Amazon on Wednesday launched its largest slate, the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, in the UK and parts of Europe. It's now available in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It's also on sale in Japan.

The company also lowered the starting price of its large-screen Kindle Fire HD 8.9" tablet in the U.S. to $269 for the Wi-Fi version and $399 for the 4G version. The WiFi 8.9in version will cost £299 in the UK. 

The reduction, from the original $299 for Wi-Fi and $499 for 4G, was not because units were not selling, an Amazon spokesman said. Instead, it was because Amazon has been able to increase production volumes and reduce costs as the device has gone on sale in Europe and Japan, Amazon officials said.

"We're thrilled with customer reaction to Kindle Fire HD 8.9". Customers tell us they love our large-screen version of Kindle Fire HD for web browsing, email, gaming, watching TV shows, reading magazines, and more," said Dave Limp, vice president, Amazon Kindle, in a statement. "As we expand Kindle Fire HD 8.9" to Europe and Japan, we've been able to increase our production volumes and decrease our costs. Across our business at Amazon, whenever we are able to create cost efficiencies like this, we want to pass the savings along to our customers."

The 8.9-in. Fire HD was announced Sept. 6 along with a 7-in. version.

Amazon's new price of $269 for the 16GB Kindle Fire HD 8.9" is $230 below, or nearly half the $499 price that Apple charges for its closest comparable 9.7-in. iPad with Retina display, Wi-Fi and 16 GB.

The 8.9-in. Fire HD version has a 1920 x 1200 resolution, with 254 PPI, the highest resolution of any Kindle Fire. Its battery is rated for 10 hours of life. The $269 price is for a 16GB Wi-Fi version, while a 32GB Wi-Fi version sells for $299. The $399 4G version has 32GB of storage as well as Wi-Fi. Amazon also has a 64GB version with 4G and Wi-Fi for $499.

The Kindle Fire runs a customized version of Android. As such, it is among a number of Android tablets on the market that are low-priced, many starting at $200 depending on size and storage volume. IDC this week said Android will overtake Apple's iOS in tablets in 2013 for the first time, with Android-powered tablets accounting for 48.8% of shipments in the year, compared to 46% for iOS tablets.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Matt Hamblen on

Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.


Opinion: Five improvements iBooks Author needs to make

Amazon announces Coins virtual currency for Kindle Fire

Survey says: US ebook reading on the up as traditional books decline