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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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August 2014
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Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: New on the Kindle Fire and Fire HD

Amazon has launched a new service for Kindle Fire and Fire HD owners called Kindle FreeTime Unlimited.  This is an extension of the Kindle Fire feature, Kindle FreeTime, which allows parents to activate parental controls and set time limits on their child’s screen activity.

This service, designed for ages 3-8, provides a pre-sorted selection of TV shows and games from big names such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Marvel, Sesame Street, and more.  Amazon has built up a robust collection of apps and TV shows in their appstore and video library.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is a monthly service.  For Prime members it is $2.99 a month for one child, or $6.99 a month for the whole family.  For non Prime members it is just a few dollars more a month.  New Kindle Fire owners get one month for free.

Since the internet is so easily available these days, it is tough to monitor what kids watch or do online.  Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is age-appropriate from the get-go, so there’s no need to worry about your child coming across something they aren’t supposed to be watching.  Individual profiles can also be set up so that every member of the family can have their own content on the same device.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited will download as part of an upcoming over-the-air Kindle Fire software update.  The best part about the unlimited service is that there’s no need to worry about accidental in-app downloads to run up the monthly bill.  But at the same time, the parents still have the ability to set time limits using the original Kindle FreeTime features.

So, if you have the new Kindle Fire or Fire HD, keep an eye out for this new feature coming out soon. This is something that can be both fun and educational for the whole family to enjoy.

 

Tablets Help Visually Impaired Readers Read More Quickly

Before e readers and tablets came around, blind and visually impaired readers had to rely on braille, large-print, or audiobooks.  Now, the visually impaired can use a Kindle or other e-reader or tablet to enlarge the font right in the screen.  I can attest first-hand that reading a Kindle is much less tiresome on the eyes than reading print books.

That is definitely a huge step up from lugging large books around.  No more bulky travel bags.

The font adjustments in the Kindle are very helpful for creating a less tiresome reading experience, not only for the visually impaired, but for people who don’t have any vision loss.  That in turn enables us to read for as long as we want to.  As long as time permits, of course.

The latest studies show that people who have central vision loss can benefit from reading on a tablet such as the iPad or Kindle Fire.  The level of contrast between the text and background helps speed up the reader’s reading levels.  The sharpness and clarity of the text on the background is important.  On tablets, you can use either black on white, or white on black.  There is also a more neutral setting that doesn’t create such sharp contrast.  So, the added customization can fit the needs of more readers.

Overall, e readers have a lot of potential for opening up a world of reading and literacy for people who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity.

With that said, the technology still has a ways to go to meet the needs of all readers.  Text-to-speech is currently a controversial service, and isn’t offered on some Kindles.  Including audio menu navigation and the ability to read books via audio on the Kindle go a long way for those who can’t read print at all.

 

Windows 8 Kindle App Now Available

Wow, Amazon moved fast. Microsoft released it’s newest Windows OS, Windows 8, on Friday, and Amazon has already added a new Kindle app to go along with it.  It is currently available in the Kindle Store along with the other Kindle apps, including one for Windows 7.

Windows 8 features a new “metro” style operating system that is suitable for both tablet and PC use.  The traditional start button no longer exists.  The programs are displayed right on the screen and are called apps.  The design is geared towards touchscreens, but can be accessed with the keyboard and mouse.

Considering how much people don’t like change, it will be interesting to see how well this new OS fares in the market.  The 10″ inch Microsoft Surface tablet is one to watch as it enters the increasingly crowded tablet market.

Amazon says that the Windows 8 Kindle app is available on “any Windows 8 device.”  So I am assuming this means both the Surface Tablet and PC versions.

Kindle apps are available on for both PC and Mac, tablets such as the iPad and Android, and popular smartphones including the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7.

These apps are quite handy.  Even if you don’t own a physical Kindle, you can still download these apps for free and purchase Kindle books.  You take your reading from your Kindle to other devices without losing your place or bookmarks.  It saves having to lug several devices around while you travel.  It is quite convenient to sneak a chapter or two on my phone during lunch breaks.

Te only drawback I’ve seen is te Kindle Owner’s Lending Library books.  I can’t download these books to any other devices besides my actual Kindle.  I guess that isn’t surprising since it intended for Kindle owners only.

Well, there is definitely no shortage of reading options.  It will be interesting to see how the competition heats up this holiday season.

The Halloween Plan by Claire Saguy

It used to be that publishing a book was a feat only achieved by the select few, and it was restricted to major publishing houses.

