Archive for the ‘Comparisons’ Category

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

July 10, 2014

The reading experience: Paperwhite vs. Kindle Fire HDX

I very often see people in the Kindle forums asking what they should get: a

Kindle Paperwhite (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

or a

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile)

I have to admit: I always find that a somewhat odd question.

It suggests that there is either one correct answer, or that complete strangers on an online forum know you well enough to know what’s better in your situation. :)

People are often helpful on the forum. One of the first comments you’ll typically see is, “If you want it mostly for reading,  you should get the Paperwhite.”

Is that true, though?

Like a lot of people, I have both an HDX and a Paperwhite. I actively use them both…and yes, I actively read on them both.

My Fire is what goes with me when I leave the house…I need its other capabilities (like viewing and doing light editing of Excel files), and an important one I’ll mention a bit later in the article.

I read my Paperwhite in bed before going to sleep.

I don’t think it’s a matter of a simple black and white answer (and I’m not talking about the grayscale of the Paperwhite). ;) The Paperwhite is better for me for some reading tasks, the Fire is better for others.

In this post, I’m going to compare the two.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: the screen technology.

The Kindle Fire has a “backlit” screen. You read what is on it by a light coming from behind the image: the text is between you and the light source.

That’s how a lot of technology works: laptops, desktops, TVs, SmartPhones (at least, all the popular ones at this point).

You read what is on a Paperwhite by light bouncing off the screen from the front: the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

Before the Paperwhite, you needed an external light source to read a non-Fire Kindle.

The Paperwhite has a built-in light…and that light is in front of the screen, not behind it: it’s “frontlit”. It’s on the same side of the screen that you are (like a booklight would be that you clip on to a book).

Some people don’t like reading backlit screens for long periods…they say it tires their eyes (or gives them headaches…I’ve heard both). That’s understandable: if you stared at a flashlight or a lit lamp for a while, that would tire you, too.

I don’t think the Fire is as harsh as a lot of devices: you can change the brightness, and have different text backgrounds…so I don’t find that it bothers me.

Backlighting takes up a lot more battery charge life than the Paperwhite’s frontlighting. A backlit screen requires a constant application of energy to maintain the image. With the technology in the Paperwhite, it “draws the page”…and doesn’t need more energy to maintain the image. The Paperwhite is like an Etch-a-Sketch in that way. It takes energy to draw a house on an Etch-a-Sketch, but if you don’t shake it, the image will stay there with no more effort.

A backlit device is like a garden hose: the Paperwhite is like a puddle.

It’s a huge difference. I charge my Fire every day. I charge my Paperwhite every couple of weeks (reading on it every day…although not for more than a half an hour or so).

The last thing on this screen technology is reading in bright light. A backlit device (the Fire) has to compete with light hitting the screen from the front…and it’s not going to win against the sun. :) More light makes a Paperwhite easier to read, and because it has that frontlit screen, it’s also easy to read in a dark room. The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had…including paper.

I’m always able to read on my Fire outside, but it’s not as easy. Crank the brightness up all the way, and keep the device between you and the sun. If it feels like you are shading your eyes with your Fire, you are in a good position. For example, you might be leaning back, holding the Fire above chin level, with the bottom of it farther away from you than the top. Of course, don’t set it up where you might slip and end up looking directly into the sun!

Okay, let’s say you’ve got the lighting where it works for you. What about options when you read?

Fonts

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 7
  • Paperwhite (I’m using the latest edition): 6

Font Sizes

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 11
  • Paperwhite: 9

Font/Background Combination Options

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 4 (including white on black)
  • Paperwhite: 1

Margins

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 3
  • Paperwhite: 3

Line Spacing

  • Kindle Fire HDX: 3
  • Paperwhite: 3

The Fire wins on three of these, and it’s a tie on the two others.

Text-to-speech

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: no

The Paperwhite doesn’t have any audio capabilities. My guess is that they did that to make it cost less, and to reduce battery drain. This is the thing I said I was going to mention later. :) I use TTS (software which reads the book aloud to you) pretty much every workday for an hour or more a day in the car. I love this! I like to say that driving is no longer wasted “non-reading time”. ;)  The TTS on the KFHDX is much superior to what we had on the Kindle 2 (it sounds more natural, makes fewer errors, and there are more choices), and it’s better than what we had on later non-Fire Kindles with TTS.

The Fire wins this one…hands down.

Oh, and that also means no immersion reading for the Paperwhite (where you can hear a voice and see the words at the same time), which the Fire has.

X-Ray (gives you information about the book)

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: yes

It’s a tie.

Annotations: Notes, Highlights, Bookmarks

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: yes

I like the experience of Notes better on the Fire. It’s one tap to get to the Notes icon, and it’s two on the Paperwhite. You have multiple color highlights on the Fire. The interface with the notes and highlights seems easier on the Fire: long press (hold your finger or stylus on it for about a second) and you can view, edit, or delete. On the Fire, Bookmarks are labeled as Bookmarks…not on the Paperwhite.

I’m going to give this to the Fire.

Look-up

  • Kindle Fire HDX: X-Ray (including a Shelfari link), Dictionary, Wikipedia, Translation, in the book, and on the web
  • Paperwhite: Dictionary, X-Ray, Wikipedia, This Book, All Text, Kindle Store

The Fire seems to do this faster, and has more information (Shelfari has some great stuff), but I do like being able to search the Kindle Store on the Paperwhite. Still, I’d give this to the Fire.

Color, embedded or linked video or audio

  • Kindle Fire HDX: yes
  • Paperwhite: no

You might not use this much. Still, it’s nice if you are reading about Martin Luther King and can actually jump to the dream speech. This one goes to the Fire, although again, you might not care about it.

Sharing

  • Kindle Fire HDX: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook
  • Paperwhite: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook

It’s a tie.

Report a Content Error

  • Kindle Fire HDX: no (if you know of a way, please let me know!)
  • Paperwhite: yes

This one goes to the Paperwhite.

Overall? I’m actually surprised that the Fire wins in so many categories. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend the Paperwhite: the more comfortable reading experience and the long battery charge life are strong pluses. Also, a lot of people like the lack of distractions (although the Fire does have a “Quiet Time” setting.

What do you think? I’m sure some of you want to leap to the defense of the Paperwhite, and I understand that. :) Have I missed any advantages? I suppose I should have said that the Paperwhite is smaller, although the weight isn’t all that different…the KFHDX wi-fi only is 10.7 oz (303 grams), and the Paperwhite wi-fi only is 7.3 ounces (206 grams). I’ve heard that ten US pennies weight about an ounce, if that helps. ;) The Paperwhite is cheaper ($119 vs $199 in their cheapest configurations at time of writing), but I don’t know if I’d consider that part of the reading experience. ;) Are there other advantages you see with one or the other? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post. You can also let me know if you have other comparison questions about them that way.

Update: thanks to reader burmmom for a comment which improved this post!

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Which Kindle should you buy? Fall 2013

September 29, 2013

Which Kindle should you buy? Fall 2013

Amazon has recently announced new versions of the Kindle Paperwhite and of the Kindle Fire. While it is possible that more announcements will be made for this holiday season (it wouldn’t surprise me to see a price drop on the lowest priced Kindle, for example), these are likely to be the ones you are considering right now. If I need to come back and revise in light of announcements which may come later this year, I will. I do think it is possible that some models may be in short supply: I’m particularly impressed with some features of the new Kindle Fire HDX line, which may considerably broaden their appeal (particularly as workplace devices).

I should also mention that this information is based on the USA. Not all models are available in all countries, and prices may vary.

I am only going to list devices available new from Amazon. There may be refurbished models available (including the popular Kindle Touch model), but the price is going to be more variable and availability much less predictable. You can find them here: Certified Refurbished Kindles. Certified Refurbished Kindles can be an excellent buy. They have been reviewed carefully by Amazon, and typically carry the same warranty as one you buy new.

A note for upgraders: the Kindle Paperwhite 2 appears to be the same dimensions as the Kindle Paperwhite first generation, so your old covers should still fit. The same is not the case for the Kindle Fire: for example, the Kindle Fire 8.9 HDX is actually smaller than last year’s Kindle Fire 8.9 HD.

I’m going to list the models available new in order of price, lowest to highest.

Definitions

RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle): an EBR (E-Book Reader) which does not have lighting behind the image. RSKs are particularly good for long form reading, having a long battery life compared to a backlit device. They can be read easily in bright light, because you read them by light reflecting off of them (the same way you read a paperbook). The technology does not “refresh the screen” quickly enough to handle video. While they can play some games, their primary function is reading. The screens on the earlier models used a brand name technology called E Ink. RSKs currently do not do color images.

