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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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Apps and games that run on Kindle 4

While majority of Active Content for Kindle currently doesn’t run on new Kindle 4 device without the keyboard. Some apps do run. Here’s a full list:

This list will expand as new apps are released and Amazon certifies existing ones for use without keyboard. The list will be updated here: Kindle 4 Apps.

Amazon to Collect Sales Tax in California and Beyond

For as long as eReaders have been around, it seems at times, people have complained that they aren’t available for under $100.  They’re finally getting there, with the Kindle available for as little as $114 new.  We might even see a $99 Kindle by the end of the year.  An important question to ask the people who came up with this number might soon be “Is that before or after tax?”

There is obvious competition between online retailers and the brick & mortar set over taxes.  While it is technically true that somebody buying a Kindle on Amazon.com should be paying the same taxes as somebody grabbing the same product from the local Best Buy, it isn’t surprising that most customers somehow forget to file the forms to pay those taxes at the end of the year.  These stores aren’t the only ones affected, of course.

Most states have begun to take notice of the problem, with some targeting Amazon directly due to its prominent status and high sales figures.  It’s a matter of hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue that the state governments rightly feel they should have access to.  Amazon’s response, which is either due to the inconvenience of keeping up with unendingly complex local sales tax interactions and iterations or due to the fact that it makes their store more appealing to customers to be able to avoid sales tax (depending on your current level of cynicism and trust of a major corporation’s word on the matter), has been to withdraw their physical presence from nearly any state that has tried to enforce collection requirements on them.

Now, in an arrangement with the California government, not only will Amazon not be pulling their presence from the state, they will be working openly to resolve the issue of sales tax on inter-state commerce due to the rise of the internet.  There’s a bit of back story to the arrangement, with both the state government and Amazon making threats over the issue, but essentially it seems that a compromise was reached.  Amazon, and online companies in general, will be given until July of 2012 to persuade Congress to adopt some form of nationwide measure for the collection of internet sales tax.  Should this not come to pass, there are fallbacks to allow for California to collect beginning in 2013.

While it would seem at first glance to be not in the company’s best interest to cooperate, they have simply gotten too large to avoid notice at this point.  Increasingly, Amazon will be singled out as iconic of the problem with online retailers.  The only safe path for them will be to seek a system that can catch their competition on all levels in the same net, to keep anybody from getting a major advantage.

The knowledge that this was coming could be one pressure that has pushed Amazon to focus on digital media distribution recently, giving them products that cannot be conveniently purchased locally.  Whether or not that is the case, however, it seems a safe bet that Amazon won’t be driven out of business by the inconvenience of it all or the price bump that customers should be paying for already anyway.

Kindle 4 Tips

I’ll periodically update this post with helpful tips on using your Kindle 4.

Kindle 4 on-screen software keyboard

  • You can use “prev page”/”next page” buttons to cycle between 5 character tabs on the keyboard (symbols, lowercase, uppercase, etc) . This way you don’t need to go all the way up each time you want to switch upper or lower case. Courtesy of “jswinden” from mobileread.com.
  • To take a screenshot, press “menu” and “keyboard” buttons at the same time.
  • Pressing “back” and “keyboard” buttons at the same time will do a full screen refresh, eliminating ghosting artifacts
  • If you purchased Kindle 4 with Special Offers, you can opt-out of these by visiting Manage Your Kindle Page on Amazon and agreeing to pay $30 difference between prices WSO and non-WSO Kindles.

Kindle 4 Review

My Kindle 4th generation finally arrived in the mail towards the end of the day. Here is a hands-on review based on my first impressions. If you feel geeky, be sure to check out my Kindle 4 disassembly post.

Although Amazon sticks to not adding numbers to their device names, software on the unit that I’ve received is 4.0 (1308590058). Serial number starts with B00E, leaving B00B, B00C and B00D unaccounted for at this moment. Surely some of the gaps in serial numbers are going to be filled in with Kindle Touch and/or Kindle Fire.

