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Bezos also demonstrated features for the devices such as "X-ray," which allows readers to track information about characters in books or actors in movies by touching them on the screen, and FreeTime, which allows parents to set limits to activities on the Kindle Fire HD, such as games and video viewing.
Some see the launches as not only a threat to the Android -based tablets made by a range of manufacturers but to the dominance of the iPad.
"This is not a product announcement but a declaration of war," analyst Michael Gartenberg of Gartner Research told us in a call from Los Angeles immediately following the Amazon event.
"They are taking a two-pronged attack: Redefining the dedicated e-book-based reader as the device they always wanted to build and at the same time taking a shot at a value tablet. The $159 price is very significant. Every $10 difference in a price is another brand of customer you bring into the mix."
In addition to posing a challenge to the iPad -- the next version of which, in smaller size, is expected to emerge shortly -- Gartenberg said the new models of the Kindle Fire "put a lot of pressure on the [coming] Windows RT devices. "