Tablet: a backlit device, similar in that way to a laptop, desktop, or SmartPhone. You read what is on the screen by a light coming from behind it. In bright light, they can be hard to read, because the light coming from behind the screen is competing with the light hitting the screen from the front (the sun, for example). Tablets can do full animation (meaning you can watch movies and TV shows, and play games that require animation). They can show many colors. They are good for visiting websites. The software is flexible, and you can install many types of “apps” on them. The battery charge life is much shorter than on an RSK: a day of full use will require a recharge.

Frontlit: a reflective screen device that has been equipped with a built-in light facing the screen. That’s what the Kindle Paperwhite is, as well as some models from other companies. This will allow you to read in bright light and in darkness, although because it does not change the underlying technology of the RSK screen, it does not allow for video or color. In some ways, it is the best of both worlds for e-books. The Paperwhite is the most comfortable reading experience I’ve had, including p-books (paperbooks). The battery charge life is also remarkably long: more comparable to an RSK than to a backlit device.

Wi-fi: a short-range wireless broadcast of the internet, typically the size of one building or so. Customers will usually use wi-fi they are broadcasting themselves in their own homes, or at a public wi-fi spot (many restaurants provide it).

3G: a method of connecting to the internet similar to a cell phone.

4G: another method of connecting to the internet, but faster than 3G.

Special Offers: devices with “Special Offers” have their initial price reduced because they are supported by advertisers. You see advertising on the device when it is “sleeping”, and a small ad at the bottom of the screen where you select the book you want to read. The advertising does not appear in the books themselves. Note: you will probably need to click a choice on the product page to get one without Special Offers. The links I give you will take you to the product page, but some features need to be selected manually on those pages.

GB: short for “gigabyte”, it’s a unit of measure of memory. The more gigabytes you have on the device, the more things you can store on it. That’s not likely to be an issue with e-books, but could possibly be with movies. More GBs cost you more. Many people recommend getting as much as you afford. I usually go on the lower end, since I keep most of my content in the Cloud/archives, and download it as I needed. I tend to keep about ten Kindle store books on one of my devices at a time. That gives me enough time to download more before I run out. If I was going to be out of wi-fi range for a week, though, I might download books before I went. If I’m on a long flight and want to have a couple of movies downloaded, I do have to be aware of the memory use.

Front-facing camera, rear-facing camera: a front-facing camera is looking at you while you are looking at the screen. It’s good for videocalls (such as Skype), but awkward to use to take pictures of other people. A rear-facing camera is on the back of the device, looking the same way you are looking when the screen is facing towards you…similar to a typical still or videocamera.

Must Have Features

There are many things that Kindles have in common, but not every Kindle has every feature. I’m going to list some of the features that people insist on having, and tell you which models available new have it. Note: it is very important to  realize that features may be made available to older models in updates (that has happened), but may not. Don’t be surprised if you reject a model because it didn’t have something, and then it was added retroactively. That’s not going to happen with hardware features (a Kindle Paperwhite is not going to be able to download speakers to it), and software features may have hardware limitations that keep them off the older models:

Audiobooks: Kindle DX, Kindle Fires

Collections (the ability to organize your e-books on your device in to groupings you define): currently, Paperwhites, Kindle DX. “Cloud Collections”, which appear to be a similar ability that can be shared centrally between apps and devices, have been announced for the Kindle Fire HDX, the 7″ Kindle Fire HD (but not the 8.9″, which is last year’s model), and the new Kindle Paperwhites.

Mayday (on screen live Amazon tech support): Kindle Fire HDXs

Music (MP3s): Kindle DX, Kindle Fires

Origami cover (a new gadgety cover from Amazon): Kindle Fire HDXs, new Kindle Fire HD (only the 7″)

Physical page turn buttons: Mindle, Kindle DX

Text-to-speech (the Kindle can read any text downloaded to it out loud to you, unless that ability is blocked by the publisher. It will not be able to read websites or typical PDFs): Kindle DX, Kindle Fires

Touchscreen: Paperwhite, Kindle Fires

===

Priced at $69

Kindle (“Mindle”) with Special Offers
Available: now (it was announced September 6, 2012)
Type: RSK

The Mindle (my name for it: it’s also called the “Baby Kindle” and the “Starter Kindle” and the “Kindle 4″) is the lightest Kindle, and the least expensive. It’s an excellent starter model, and can be good for children. If you just want something on which to sight-read books, it’s a good choice. It does not have speakers, so audiobooks are out, and there is no text-to-speech. It does not have a touchscreen or a physical keyboard (you navigate through letters on screen), but does have physical page turn buttons. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $89 

Kindle (“Mindle”) without Special Offers. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $119

Kindle Paperwhite, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, released on September 30, 2013
Type: frontlit RSK

Like the Mindle, this is designed primarily for sight-reading: no audio. However, one of the key differences is a new patented light system. The light is still directed at what you are reading, and not your eyes. You can adjust the light for all conditions: bright light outside and in a darkened room. Even with the light being used, the battery life is twice that of the Mindle…reading half an hour a day with wireless off, the Paperwhite will last about eight weeks versus the Mindle’s four weeks. The Paperwhite has a touch screen, compared to the Mindle’s “five-way controller”. The touch screen has also been improved over there Kindle Touch, which it is effectively replacing.  The Paperwhite also has these features which are not on the Mindle:

  • X-Ray (background information about characters and things in a book with no wireless connection necessary to use it…a good study aid)
  • Time to Read (estimates how long it will take you, based on your personal reading speed, to finish a chapter or a book)
  • Instant translations
  • New (I’ll be testing and reporting on these new features soon): Page Flip, which will let you look ahead in the book without losing your place
  • New: automatically build flashcards for vocabulary words which you look up in the onboard dictionary
  • New: In-line footnotes
  • Coming soon: better integration with GoodReads
  • Coming soon: Kindle FreeTime
  • Coming soon: Cloud Collections (organize your books where Amazon stores them for you…in “the Cloud”

For someone who wants a Kindle for reading, but wants more…a high school versus an elementary school student, a serious reader who wants to read anywhere, any time, the Paperwhite is going to be the best choice. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $139

Kindle Paperwhite 2, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – without Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, released on September 30, 2013
Type: frontlit RSK SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers
Amazon label: “Best Value Kids Tablet, Family Tablet”
Available: pre-order now, released on October 2, 2013

If you want web-surfing, video, and popular apps like Angry Birds and Where’s My Water?, you need a tablet. At $139, this is the lowest priced Amazon tablet. What are you missing if you get this one, rather than the $229 Kindle Fire HDX model? It has no microphone, no camera, and does not come with Mayday (the onscreen live technical help). The screen isn’t as good and the processor isn’t as fast as the HDX models, but those stats would have been considered quite good a year ago.

If you don’t need to impress with the state-of-the-art, and you need something to entertain the kids or get the job done at work (as long as that job doesn’t require a camera), this is going to be a good buy. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $154

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Without Special Offers

Low priced tablet with the least amount of memory and no ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $169

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

Larger onboard memory capacity with ads.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $184

Kindle Fire HD 7″, HD Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Without Special Offers

Larger onboard memory capacity without ads.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $189

Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers
Available: e-mail sign-up to be notified when available, ship date Nov. 5, 2013
Type: frontlit RSK

The top of the line current generation reading-focused device from Amazon.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $209

Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Next-Gen Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Without Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, ship date November 5, 2013
Type: frontlit RSK

Same as above, no ads.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $229

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: pre-order now for October 18, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Personal Movie Tablet, Best College Tablet”

This is the state of the art Amazon tablet in the 7″ size. I’ve had a Kindle Fire 1st generation, and 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD (2nd generation), and this is the one I’ve ordered for myself (look for my review and information on it shortly after release). The Mayday feature may make it a particularly attractive gift for getting people who aren’t as comfortable with tech able to do things like Skype (and e-mail, for that matter). Why would you move up to the $379 8.9? Part of it is the screen size, although for me, the 7″ has been adequate and easy to carry. The 8.9″ is also the only one with rear-facing camera (so you can take pictures easily of other people and things. The larger version has a better screen and somewhat longer battery life. I think this one may be the most popular of the new models.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $239

Kindle DX, Free 3G, 9.7″ E Ink Display, 3G Works Globally
Available: now (this version is more than three years old, announced on July 7, 2010)
Type: RSK

This is now several generations back, but has its fans and charms. It’s a large screen RSK with no built in lighting. You’ll read it in the dark the same way you would with a paperbook: with a booklight or lamp. It has a physical keyboard and physical page turn buttons. It has audio, so you can do text-to-speech, music, and audiobooks. The onboard memory is about three times that of a Kindle Paperwhite or Mindle. The battery charge life is much shorter than a Paperwhite, and shorter than a Mindle It comes with free 3G, but doesn’t have wi-fi. It doesn’t have all of the features of the Kindle Paperwhite, and isn’t likely to get them. This is old school, definitely, but might be attractive to some people for that reason, along with some of the features.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $244

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Without Special Offers
Availability: pre-order now for October 18, 2013
Type: tablet

