Up for air…casual talk about the new Kindle line

Up for air…casual talk about the new Kindle line

Yesterday was a crazy day! It was an intense day at work, and we had a family situation that required attention.

Still, I’ve had time since then (hello, 4:30 in the morning!) to do some analysis and deeper digging on the new Amazon line. I just sent out a post that compares the different models.

I just wanted to take a few minutes before I head out to just talk about it a bit…without all the facts and figures. I haven’t had a chance to respond to all the comments, and I hope to do that later today…I always appreciate them, but this may help answer some questions in the mean time.

I was pretty happy that my predictions weren’t that far off…although I overestimated the prices (I’m happy to make that mistake any time). Some people were laughing at me, I think, for saying that Amazon would probably reassert their faith in the E Ink Kindle line, while introducing a backlit Kindle. My predictions aren’t always right (I thought publishers would embrace text-to-speech), and I usually present them more as scenarios…still I was in the ballpark.

What have I ordered?

I pre-ordered a Kindle Fire (with one day shipping). That’s the $199 tablet…and I do think it’s a “starter model”. I’m guessing I’ll buy the next model of Kindle tablet as well. Still, it sounds like fun, and I want to write about it for you.

I also decided today to get the Kindle Touch wi-fi only with Special Offers for $99 (again, with one-day shipping). Β I really consider the Kindle Touch line the Kindle 4s. I’m intrigued by the “X-Ray” feature (which gives in-depth information about the topics in a book), and I can’t test that out without using it on books I’m actually reading. I want to write about that one, too. I haven’t had a wi-fi only device personally, and I haven’t had a Special Offers (my Significant Other does). My SO doesn’t connect to wireless that often on the Kindle, and we simply miss a lot of the special offers. If I have that, we can hopefully pay for the purchase of the Kindle Touch with savings. πŸ™‚

Speaking of the money, I really wish the California Associates program had been restored by yesterday….a lot of people (including me) probably lost quite a bit of money by not being able to use those kinds of links. I still linked, of course, because I’m going to send you to Amazon to look at these devices (if you want) regardless. Still, the compensation would have been nice. πŸ™‚ There’s a prediction where I was wrong…I thought they might have restored the California Associates before the announcements.

They have posted the User’s Guides for some of the models, but not for the Fire yet. They are linking them on the product pages, which is nice. They also have videos for all of them, I think…you’ll see it called a “Quick Tour” at the top of the page.

I do have some questions…

Will the Kindle Fire have text-to-speech? I would hope so.

The product page for the Kindle Keyboard (the Kindle Formerly Known as the Kindle 3…with apologies to Prince) says:

“Your personal documents will be stored in your Kindle library on Amazon and ready to download conveniently anywhere at any time. You can add notes, highlights and bookmarks, which are automatically synchronized across devices along with the last page you read using our Whispersync technology.”

That would be new and a really big change. They never backed up our personal documents before. I wanted to see how that would work…how do they get to the Archives? Does it only happen when we e-mail a document to the device? i assume it’s not going to periodically survey my Kindle to see what’s on it! I checked the User’s Guide…it contradicts that, still saying:

“Amazon does not store copies of your personal documents, periodical issues older than the past seven issues, MP3, and Audible files, so make your own backup copies of those files”

I’m guessing they may have put that on the product page before it was really supposed to be there…I’ll be looking for more information on that.

Some of the new Kindles do not come with power adapters (what you plug into the wall): they can only be charged via USB…unless you buy another adapter. The obvious question for me: does the same Kindle adapter I already have for my K3 work on all these new devices?

When will they release a 3G version of the Fire, and how will data plans work?

When will the new devices be available in other countries?

We can already see a change in the Amazon electronics bestseller list…I think it will settle down to something like:


The Mindle*

Touch wi-fi ad-supported

Touch 3g ad-supported

Keyboard wi-fi ad-supported

Keyboard 3G ad-supported

Touch wi-fi non-ad-supported

Touch 3g non-ad-supported

Keyboard wi-fi non-ad-supported

Keyboard 3G non-ad-supported

DX (which I’m guessing they’ll retire soon)

I’m not quite sure if ad-supported or touchscreen will be more important to people…that might shuffle these.

Overall? Amazon blew it out of the water…they are now a more diversified hardware company. They kept the keyboard and ad-free options, and did both reflective and backlit.