Kindle 4 Setup

Although Kindle 4 comes preconfigured with your Amazon.com account just like previous generation devices, it does ask you a few questions during the initial start-up:

  • Language that you prefer to use. It can later be changed in Device settings. This is a new feature of Kindle software 4.0. You can choose from German, US or UK English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.
  • Connect to WiFi network. This is essential for getting books and further working with the device since keyboardless Kindle 4 lacks 3G connectivity. Perhaps this feature will stay in Kindle Touch 3G as well. This will encourage more users to use their home WiFi networks to cut 3G costs for Amazon and provide better battery life and faster download times for users.
  • Confirm amazon account to be used with the device. I guess that people often gifted Kindles but still had them initially bound to their own account. This might have created extra customer support calls for Amazon and they decided to address this issue as well. Of course you can always deregister and re-register your Kindle through settings just like before.

Kindle 4 Apps and Games

Ever since the keyboardless device was announced during the press conference in NYC I couldn’t help but wonder: “what will happen to Kindle apps?”. While some of them can get by with only 5-way controller, physical keyboard is essential for many. I wonder no more – applications are disabled in keyboardless Kindle 4. If I were to venture with a guess – they will also be disabled in Kindle Touch. Touchscreen is nice, but it would still be cumbersome to use in Kindle games and apps that rely on keyboard shortcuts. It looks like Kindle Fire games and apps are “going to be the way of the future”. Rather than letting customers have a sub-par experience, Amazon decided to cut the feature altogether. Although most apps don’t work on the new device, some do. Amazon has inspected apps and certified some as compatible with devices that don’t have a keyboard. For example you can get “Jewels” and “Grid Detective” on Kindle 4 and play these games. Amazon will work with app developers to make as many existing titles compatible with Kindle 4 as possible. The same will be true with Kindle Touch once it is released. It will have a separate certification program of its own.

What is new in Kindle 4?

In terms of software – not a whole lot… Here are the things that I’ve noticed so far:

  • UI language selection. You can change Kindle UI language in the device settings. Doing so causes the device to restart. Please not that it only affects menu and UI language. Dictionary lookup will still be based on the dictionary that you currently have installed. By default this is English Oxford. If you would like to use translation dictionary (including translation from different languages) – take a look at selection of dictionaries that we offer.
  • Menus were cleaned up a bit in PDF viewer. Irrelevant controls are completely hidden rather than shown as disabled.
  • Power button is now pressable rather than slideable. Personally I like pressing more. Perhaps this is because sliding the button though zip-lock when reading in bath tub is a pain.

Kindle 4 vs Kindle 3

On the other hand, several features that were present in Kindle 3 are missing in Kindle 4:

  • Hardware keyboard. This is the most noticeable change and it truly is a double-edged sword. On one hand I really appreciate reduced weight and size while retaining the same 6″ screen (while Sony PRS-350 is lighter still, it has smaller screen that may be harder to read if your eyesight is not perfect). On the other hand you never truly know what you had until you loose it. And loosing a keyboard is a major inconvenience. While most of the time you use Kindle for reading and the only button you care about is “Next page”, you do need to type text from time to time:
    • To find already purchased book in your “archived items”.
    • To find a new book in Amazon Kindle Store and purchase it. I’m pretty sure that Amazon will soon notice reduced book purchases from keyboardless devices. And this reduction can only be partially attributed to more frugal audience. Buying books without keyboard is less convenient. On the other hand, having WiFi and not needing a PC is still a whole lot more convenient than Sony way of buying books via PC.
    • To do a quick google/wikipedia search if you don’t feel like getting up and using your other Internet connected devices
    • To use apps. Especially productivity apps like Calendar and Notepad
  • Kindle Apps are disabled. Only limited number of apps are supported at the moment.
  • There is no audio at all. Not even a headphone jack. This eliminates “text-to-speech” “read-to-me” feature and “voice guide” accessibility. It is also not possible to listen to background MP3s while reading a book or listen to audiobooks. While small – this is still an inconvenience.
  • There is no 3G version. Accessing WiFi on the go can be problematic sometimes and I would have gladly paid extra $50 for lifetime 3G and assurance that I’ll be able to get new books pretty much anywhere. According to my Kindle 4 disassembly, there is plenty of space inside to accomodate 3G modem and larger battery to feed it. So it seems that this choice was made either to cut costs or/and to make purchasing Kindle Touch more desirable.

