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Reports: Amazon to unveil 'Kindle Fire'

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is expected to announce a tablet version of the Kindle e-reader this week.

Story highlights

  • TechCrunch: Amazon's touch-screen tablet will be called 'Kindle Fire'
  • Amazon is expected to announce the device on Wednesday
  • GDGT: Tablet is based on BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet
  • Amazon's current Kindle will still be available, according to reports

Color is coming to the Kindle.

At least that's what the tech blogosphere expects to happen on Wednesday at an Amazon press conference.

The maker of the world's most popular e-book reader is rumored to be announcing a color, touch-screen tablet device called the "Kindle Fire," according to the blog TechCrunch, which claims to have seen the gadget.

Here are the Kindle Fire's specs, according to that site and others:

-- 7-inch color screen, compared to 6-inch for current Kindles

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-- Wi-Fi only (no 3G version)

-- Touch-screen navigation

-- Glowing LED screen instead of paper-like e-ink

-- Android operating system

-- Hits stores in November

-- Current Kindle will remain on sale

The Kindle tablet is remarkably similar to BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet, says Ryan Block at the blog GDGT, and that's because both were built and designed by the same manufacturing company. Block, who cites unnamed sources, says Amazon used the design for the unpopular BlackBerry tablet as a starting point.

Even though details about the device haven't been confirmed, Block and other bloggers are already throwing water on the Kindle Fire.

"Although Amazon did refresh the ID of their PlayBook derivative, I'm told that this first tablet of theirs is 'supposed to be pretty poor' and is a 'stopgap' in order to get a tablet out the door for the 2011 holiday season -- which doesn't exactly leave the best taste in my mouth," he writes. "But it's also not the most uncommon story, either: when you're breaking into a new market, sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get in the game. You may remember how crappy the original Kindle was compared to later models!"

Three major magazine companies have signed on to provide content for the new Kindle tablet, according to Peter Kafka at the blog network AllThingsD, which is owned by the Wall Street Journal.

Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith will sell digital versions of their magazines on the upcoming Kindle tablet; but Time Inc., which shares a parent company with CNN, will not settle on a deal this week, Kafka says.

All of this is just conjecture for now, of course.

Amazon's press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday in New York. Many details should become clearer then.

Barnes & Noble, one of Amazon's competitors in e-books, is expected to announce a new version of its Nook color e-reader later this year.