Oh, and the Fire…not an iPad killer. πŸ™‚ There’s a lot of room in the market…

Feel free to let me know what you think. I’ll try to catch up on the comments later today. I’ll also try to get a post in about something else before tomorrow morning. πŸ™‚

* Thanks to regular reader and commenter Tuxgirl for pointing out that I’d left the Mindle off this list. It’s actually a tough call for me. I can see it beating the Fire in unit sales…that would be a headline, huh? πŸ™‚ I see it really extending the market, especially with those near teens. People will probably think of the Touch line as the Kindle, and the Fire as the superstar…but in a less splashy way, I think we may see a lot of Mindles sold this year.

This post by Bufo Calvin appeared in theΒ I Love My Kindle blog.Β 

30 Responses to “Up for air…casual talk about the new Kindle line”

  1. A Year of Reading My Own Books Blog Says:

    Hi Bufo: Thanks for all your hard, early morning work! When you do get your tablet, I think you will begin to wonder how you ever got by without one… I’ve had an ipad for a year (I don’t plan to buy a fire) and use it more than any other device… Kathy

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kathy!

      I think that assessment will be true if I can really type (or use speech-to-text) effectively on it. If I can do the blog and work on other writing on it, great! I’ll also see how the wi-fi only element limits its use. I’m looking forward to finding out, though! πŸ™‚

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    This is a little off topic but as I learned over at mobileread this morning (and as we have suspected) they’ve added a few things to the Manage Your Kindle page, in particular options for ‘Personal Document’ archiving (using Amazon Cloud Drive). You can probably upload directly, but also things you send to Kindle address get archived automatically. How cool is that?


    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Not off topic: I wrote about it in the post you commented. πŸ™‚ I haven’t had a chance to chec


      yet, but I will. I’d also found something about it in the source code, whch I mentioned in an earlier post. We don’t have Prime E-Books yet, though, and that was in the source code, too.

      I agree: cool!

      • Tom Semple Says:

        Maybe this is what the 3.3 update is all about. My (newly renamed) ‘Kindle Keyboard’ stubbornly refuses to update itself, however.

        It’s kind of sad that none of the new Kindles have microphones. Voice navigation would be such a boon to ‘touch-less reading’, and sharing of voice annotations would be fun as well.

  3. tuxgirl Says:

    I don’t see the base kindle in your prediction for sales rank. I expect that to do reasonably well, despite the fact that I know I couldn’t handle using the 5-way to type… πŸ™‚ 79$ is a pretty good price, and if my daughter was reading (not quite 2 yet), and I didn’t still have a K1, I would buy it for her.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tuxgirl!

      You’re right…I left the Mindle out. I’m going to put that one in…that’s a tougher call. I’ll present a possible scenario right now….that the Mindle outsells the Fire in unit sales…I think that might happen. The Mindle market is somewhat of a new one….there’s a lot of expansion room there. I expect the Fire to sell very well…but some people may hold off for the next gen. Lots of Mindles for kids this season, though, I think. I think I’lll rank it second but we’ll see.

      I appreciate you pointing that out…hectic, as you know. I know I have another commet of yours to which I want to respond (about periodical back issues)….it’s still on my mental list. πŸ™‚

  4. D. Knight Says:

    Hi, Bufo! Good job on keeping us up-to-date!

    I think I can answer this:
    “The obvious question for me: does the same Kindle adapter I already have for my K3 work on all these new devices?”

    Yes. How do I know?
    1. The Kindle charging cord is standard USB on one end and standard USB micro-B on the other. Since the adapter for K3(KB) is standard USB, it will work.
    2. (more convincingly) If you follow the link in the “Add Kindle Accessories” section, it takes you to the existing, already in-stock, Kindle adapter.

    Will it work for Fire? That’s less certain, since the Fire may need more power than this adapter supplies. Anybody know the answer to this one?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.!

      I appreciate that. That was my guess, but I haven’t had a chance to check. πŸ™‚ I don’t think we have the data on the Fire yet…no User’s Guide has been released.

  5. JeannieBench Says:

    My dream Kindle would be a tablet with both wi-fi and Whispernet. Think that’s even a possibility?