Kindle  4 Ergonomics

Kindle 4 is one inch shorter and 1.5 ounces lighter than Kindle Keyboard. Personally I find lighter and smaller better. I don’t think that Kindle 4 is too small. While buttons are easily reachable in the center where they are, it would have been easier if they were shifted to the right. This would have made the device much less convenient for left-handed people of course. Page turning buttons are smaller than in K3. Initially I found Kindle 3 buttons uncomfortable. I’ve grown used to them since and not I don’t have a problem with either Kindle 4 or Kindle 3 buttons.

Kindle 4 Accessories

When buying Kindle 4 from Amazon you have the option of adding following items to your order:

  • Power adapter. If you plan to travel a lot – do get it. It is much more convenient to charge from the AC outlet than keep you laptop running just to let your Kindle charge via USB. If you already have USB charger for your smartphone or similar device it will most likely work with Kindle. Or maybe you will want to be the cool kid on the block and go with solar USB charger
  • Leather cover (no light)
  • Zip Sleeve to protect your Kindle from scratches.
  • 2-year squaretrade extended warranty. $25 warranty on $79 device that already has one year of top-notch Amazon support (with polite customer reps and cross-shipping replacements) doesn’t seem like a good deal to me.

Accessories

Lighted cover power connectors have moved to the back and became more exposed. So don’t throw powered on Kindle in a bag with lots of metallic things – they might short out the battery. When Kindle is powered on there is 4 volt on these contacts next to the power button and USB.

Kindle 4 Connectors

Kindle 4 Connectors

Bottom line

If you are choosing between Kindle 4 and Kindle 3 – choose based on how important to you is reduced size vs lack of apps, audio, 3G and keyboard. If these features are not important to you – you should get Kindle 4 and enjoy it’s compact size. Otherwise get Kindle Keybaord (K3) for $20 more which is a great device to begin with.

Kindle 4 Disassembly – Part I

So my Keyboardless Kindle 4 (we can call it that since it is the first Kindle device to hit the market that features software 4.0) arrived late in the evening. Surely enough my curiosity got the better of me and armed with a screwdriver and tweezers I set out to take it apart and see what is inside.

Normally one would open a Kindle by prying the back cover off with something sharp and pointy (screwdriver or knife). Kindle 4 resisted my attempts to open it up and when I finally did I understood why – top and bottom latches are much stronger than the rest so you need to bend the center of the cover up to let them slide out. On top of that it turned out that back cover is glued to the internal battery cover with adhersive gel. You need to apply some force to pop it open. If you decide to repeat my steps – be warned that your warranty will definitely be voided. My Kindle 4 device bears clear signs of being opened. There is no way to do it gracefully. Clearly the K4 is not meant to be user-serviceable or serviceable period.

Popping the back cover off reveals battery and motherboard. Most of the interesting stuff is covered with metal and I’ll leave it at that for the time being. I don’t want to ruin the device until I play around with the software. But fear not – soon enough the mission will be complete and I’ll post pictures of bare motherboard even if I end up bricking the device.

kindle4-rfid-tag

Kindle-4-rfid-tag

On the back of the cover there is RFID tag manufactured by UPM. It reads “UPM + 253_1”. Perhaps it is used to automate the personalization process (Kindle comes to your doorstep already configured with your Amazon account. It turns out that Amazon started putting RFID tags inside Kindle 3 and I missed it during my last disassembly.

Kindle4-disassembly

kindle-4-disassembly

Internally Amazon uses T-6 screws rather than Philips like in Kindle 3.

