Kindle Fire update expected in two weeks

Changes expected to overall performance and touch navigation

Amazon will provide an over-the-air update to Kindle Fire tablets in less than two weeks, a spokesman told The New York Times today.

Few details were offered, but the Times said the improvements will affect overall performance and multitouch capabilities. Also, users will be able to edit a list of recent actions, including Web sites visited, the newspaper said.

Amazon did not respond when asked to confirm or elaborate on the update. On Nov. 29, Amazon issued an update to Kindle Fire with version 6.2, which it said "provides improvements to the operation of your Kindle Fire."

That update could be handled over the Fire's Wi-Fi connections.

Amazon is also expected to launch an upgraded version of the Kindle Fire, "probably" as early as next spring, the Times said, although Apple and many manufacturers usually wait about 12 months to release a new generation of a device.

The Times quoted usability expert Jacob Nielsen saying the Kindle Fire "offers a disappointingly poor user experience" noting that many Web sites don't look good on the Kindle Fire's 7-in. screen, but look much better on a 10-in. screen. (The iPad has a 9.7-in. screen.)

"Using designs intended for a full screen on a 7-in. tablet is like squeezing a size-10 person into a size-7 suit," Nielsen said. "Not going to look good."

Many reviewers and early adopters of the Fire have founds other faults, but have lauded the device's $199 price, making it among the lowest tablets on the market.

In a recent in-depth review on the Kindle Fire, comparing it to the Nook Tablet for $249, Computerworld's Preston Gralla said the Kindle Fire would please consumers of video and music streaming. But overall he favored the Nook Tablet e-reader for the "best hardware and performance, the most expandability, the best screen and e-reading experience."

Analysts, including Forrester Research, have predicted that three to five million Kindle Fires will be sold by year's end.

More tablet info

The table below shows the most recently announced tablets as reported by Computerworld. Click a tablet's name in the leftmost column to read a news story or review with more information about the device, or view a larger table with more details about each product.

Table created by Computerworld staff using Zoho Creator.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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