  6. Tom Semple Says:

    None of the new Kindles have physical keyboards, and even the one with buttons has no English labels, so I think we’ll see localized editions (German, French, Spanish, Portuguese) available soon, since the hardware is finally language-agnostic. Even better would be to be able to select language as a preference (as Sony allows).

  7. Tom Semple Says:

    I’ve seen no mention of the fate Active Content on the new Kindles (Kindle Fire has its own rich set of Android apps). I have to assume none of the existing AC apps will work with Touch, and maybe not ‘Kindle’. Will there be new ones for Touch? Will there be new ones for previous generation?

    I don’t consider this any great deficiency, but am just curious.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Interesting question! I just assumed that the same games would play on the Touch, but of course, they’d have to have different input maps and instructions. I checked: I can send books to my Kindle Touch but not Active Content I already own. Also, I checked an Active Content title in the Kindle store: it didn’t list the Touch as an eligible device.

      When you look at the Kindle comparison information at Amazon, though, all of the current devices list “games” as one of the things available to them. Hmm…the KDX says that, too, though.

      Might be another wait and see…oh, wait! It says this on the Touch product page:

      Take a break from reading to enjoy a selection of great games specially designed for Kindle, like Every Word and Number Slide.”

      You are right that it might not be the same version, though.

  8. Liz Says:

    Let me add my thanks to all the above ones: I’ve been thinking of adding a new Kindle to my menagerie, but I held off, thanks to your good info on upcoming releases. I can really say that $0.99 per month was well spent! πŸ™‚

    I ordered the Fire (of course), and am eagerly awaiting mid-November to try it out. Due to the Fire’s nice price-point, I’ll probably add the Fire 2.0 to my collection when it comes out. I looked at the info page, and although it has a micro-B USB connector, it comes with a power adapter. So I guess it probably needs more juice to recharge than the e-ink Kindles (makes sense).

    I decided to get the “Mindle” (or as I call it, my baby Kindle) for extra portability while reading and travelling. I don’t do a lot of annotating, so I hope the lack of keyboard won’t be a problem. I’ll be getting it tomorrow, so I’ll check the game action on it and report back, if you’d like. Since you won’t be getting a Mindle, let us new Mindle owners know if you need something checked.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Liz!

      Thanks for the thanks. πŸ™‚

      I’d love to hear your general impressions of the Mindle. In particular, I’m curious about how it feels to enter a search term…I know you said you don’t annotate much, but I’d appreciate you trying out the keyboard once. πŸ™‚

  9. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I too had guessed that they would refresh the e-ink kindles — with touch even. I also thought they would do a KDX with wifi and a much reduced price (got that wrong). I ordered a KFire — it will ship nov 15. I’m thinking I’ll also get a Ktouch w SO just to play around with the touch, and see how annoying the SO ads are. Also realized I probably want to get a KFire case.

    I will definitely get the large screen KFire if/when it comes out — wonder what they’ll call it? KFire2 (boring), KFire X (or DX), or maybe we should just go with something like the Kindle BonFire :-D.

    Typing is not my thing so from now on abbreviations: KF, KT, KT3G, KK, KK3G – tack on an SO if relevant, and last (but not least) just K for the $79 guy.

    On the Amazon main page (Friday 12:50 am) KF is most popular ffollowed by KK3GSO, then KKSO, KTSO, KSO, KT3GSO, KDX3G brings up the rear — so far consumers seem to be voting for keyboards (of course I don’t know how much this reflects historical absence of touch models).

    Based on my reading of what’s offered for sale, I did not see any KT models without SO — only KK models were offered w/o SO. If true, that’s a subtlty that wasn’t made clear yesterday. I thought someone had said you could get KT’s w/o SO for a higher price??

  10. Roger Knights Says:

    DX (which I’m guessing they’ll retire soon)

    Maybe there’ll be a half-price, or less, clearance sale then.

    One thing Amazon left out was the Kiddle–a kid-hardened version, with better parental controls. This is a hole in the company’s line that Abhi harps on.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Yep…that DX sale might come on Black Friday, for example. They could also do it through wOOt, or through a Special Offer…the latter would be an interesting move.

      I don’t harp on a kid friendly kindle, but I’ve written about it. I wonder if they are waiting for a technology improvement for color? I’ve written before that they had essentially ceded the kids’ e-book market to the NOOK: they are after that with in a serious way with the Fire…they call it out twice (with a picture) on the product page. One listing says:

      “Kindle Fire is great for parents and kids. Stir your child’s imagination with over 1000 beautifully-illustrated children’s books, including favorites like Brown Bear, Curious George, and Circus Ship.”