Taking the cover off the LiPo (Lithium Polymer) battery reveals its specs:

  • Model No: MC-265360
  • Rating (Voltage): 3.7V
  • Battery capacity: 890mAh (3.29Wh) – this is almost half that of Kindle 3. And not surprisingly Kindle 4 claims half the battery life of Kindle 3 – one month. Which is still plenty
  • Made in China by NcNair
  • Part Number: 515-1058-01
Kindle4 battery

Kindle 4 battery

WiFi chipset is Atheros AR6103T-BM2D 26AR0620.142D PAF284.1B 1126 made in Taiwan. This is very interesting because doing a Google search for AR6103T returns zero results. Nothing. The chip is not mentioned on the net at all. It is clearly a part of AR6103 chip family but seems to be a newer modification. AR6103 chips feature:

  • 2.4GHz 802.11b, 802.11g and 1-stream 802.11n. This means that it can only put though up to 72.2 Mbps in the 802.11n mode.
  • WEP, WPA, WPA2 (TKIP and AES) and WAPI encryption
  • 802.11e, WMM and WMM-PS QoS
  • 8.3mm x 9.2mm LGA package
Kindle4 Atheros WiFi Chip

Kindle 4 Atheros WiFi Chip

Small chip between battery and buttons is Winbond W25Q40BVIG is 512 kilobyte Quad SPI flash with clock speed of 104MHz, 3V power rating and erase block sizes of 4K, 32K and 64K. It has been in manufacture since Q3 2009. It sits right on wires that go to eInk screen. Screen model is ED060CF(LF)T1 REN60B7075(C62)

Kindle 4-Winbond-flash-W25Q40BVI

Kindle 4-Winbond-flash-W25Q40BVI

There is quite a bit of free space around the battery that could have been used for one or some of the following:

  • Larger battery
  • Speakers or at least audio-codec and mini-jack headphone connector
  • 3G modem
  • Memory card (SD or MMC) reader

Perhaps Amazon will add some of these things in the future. Or perhaps they will leave this space empty forever to keep the weight and cost down.

If there is a serial console like in previous Kindle generations, it is not obvious or easily accessible.

To be continued… Continued here: Kindle 4 disassembly – part II

Kindle Fire Sets New Tone For Tablet Industry

So, the big news has finally broken and we now know all there is to know about the new Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet.  If anything, it exceeds much of the high expectation surrounding the initial hype.  Everything from the drastic undercutting of competition pricing to the well thought out theme of the interface seem calculated to dominate a currently scattered industry.  With something like this available, even the iPad might have more to worry about than previously expected. That said, there are some other things going on here that aren’t entirely apparent at first glance.

A couple things go a long way to guaranteeing that Kindle Fire customers will remain Amazon customers as long as they own their device, for example.  For one, while nothing says that you definitely cannot import content from other sources, and indeed it seems almost inevitable that you will be able to do so, the integrated storage is fairly limited and only Amazon content will be given unlimited storage space on their cloud servers.  Will it be possible to stream content, especially video, over your home network to the tablet?  That remains to be seen.

We also have to assume that a great deal of the functionality, as far as content access and even web browsing go, would be lost with the rooting of the device for whatever reason.  Amazon has been concerned enough with piracy in the past to make this something they will have taken into consideration, even if it means that some legitimate users will be inconveniences by it.

For your average user, still not really a bad deal.  You have access to movies, music, magazines, and even books, all at a reasonable price.  The Amazon Prime functionality becomes almost mandatory to get the most out of things, but it provides value far beyond its cost. Kindle Fire’s even light enough for one-handed use and can multi-task enough to play you music while you read or browse the web.

What would have made it even better?  In the future people are definitely hoping for a larger viewing area, expandable storage, optional 3G capabilities, and longer battery life.  Some of that fell to the side in order to allow the Kindle Fire to be priced so low.  Some of it, like the battery life, just isn’t reasonable yet.  Of course if we’re speculating about hardware that does not exist yet then I suppose full color, low power, non-backlit displays would be nice.  These things will happen when the tech is available, I would assume.  Better to do it right with what is mature right this minute than jump in too soon.

