US customers can buy the Amazon Kindle Fire direct from Amazon today, with the tablet expected to ship in the next three to five days. US customers can also buy one from Best Buy stores, today.

There's still no word from Amazon as to when UK customers can get their hands on the much-vaunted, 7in entertainment device, which offers all the media-consumption chops of a device such as the Apple iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, albeit without the media-creation and productivity tools those devices offer.

Because the Kindle Fire will ship in the US for only $199 - less than half the price of the iPad 2 - it has created huge demand, with Amazon claiming that it has had to ramp up production even before it launches. Analysts believe only Amazon has access to sufficient entertainment to take on Apple's iTunes ecosystem.

The Amazon Kindle Fire is a 7in Android tablet with Amazon's own software shell. It offers access to movies, apps, games, music, e-reading and more. It also offers a web-browsing experience that is, Amazon tells us, much faster that comparable devices, as much of the data-crunching happens in the cloud.

Describing the Amazon Kindle Fire, our reviewer said: "Amazon's Kindle Fire is an inexpensive tablet for watching movies, reading books, surfing the web and listening to music. But don't call it an 'iPad killer': the Kindle Fire exists so that you can consume media, and as such it is taking on the iPod, not other laptop-replacing tablets."

"In many ways, the Amazon Kindle Fire isn't trying to beat the iPad or the Android-tablet masses at their own game. The Kindle Fire is doing its own thing, and going after a totally different audience."