Amazon Kindle Fire price and publishers revealed?

The rumour mill is awash with Amazon tablet fever, with more details regarding the Amazon Kindle Fire dropping by the minute. The latest revelations include a mixture of good and bad news, and intrigue at the same time.

Firstly, there's the build quality. This is bad news by the way. Not because it apparently looks just like the BlackBerry PlayBook - there's nowt wrong with the aesthetics of RIM's slate - but because reports suggest it looks the same because Amazon's Kindle group, Lab 126, turned to ODM Quanta (contributors to the PlayBook) as a shortcut to make sure the 7-incher hits the shops before Christmas this year.

And this means that the tablet is more of a "stopgap" and, as a result, the device is "supposed to be pretty poor". Add to this that the OS on board is Android 2.1, yep - Eclair, and we're not off to a very good start.

But don't fret too much as TechCrunch's MG Siegler, who has played with the tab remember, states that "it’s better than the PlayBook because the software is better and, more importantly, the content available is much better".

The software Amazon has put over the top is apparently nothing like Android and has the Amazon Appstore integrated at every step. So Amazon 2.1 isn't too big of a deal then. There's no email client as standard though, however you will be able to download one.

As for content, well, we all knew this would be Amazon's trump card. Add the fact that it has just signed a mega deal with Fox to the equation and you're looking at an almost unrivalled wealth of digital content. Reports also state that the Fire will have the backing of at least three of the big magazine publishers: Hearst, Conde Nast and Meredith, with Time Warner to come later in the year.

"You’ve got beauty and design with Apple, which we love," said one unnamed publisher who has an Amazon deal. "But with Amazon you have marketing, and ease of use. We’re very optimistic."

Now the price. Good and bad news again. Good news first, and it's going to be cheap. Bad news - maybe not as cheap as originally touted. We're looking at a US price of $300, rather than $250. However, the $300 may well include Amazon Prime membership and there may be a $250 version minus the subscription.

Still, either price is still cheap enough to make Amazon a major player in the tablet game this Christmas. Especially for a device that looks like bridging the gap between its Kindle ebook readers and the slate experience.

If you've not jumped into the tablet pool yet, Amazon will be hoping it has the device to temp you. It may not be an iPad killer, but it certainly has Barnes & Noble's Nook range in its sights.