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and least memory.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $269

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

This was last year’s larger screen model, and it’s the one I typically carry with me now. I do find that it is heavier and larger than I like. It is very much like this year’s $139 model, except with that larger screen, a front-facing camera (for Skype), a better screen, and about 8 ounces (a couple of hundred more grams) of weight. If you want the larger screen, but don’t want to spend the money on the HDX, this is the one. It’s also worth noting that this has an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) out port, which the HDXs don’t have. That means that with a cable which you buy separately, and a pretty modern TV, you can display what’s on your Kindle Fire on your TV. However, some apps (such as Xfinity) will block the use of the HDMI cable automatically. Still, using the Miracast wireless technology on the Kindle HDXs may mean buying an additional display device for many people.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers
Availability: pre-order now for October 18, 2013
Type: tablet

State of the art smaller tablet with ads and the middle amount of memory.  SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $269

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with ads and the middle amount of memory. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $284

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – without Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the middle amount of memory. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

===

Priced at $309

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – Indludes Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the most memory. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

===

Price at $314

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

Last year’s larger tablet with no ads and the middle amount of memory. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $324

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – without Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the most memory. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

===

Priced at $329

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the least memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $344

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 16 GB – Without Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the least memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $369

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with ads and the middle amount of memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $379

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

This model is it: the top of the line. Best screen and best battery life, front-facing and rear-facing cameras, all the latest features (including Mayday live on-screen help), if you want to get somebody the best, you would get the 64GB, 4G model of this one. It’s only about an ounce more than the 7″, which is remarkable (and quite a bit less than last year’s large-screen Kindle Fire HD). SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $384

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 32 GB – Without Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the middle amount of memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $397

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with lowest memory and no ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $399

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

Last year’s larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory and 4G through AT&T (which would require a separate paid data plan) with ads. Note that there is not a Verizon option with this model. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $409

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 64 GB – Includes Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with ads and the most memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $414

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T, 32 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

Last year’s larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory and 4G through AT&T (which would require a separate paid data plan) and no ads. Note that there is not a Verizon option with this model. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $424

Kindle Fire HDX 7″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE from either AT&T or Verizon, 64 GB – Without Special Offers

State of the art smaller tablet with no ads and the most memory. This version comes with 4G, which means you would be able to connect without having a wi-fi router near you, but you would also pay for a data plan from your carrier. Note that there are two different selections, one for AT&T and one for Verizon, not one for both. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE

Priced at $429

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory with ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $444

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 32 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory with no ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $479

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the most memory with ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 16 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the least memory and ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $494

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi, 64 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the most memory with no ads. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 16 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: November 7, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the least memory and no ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $499

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T, 64 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

Last year’s larger screen tablet with the most memory and 4G through AT&T (which would require a separate paid data plan) and no ads. Note that there is not a Verizon option with this model. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

Priced at $514

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T, 64 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: now (this is last year’s model, announced September 6, 2012)
Type: tablet

Last year’s larger screen tablet with the most memory and 4G through AT&T (which would require a separate paid data plan) and no ads. Note that there is not a Verizon option with this model. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

===

Priced at $529

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 32 GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: December 10, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory and ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

===

Priced at $544

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 32 GB – Without Special Offers
Available: December 10, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the middle amount of memory and no ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

===

Priced at $579

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 64  GB – Includes Special Offers
Available: December 10, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the most memory and ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

===

Priced at $594

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, HDX Display, Wi-Fi & 4G LTE through AT&T or Verizon, 64  GB – Without Special Offers
Available: December 10, 2013
Type: tablet
Amazon label: “Best Movie Tablet, Gaming Tablet, and Business Tablet”

State of the art larger screen tablet with the most memory and no ads, with 4G. SELECT OPTIONS ON PRODUCT PAGE.

===

===

That should help. :) If you have specific questions, feel free to comment on this post to ask them. If you notice any errors, please also let me know: this was a complex task because of how the information is available at Amazon on the items.

Update: thanks to readers Sara Miles and Judy Schechter for comments which improved this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

New NOOKs: faster, lighter, bigger, and more personalized

September 26, 2012

New NOOKs: faster, lighter, bigger, and more personalized

“Now batting…from New York City, a 95-year veteran of bookselling who is still swinging for the fences, Barnes & Noble!”

Barnes & Noble announced today

Press Release

two new tablets, and the introduction is impressive.

They’ve done an excellent job in making these devices sound customer-aligned…territory Amazon tried to claim in its September 5th presser (press event).

Very simply, there aren’t wild innovations that people may not understand (X-Ray for Movies, “Immersion Reading”), but things that people clearly want (no ads, customizable screen savers*).

The specs (hardware specifications) will make the gear heads happy, at least for the features on which Barnes & Noble focuses…except for memory (see below).

This is one of the best product introductions I’ve seen.

Yes, I love my Kindle, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate other devices.

These aren’t Kindle Fire killers in my opinion…I do think there is room for both. However, I think this may move Barnes & Noble up in market share through the holiday season.

While Barnes & Noble and Amazon aren’t the only two players here (the market is merging in some ways), let’s take a look at this head to head. I’m going to talk about both reflective screen devices and the tablets. I compared the Kindles in an earlier post and if you are already settled that you want an Amazon device, that one will give you a good idea. In a similar way, I’m going to try to give you a sense of which Kindle or NOOK might best fit how you are going to use it.

Before I do, though, I want to say that Amazon’s Customer Service is a deciding factor for me in comparing the companies. Amazon allows the “return” of a Kindle store book in the first seven days after purchase for a refund: B&N doesn’t allow the return of NOOK Books at any time for any reason. Amazon has great Customer Service, and great involvement with their customers. I’ve never had a bad experience in a Barnes & Noble brick and mortar store, but I have had them online with them.

Note: Amazon gave me a Kindle Fire HD 7″, Dolby Audio, Dual-Band Wi-Fi, 16 GB and a Kindle Paperwhite 3G, 6″ High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Free 3G + Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers. That is not because I’m a blogger: it’s because of work that I do voluntarily on the Kindle forums to help other customers. I’m what they call a “Kindle Forum Pro”. That’s not a job, and I’m not paid by Amazon. They gave the devices to all of the Pros. While I’m grateful, I don’t think it’s particularly influenced my feelings about Amazon, or that it will affect this post…I liked them before. :)

Definitions

Reflective Screen Devices (RSDs): an EBR (E-Book Reader) which does not have lighting behind the image. RSDs are particularly good for long form reading, have a long battery life compared to a backlit device. They can be read easily in bright light, because you read them by light reflecting off of them (the same way you read a paperbook). The technology does not “refresh the screen” quickly enough to handle video. While they can play some games, their primary function is reading. The screens on the earlier models used a brand name technology called E Ink. RSDs currently do not do color images.

Tablet: a backlit device, similar in that way to a laptop, desktop, or SmartPhone. You read what is on the screen by a light coming from behind it. In bright light, they can be hard to read, because the light coming from behind the screen is competing with the light hitting the screen from the front (the sun, for example). Tablets can do full animation (meaning you can watch movies and TV shows, and play games that require animation). They can show many colors. They are good for visiting websites. The software is flexible, and you can install many types of “apps” on them. The battery charge life is much shorter than on an RSK: a day of full use will require a recharge.

The entry level RSD

If you just want to get an EBR (E-Book Reader), maybe your first one, or as an extra, or you just aren’t sure about the whole thing, Amazon owns this one with the Kindle (“Mindle”) with Special Offers. At $69 in the USA, it’s $30 cheaper than the cheapest NOOK. If you just want to read, and you don’t mind ads, it’s a good deal. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, and it doesn’t have audio (so no music, no audiobooks, no text-to-speech). You can get it without ads for $89, but that’s only $10 less than the…

Lowest priced touch screen

NOOK Simple Touch

Is it worth $30 more than the Mindle? If you want a touchscreen, yes, just looking at the hardware.  It also has a memory expansion slot, which many people want (you can use micro SD cards for more memory). If you don’t consider the companies, this is an easy to use $99 model.

“Glow” RSDs

Barnes & Noble established the naming on frontlighting for reflective screen devices, calling it a “GlowLight”. That means that you can turn on a light to read it in low light conditions, and still read it well in bright light. If you are okay with ads and special offers, Amazon gets in the cheapest at $119 with its Kindle Paperwhite wi-fi only. If we eliminate ads, it’s a much more direct comparison at $139 to B&N’s NOOK Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™. The Barnes & Noble device has an expandable memory slot. The Paperwhite has X-Ray, a feature that gives you background about the book you are reading. Neither one has audio, and both have touchscreens. These are comparable devices, with the GlowLight perhaps having the edge on hardware, and the Paperwhite having it on software. There is also a $179 ($199 without special offers) Kindle Paperwhite 3G, which adds the ease of connecting via the cell phone network.

