Next Kindle Fire: Buzz grows louder

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Kindle Fire Original

Amazon is expected to unveil one or two new models of the Kindle Fire tablet next Thursday, prompting new speculation and leaks. The latest Kindle Fire 2 reports suggest the next Amazon consumption tablet will have a thinner bezel than the original, a front-facing camera, and a row of landscape-oriented soft buttons, according to a leaked image posted by The Verge.

Another report says the next Fire will support mapping location capabilities lacking from the original device, according to a Reuters report. Despite having Android underpinnings, however, the new unit reportedly won't rely on Google's mapping application, opting for Nokia instead. Amazon on Thursday announced it issold out of the current version of the Kindle Fire.

Is This The Next Fire?

Perhaps the most interesting leak comes from the Verge, which managed to grab a purported photo of the next Fire from an internal Amazon source. The image shows what appears to be a 7-inch plain black slate with an Android-style virtual keyboard and soft buttons such as home, back, full screen, menu, search, and favorites. The buttons are on the right side of the device and oriented for landscape view. The device also appears to have a front-facing camera designed for use in landscape view similar to the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

Shortly after The Verge posted its supposed Fire image, another Amazon source disputed its accuracy and told the site that the new Fire will have a wider bezel and contours similar to the original Motorola Xoom.

Nokia Maps?

The new Fire may also have location capabilities built in, but will rely on Nokia's mapping application instead of Google Maps, Reuters reports. Even though the Fire uses its own interface on top of Android, Amazon still must cut a deal with Google in order to use the search giant's branded apps, including Google Maps. If Nokia offered better terms than Google, that may explain why Amazon would choose the phone maker's maps over the search giant's service.

It's not clear if the new Fire will have a GPS chip or rely on triangulating its position with Wi-Fi access points.

If the Nokia maps report is accurate, the Fire won't be the only new device to work with Nokia cartography in the coming months. Nokia maps are also built into Windows Phone 8, which could launch as early as October 29. Samsung on Wednesday announced the first Windows Phone 8 device during IFA 2012 in Berlin. Nokia is expected to unveil new WP8-powered Lumia devices next Wednesday.

The Fire

Most critics and analysts expect Amazon to release at least two Kindle Fire models next Thursday, 7- and 10-inch slates. The 7-inch Fire could have 1280 by 800 resolution similar to Google's recently releasedNexus 7, as well as a front-facing camera and physical volume buttons (the original Fire has software volume controls). Reports from earlier in the summer suggest the rumored 10-inch Fire could be a high-powered slate featuring a quad-core processor, front-facing camera, microUSB, and HDMI out. But recent reports indicate a 10-inch model may not launch next week. Some less frequent rumblings suggest an 8.9-inch device is also in the works.

Amazon's announcement begins at 10:30 a.m. Pacific Thursday. You can follow along with all the live coverage, news and analysis about Amazon's big reveal on PCWorld and TechHive.

This story, "Next Kindle Fire: Buzz grows louder" was originally published by TechHive.

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