Friday September 7, 2012

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) -- Amazon.com Inc. unveiled four new Kindle Fire models on Thursday, including ones with larger screens, as the online retailer steps up competition with Apple Inc. ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Amazon unveiled the larger Kindle Fire amid expectations of a smaller iPad from Apple.

The larger Fires will have screens that measure 8.6 inches diagonally, compared with 9.7 inches for the iPad. The original Fire had 7-inch screens. The speculation on the mini iPad is that it’ll have a 7.85-inch screen. Apple isn’t commenting, but it has an event scheduled next week during which it is expected to at least announce a new iPhone.

The Kindle Fire is an effort to take a larger share of a tablet computer market dominated by Apple’s iPad. Amazon has been selling lower-priced tablets at thin, if any, profit margins to boost sales of digital items from its online store.

The basic, 7-inch Fire model will cost $159, down from $199 for the original model. It will start shipping next Friday.

Amazon is coming out with a high-end version called Kindle Fire HD. It will have two Wi-Fi channels for faster transfers. That will be crucial for high-definition movies and other large files, CEO Jeff Bezos said.

The HD model will also have more storage, starting at 16 gigabytes, compared with 6 GB for the old Fire. It wasn’t clear what the updated basic model will come with.


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The iPad also starts at 16 GB.