Ebooks have completely shifted the way we think of publishing. Anyone who can write and has some technology knowledge can publish via Kindle Direct Publishing.

Now, we can take it even further, and open up the publishing process to children.  A child’s dream to be a writer can be a reality.

The Halloween Plan is a short story written by 10-year-old Claire Saguy, an avid Kindle reader and aspiring writer who is raising money for her school in Los Angeles.  Schools are facing funding cuts all over the country.  What a neat way to give back to her school and community.

The plot is a dilemma we all know well.  Sarah, a 5th grader, has to go to her younger sister’s Halloween show, but would much rather go to her friend’s birthday party instead.  Sarah and her friends team up to come up with a plan that will allow Sarah to come to the party without her mom knowing.  The plan takes some twists and turns that could go either way.

The Halloween Plan teaches a lesson on the importance of honesty and good communication.  It is a quick read, and the writing is quite good.

A great short story for all ages, and just in time for Halloween.  Hopefully Claire’s example will help encourage other kids hoping to become writers to publish their own ebooks as well.  The lure of technology could be a great boost for literacy.

This generation of children are pretty tech savvy. There are a number of children’s books on the Kindle, some with interactive content sure to make the story more fun and engaging.

 

 

 

Can the iPad Mini Give the Kindle Fire a Run for its Money?

In Steve Jobs’ biography, he repeatedly stressed the importance of creating fewer, top of the line products, rather than a slew of mediocre ones.  Apple has always thrived on branding and staying ahead of the game.

It surprised me that the iPad Mini is not only real, but it is named exactly what rumors called it.  Is Apple getting too predictable?  Now we have a big variety of sizes for tablets and smartphones in the Apple lineup.  Most people can reconcile having both an iPad and an iPhone, but can you do that for the iPad Mini and the iPhone?

I don’t see it taking the hold of the 7″ tablet market like the original 10″ iPad currently has on the larger tablet market.  Obviously, price is one factor.  The iPad mini is $329, whereas the Kindle Fire HD, Nook Tablet, and Nexus 7 are all $199.  So, they will attract different types of consumers.

For thee moment, I don’t think the Kindle Fire HD has too much to worry about from that end.  The Nexus 7 is proving to be a solid competitor, but competition is good because it make the devices strive to get better and better with each generation.

It used to be that the major tech giants excelled in different areas.  Google held the monopoly on search engines, Amazon was the pioneer for ebooks, Microsoft reigned over the PC market, and Apple took control over computers, and later music.

Now, they’re all trying to one up each other by creating competing products.  This can be quite overwhelming for the consumer!  Maybe it is best to just let them duul it out, and see what the winners are.

As far as choices go, longevity is a good thing to consider.  The Kindle Fire is in its second generation, and has ironed out some issues that the first generation had. The new Kindle Fire family includes better display, better designed hardware, and a camera.  Amazon also has a good sized marketplace with a free app every day.

For the 10″ inch tablets, the iPad still dominates that market, and has had a couple of years to improve.  Apple of course has a huge appstore, and includes a number of business apps.

Only time will tell what the winners will be in the tablet market.  It is sure to be a wild ride.

Kindle Paperwhite Getting Great Reviews So Far

The Kindle Paperwhite is reclaiming the top of the e-ink reader market with positive early reviews.

The Kindle Paperwhite is Amazon’s newest generation Kindle that includes front-lit lighting designed to enable readers to read at night, or in darker settings without eyestrain.

Notable improvements over predecessors

The e-ink quality is better, leading to sharper text and images.

The screen is designed to create a reading experience closer to that of reading print books.  This was the original goal when Amazon first developed the Kindle.  The touch screen isn’t as  sensitive.  The Kindle Touch would skip chapters or pages sometimes if I so much as breathed on it.

The device itself is smaller, more streamlined, and includes a grip back cover similar to the Kindle Fire.

Then, last but not least, there is the built in light, designed to spread evenly across the screen and give off a cool ambiance that does not hurt the eyes.

The Audio Controversy

Not including audio is mostly an author or publisher issue.  It knocks out consumers who rely on audio to read.  For example, readers who are blind, or others who just prefer audiobooks over text-based books.