Should this take off, and I think we can all be pretty sure that it will after today’s reveal, expect to be seeing a larger, more powerful Kindle Tablet on the horizon.  Amazon supposedly spent time and manpower getting a 10″ tablet designed already, and they’ll need it to top this offering.  The competition will need some time to adjust, in the meantime.  It’s unlikely we’ll see such an affordable yet functional tablet from anybody else in the near future.

We knew Kindle Fire name known for almost a year… kind of ;)

Amazon naming their color eReader tablet, Kindle Fire didn’t come as a big surprise for us here. In fact this name was mentioned on our blog as far back as December 25th, 2010… Back then we had a Kindle Color name guessing contest and back then, subscriber with nickname “shyam”, submitted Kindle Fire as his guess and was right. Back then I promised a grand prize of Kindle Color reader to whoever would correctly guess the name first. After making this post I’ll be contacting Shyam via email so that he can claim his prize.

Congratulations, Shyam!

If you are would like to win free Kindle Fire or free Kindle Touch for yourself, there is a chance for you to do as well. Just use the button below to tweet about our Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch coverage and follow @blogkindle (so that I can contact you in case you win). One day before Kindle Fire starts shipping (on November 14th, 2011) I’ll randomly select a winner and ship the prize overnight.

Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire – New Amazon devices announced…

Today, on September 28th, 2011, during Amazon press conference in New York, Jeff Bezos has announced several new versions of the Kindle Device: Kindle Touch, Kindle Fire and Kindle 4 mini.

Kindle Touch

 

Kindle Touch 3G

Will have a 6″ latest generation eInk. There will be no keyboard, not even page flipping buttons, with all features accessible via “easy reach” system touch interface. Touchscreen uses the same infrared technology as latest generation Sony eReaders. Kindle Touch is made of silver plastic (again similar to latest Sony eReaders). It will be available on November 21st with pre-orders starting today in two flavors – WiFi only for less than a $100.00 (!!!!) -$99 and 3G for $149. Amazon is pretty consistent with charging $50 for “lifetime unlimited 3G access available in over 100 countries”. It seems like the software has gotten an upgrade as well with the new X-Ray feature that lets you do rich text lookups that go beyond looking up single words in the dictionary. It seems to pull Wikipedia description of general concepts mentioned on the page you are currently reading.

Features and specs:

Kindle 4 (mini)

Kindle 4 mini

Same 6″ screen, but no touch, no keyboard, only with page flipping buttons. Because of this the device is both very compact and inexpensive. It is 18 smaller than Kindle 3 and weights under 6 ounces. Priced at only $79 with Special Offers and $109 without and shipping today. The device is actually called just “Kindle”, with Kindle 3 being creatively renamed into “Kindle Keyboard”.

Specs and feature:

  • Latest generation eInk Pearl screen (600×800 16 grayscale) – same as Kindle 3
  • Size: 6.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.34″
  • Weight: 5.98 oz. This is 2.5 ounces lighter than Kindle 3, and only 0.5 ounce more than Sony PRS-350
  • Storage: 2GB internal flash, with 1 1/4 GB available for user content
  • RAM: 512MB SDRAM memory
  • Battery: 1 month battery life
  • Wireless connectivity: 802.11b/g/n WiFi. No 3G option available at this time
  • Wired connectivity: micro-B USB 2.0 connector
  • Audio: headphone jack and built-in stereo speakers
  • Pricing:
  • Available: Can Order Now!

Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire Tablet

Amazon’s entry into the tablet market, currently dominated by Apple iPad. Kindle Fire features:

  • 7-inch color backlit LCD display based on IPS technology that allows good viewing from wide range of angles
  • LCD is protected with extra-strong Gorilla-glass.
  • Dual core ARM CPU
  • Weighs 14.6 ounces
  • Runs heavily modified version of Android operating system

Kindle Fire will have direct and easy access to a broad range of content:

  • First and foremost – over 1,000,000 (and counting…) of Kindle eBooks
  • Color versions of newspapers and magazines
  • 100,000 movies and TV shows streaming from Amazon. 11,000 of these are available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers
  • 17 million DRM-free MP3 songs
  • Amazon’s own Android app store.

