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Amazon to update Kindle Fire tablet computer software

Consumer Reports News: December 12, 2011 03:53 PM

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Giant online retailer Amazon announced today its plans to update the software for its $199 Kindle Fire tablet computer within the next two weeks. The latest version of the software is said to bring new features, as well as address several performance issues.

According to the New York Times, consumers have raised issues with several aspects of Amazon's Kindle Fire, ranging from sluggish performance to difficulty with Wi-Fi connections to insufficient volume levels for streamed media.

It is expected that the new firmware will also bring several new features, including multi-touch controls on the tablet's touchscreen, as well as the ability to clear Web browsing histories—a privacy concern raised by lawmakers and consumer advocates.

An Amazon spokesman told the Times that the Kindle Fire software update will be available in "less than two weeks."

Despite the concerns over performance and possible privacy issues, sales of Kindle Fire—and other tablet computers and e-book readers—have been a bright spot this holiday season.

While Amazon has been mum on exact sales figures, analysts say the online retailer is on track to sell nearly 4 million Kindle Fire units by year end, and give Amazon nearly 14 percent of the global market share for tablet computers. That would place Amazon in second place, behind market leader Apple with its iPad 2 tablet, but nearly triple the estimated 4.5 percent of third-place Samsung, which makes the Galaxy Tab.

Barnes & Noble, which also offers a Nook Tablet computer, also announced today it will be updating its Nook Color e-book reader to offer streaming media content and other tablet-like features.

If you're shopping for a high-tech gift and can't decide between an e-book reader or a tablet computer, see Consumer Reports free online buying guides for e-readers and for tablets. Top performing models can be found in our Ratings of tablet computers and Ratings of e-book readers.

As Kindle Fire Faces Critics, Remedies Are Promised [New York Times]
Amazon responds to critics with Kindle Fire update [MSNBC]
Kindle Fire critics can expect a fix soon [CBS News]
Amazon Kindle Fire Will Receive Software Update: Report [EWeek]
Kindle Fire: Major Software Update Soon [Information Week]

Paul Eng

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