Amazon Kindle Tablet: What We Know So Far

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On Wednesday, Amazon will almost certainly announce its highly-hyped Kindle tablet. And like so many other big tech rumors, the details are dripping out ahead of time.

Here’s what we already know (or think we know) about Amazon’s Kindle tablet:

(MORE: Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Won’t Be for Geeks)

The Name

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler reported earlier this month that the tablet would simply be called the “Amazon Kindle,” but now he’s saying that Amazon’s tablet will be dubbed the “Kindle Fire.” This name will help differentiate the product from Amazon’s E-Ink Kindle, which isn’t going away.

The Hardware

According to Ryan Block at gdgt, Amazon’s tablet will look a lot like Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook tablet—a 7-inch slab with sharp corners. That’s because Amazon reportedly hired manufacturer Quanta, which designed the Playbook, to “shortcut” the Kindle Fire’s development process.

Block echoed earlier rumors that Amazon built this tablet on the cheap, saying it’s just a “stopgap” to compete in the holiday season. However, Siegler says the tablet will have a 1.2 GHz dual-core OMAP processor from Texas Instruments, which isn’t too shabby. Earlier, he reported that the tablet will not have any cameras.

The Software

Hardware is only as good as its software, and Amazon reportedly isn’t messing around. The Kindle Fire will be based on Android 2.1, but modified to the point of being unrecognizable, Siegler reports. The software will emphasize Amazon’s own digital content—movies, TV shows, music, e-books and the Amazon Appstore—with a carousel view of all content on top and pinned app icons on the bottom. The idea is to make content purchases and consumption as simple as possible.

Peter Kafka at All Things D reports that the Kindle Fire also has the backing of three major magazine publishers: Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith. These publishers are tailoring their publications to fit the 7-inch screen. (Time Inc., which owns, hasn’t struck a magazine deal with Amazon, Kafka reports.)

Pricing and Release Date

Siegler originally reported that Amazon’s tablet would cost $250, but now he says the Kindle Fire may cost $300. Or, that extra $50 could be a promotional deal for a year of Amazon Prime, which provides unlimited streaming of roughly 11,000 videos and free two-day shipping on retail items. Siegler says the Amazon Kindle Fire may not ship until November, but Amazon will demonstrate the tablet on Wednesday.

MORE: Eight New Tablets and Ultrabooks You Should Know About