Amazon to unveil Kindle tablet

AmazonPA

Expect another tech orgy of excitement over tablet computers this week after last week's Facebook-fest. Amazon has called a "media event' for Wednesday at 9am and the company is widely expected to unveil a low-cost tablet computer that could give Apple's iPad a run for its money.
The device is expected to be the Amazon Kindle Tablet that was seen by TechCrunch* writer MG Siegler a few weeks ago. This device has a 7-inch, full-colour display and will retail at $250. Siegler says the device will run on a customised version of the Android operating system.

This not only means the user interface has a distinctively Amazon look, it also means the device will be fully intergrated with the rest of Amazon's offer in a way which gives Amazon full control. And that's why it could be the first serious competitor to the iPad.

Amazon Prime

It's rumoured too that the $250 price includes membership of Amazon Prime, the service which offers two-day shipping on a wide range of products and also has a movie-streaming service. Membership of Amazon Prime currently costs $79.

If the rumours are true this certainly does look like serious competition for the iPad. It's hard to believe the "leak" was not officially sanctioned in order to build anticipation, and if that's true it's also highly likely that there is at least one more major facet to be unveiled on Wednesday.

There are plenty of tablet computers on the market, but putting a good device out there is only part of the process. Users need easy access to content, and that's where Apple and Amazon lead the way. Both are recognisable, trusted brands with plenty of content to offer.

Apple's iOS

Amazon's tablet, just like Apple's iOS devices, looks to be a portable e-commerce platform offering one-click access to books, films and music as well as a whole range of other content. And the ability to totally control the offer via the customised OS means Amazon can respond nimbly to competition.

Size matters, though, and the 7-inch format has its pros and cons. It's small enough to be comfortably portable and used one-handed, but it's still too big to fit in a pocket and the screen does not offer as much real estate as larger tablet rivals.

On Wednesday, all looks set to be revealed and this device could well prove to be the most significant tech release of the year.

* (TechCrunch is also owned by AOL, which also runs this site).
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