updated 03:00 am EDT, Thu September 6, 2012
No sign of 10-inch tablet in new minute-long TV spot
While only some aspects of tomorrow's expected Kindle and Kindle Fire revamp press event are known, some confirmation of rumors came in the form of an unexpected TV ad from Amazon during Wednesday's football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. In it, glimpses are seen of a new, brighter and backlit E-Ink Kindle Touch reader as well as shots of what may be the second version of the Kindle Fire. The ad could be seen as a harbinger of a major PR campaign around the new devices.
It is difficult to see in the ad (seen below), but the Kindle Fire model being used to watch video could be a full-size, 10-inch model -- though with a distinctly thicker black border around its active area if the fleeting glimpse seen in the ad is any indication. Speculation has fluctuated about whether Amazon will try to take on the iPad directly with a 10-inch model or will stick with the reasonably successful 7-inch form factor currently used. The next Kindle Fire is said to be likely to add tablet features such as GPS, a camera and HDMI output.
The Kindle Fire in its current form -- now allegedly "sold out" just days before the introduction of a new model -- faces stiffer competition from Google's ASUS-made Nexus 7 tablet than it does from the iPad. Amazon's strong interest in keeping the price as low as possible led it to make several compromises that caused sales to plummet following a much-hyped introduction and strong holiday sales, though it is still one of the most popular 7-inch tablets. Ironically, Apple may well be entering the mini-tablet field itself with an 8-inch "iPad mini" model that could replace the iPad 2 in specifications and sell for as little as the current asking price of the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 -- $199.
Images have previously leaked of an updated Kindle Touch e-reader, now sporting a higher-resolution "Paperwhite" E-Ink screen with higher contrast and a darker grey bezel surrounding it. The most important change, however, will be the integration of an LED backlight, supposedly combined with battery improvements that allow the unit to go for weeks on a charge, a major selling point over tablets for e-reading purists. Like the original Kindle Fire, the Kindle Touch also just happened to have "sold out" shortly before the press unveiling of new models, set for 10 a.m. PT on Thursday.