Kindle Fire seems to rely heavily on Amazon Cloud Storage.

Same WhisperSync technology that synchronizes book reading position across multiple devices now works with movies and TV shows – it automatically remembers last watched position. You can resume watching the movie on your TiVo or any other Amazon-connected streaming video device.

Touch UI supports swipe gestures to bring out extra controls, very similar to Windows 8 concept. It looks nothing like vanilla Android. Homescreen features 3D carousel of most recently accessed content regardless of it’s type: in the demo Angry Birds game is shown right next to the latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine and Kindle eBooks. OS supports multitasking. So you can listen to music while you are reading a book. You can pin any kind of content (including a website bookmark) to your Home screen bookshelf. Full color magazine display seems to be much smoother than with original version of Nook Color.

Browser user interface has tabs at the top. Kindle Fire features Amazon Silk – “cloud based mobile browser”. The browser automatically off-loads part of the page parsing and rendering to Amazon EC2 servers, helping the mobile device to load desktop oriented websites heavy with dynamic content and javascript quickly.

Price point is $199 as was previously announced. This includes 30-day trial of Amazon Prime service that normally sells as $79/year subscription. Kindle Fire ships on November 15th, 2011 with pre-orders starting today.

Specs and features:

  • Screen: 7″ backlit IPS LCD with multi-touch and gestures. 1024 x 600 resolution with 24 bit color
  • Size: 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″
  • Weight: 14.6 oz. This is 1.2 lighter than Nook Color
  • Storage: 8GB internal flash memory. No expansion slots (SD/MMC/etc) are available. It does however have access to Amazon Cloud Storage which is unlimited for Amazon content
  • Battery: Up to 8 hours on a single charge. Very similar to Nook Color. There is no cheating laws of physics there.
  • Wireless connectivity: 802.11b/g/n. No 3G option at this time
  • Wired connectivity: micro-B USB 2.0 connector
  • Audio: headphone jack and built-in stereo speakers
  • Data formats: on top of supporting the usual bunch that Kindle 3 supports, Kindle Fire adds native support for DOCX and a number of DRM-free audio-formats
  • OS: heavily modified Android
  • Sensors: Accelerometer
  • Digital content:
    • 1,000,000+ in-copyright books. 800,000+ of these are priced at $9.99 or below. Millions more – out of copyright
    • 100,000+ movies and TV shows available for streaming
    • 1000s of Android apps. This is only a subset of what’s available for Android. On the other hand, acceptance criteria is much higher so overall app quality is much better than you average Android app. Nook, Kobo app availability… I’m guessing not.
    • 17,000,000+ DRM-free Mp3 songs from Amazon MP3 store
  • Email client that works with major providers like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. Additional email support is available though apps that can be separately purchased.
  • One month trial of Amazon Prime.
  • Pricing: $199
  • Availability: Ships on November 15, 2011. Pre-orders available now.

Amazon Kindle Fire TV ad

Size comparison

I’ve added these new devices to the eReader Size Comparison page. So now you can visually compare how they stack.

  • Kindle Mini is smaller than Sony PRS-350 while featuring same buttons and screen size.
  • Kindle Touch is smaller than Nook Color again while featuring the same screen diagonal.

New “Kindle Fire” Tablet To Be Revealed On Wednesday

All year we have been getting bits of data, speculation, and supposedly leaked information about the upcoming Kindle Tablet.  This past month has seen huge dumps of information about the upcoming product, and today we’ve got even more thanks to TechCrunch.  In a press conference being held this Wednesday, we should get confirmation and all of the other information we’ve been waiting for.

Probably the first big revelation is the name.  In order to differentiate it from the Kindle eReader line, the new Tablet has apparently been dubbed the “Kindle Fire”.  This was actually hinted at several months back when people stumbled on Amazon’s acquisition of several Kindle related domains, including kindlefire.com.

