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Kindle Fire 2 Could Launch in July

A "credible" unnamed source has informed CNET that Amazon plans to launch its second-generation Kindle Fire tablet during an event scheduled for July 31. The news follows recent reports claiming that the Kindle Fire HD (2) would launch sometime in the third quarter, accompanied by a cheaper, updated version of the first Kindle Fire tablet.

News of a possible July launch isn't surprising given the heated 7-inch tablet market. Google is expected to reveal its first branded Nexus tablet this week during Google I/O 2012, and Apple is rumored to be launching a 7-inch iPad Mini in October. Meanwhile, Kindle Fire sales have slumped, giving way to Samsung to retake control of the Android tablet market.

Several weeks ago, sources said that the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will sport a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 whereas the original Kindle Fire will continue to burn at 1024 by 600. Amazon has reportedly halted the development of its rumored 8.9-inch model, but still plans to unleash a 10.1-inch version by the end of the year, or in 1Q13.

As for the original Kindle Fire, it will be relaunched with a reported $149 pricetag with several improvements based on consumer feedback. Amazon may even introduce an ad-based Special Offers version that will be drastically reduced in price for those who won't have the $149 up front. As seen with other Kindle units, these may display full-screen ads -- aka sponsored screensavers -- when users power the device down into "sleep" mode.

Last month brought reports that Amazon plans to introduce Kindle and Kindle Touch e-readers with front-lit lighting in July, the latter of which will also feature a multi-touch capacitive touch panel sporting color instead of monochrome graphics. The original will still rely on E Ink technology, but the integrated front-lit lighting will eliminate the need for an external 3rd-party peripheral.

Looking back, the majority of Kindle-related announcements for 2012 all point to a July timeframe. The CNET source is probably the first to actually nail down a specific date although Amazon is reportedly "targeting" the launch event date. The company may be waiting to see what Google has up its sleeve later this week before it makes any solid plans.