Amazon's new Kindles: An event preview

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A Kindle e-reader shown in Amazon's recent TV commercial

New versions of the Kindle Fire tablet, Kindle e-reader, and maybe even a new Amazon smartphone are expected during Amazon's product launch event Thursday. Speculation is rampant about what Amazon will debut, but it's pretty clear the company plans to launch a new Kindle Fire. Last Thursday the online retailer announced it was sold out of its Android-based tablet, fueling more reports of a revamped device. Beyond the Fire tablet there are also expectations of a new backlit Kindle e-reader and, just maybe, the long-rumored Kindle phone.

Backlit e-reader

Amazon has debuted a new commercial that seems to include a new Kindle device with a backlit screen. The Kindle shows up around the 17-second mark in the TV spot.  In late August, rumors of a so-called “Paperwhite” Kindle surfaced after The Verge obtained images of a purported Amazon advertisement written in French. The ad promised the first Kindle with a “Paperwhite screen” offering better contrast, higher resolution, an integrated light, eight weeks of battery life and an illuminated display.

Tablets

Perhaps the most-anticipated highlight of today's presentation will be the expected unveiling of a new Kindle Fire. Critics will be looking for the new Fire to answer Google's recently released Nexus 7. Both the Fire and the Nexus 7 sell for $199 and both are designed to achieve the same basic goal: provide an easy-to-use portal to Amazon/Google online retail goods such as movies, music, and apps. The Nexus 7, however, went beyond the Fire, offering features that Amazon's slate doesn't have including GPS, NFC, and a front-facing camera.

Current rumors around the so-called Kindle Fire 2 suggest Amazon may unveil 7- and 10-inch models, and possibly even an 8.9-inch device. One or all of the new Fire devices are rumored to include Nokia mapping capabilities. The 7-inch model could include a front-facing camera for video chat and 1280-by-800 display resolution. Speculation suggests the 10-inch model might feature a quad-core processor, front-facing camera, microUSB, and HDMI out. However, more recent reports suggested the 10-inch model may be delayed and thus may not make an appearance Thursday.

Smartphone

Amazon has been expected to launch a smartphone ever since the company launched the Amazon Appstore for Android in early 2011. Now the company may finally show off its long-expected smartphone on Thursday, according to The Verge. The new phone is reportedly unfinished so if it appears on stage we may not get to know much about it beyond whether it exists. The rumored phone is said to run a modified version of Amazon's Android-based system the Fire uses. It's not clear what version of Android an expected new Fire tablet or the supposed smartphone would be based on.

That's all for now, but be sure to check out TechHive's live blog for complete coverage of Amazon's announcement beginning at 10:30 a.m. Pacific time. Our Melissa Perenson will be in L.A. to cover it live.

New Amazon TV Commercial:

This story, "Amazon's new Kindles: An event preview" was originally published by TechHive.

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