Update: on September 30, B&N dropped the price of the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight to $119…the same price as the ad-supported Paperwhite. There are people who reject ads on principle, and when these two are the same price, that will push some of those to the NOOK.

RSD with a physical keyboard

Barnes & Noble isn’t even choosing to compete on this. No touchscreen, no built-in light…but audio and free 3G. The Kindle Keyboard 3G at $139 is a solid option. That free 3G gives you another way to connect to the internet…and one that does not require you to be near a wi-fi network, so it’s great for people who aren’t as comfortable with technology. The audio gives it text-to-speech (where    software reads you the words out loud), and audible menus…this is the most accessible device. If you want the “cool gift”, this isn’t it, but if you want a practical reading machine for someone who isn’t as high tech or has a print disability, this is the one.

The entry level tablet

Just as they do with the ad-supported Mindle, Barnes & Noble cedes this one to Amazon. The Kindle Fire 7″ SD does have some of the features of more expensive tables (no Bluetooth ((so no way to use a physical keyboard or wireless headphones)), no HDMI out ((so you can’t connect it physically to a TV)), no camera), but at $159, it’s a great first or extra device. It has text-to-speech, which is a big selling point for me…I listen to TTS typically hours a week.  It’s not as friendly for the print disabled as the Kindle Keyboard above (how do you work a touchscreen without audible feedback?), but for people who just like TTS, that’s a big difference. I think this is going to be a hit in the holiday season.

The $199 tablets

This is the big hand(held) to hand(held) combat. In this corner, it’s the Kindle Fire HD 7″. In that corner, and a newcomer, is the NOOK HD.

Let’s break this one down:

  • The Kindle HD has ads, although you can buy out of them for $15 (making it $214 without ads)
  • The NOOK has only 8GB of memory, unless you move up to the 16GB at $229. Does that matter? When you start downloading movies (which B&N has just announced, yes, absolutely
  • The NOOK comes in two different color cases (Snow and Smoke…is it just me, or do those sound like two minor league superheroes?)
  • Wall charger is included with the NOOK, about $10 with the Kindle Fire HD…without that, you charge by USB
  • Screen quality goes to the NOOK: 1440 by 900, versus 1280 x 800. What does that mean? What you see on a computer or similar screen is made up of dots called pixels. More dots per inch makes for a better picture…imagine a dot to dot without the lines connects, versus a pencil sketch: the dot to dot might have twenty “pixels”, the pencil sketch could have the equivalent of thousands. With these two, it works out to 243 pixels per inch versus 216. Will you notice it? That’s harder to say
  • The NOOK is about two ounces lighter…hold it for an hour, you might feel the difference
  • The NOOK’s processor is a bit faster: 1.3 versus 1.3GHZ
  • The NOOK has an expandable memory slot: the Kindle Fire would use a wi-drive (wireless external drive)
  • They both have some kind of individual profiles, but we won’t be able to compare that well until we see how Amazon’s FreeTime works in October
  • The Kindle Fire HD has a front-facing camera for video calls…no camera on the NOOK HD
  • The Kindle Fire HD has X-Ray for books and movies and syncing between audio and sight-reading

I’d sum it up this way: the NOOK does beat the Fire on hardware, but the memory size difference will matter to people. I don’t think the camera is a dealbreaker for a lot of folks. I do think Bluetooth** matters, especially if Amazon can work out a current glitchiness with Bluetooth keyboards. People who just look at the “cutting edge” nature of the hardware will lean towards the NOOK (ignoring the lower onboard memory, perhaps being okay with the expansion slot). People who want cutting edge features may lean towards the Kindle Fire HD. The latter is especially true when taking Amazon Prime into account (which is normally $79 a year). That has the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and I do take advantage of that…and free Prime streaming.

The big screen tablet

The NOOK HD+ is  bigger (9″ versus 8.9″) and cheaper ($269 versus $299) than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″. Regardless of anything else, that’s going to sell a lot of people on it. On the other hand, there is no camera and no Bluetooth.

Those both come with 16GB…if you go to 32GB, the NOOK+ is significantly cheaper: $369 for the Kindle, $299 for the NOOK.

The Kindle also comes with ads…$15 to buy out.

The Kindle has text-to-speech…and the NOOKs work with UltraViolet, which lets you effectively get a digital file with a DVD. That’s not free for all your old DVDs, and not available on everything, but it’s a good deal.

The NOOK includes a wall charger at no additional cost.

Unless Amazon makes some changes (matching UltraViolet, for example), I think this is going to tend to go to the NOOK, for people who haven’t already committed to Amazon.

The 4G tablet

This one is Amazon’s alone, with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32GB at $499 and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 64 GB at $599.

If you want to check e-mail or go on the web at the beach, this is the option. That does mean you would pay for a  data plan: Amazon is advertising an AT&T one starting at about $50 a year. At this point, though, you are clearly competing with the iPad, and that opens another discussion.

Amazon and Barnes and Noble also have their own special software features:

Amazon’s include

  • Whispersync for voice (synchronize your place between an audiobook and sight-reading)
  • X-Ray for movies (pause, and find out about the actors on the screen0
  • X-Ray for books
  • X-Ray for textbooks (even linked to relevant videos)
  • Whispersync for games (sync game progress on different devices)
  • Prime (annual fee) for free streaming video and a borrowing a book a month from a specific Kindle Owners’ Lending Library)
  • Immersion reading (hear a voice and read the words at the same time)

Barnes & Noble

  • NOOK IQ recommendations
  • NOOK Catalogs (yep, like paper catalogs for stores, but on your device)
  • NOOK Scrapbook (save magazine and catalog pages in one place)
  • Customizable screen savers
  • NOOK Channels…I think these are sort of like the playlists on Songza…expert groupings of similar topics

Quite simply…game on! ;) Amazon wins on entry level devices, and the super high end. In terms of tablets, Barnes & Noble may gain some serious ground in the middle.  I think the Kindle Keyboard is still it’s own market slice, and I didn’t mention the Kindle DX (but that’s not really in the hot mix).

More information will come out in the next couple of months, but that should help you get started comparing them.

What do you think? Does the 8GB versus 16GB difference matter, if there’s an expansion slot? Does Amazon’s reputation just make it impossible for the NOOK tablets to move into first place? How much of a liability is it that Amazon defaults to having ads? Do the “enhanced reading features” at Amazon matter? Will Amazon respond in some way…if so, how? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* When I first saw that there were customizable screen savers on the new NOOK tablets, I thought that would mean your own pictures. B&N has a chat feature for help, so I got a clarification:

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Secure Connection
You are now connected with Richard Green from BN.com

Bufo Calvin: I’m interested in information about the customizable screen savers

Richard Green: Thank you for contacting Barnes & Noble Digital Support. I’m Richard.

Bufo Calvin: Hi!

Richard Green: I understand that you want to know customizable screen savers on new devices that are going release. Is that correct?

Bufo Calvin: Yes.

Bufo Calvin: Which devices, and what sorts of pictures can be used?

Richard Green: Sure, please give me a moment while I check the device details.

Bufo Calvin: Thanks.

Richard Green: Thank you for your time.

Richard Green: Yes, these new devices come with pre-loaded screen savers. You can select or change screen saver from the pre-loaded gallary.

Bufo Calvin: All of the new tablets? That also means you can’t use your own pictures as a screen saver?

Richard Green: Yes, you cannot use personal pictures for screen savers.

Bufo Calvin: Thank you, that clarifies it.

Richard Green: You are welcome.

Richard Green: \AE

Richard Green: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Richard Green: Sorry for the typo*

Bufo Calvin: That’s okay. I think I’m good for now…all of the NOOK tablets allow you to select from a pre-loaded “gallery” of screen savers, but not to use your own pictures.

===

** Update: thanks to reader Jackie who pointed out that the B&N press release says their tablets will have Bluetooth. That doesn’t appear anywhere on the site  that I could find. I’ll get a clarification from B&N, but that does even things out more if true

Update: Barnes & Noble has now confirmed for me that the new tablets do not have Bluetooth. Unfortunately, that means their initial press release was incorrect. That does happen…Amazon had to clarify the amount of memory on the KFSD, for example. I applaud B&N for having the chat option…although I did have a few issues with it. I tried to get on it this morning after 9:00 AM Eastern…and it was telling me I was outside the hours. Then, I tried to do it later…and it was unavailable because they were too busy. When I did get someone, as you see below, it was a little while before somebody actually connected with me; I would guess it might have been a couple of minutes.

===

Secure Connection
You are now connected with Chanakya from BN.com

Bufo Calvin: Do the new tablets have Bluetooth so you can use an external keyboard?

Chanakya: Good day Bufo, thanks for joining Barnes and Noble Digital Chat Support.

Chanakya: I’m sorry to inform you that the new NOOK hd and NOOK hd+ devices do not have the option of bluetooth.

