July 8, 2012 at 7:09 PM ET
Amazon's next Kindle Fire will be thinner and lighter, with a 1280 x 800 high-definition screen, according to AllThingsD, citing unnamed "sources familiar with Amazon's plans." The publication says that the redesigned 7-inch tablet will ship in the next few months.
The screen resolution is the only specific spec in the piece, though AllThingsD's John Paczkowski does also say that the next Fire will have a front-facing camera, along with a general improvement in body design. Given the aggressive pricing of Google's Nexus 7 tablet, one imagines Amazon would not increase the $200 price on the improved model.
All of this dovetails nicely with the other Kindle Fire rumors out there, which at this point are coming pretty much non-stop. That's no surprise. It's been over six months since Amazon introduced its first media-friendly tablet, and — given the cheapness (in both quality and price) of the initial model — we expected a fast follow-up. That Amazon would adhere to the screen resolution Google is using — and seeding to its Android developers in the form of free hardware — makes sense. After all, Amazon has been aggressively trying to sell Android apps for both phones and tablets, so why fight the de facto standard?
The screen's pixel density will be 216 dots per inch, as AllThingsD points out, citing DisplayMate President Raymond Soneira. This is a big improvement that would put its eye comfort level about on par with Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina screen, though still not quite as dense as the newest iPad. (For more on "Retina" displays, here's a sound Wikipedia item.)
Notably missing from the AllThingsD story is any mention of a larger Kindle tablet expected to compete more directly with the 9.7-inch iPad. Other reports suggest that this may come "later" in the year, meaning closer to Christmas. My personal opinion is that, for 2012, Amazon is going to focus on maintaining its dominance in the 7-inch tablet category, especially now that Google is entering the fray — and Apple is rumored to be doing so as well.