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Amazon unveils £130 iPad rival

Amazon is launching a tablet computer aimed at challenging Apple's iPad by extending its Kindle brand into the world of full-colour, multipurpose devices.

The Kindle Fire will sell for $199 (£127) in the US when it goes on sale in November.

It is about half the size of the iPad, making it a close match with the US Barnes & Noble's Nook Color tablet, which came out last year.

But while Barnes & Noble sees the Nook Color as jazzed-up e-reader, Amazon has broader goals for the Fire, as a platform for games, movies, music and other applications.

Chief executive Jeff Bezos also showed off three new black-and-white Kindle models, including its cheapest yet, at 79 dollars (£50). A touch screen model will cost 99 dollars (£63), and one with mobile network access will cost 149 dollars (£95).

Even before its release, the Kindle Fire was heralded as a worthy competitor to Apple's iPad. Amazon is nearly unique in its ability to sell content such as e-books, movies and music suited for a tablet - just like Apple does.

But competing with Apple will not be easy. Many have tried to copy the iPad's success, but so far, it is the overwhelming front-runner in the tablet computer category.

Apple sold 28.7 million of them from April 2010 to June 2011. Analysts at research firm Gartner expect the iPad to account for three out of four tablet sales this year.

The Fire runs a version of Google Android software, used by other iPad rivals and will have access to applications through Amazon's Android store. Unlike the iPad, the Fire does not need to be backed up on a PC. Instead, it backs up its contents wirelessly on Amazon's servers.

"That model that you have to back up your own content is a broken model. We want to take responsibility for that," Mr Bezos said in a dig at Apple.

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