazon here.