Chanakya: Are we connected?

Bufo Calvin: Yes, thanks!

Chanakya: Okay.

Chanakya: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Bufo Calvin: Sorry, I stepped away while I was waiting. I appreciate that clarification…the initial press release indicated that it would be available, but I didn’t see it on the spec pages.

Bufo Calvin: No, that’s it…thanks so much!

Chanakya: You’re welcome.

Chanakya: Thanks for contacting Barnes and Noble Chat support.

===

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Which Kindle should you buy? September 2012

September 7, 2012

Which Kindle should you buy? September 2012

On September 6, 2012, Amazon announced a new line up of hardware (both RSKs…Reflective Screen Kindles, and the Kindle Fire tablet line).

While we will know more after the user’s guides are released and after the devices get into customers’ hands, I can give you a pretty good idea of how you can you decide between the models.

I’m going to list them in order of price, lowest to highest. That in itself may be a surprise…you can get a Kindle Fire for less than some of the RSKs.

Definitions

RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle): an EBR (E-Book Reader) which does not have lighting behind the image. RSKs are particularly good for long form reading, have a long battery life compared to a backlit device. They can be read easily in bright light, because you read them by light reflecting off of them (the same way you read a paperbook). The technology does not “refresh the screen” quickly enough to handle video. While they can play some games, their primary function is reading. The screens on the earlier models used a brand name technology called E Ink. RSKs currently do not do color images.

Tablet: a backlit device, similar in that way to a laptop, desktop, or SmartPhone. You read what is on the screen by a light coming from behind it. In bright light, they can be hard to read, because the light coming from behind the screen is competing with the light hitting the screen from the front (the sun, for example). Tablets can do full animation (meaning you can watch movies and TV shows, and play games that require animation). They can show many colors. They are good for visiting websites. The software is flexible, and you can install many types of “apps” on them. The battery charge life is much shorter than on an RSK: a day of full use will require a recharge.

Wi-fi: a short-range wireless broadcast of the internet, typically the size of one building or so. Customers will usually use wi-fi they are broadcasting themselves in their own homes, or at a public wi-fi spot (many restaurants provide it)

3G: a method of connecting to the internet similar to a cell phone.

4G: another method of connecting to the internet, but faster than 3G

Special Offers: devices with “Special Offers” have their initial price reduced because they are supported by advertisers. You see advertising on the device when it is “sleeping”, and a small ad at the bottom of the screen where you select the book you want to read. The advertising does not appear in the books themselves.

Note: Amazon now allows customers to opt out of advertising which lowers the cost of the Kindle Fire tablet line for $15. You do not purchase a separate version, but presumably purchase the turn off after receiving the device. For that reason, a “non ad-supported” version of the Kindle Fires below is not listed as a separate device or a separate price point. If you would rather not have advertising, take into account the additional $15 on the Kindle Fire models listed below.

===

Priced at $69

Kindle (“Mindle”) with Special Offers
Available: now
Type: RSK

The Mindle (my name for it: it’s also called the “Baby Kindle” and the “Starter Kindle” and the “Kindle 4″) is the lightest Kindle, and the least expensive. It’s an excellent starter model, and can be good for children. If you just want something on which to sight-read books, it’s a good choice. It does not have speakers, so audiobooks are out, and there is no text-to-speech.

Priced at $89 

Kindle (“Mindle”) without Special Offers

Priced at $119

Kindle Paperwhite wi-fi only with Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, released on October 1, 2012
Type: RSK

Like the Mindle, this is designed primarily for sight-reading: no audio. However, one of the key differences is a new patented light system. The light is still directed at what you are reading, and not your eyes. You can adjust the light for all conditions: bright light outside and in a darkened room. Even with the light being used, the battery life is twice that of the Mindle…reading half an hour a day with wireless off, the Paperwhite will last about eight weeks versus the Mindle’s four weeks. The Paperwhite has a touch screen, compared to the Mindle’s “five-way controller”. The touch screen has also been improved over there Kindle Touch, which it is effectively replacing.  The Paperwhite also has these features which are not on the Mindle:

  • X-Ray (background information about characters and things in a book with no wireless connection necessary to use it…a good study aid)
  • Time to Read (estimates how long it will take you, based on your personal reading speed, to finish a chapter or a book)
  • Instant translations
  • Available cover (presumably costs extra) will automatically wake and sleep your Kindle

For someone who wants a Kindle for reading, but wants more…a high school versus a elementary school student, a serious reader who wants to read anywhere, any time, the Paperwhite is going to be the best choice.

Priced at $139

Kindle Paperwhite wi-fi only without Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, released on October 1, 2012
Type: RSK

Kindle Keyboard 3G
Available: now
Type: RSK

This one does not have several of the features listed above the Paperwhite: it’s effectively last year’s software. It does, though, have a physical keyboard, which some people prefer. It has twice as much onboard memory than the Paperwhite. This one has 3G: you’ll likely be able to connect at the beach and in the park. It does not have a built-in light. It does have audio, including text-to-speech (TTS), which reads the books out loud to you. It can play MP3s (albeit with limited control over them). The selling points really are the keyboard, the audio, and the 3G. The 3G and the keyboard arguably make it friendlier for those who are less comfortable with technology (the 3G requires no set up). It does not appear to be available without special offers, so I don’t know if you can “buy your way out of them”.

Priced at $159

Kindle Fire 7″ SD
Available: September 14
Type: tablet

Video, apps, web-surfing…and the it’s 40% faster while the price has been dropped to $159 ($40 less than when it sold out). It’s not as sophisticated as the other more expensive Kindle tablets: the screen isn’t as good, and it has a “two-point multitouch screen” rather than a ten point. It does not have the Bluetooth or the HDMI output of the other ones. Still, this is a really bargain price for a very serviceable tablet. I’ve been happy with the one that I had that is now sold out…and this one is better for less.

Priced at $179

Kindle Paperwhite 3G with Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, release on October 1st, 2012
Type: RSK

Priced at $199

Kindle Paperwhite 3G without Special Offers
Available: pre-order now, release on October 1st, 2012
Type: RSK

Kindle Fire HD 7″ 16GB
Available: pre-order now, released on September 14, 2012
Type: tablet

This is the next gen tablet. The screen is better than the SD. It has an HDMI output, so you can plug it into a TV to play your video. If you combine that with Prime, you might be able to cut back on your cable bill. It’s new wi-fi system makes it 40% faster than the iPad 3. A front-facing camera will enable integrated Skype. It has Dolby sound.  It’s introducing some interesting new features:

  • Immersion reading lets you listen to an audiobook and see the text on the screen
  • You can also sync an Audible audiobook with what you are sight-reading…sight-read, and then pick up in the car with the audiobook recording where you left off
  • X-Ray for books comes to a tablet for the first time
  • X-Ray for movies: pause a movie, and get IMDb fueled information about the actors in that scene
  • Whispersync for games…if you’ve unlocked levels on one device, you can continue from that point on another device
  • Kindle FreeTime brings robust parental controls: you can choose which books and other content each child can access…not just “all books yes or no”. You can choose how much time a child can have each day for different types of content

Nicely capable tablet 7″ tablet.

Priced at $249

Kindle Fire HD 7″ 32GB
Available: pre-order now, released on October 25, 2012
Type: tablet

Priced at $299

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 16GB
Available: pre-order now, released November 20, 2012
Type: tablet

Not only is it somewhat bigger than the 7″, it has a couple of special features for students. There is X-Ray for textbooks, which will also pull in relevant content from YouTube and Wikipedia.

Priced at $369

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 32GB
Available: pre-order now, released November 20, 2012
Type: tablet

Priced at $379

Kindle DX, Free 3G, 9.7″
Available: now
Type: RSK

The software is now back a couple of generations, and the screen isn’t as good as current models. It is the largest screen Kindle, and is the large screen RSK. It has a physical keyboard, which some people prefer. Some people will be surprised to see this on the list, but it is still available new from Amazon. With the free 3G, it’s easy to use for a non-techie. For someone who isn’t comfortable with gadgets and doesn’t need a tablet…and wants a larger screen, this might work quite well.

Priced at $499

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32GB
Available: pre-order now, released on November 20
Type: tablet

This has twice the memory of the 8.7″, but that’s not all…it has 4G. That means you’ll be able to connect many more places. It also means you need a data plan for when you use that 4G…but they’ve got an incredible deal with AT&T, where it is $49.99 for 12 months for 250MB per month. They’ll have plans with additional data for more. You’ll also get 20GB of Cloud storage, and a $10 credit at the Amazon Appstore. 4G will be easier than just wi-fi, but it is going to cost more money.

Priced at $599

Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 64 GB
Available: pre-order now, released on November 20
Type: tablet

===

That should help. :) If you have specific questions, feel free to comment on this post to ask them.