      They also showing this:

      “Extra Durable Display

      Our state-of-the art Kindle Fire display is chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, making it extra durable and resistant to accidental bumps and scrapes:”

      So, perhaps this is the “Kiddle”.

  11. Edward Boyhan Says:

    my point was not with your table but that when I go to Amazon and search to buy a kindle touch, a kindle touch w/o SO des not seem to be offered for sale (at least I couldn’t find it on Amazon).

  12. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I didn’t dig into this very deeply (It was late after midnight), but what was interesting is that if you search for “kindle” from the main Amazon.com page, you are NOT given any non-SO choices other than for the already-existing (albeit renamed) older kindles. With all of the gnashing of teeth about Google possibly “cooking” its search results (and there are starting to be rumblings among FTC types that Amazon also is engaging in “unfair” practices), this example could provide them with some fodder — it’s certainly not necessarily the most consumer-friendly approach

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I don’t think it’s possible to get to the KindleTouch without being given the choice of options. I’m not seeing the concern.

      There aren’t two separate pages, and they are directing you to one. There is only one page…and then you choose which option you want. The default option on the Touch is the less expensive, more popular choice (based on the previous rankings for the KSOs). That doesn’t seem like a consumer problem to me.

  13. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Consumer advocates have become very sensitive to what and how search engines present their results ( witness Google –we even had Eric Schmidt being grilled in congress last week on this very issue. I don’t have a problem with Amazon’s approach, but if I were a consumer advocate (in a way I am but not the FTC-loving kind πŸ˜‰ ), I might say that by only presenting a SO option in the search results, I’m giving “preference” to that choice, and the consumer making the SO choice might redound more to Amazon’s benefit (financially) than to the consumer’s. In DC logic doesn’t always play the way you and I might see things.

    If you expect evil behaviour, you tend to see it everywhere.

  14. Liz Says:

    Well, I received my baby Kindle/Mindle/Kiddle today and I really like it. Except, of course, for the difficulty in typing in stuff. Navigating the onscreen keyboard is basically like you described (DVR-like); the keyboard pops up when you hit the special keyboard button, and ranges from 1-0 plus characters on the top line; a-n on the next; o-z and \ / on the third; then arrows, quotes, @, space, enter, and done on the last. The “a” is highlighted when the keyboard pops up.

    I knew that the keyboard would be slightly annoying before purchasing. My main beef with it is that it doesn’t automatically come up when I go to menu … create a new collection. Yep, I have to then press on the keyboard button. Silly Kindle – of course I want the keyboard; how else am I going to enter that text? However, if I hit the keyboard button in my home page or in the Kindle store, it does figure out I want to do a search, so that’s similar to the “keyboard Kindle”. It’s just s-l-o-w.

    I haven’t been able to load any games/apps that weren’t developed by Amazon Digital Services (except Jewel, for some reason) – when I’m on the order page for an app/game on my computer, my baby Kindle’s name is greyed out. I contacted Amazon customer service via chat, and the nice man is going to enter a ticket on my behalf to figure out why it doesn’t work.

    However, since I bought my Mindle primarily for reading books, I’m quite happy with my purchase, as it’s extremely light and small. The display is very crisp and legible in low light. And the cost is perfect for a “spare” Kindle that I wanted.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Liz!

      Thanks also for that great field report!

      One more question, if you don’t mind…what are the first five characters (only) of your serial number? That’s how we’ve been able to identify Kindle models in the past:

      B001 = Kindle 1
      B002 = Kindle 2 US
      B003 = Kindle 2 International
      B004 = Kinde DX US
      B005 = Kindle DX International
      B006 = Kindle 3 wi-fi and 3G
      B008 = Kindle 3 wi-fi only
      B009 = Kindle DX Graphite
      B00A = Kindle 3 wi-fi and 3G for European customers
      Kindle 3 with Special Offers (not known yet)

      It’s possible B00A takes the place of B007 in the sequence.

  15. Liz Says:

    It’s B00E

  16. D. Knight Says:

    Hi, Bufo,

    I have a Kindle 3 wi-fi and 3G with Special Offers, and its first four are B006 (same as without Special Offers given above).


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