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The new Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet: Standard model costs $299, a 4G-LTE version goes for $499

Amazon.com Inc. showed off a larger, higher-end Kindle Fire on Thursday, for $299 (U.S.), taking aim at a fast-growing market now dominated by rival Apple Inc.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, took the stage at a launch event in Santa Monica, California, and beamed as he introduced the Kindle Fire HD, featuring an 8.9-inch screen, which will start shipping November 20. A version of the same device with 32 gigabytes of memory and 4G-LTE wireless connectivity will also sell for $499.

An HD update to the 7-inch Kindle Fire improves on the technical specs, and will cost $199 for the 16 GB edition, it ships Sept. 14. A lower-end, non-HD 7-inch tablet goes on sale at the same time for $159.

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Sadly, just like for the Kindle Fire launched in 2011, there are no immediate plans for a Canadian launch of the tablet.

Amazon.com Inc. showed off several Kindle gadgets on Thursday, including a back-lit "paperwhite" e-reader with a much sharper screen and longer battery life.

The 3G wireless version that made digital readers mainstream will sell for $179 starting in October, in time for the crucial holiday season. A WiFi-only version will go for $119, and the cheapest will carry a $69 price tag - undercutting the cheapest Barnes and Noble Nook.

Mr. Bezos on Thursday stressed that Amazon saw the Kindle family of e-readers and tablets as a service, with hardware a critical element of its digital content business.

Amazon is competing with Apple, Google Inc. and other technology companies for a foothold in the booming mobile-device market, because these devices are fast becoming the preferred tool to access consumer media over the Internet. As the world's largest Internet retailer, it is essential for Amazon to have a major presence in this new sector.

Amazon is willing to make little or no money selling cheap tablets and e-readers because it wants to get the devices into as many hands as possible, then sell higher-margin digital content, such as e-books, video, games, apps and music, to a more connected and engaged customer base.

Shares in Amazon, which hit a record high earlier on Thursday, were up 1.1 per cent at $249.

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With files from Globe Staff and The Associated Press

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