Update: thanks to reader Helen Burns for suggesting more clarity in the formatting of which prices go with which models.

Update: thanks to reader Jeanne for correcting the release date on the 32GB Kindle Fire HD 7″.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Consumer Reports ranks NOOK Simple Touch #1 EBR

July 13, 2012

Consumer Reports ranks NOOK SimpleTouch #1 EBR

Consumer Reports has a reputation for being an unbiased testing company, and I think people are influenced by what they say.

In August 1, 2012 issue, they rank EBRs (E-Book Readers).

You can get that issue for your Kindle Fire, Kindle for iPad, or Kindle for iPhone here:

Consumer Reports

You can buy the individual issue for $3.99…or get a subscription for $2 a month. That comes (like all Kindle store magazines) with a 14-day free trial. You could read this issue, and then go to

http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle

and then go to

Subscription Settings

and click or tap

Actions…

and choose

Cancel my subscription.

As to what they said…

The NOOK Simple Touch with Glowlight is #1, with a score of 83.

I’ m reasonably sure that Amazon has one of these in the wings, waiting for the right time to announce it…but they need to be careful about waiting too long.

The #2? Also a NOOK (the Simple Touch without the Glowlight).

Interestingly, the Kindle Keyboard outranks the Kindle Touch.

Neither the Touch nor the Keyboard get a “Best Buy” rating…the only Kindle that gets that is the Mindle.

They tested 22 models…but only 14 would they recommend.

I’ll let you read the rest of that…don’t want to take too much away from the list.

By the way, they also list tablets…and in the 7-8 inch, Wi-Fi only category, they have six to recommend…and the Kindle Fire is number 5 (but is a Best Buy). The NOOK tablet is…#6.

If you want to see some local news bantering about this, you can watch this video:

Colorado’s 9News

What do you think? Surprised that the NOOK Simple Touch beats the Kindle Touch? Does Consumer Reports still matter? Is Amazon making a mistake by not getting a front lit reflective screen Kindle out sooner? Is it ethical to get a 14-day free trial if you are sure you aren’t going to subscribe to something? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Google’s Nexus 7 tab: good news for Kindleers

June 28, 2012

Google’s Nexus 7 tab: good news for Kindleers

Google is taking pre-orders for a $199 Android tablet.

Nexus in the Google Play store

Clearly, in some ways, it beats the Kindle Fire. For the same price, you do get a GPS and a front-facing camera. It has Bluetooth and a microphone. It has physical volume buttons. Right now, they also give you a $25 credit at the Google store.

In other ways, it matches the Kindle Fire. Same amount of memory (although I haven’t seen how it is partitioned)…and for $50, you can get 16MB (twice as much). Google Play is expanding, but it already sells music, books, and apps, and they are adding major magazines, and will be selling movies.

It’s a solid, well-respected company that appeals to non-techies. I associate my Android SmartPhone with Google, and so will many other people.

The Kindle for Android app is already available through Google Play. It’s reasonable to assume that Kindle users will be able to read their Kindle books on a Nexus 7.

If a reasonably informed person was deciding which one to get today, a Kindle Fire or a Nexus 7, the Nexus 7 would probably win.

So, why is this good for Kindleers?

All of the above compares the Nexus 7 to the current state of the Kindle Fire…which Amazon is very likely going to change before too long.

You’ll undoubtedly see this referred to as a Kindle Fire killer, but that’s misunderstanding the old saw: “adapt or die”.

Amazon will adapt.

I think they are likely to reduce the price of the current Fire…and to introduce another model that matches the Nexus 7 at the same price.

If the hardware is seen as equivalent, and then it’s seen as Amazon versus Google, Amazon can stay in the ring.

There were already going to be good things coming for us, but I’m sure this ups the ante.

Thanks, Google!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Want more storage for your stuff? The Fire crushes B&N’s tablet

November 7, 2011

Want more storage for your stuff? The Fire crushes B&N’s tablet

Read that headline again, because it’s the opposite of what you’ll hear over the next few days in coverage of the Kindle Fire versus the new NOOK Tablet.

I need to explain this one.

First, the NOOK Tablet has twice the onboard memory as the Fire (16GB versus 8GB). That, though, is just the hardware. That drive has to also hold the operating system, which is understandable.

Amazon says there are 6GB available for user content:

“8GB internal (approximately 6GB available for user content). That’s enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.”

Okay, about 2GBs on the Fire goes for the operating system and such…that’s reasonable.

How about the NOOK Tablet?

B&N says:

“Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store.”

My headline says ‘YOUR stuff” (emphasis added), and that’s the key point.

Amazon gives you 6GB of storage for your content on the Kindle Fire.

Barnes & Noble gives you 1GB.

Fire: six times as much.

Amazon has never reserved onboard memory on a Kindle for Amazon purchased materials, to my knowledge. If you wanted to “sideload” a few audiobooks on there, books from Baen, your own music…you could fill up the memory.

Barnes & Noble is limiting how you use your local “hard drive”…we aren’t talking about the cloud here.

That sounded odd to me, so I asked someone at Barnes & Noble. I chatted with someone…while I was given a human name, I got a lot of canned responses…enough to make me suspect I was speaking with a database, although I don’t know that.

I got the exact same response twice…to two different questions.

Here’s an excerpt from the conversation:

===

13:20:24 : Paul: My name is Paul, Thank you for joining Barnes & Noble chat. How are you doing today? How may I help you?

13:20:30 : : Sure. The new NOOK Tablet says: “Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store.” So, if I have 2GBs of personal files, I can not put them on the NOOK Tablet, correct?

13:20:37 : : Hi, Paul! :)

13:21:06 : Paul: NOOK Tablet has 16GB of built-in memory lets you hold up to 10,000 books. You can add up to 32GB memory to your device with a microSD memory card.

13:21:11 : Paul: The actual formatted capacity may be less. Approximately 13GB available to store content, of which up to 12GB may be reserved for content purchased from the Barnes & Noble NOOK Store.

13:21:39 : : Yes, correct. So that means there is only 1 GB for material not purchased from the NOOK store, right?

13:22:46 : Paul: Yes, for the Personal sideload files.

===

I went on to ask about NOOK cloud storage.

The answer was clear: no personal document storage in the NOOK cloud.

Amazon gives you 5GBs free just for personal document storage for your Kindles.

That makes it 11GB possible for the Kindle, 1GB for the NOOK Tablet for personal documents.

I’d call that “crushing”. ;)

They both appear to give you unlimited cloud storage purchased from their respective stores.

Now, does that make the memory always better for the Fire?

Nope.

If you were going on a cruise, for example, and you were going to be away from wi-fi and a computer for a long time, you might want to carry a lot of information with you…and the NOOK tablet would give you that SD card in addition to the onboard storage.

If you brought a laptop with you, in addition to your Fire, you could sideload from that…using it like that SD card.

That’s nowhere near as convenient, though.

Still, the Kindle Fire gives you more storage for your personal stuff than the NOOK tablet does…but I don’t think you’ll hear that much.

Thanks to Becca for commenting on a previous post and nudging me along, and to D. Andersen in the Amazon Kindle community for bringing up the cruise example.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

October 20, 2011

Kobo introduces the Vox to go head to head with the Fire

Kobo undoubtedly suffered a blow when Borders went under (they were content partners), but they were around before them and they shook up the market today.

They introduced the

Kobo Vox

It’s a color, backlit, 8GB, wi-fi only, 7″ Android tablet…for $199.99.

Sound familiar? ;)

First, let’s get a couple of gut reactions out of the way.

Why would you name a mobile device the Vox (Latin for “voice”) when it isn’t a phone? I know, it’s because it is from Vox Populi, or the voice of the people. That’s what they are promoting…the social aspects.

The other thing is…making it ninety-nine cents more than the Kindle Fire?

The tablet market is so splintered, it’s hard to do direct comparisons…but when people ask which is cheaper, the Fire or the Vox, the answer is the Fire. Why not just price it the same?

Okay, let’s get to the bigger things.

Yes, it will cut into the Fire’s market a bit, in my opinion. Unlike the reflective screen EBR (E-Book Reader) market, I don’t think the tablet market is quite bringing so many more people into it in the same way. That’s not that I don’t think the tablet market is expanding, I do. However, I think EBRs were new purchases in a category…there are still many people buying them who don’t think of them as the same sort of device they’ve had before. I’m not sure that people think of a tablet as a new breed in the same way…I’m not sure they don’t equate it to a little laptop at this point.

However, I do think the Fire will hugely outsell the Vox…and be a better buy.

Why?

Let’s start with the Fire’s Silk browser. This is really innovative in the mainstream. Quick! Why do you want a tablet? I’m guessing that it’s for web on the go on a bigger screen than your SmartPhone.

I do think the Silk browser is going to give us something that makes other people jealous.

Next, there’s the question of cloud storage…they both store your books for you for free…but Amazon also stores your music, movies…even personal documents (up to 5GB) for free, as long as you got them from Amazon.

