Speculation is flying Tuesday that Barnes and Noble is getting ready to release a new, cheaper version of the Nook Color thanks to the company’s notice of a press event next Monday. The e-reader, which got official Android support in April, has been a popular alternative to more traditional tablets with its $250 price tag.

According to a report from Computerworld, analysts have said that it’s likely the bookstore will drop the price of the Nook Color to $199 or below to make it more competitive with the Kindle Fire tablet reader Amazon introduced in late September. Tech analyst Rob Enderle told Computerworld’s Matt Hamblen that the new reader could have the Nvidia quad-core processing chip — nicknamed Kal-El — though another analyst, Bob O’Donnell, said that a tablet running anything but Android 4.0 wouldn’t be able to take advantage of that chip.

There’s also some speculation that the company may drop the prices of its lower-end e-readers to compete with Amazon’s other Kindles, which now start from $79.

If Barnes and Noble does drop the price of the Nook to compete with Amazon, it could set off a low-cost tablet war. Right now, the iPad is the dominant force in the tablet market but it’s a space that skews toward luxury prices. The reaction to the $99 HP TouchPad showed that there’s definitely an appetite for cheaper tablets, so it will be very interesting to see what Barnes and Noble has up its sleeve for Monday.

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