Amazon's New $50 Tablet May Help You Speed-Read
Company hopes new features, accessible price point will up its tablet game
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2015 11:33 AM CDT
In this photo from yesterday, Amazon's new $50 Fire tablet sits on display along with assorted colored cases in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

(Newser) – Amazon is crossing its screen-swiping fingers that its newest offering will hit what a company senior VP calls the "sweet spot, the consumption of media," announcing its new 7-inch Fire tablet for $50—and a six-pack for $250, essentially giving the purchaser one tablet free, USA Today reports. Also out from Amazon today: 8-inch ($150) and 10-inch ($230) Fire HD tablets, as well as an updated kid's tablet ($100) and new versions of Fire TV ($100; $130 for the gaming model). Built into all the new tablets is Amazon's OS 5 (aka "Bellini), which the company's senior manager of Fire tablets calls Amazon's "biggest redesign ever," per PC World. The new OS includes the Word Runner reading program, designed to help consumers speed-read by showing words one at a time in the center of the screen (it sounds odd, but here's a neat video demo).

What makes the company's tablet push somewhat unexpected is that it hasn't exactly been a leader in that market: Per IDC data cited by Fortune, Amazon didn't even break into the top five of worldwide tablet vendors in the second quarter of 2015, and sales of the iPad put out by competitor Apple have declined as of late. But with the new OS' splashy interface and instant-download features for Amazon Prime members, Amazon hopes to not only steal some of Apple's thunder, but also lure more consumers to its online store, the AP notes. Those hoping to beat the Black Friday crowd for the adult-sized tablets can pre-order starting today and expect shipments to start Sept. 30, per USA Today. (Meanwhile, Apple's got a new … pencil.)