While it isn’t an issue with the majority of readers, including audio is a good feature to work on for future software updates or Kindle generations if Amazon really wants to reach out to the broadest audience possible.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about the Kindle Paperwhite

C.E. McConnell

“I’ve been very impressed with my new Kindle. The screen and light are absolutely gorgeous and the page turns are much faster than my old Kindle Touch. Although I know that it isn’t heavier than the last version it someone feels more substantial and solid than the older version. I am a little disappointed1111111111111 that they took away audio capabilities, but I rarely used that anyway. Overall a fantastic upgrade that I know will keep me reading!”

 Vivek Chaudhary

“Its amazing. It actually looks like a real white paper with black ink text. I have used Sony eBook reader, nook touch and older kindles in the past, but the dull gray screen was something which always made eBooks inferior to a real paper book. No more. In my opinion, this is a quantum leap!”

 

 

Kindle Paperwhite thoughts

Out of this year’s Kindle lineup, I am the most excited about the Kindle Paperwhite.

Other than the light, it looks just like the traditional e-ink Kindle that is compact and easy to carry around in your purse or bag.

The front-lit screen is the major draw for me.  I am a voracious reader, and often wish I could read my Kindle in situations where it is dark, like night time car rides, etc.

It will be interesting to see how this new lighted Kindle will impact the book lights that are currently out on the market.  My best guess is that they’ll hold their own for awhile since so many people still own the older models or the basic Kindle.

The other major reason is a much needed upgrade for the touchscreen technology.  The Kindle Touch had issues with trails from previous pages.  The text is crisp, but it could use a tune up.

A few more notable features include:

  • Two month battery life even with the light, which is impressive considering most LCD tablets and phones are battery hogs
  • Time to read feature that measures your reading speed and lets you know when you’ll finish reading a chapter
  • Better pixel resolution and sharper contrast
  • New, hand-tuned fonts

The complete list of features can be found on Amazon.  The Kindle Paperwhite comes with or without Special Offers.  It also comes in a 3G or Wi-Fi only model.

After light, there is only one major upgrade: color.  At least, that we can think of.  Technology changes almost daily.  Next year perhaps?  I would like to see a tablet that can use both LCD and e-ink, or something that fulfills the purposes of each.  That way, I wouldn’t have to tote a bunch of difference devices around.

The Kindle Paperwhite ships October 22nd just in time for the holiday shopping season and should give the Nook Glowlight a run for its money.

SlideFrame for Kindle Fire

Burlap SlideFrameThere is a cool new accessory for the Kindle Fire and other tablets called SlideFrame.

SlideFrame is handcrafted by the founders of SlideWare studios, which is based in California.  The company was founded in January 2012 by two Stanford students who are veterans in the tech industry.

It looks a lot like those digital frames you slide your digital camera card into that creates a slideshow of pictures.  Those frames don’t have much variety as far as frame style goes, however.  The tablet uses its own memory while in the SlideFrame, so you aren’t limited to 2GB of memory that comes with many of the digital frames.

Technology overall has been designed for function, and form that fits the needs of the function.  Most companies create gadgets that are sleek, but include features that enhance the device’s use.  The case that surrounds the Kindle Fire is easy to grip, for example.  So, aesthetics get thrown to the wayside, and it is up to accessories to make the devices “prettier.”

Tablets sales are catching up quickly with PC sales, but they have a few limitations still.  Since tablets don’t include a slot to upload pictures, there’s not really a good way to showcase the pictures in a way that others can see them without actually emailing or sharing them via the internet.

The frames come in bamboo and wood, giving them a more homey feel than the aluminum or plastic that surrounds electronics.  Just be careful about the battery life!  The additional styles give the SlideFrame a leg up over the traditional digital frames.

SlideFrame comes in sizes that fit both 7″ and 10″ tablets, as well as other sizes, so it should still work with the new Kindle Fire regardless of the size .

So, overall, SlideFrame is a neat idea, and I hope more effort will be made to provide accessories that serve both aesthetic and functional purposes.

 

 

 

Angry Lines Kindle Game

angry lines game coverAngry Lines is a bird-matching game for the e-ink Kindles.  Once upon a time, there were flocks of happy birds living together on a tropical island.  A storm came and scattered them all.  After being separated, the birds got angry, hence the name Angry Lines.

All the player has to do is match up two identical birds: eagles, owls, parrots, and more, in order to advance to the next level.  That sounds simple, until you actually sit down and play the game.

Angry Lines gets challenging pretty quickly.  Not only do you have to match the birds, you have to find a way around the other birds to get to the correct match.  The game is set up like a grid.  As long as there aren’t any birds blocking your path, you can move your bird towards its match both vertically and horizontally.

