July 30, 2013 at 8:01 PM ET
Amazon's popular Kindle Fire tablets are slated for a major update this fall, according to the blog BGR's anonymous sources. New screens, better build quality, and an internal overhaul should bring the devices more in line with the latest from Google and Apple.
The most visible change will be to the screen. The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will be getting a 1920x1200 resolution, the same as Google's new Nexus 7, and the 8.9-inch device will get a 2560x1600 one, the same as the Nexus 10. But because the screen is smaller, those pixels are packed in even tighter, which would make the Kindle's screen among the sharpest on the market.
BGR's source also said there will be an angular new look to the Kindle and redesigned button layout. The Kindle Fire line has always been a bit vanilla, so this may help woo people attracted to the more radical designs of Sony and Barnes & Noble's tablets.
Lastly, the internals are getting a big boost: a new quad-core Snapdragon chip, 2 GB of RAM (twice the amount in current models), and presumably a few more under-the-hood boosts. Amazon declined to comment to NBC News about the proposed changes.
If it sounds a bit strange that the device could be more powerful than an iPad at half the price, that's because Amazon is okay with taking a financial hit on the device in order to expand its empire into your living room, according to IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander.
"Amazon’s initial tablet offering was a loss leader at its debut, based upon the IHS teardown," wrote Alexander in an email to NBC News. "While Amazon does strive for long-term profitability they have demonstrated willingness to accept short-term losses in key markets as part of their overall strategy."
That said, it's not always the bigger screen or faster processor that wins in the end, Alexander cautioned. "The history of the tablet market to date shows that success is not as simple as winning on specifications."
No word on what might happen to the low-cost, non-HD Kindle Fire, but Amazon's habit in the past has been to keep such models around for a surprisingly long time, albeit not actively promoted.
With Apple rumored to be delaying its major iPad updates, and very little in the way of competition in the Android tablet world apart from Google and Samsung's latest, the new Amazon tablets could make quite a splash. If the launch timing reported is correct, we'll know for sure later in the year.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.