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Amazon Kindle Fire Android tablet announced

Amazon Kindle Fire

Just $199 for an Android tablet

If there’s one thing that the HP Touchpad showed it was, if you sell it cheaply enough, people will buy it in preference to the iPad. It seems to be a lesson that Amazon has learnt, and its first Android tablet, the Kindle Fire, costs just $199 (around £127).

Tablets that cost this kind of money are usually severely cut-down, but Amazon doesn’t appear to be cutting any corners for the Fire. With a dual-core processor, 8GB of onboard storage, and a 7in 1,024×600 IPS touchscreen display, it’s a pretty powerful portable computer. Wi-Fi networking is the only form of connectivity and there are no plans to release a 3G version. Given that you can create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot on iPhone and Android phones, 3G isn’t actually that important.

The exact OS version hasn’t been announced, but what we do know is that it’s a heavily modified version of Android designed to Amazon’s own specification. While moving away from how Android usually works may seem like a mistake, Amazon’s goal is to create the kind of seamless experience you get from its Kindle devices and from Apple’s products.

Services is one of the key things about the product, with Amazon keen to make its money from selling directly from its device. For starters there’s the Amazon Android App Store for the latest apps, then there’s the Kindle app for the latest books, plus the option to stream music and video from the cloud.

Amazon has also overhauled the web browser and the Fire comes with Silk, which is “a revolutionary, cloud-accelerated browser that uses a ‘split browser’ architecture to leverage the computing speed and power of the Amazon Web Services cloud”.

No UK launch details have been announced so far, but if the UK price is similar to the US version and the device is as slick as it looks, Apple may finally have some real competition on its hands.

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