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What makes the Amazon Fire tablet a winner?

Amazon’s new tablet computer, the Fire, isn’t the first to challenge the Apple iPad. It isn’t the last either. But at this point, it’s the best competitor.

On paper, at least.

Unveiled today, the Amazon is a 7-inch tablet computer running Google’s Android operating system. Slated to go on sale just in time for the holiday season in November, it packs two things that puts it at the same level as the iPad.

The biggest feature is how much (or little) it costs.

With a price of just $199, the Fire slides in under the $200-price point making it as affordable as a smartphone, not a notebook. That’s not just a few dollars cheaper than the iPad. It’s not even $100 cheaper.

A $199 starting price is $300 less than the iPad 2 in the United States!

You don’t get the sexy unmistakeable style of an Apple product, nor do you get the selection of apps available for iOS devices. But many shoppers, perhaps, might not care. Why else would ‘President’s Choice’ peanut butter sit on store shelves if nobody bought it?

But with all that extra money you saved with buying a Fire, you can now use it all to spend in Amazon’s app store, or for content such as music and books through Amazon.

And that’s the second feature that makes the Fire a potential winner is its access to content.

I tried out the HTC Flyer a few weeks ago. It was alright, but it didn’t offer the same sort of access to content I get with my iPad, which is a portal to a wealth of music, movies and magazines.

The HTC tablet did have access to buy/rent movies, but it felt limited whereas using the iPad was like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

By comparison, the BlackBerry Playbook had neither a good price nor a good content stream.

Amazon has substantial content offerings – the Kindle has been incredibly successful for a reason.

Many won’t care that the Amazon Fire is Wi-Fi only, and that it has no physical volume buttons. But they’ll be happy to have a few hundred dollars to play around with.

What features would you like to have on a tablet computer?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets




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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.