Kindle Fire finally comes to the UK as Amazon takes on iPad in the battle of the tablets

Revamped Kindle Fire and HD model are set for 25 October UK release date
  • @steveanderson87

Amazon has unveiled a new range of Kindle Fire tablet computers, which includes two models that will be available to buy in the UK for the first time in October.

Amazon has unveiled a new range of Kindle Fire tablet computers, which includes two models that will be available to buy in the UK for the first time in October.

The range includes a revamped, upgraded version of the original Kindle Fire (up until now only available in US) as well as the more powerful Fire HD. Both of these models will be available to buy on these shores on 25 October with a price tag of £129 for the standard and £159 for the HD.

The online retailer also showed off a larger-screened Fire, which measures 8.9 inches diagonally, compared to its predecessor’s 9.7. For the moment, the larger version will only be available in the US.

Amazon’s latest move shows the company stepping up competition with its greatest rival Apple, who are hotly tipped to be introducing a smaller iPad as early as next week.

Amazon has unveiled new Kindle Fire tablet computers, which will come to the UK for the first time in October. The new range includes devices with larger colour screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple.

"It's very clear today that there are two names in the market for tablets. One is Amazon and one is Apple," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. 

With seven out of every 10 tablets sold in the second quarter being iPads, according to IHS iSuppli, those using Google’s Android operating system, such as the Fire, have struggled to carve out a significant stake. This is something Amazon will evidently be trying to change with the release of the new computers.

Selling tablets at thin profit margins (at $299, the larger Fire will sell at $100 less than the cheapest iPad), Amazon can be seen to trying to attract users to its core business of film, book and music services that it provides through the product.

Indeed, during the presentation in California yesterday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said: “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices.”

However, even if consumers don’t use the devices to buy digital content from them, Bezos says the company won’t lose money.

"We want people to buy content from the device, sure," he said. "We're fine if they don't."

Amazon says the latest Fire model is 40 per cent faster, comes with twice the memory and has a longer battery life than the old version. And it will start shipping in the US next Friday. 

The high-performance Fire HD is Amazon’s attempt at going head-to-head with Apple, with its two Wi-Fi channels and two internal antennas for faster, smoother transfers.

The HD model will also have more storage, starting at 16 gigabytes (the same as the iPad), compared with 8 GB for the old Fire. About 2 GB is taken by the Fire's operating system. 

At present, however, the Fire won’t have as extensive selection of apps as the iPad, and despite its front-facing camera for video chat, it does not include a rear one for taking photograph, which the iPad does. 

Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said yesterday's event showed that at the end of the day, Amazon is a "legitimate competitor in the tablet market." 

"They did at least enough to compete against Apple and against Google this year," he said. That said, Sebastian added that he wouldn't worry about Apple. 

"I'd worry about the other Android tablets," he said. 

Google’s Nexys 7 , which has a 7-inch (17.7-centimetre) screen runs on Android, as does Samsung’s Galaxy range. 

Amazon also refreshed its line of stand-alone e-readers. Called Paperwhite, the new e-reader model has a black-and-white screen and comes with a light source. 

Tablets such as the iPad and the Fire don't work as well in bright light because they are lit from the back. Bezos says the light on the Paperwhite is directed down at the display. The device promises eight weeks of battery life, even with the light on.  

With the Paperwhite, Amazon "proved that there is still value in the uni-functional device," Gartner's Milanesi said. But, she added, it has to be cheaper than the rest. 

Amazon's stock jumped $5.16, or 2.1 percent, to yesterday at $251.38. Earlier in the day, it hit a record high of $252.70.