One of the biggest things: Kobo is a content seller of e-books. Amazon is a content seller of video, music, apps, and more. That’s going to be a huge strength, both in perception and in seamless operation.

Now, some other comparisons:

The Fire is a tad smaller.

The Fire’s battery life seems to me to be a bit better, but it’s hard to tell. Kobo says 7 hours, Fire says 8…but it’s pretty clear, with web browsing, all bets are off.

The Vox will win for some people on the operating system, because it is a more standard Android version, increasing compatibility.

The Kobo does EPUB…I think that’s less of an issue for people now that libraries do Kindle books.

The Kobo has a memory slot for up to 32GB…that’s going to matter for some folks.

My sense of it? Content is king. The Fire will sell more. However, for people who don’t want Amazon (and they must be out there), and for Canadians (Kobo is a Canadian company with connections to Indigo…and in Canada, it appears some e-books have been pulled from Amazon and are available at Indigo), there’s a solid slice of the market for it. It also ships a couple of weeks earlier…October 28. Some people aren’t very patient, I’ve noticed. ;)

You may not have to choose, though…they are giving away ten of them through Halloween:

http://blog.kobobooks.com/kobovoxcontest/

No purchase necessary…of course, you are entered every time a book from them during the contest period. If you don’t want to purchase anything, you can send them a postcard…because nothing says cutting edge technology more than a 4″ by 6″ piece of cardstock. ;)

For more information, see this

Kobo Press Release introducing the Vox

What do you think? Is this competition for the Fire? Does Amazon need to step up the social aspects of Kindle life…maybe leveraging Shelfari…to compete more effectively? Is this another industry footnote, or a real player? Does content matter? Does EPUB matter?

Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Which Kindle should you get (Fall 2011)?

September 29, 2011

Which Kindle should you get (Fall 2011)?

Yesterday, September 28, Amazon introduced several new devices including a tablet with the Kindle name (the Kindle Fire).

That more than doubles the number of choices for people who want to read e-books on Amazon hardware.

While it’s important to note that many of these have not been in the hands of the public yet (so we don’t have user feedback), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has told us to pre-order them…suggesting they some may sell-out during this holiday season.

Since that’s the case, I’m going to give you a profile of each of the Kindle-brand products available new (or for pre-order) from Amazon. Note: these are not all available outside the USA at this time.

All of the Kindles

All Kindles have some things in common. They all come with the what I call the “Kindle Service”. That’s the matrix of services and features Amazon gives all Kindle users…even those people who use free Kindle reading apps on non-Amazon hardware.

  • Amazon stores your Kindle store purchases for you, and you download them again, even to other devices on your account, for free
  • Amazon Allows you to “return” Kindle store books within seven days of purchase for a refund…something neither Barnes & Noble nor Sony allows at any time, last time I checked
  • Amazon has a huge selection of in-copyright titles (averaging about a thousand added a day in the USA), and compatibility with formats that give you access to millions of free public domain titles (including from other sources). There are about 40,000 free books available directly from the Kindle store.
  • You can borrow books from public libraries
  • You get Amazon’s highly-rated Customer Service, which gets great response from their customers, both for people and for policies. For example, you have a thirty-day return period for the Kindle hardware
  • You can get free samples of books
  • You can use Amazon’s free Cloud Reader to read your books in a web browser
  • Amazon backs up your notes and other annotations on Kindle store books*
  • You can use Whispersync to start reading a book on one device and continue it on another device from the same place
  • There is no limit to the number of devices that can be registered to your account (although publishers limit the number of devices for which a book can be licensed at the same time…that number is usually six)

Big Decision #1: Ad-supported or not

All of the Kindles, except the Kindle DX and the Kindle Fire, come in two “flavors”. You can get one (at a discount) that is ad-supported and comes with special offers, or you can get one without advertising.

The ads appear as the sleep mode pictures (“screensavers”) and as a small banner ad on the homescreen where you select the book you want to read…it takes the place of one title. Ads do not appear while you are reading a book. The advertisers presumably  pay Amazon, and Amazon reduces the purchase price of the device for their customers.

When the idea was initially announced, there was a lot of resistance…people didn’t want advertising with their book reading. However, the ad-supported Kindles have been more popular than their non-ad-supported equivalents. When I polled my readers who had bought an ad-supported Kindle

How do you feel about owning your KSO?

no one regretted the decision.

One reason for that is the special offers. Those are often related to books, but could be many different things. People like the special offers: some of my readers reported having saved more than the cost of the device.

Amazon is also adding AmazonLocal to the Kindles with Special Offers, which gives you local discount coupons.

If you don’t want advertising, that’s your choice. Choosing a device with ads/special offers saves you between thirty and fifty dollars, depending on the device.

Big decision #2: 3G or not 3G

There are two ways a Kindle device connects wireleassly to the internet: wi-fi and/or 3G. In the Kindle Touch and Kindle Keyboard lines, you can choose a device that has just wi-fi (for less money) or one that has both wi-fi and 3G.

Adding 3G access makes the device more expensive initially, although there is no monthly charge for using 3G, or for using it to go to websites. 3G is easier to connect: wi-fi often requires a password, and isn’t available in as many places. Connecting with 3G is like using a cellphone…wi-fi is a short range form of wireless. Many people have wi-fi in their homes (they may use it with laptops, SmartPhones, printers, Tivos, Rokus, and so on). Some businesses also offer free wi-fi (like many Starbucks, McDonalds, some restaurants, and so on). You can find free wi-fi hotspots using

http://www.openwifispots.com

Essentially, when you have a choice between wi-fi or wi-fi and 3G, you pay fifty dollars more (currently)initially to have both options, but you are able to connect in more places more easily.

The Kindle ($79 with Special Offers/$109 without)

Kindle

I’m nicknaming this one the “Mindle” (for mini- or minimum- Kindle).

This is the entry-level Kindle for people who want to read e-books. It doesn’t play music or audiobooks (or have text-to-speech). It doesn’t have a keyboard or a touchscreen…if you need to enter a word, you do it with a hunt-and-peck method like you do on your Tivo (thanks to Andrys Basten of A Kindle World for pointing this out). That means “over-over-over-up-up-click, over-over-down-click”, and so on to select letters. You don’t have to type too often on a Kindle, but you use it for search and shopping.

It’s the smallest Kindle (it doesn’t need room for speakers, for one thing). You have access to the Kindle store, including the games which don’t play on the oldest Kindles. It’s grayscale  (not color) like all of the Kindles except the Kindle Fire.

It does have the same web browser as the Kindle 3s, the ability to increase the text size (with the same options as the Kindle 3), and will display your personal documents in a way similar to the Kindle 3s.

This is going to be a good choice for an entry-level device. For people who pretty much just want to read, the same E-Ink screen as the Kindle 3s makes this attractive. It doesn’t have as much on-board memory as the other Kindles, but that’s not a huge factor for many, since Amazon stores your books for you anyway.

It is only available in a wi-fi only configuration. That makes it a bit harder to use for non-techies: they may need help getting it on a home wi-fi network, and it may not be able to download books in a park or at the beach.

I think this is going to be very popular. People who have been saving for a Kindle can go for it. I also think a lot of kids in the 8-11 year old age group will get them. Those kids don’t need color in the way a six-year old might, and more limited web access may even be more attractive to the legal guardians. As a gift for a kid whose a reader (or who you want to encourage to read), this is a good choice.

The Kindle Touch ($99 ad-supported wi-fi only; $139 non-ad-supported wi-fi only; $149 ad-supported 3G and wi-fi; $189 non-ad-supported 3G and wi-fi)

Kinde Touch

Kindle Touch 3G

This is really the new standard Kindle (Amazon calls it the “top-of-the-line e-reader”). It’s the first Kindle with a touchscreen. That appears to add some weight, and may contribute to the lower user-available memory compared to the K3 (3,000 books estimated as opposed to 3,500 with the same size drive).

If you want a full-function, new generation Kindle, this is the line. I use the text-to-speech for hours a week in the car (I’m unusual in that, I think), and that would eliminate the Mindle for me. If you want music and audiobooks (and audiobooks are available from many public libraries), you start here.

If somebody just wants a Kindle, this is the one. It also adds a new feature called “X-Ray”.  It’s supposed to intelligently add information about key phrases in a book. This may be essential for students, say, in high school and college. It’s a little hard to tell until we see it work, but this is really an innovative feature.

I would say for somebody who likes being up-to-date but wants something where they can comfortable read for hours, the Touch is your choice.

The Kindle Keyboard ($99 ad-supported wi-fi only; $139 non-ad-supported wi-fi only; $139 ad-supported 3G and wi-fi; $189 non-ad-supported 3G and wi-fi)

Kindle Keyboard

Kindle Keyboard 3G

This is the rebranded Kindle 3 (the product page tells me I have previously purchased it, confirming that Amazon considers it the same device). The pricing is interesting here, with it basically the same as the Kindle Touch, except that the non-ad-supported wi-fi only model is ten dollars more for a touchscreen. My guess is that may change in the future.