We now know that the Kindle Fire will be feature a 7″ backlit screen that may look quite similar to the BlackBerry Playbook due to shared manufacturers and a lack of time to get the product out for this holiday season.  It will be using a custom fork of Android (probably built on the 2.1 base), but altered to the point of complete uniqueness.  This will be running on a TI dual-core OMAP chip, probably in the 1.2GHz range, putting the hardware in line with other newer Android devices.  Overall a strong offering.

Now, the existing Kindle line has effectively dominated the eBook market in the United States by bringing customers an impressive reading experience that improves value despite the inability to price their eBooks as competitively as the company might desire (Hooray for the Agency Model, right?).  If a similar relationship with customers can be achieved with the Kindle Fire, Amazon can completely turn the current hardware-based Tablet sales model on its head (Some reports indicate that as much as 90% of iPad based profit for Apple comes from hardware sales).

To pull this off, Amazon has been pulling together a great support base.  Major app developers have apparently been approached to get them ready for the launch, for one.  Also, quite importantly given the media-centric nature of this device, Amazon has been putting together deals with the likes of CBS and Fox  to secure access to extensive video content for the Amazon Instant Video service.

There is currently some question as to the exact nature of what will be offered as incentives to new users.  Some sources are saying that this will be a $250 Tablet PC with Amazon Prime bundled free for the first year, while others are claiming that there will be two packages available that will differ mainly in their inclusion of the Amazon Prime membership.

What we anticipate at this time is an announcement by Amazon that the Kindle Fire will be available either late October or early November.  This seems like a large delay between the press conference and first shipments, but Amazon is clearly under pressure from competition in both tablets and eReaders at the moment and needs to get ahead.

Check back on Wednesday for confirmation, revisions, and any other Kindle Fire news that we are able to bring you.

Is Windows 8 Bad News For Kindle Tablet?

There are two major factors favoring the success of the Kindle Tablet right now, aside from being backed by Amazon and all that that entails.  One is that it will be cheaper than pretty much all of the tablet competition, especially the big names like Apple.  Two is that it should be able to provide a consistent, centralized experience practically unheard of in the Android Tablet market today.

Pricing is a key issue, of course.  It will be incredibly hard for most companies to compete with Amazon since their media sales emphasis will allow them to sell hardware at or below cost while confidently expecting to make up the profits in post-sale usage.  The only really usable tablet in the same range is the Nook Color, which is mostly only succeeding by being great compared to other extremely cheap tablets.  If Amazon can manage to provide a genuinely superior experience at the same price, they will stand alone with good reason.

We can’t rely entirely on pricing to determine success, though.  The Pandigital Novel can often be found for $80 or less, but that doesn’t mean it is knocking the Kindle down from their place on top of eReader sales (despite being a color eReader, which many people claim is more important than screen quality or interface).

The act of creating a consistent Android experience, however, might soon be less useful than we might expect, should Windows 8 live up to its promise.  Microsoft’s new tablet-centric operating system seems to have a good chance of focusing tablets around a single unfragmented environment that has no ties to a specific manufacturer.  They’ve got media play capabilities, the full versatility of a Windows OS, an apparently highly streamlined design, and even an App Store.  It can be hard to argue with all that.

The Kindle Tablet will clearly be running lower powered hardware than most Windows tablets can be expected to, and will have a more consumption-focused experience.  The problem they are facing is less direct market competition and more a conflict of perception.  If the idea is to lure in consumers with something that is like an iPad in every way that matters besides the price, it will only work so long as the iPad is what people are using as the basis for comparison.  A $350 Windows tablet with superior hardware and a comparable user experience might be enough to derail the whole effort no matter what kind of incentives Amazon is able to throw in to sweeten the pot.

In the end everything will rest on how the two launches go.  Amazon has earned a great deal of customer loyalty through the Kindle platform, which goes a long way toward jump starting the new product.  Microsoft, on the other hand, has left many potential customers and developers a bit put off with the extremely different direction their newest product has taken things.  A failure to impress on the part of either company will mean a lot for the competition.