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Amazon Fire: Is It Worth $50?

What can $50 buy? An inexpensive pair of sneakers, maybe dinner for two in San Francisco or a couple of tickets to the ballgame. But few ever imagined that it could also buy a tablet computer capable of running apps and streaming Netflix. Yet that is what Amazon has delivered with its Fire tablets, with starting prices of $50 for the seven-inch model and $80 for the eight-incher. The newest versions of these tablets, which are set to be released this week, are unabashedly slow and unflashy — but just capable enough to be worth this meager sum. This low-cost-for-no-frills strategy appears to be working well for the retail giant. Sales of Amazon’s touch-screen tablets jumped by double digits last year from a year earlier, the company has said. IDC, the research firm, said low-cost Fires had propelled Amazon to No. 3 in the tablet market, after Apple and Samsung.…