Amazon is nearing release of its first tablet, and the next-gen version of its popular Kindle e-reader is creating a storm on the Internet as news and speculation about the forthcoming product rivals what Apple has experienced with its popular iPad and iPhone. Also, Amazon's new Kindle tablet is expected to be the first serious contender to Apple's global tablet-industry leading iPad and a direct assault on Barnes and Noble's Nook Color ereader/tablet hyrbid.

In preparation of the forthcoming release, here are 5 things to know about the Amazon Kindle tablet:

1) Amazon's first tablet have a 7-inch back lit, multi-color touchscreen. It will reportedly be released in October, in time for holiday sales. The new tablet will run on a specialized, altered Amazon Kindle version of Google's Android operating system, and apps will be ready at waiting at Amazon's Android App Store. The device (resolution unknown) will have likely have a single-core processor, 6 GB of internal storage, a micro-USB port and speakers on top.

2) Amazon will likely release a 10.1-inch version tablet will be in the first quarter of 2012, following up its 7-inch tablet with a bigger, more expensive version. But some industry observers think the company's best and smartest play is establishing the 7-inch tablet first, since it is smaller than Apple's iPad and easier to hold. While the 7-inch unit is expected to compete against Apple's iPad, Barnes and Noble's Nook Color -- a 7-inch ebook reader/tablet hybrid -- is a direct competitor that will likely be hurt. Amazon will likely not release the 10.1-inch tablet version until early next year, and that unit will compete more directly against the iPad.

3) Amazon's first tablet, the 7-inch model will be sold as a loss leader in terms of hardware costs, so the company can launch as an immediate competitor to Apple's iPad and avoid the fate of the doomed HP TouchPad. That means get ready consumers, a new tablet deal is just around the corner. Industry analysts say Amazon's first tablet will be priced below $300, with a likely entry pricepoint of $250.

4) Amazon is currently testing out a redesign of the company's popular website in order to make it more tablet-friendly. The changes, currently in testing phase, are expected to make Amazon's site easier to navigate on a tablet computer.

The changes will soon be available to all Amazon.com shoppers, who will see a redesigned home page without clutter and a lot of white space. The search bar is bigger and consumers will see fewer buttons, and enhanced focus on Amazon's digital products, including ebooks, games and other applications including Amazon's Android App Store.

Techcrunch blogger Sarah Perez, who says she's seen a prototype of Amazon's forthcoming tablet, expected to become the biggest challenge yet to Apple's tablet-leading iPad, said the changes in Amazon's store practically scream 'tablet-optimized.

5) Amazon has lots of content to sell buyers of its new tablet -- more than apps at its Android store. The tablet will be optimized for Kindle ebooks, and ready for point-and-click enhanced shopping experiences at Amazon.com, which also includes downloadable and streaming movies.

The company's primary ambition: signing up new customers for Amazon Prime, its membership services. There's talk that Amazon will throw in a free Prime membership subscription of Amazon Prime to buyers -- which could be a major competitive advanctage. Think Netflix, iTunes, Apple's App Store and Wal-Mart (online, of course) combined into one provider for the lowest prices, since that's where Amazon wants to get big, fast.