NewImage

Bloomberg reports that Amazon is preparing to unveil its new 7-inch Android-based tablet, with the “Kindle Fire” device carrying an unexpectedly low price tag of $199. Amazon will be introducing the tablet at its media event set to begin in just a few minutes.

The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch display and sell for $199, compared with $499 for Apple’s cheapest iPad, Amazon executives said. The device, a souped-up version of the Kindle electronic-book reader, will run on Google Inc.’s Android software, the Seattle-based company said.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is betting he can leverage Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce to pose a real challenge to Apple’s iPad, after tablets from rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Research In Motion Ltd. have fallen short.

Previous rumors had suggested that Amazon would price the Kindle Fire at $249, although sources had hedged in recent days that the device might come in at $299.

The Kindle Fire offers Wi-Fi connectivity and a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, the company’s $79/year service that offers streaming video and free two-day shipping on most items purchased through Amazon. The tablet does not offer 3G connectivity, camera, or microphone.

In an extensive profile of Amazon, Bloomberg Businessweek notes that Amazon will be introducing a “crop” of new Kindle devices beginning at $79.