For people who prefer a physical keyboard, this is going to be the choice. That may be more comfortable for people who are less techie. However, this doesn’t have the X-Ray feature that the Touch line has.

I think many people are going to pay $10 more to get the touchscreen (people who use SmartPhones or an iPad are used to those). It looks to me like the K3 covers won’t fit the Touch line (which I really consider the K4…the Mindle and the Fire seem like different lines to me).

I’ll keep my eye on the rankings, but my guess is these take a backseat to the Touch line at the current price points.

Kindle DX ($379, 3G only)

Kindle DX

I was surprised Amazon didn’t retire this one with the reformulation of the line. It’s much more expensive, and doesn’t have the latest software. The plus for it is the size: the screen, at 9.7″, is much bigger. It’s already the least popular Kindle, and has dropped to number 28 in the Electronics bestselling rankings at Amazon. I don’t know how long it can stick around, especially at this price. You could get a Kindle Fire, a Touch, and a Mindle for the same amount of money.

The Kindle Fire ($199, wi-fi only)

Kindle Fire

Since Amazon is calling this a Kindle, I’m going to call it that…but it’s really a very different device from the others.

This is a media delivery system, in my opinion. It’s not just (or primarily) for readers: it’s got movies, TV shows, apps, games, music, the web…and e-books. It’s a backlit device: that means a much shorter battery charge life (measured in hours rather than weeks).

It’s all your entertainment in one place.

It’s not a work device…it’s not designed for you to do your spreadsheet for the quarterly sales, for example.

The fact that it is wi-fi only is going to be a negative.

They don’t list text-to-speech on the product page…hopefully, that will be included.

I’ve ordered one, and I think I’ll enjoy it…but I’ll mostly read on my reflective screen Kindle 3, I think.

I would also expect that Amazon will release another version, with 3G, a camera, and so on within the next year. That one will cost more money, and do more (I’m speculating here), and that one may really fit some of my needs more. This one is for fun…a later version may be more for work.

People are going to compare this to the iPad, but the iPad has more capabilities, and does serve many people as a professional tool…and costs a lot more. At $199, the Kindle Fire is going to be a great choice for fun, easy web access (it even has a brand-new browser Amazon has invented).

I would say, however, you are an early adopter with this one. That doesn’t mean I expect a lot of problems, just that people who get a later one will have more.

No question, though, this is going to be a hot gift this holiday season…I would guess it will sell out. Then, when the next one is released, many people who already bought this one will buy that one…and this will become a (very welcome) hand-me-down.

Comparison table:

Kindle Touch Touch 3g Keyboard Keyboard 3g KDX
Price* 79/109 99/139 149/189 99/139 139/189 379
Release 9/28/11 11/21/11 11/21/11 8/25/10 8/25/10 5/6/09
Screen 6 6 6 6 6 9.7
Height 6.5 6.8 6.8 7.5 7.5 10.4
Width 4.5 4.7 4.7 4.8 4.8 7.2
Depth 0.34 0.4 0.4 0.34 0.34 0.38
Weight 5.98 7.5 7.8 8.5 8.7 18.9
Books 1400 3000 3000 3500 3500 3500
Storage 2gb 4gb 4gb 4gb 4gb 4gb
Available 1.25gb 3gb 3gb 3gb 3gb 3.3gb
Battery 1m 2m 2m 2m 2m 3w
To charge 3h 4h 4h 4.5h 4.5m 4.5h
Adaptor No No No Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
3G No No Yes No Yes Yes
Interface 5-way Touch Touch Keys Keys Keys
X-ray No Yes Yes No No No
TTS No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
MP3s No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

I may revise this post later, but this should give you a pretty good feel for which one would be the right one for you (or for a gift).

If you have any comments, please feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

Aluratek’s Libre eBook Reader Pro

July 17, 2010

Aluratek’s Libre eBook Reader Pro

This is one in a series of posts that compares different EBRs (E-Book Readers).   I have previously listed features of the nook, the Sony, the Kindle, the OpenBook, the eBookwise, the Kobo eReader and the Alex eReader.  You can read those articles here

Borders wants to be the supermarket of EBRs (E-Book Readers).  They keep pushing that they are going to have more than ten choices in their stores by the end of the year. 

If you are going to do that, you want variety.  Ideally, it’s like the characters on Glee: each one needs to be a standout.  ;)

When I was in a Borders recently, they had four models featured: the Kobo; two Sonys (the Touch and the Pocket…at least, I think that’s right); and the Aluratek Libre. 

Well, you probably know something about the Kobo and the Sonys.

What niche does the Libre fill?

It’s the cheap one.  :)

Right now, it’s listed at Borders as a $119.99 pre-order.

That in and of itself is interesting.  At the

Aluratek site

it’s listed at $169.99.

So, is Borders going to get a special deal and selling it for a thirty percent discount?  Or is Aluratek planning to lower the price by August 1st?  Well, I did find it for sale at a number of sites considerably cheaper than $170…down to about $130.

Amazon carries it:

Libre at Amazon

and, at the time of writing, it’s $134.72.

My guess is the latter, but that’s just my intuition. 

Let’s take a look at it as a device.

The Screen

Here’s the key: it’s not an E Ink screen.  I think E Ink is one of the things that made the Kindle a success.  Many people prefer reading on a “reflective” screen, like the Kindle, rather than a backlit screen.

Borders ad for it says this:

Exclusive Reflective Light LCD Screen Technology
The Screen looks like real paper, is easy on the eyes,
and there’s no flashing or flickering.”

Honestly, I don’t know what that means.  How can it be reflective and backlit? Oh, I found something…it’s NOT backlit.  That’s a big plus.   I’m going to have to see one, but I did find a couple of videos…and it looks fine in them:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2WoVRsap9Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_emtSU6QsQ

I’d have to see it in bright light, though, like sunlight. 

All of the descriptions seem similar to VizPlex’s E Ink (including 24 hours of reading on a single charge)…except that page turns don’t flicker.  It doesn’t look like E Ink, exactly…it seems, though, like it would be okay for reading.

It’s also worth noting that this is a five-inch screen, rather than the six inch on the Kindle and NOOK.  It does switch to landscape with a button, and that’s how the show it in use at the Aluratek site.

The Books

This device is going to run Borders ebook reader app, which means you have access to Borders e-book store.  For in-copyright books, that’s nowhere near Amazon at this point, but they do have the popular titles (what I call “People Magazine books”), and lots of freebies public domain freebies directly available.

It comes with 100 classics loaded on the included 2GB SD card.  I don’t find pre-loaded books particularly attractive: give me the choices, and I’ll make them myself…but that’s going to appeal to non-techies.  You could give it to somebody on a plane heading off to the South American jungle, and be covered for months of reading.

What about books from other sources?

According to

Aluratek’s FAQs

it supports EPUB and PDFs.  That includes ones with Digital Rights Management (DRM) using  Adobe Digital Editions.  PDFs with passwords can not be opened.  You can get books from Kobobooks.com. 

How easy is it to use?

I’ve watched a pretty thorough video, and while it has a ton of buttons (compared to a Kindle or a NOOK), it does seem pretty simple.  I liked the organization for music, photos, and e-books.  Changing text size was easy, and they actually showed you point sizes (up to 32, by the way, which is quite big).

I found a lot more details at

Tiger Direct

They say it supports txt and mobi (although Aluratek points out that it doesn’t do the PIDs ((Personal Identities)) required for secure mobi), that it has a lithium-ion battery (like the Kindle), and a list of the free books (the usual suspects, and a pretty good collection).  29 reviews on that site average 3.5 out of 5, which is not bad. 

It has some other unusual features: it’s waterproof (so you can be Gene Kelly “reeeaaaading in the rain”) ;) , and supports animated gifs.  It also has a year warranty.  Oh, and they have a menu entry for autoturn…that’s an especially good thing for people with debilititating conditions (like muscular dystrophy).  It comes in a black casing, as well as a white one.

My overall impression is that this may be an excellent device for a casual reader who is comfortable with computers.  The Kindle store has a lot more in-copyright books, and the wireless on the Kindle is a considerable advantage.  I don’t think this is an equivalent device, but it might not be a bad way to go for somebody who reads, say, ten or twenty new releases a year, or who reads public domain freebies.  I’d like to know more about consumer experience and support (the manual isn’t online at this point, although there is a page for it).  It concerns me that I haven’t found much of a company history, but since the books aren’t in a proprietary format, you could hypothetically take them to some other devices (that use ADE) if the company went under…not a Kindle currently, though.

Official Site

Do you have a Libre or experience with one?  I’d love to hear from you…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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