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Amazon Kindle Fire tablet unveiled

Hoping to challenge Apple’s iPad, Amazon Inc. unveiled the Kindle Fire on Wednesday.

The tablet computer, which will retail for $199 US, will hit stores in the United States on Nov. 15. A Canadian release date hasn’t been announced.

The Kindle Fire is about half the size of the iPad with a seven-inch colour screen display, and will run on Google’s Android operating system.

The device offers Wi-Fi connectivity, but not 3G access, and doesn’t come with an embedded camera or microphone.

In addition to the tablet, Amazon also announced three new models of its Kindle e-readers, including the cheapest ever at $79. A touch screen model will run $99 and a model with cellular network access will cost $149.

“Some of the companies that have made tablets and put them on the market … the reason they haven’t been successful is because they made tablets. They didn’t make services,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said. “So what we’ve done is really integrate seamlessly all of our media offerings — video, movies, TV, apps, games, magazines, games and so on.”

But Amazon faces some stiff competition. Apple says it sold 28.7 million iPads from April 2010 to June 2011.

With files from The Associated Press