The graphics are crisp and easy to see.  The birds definitely look angry!  The different kinds of birds are easy to distinguish, but finding matches that are not already paired up adds a new twist.

On the Kindle Touch, you select the bird you want to move, then tap the spot that you want to move it to, then tap that spot again.  It is a bit tedious, but I think it is more straightforward than trying to drag the birds around in one swoop.  The Kindle Touch doesn’t always handle swiping very well.

On the other e-ink Kindles, you can use your toggle button to move the bird to the intended spot. It is a good fit for the simplistic e-ink Kindle platform because it doesn’t require too much action other than maneuvering around.

If you are looking for an inexpensive strategic thinking game that is fun for all ages, Angry Lines is a great one to try.

New Kindle Lineup to Debut September 6?

Amazon has a big media even scheduled for September 6th.  Speculation points to the debut of this year’s Kindle refresh.  The new lineup could include a larger Kindle Fire, and updated version of the current model, and backlit e-ink Kindles.

The Kindle Fire has some serious competition now from Google’s Nexus 7,  the rumored iPad Mini, and the Nook Color and Nook Tablet.  One of the keys to the Kindle Fire’s success last year was price, and the competitors have recognized that.  So, what will be this year’s big idea that will cause the Fire to leapfrog over its competitors?

A larger Kindle Fire can undercut the iPad in price, and Amazon has the means to make a good quality tablet.  We’ve seen a lot of attempts to dethrone the iPad, but no one has really come close, yet.

Amazon has a robust collection of books, apps and videos, plus the Prime perks, Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, Prime Instant Video, and a free app a day from the appstore.  Good covers could be key: one with a keyboard built in, or one that can help boost battery life.

Moving on to the e-ink Kindles.  The biggest upgrade this year will be the backlight.  This is pretty much a given because of the release of the backlit Nook earlier this year.  I am really excited about this development because I will be able to read comfortably in all lighting conditions.  No need to worry about carrying around external light attachments.  Preserving the long lasting battery life will pose a challenge, however.

The Kindle Touch is currently available to purchase from Amazon directly.  So, that is a clue that something new is coming.  The Kindle Touch should see an update in touch interface quality.  By that I mean smoother navigation and page turns without previous page remnants.

So, the lineup should look like this:

Kindle Fire: 7 inch and 10 inch models, which older version at reduced price

E-ink Kindles: Lighted version of the Kindle Touch and basic model.

Older models: Selling at a reduced price until inventory runs out.

There will most likely be 3G and wi-fi only options, as well as models with or without special offers. This lineup should appeal to the broadest audience possible, remain competitive across the board price wise, and stay on top of the competition in terms of features and accessories.

Stay tuned.  It will be a wild couple of weeks.

 

 

Hunger Games Trilogy Named Best Selling Series of All Time on Amazon

Hunger Games Book 1Suzanne Collins’s mega bestselling series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is now the bestselling series of all time on Amazon.  This series has even beaten Harry Potter.  All three books are available in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library to to check out for free.  For those who aren’t Prime members, all of the books run about $5 each.

The trilogy takes place in post-war United States.  The new country is called Panem, and is composed of 12 districts that each provide different goods for the Capitol.  District 13 was supposedly destroyed when the Capitol took control.  The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen and her family live in District 12, the smallest and poorest district.

The Hunger Games is a lot like the Olympics, except that it is a group of teenagers who are put in an arena.  The 24 young tributes fight to the death until there is one remaining victor.

The Hunger Games

The first book in the dystopian series introduces the reader to the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, her best friend Gale, and fellow tribute, Peeta, along with many other interesting characters.  Katniss and Peeta represent District 12 in the Hunger Games.

Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta are in for another fight for their lives.  The whole country of Panem is stirred up, and on the brink of rebellion.  Surprisingly, this book sucked me in a lot more than the other two.

Mockingjay

The final book in the trilogy covers the full on rebellion in Panem, with Katniss as the Mockingjay.  The Mockingjay gives them hope for a better future.  Will the Districts succeed in taking the Capitol?  It is yet to be seen.

I’m keeping the summaries short to avoid risk of spoiling anything for those who have not read the series yet.  The obstacles that Katniss, Peeta and others face are just downright bizarre.  But, there is a very human aspect to the books as well.  That’s what drew me into Harry Potter, and has done the same with the Hunger Games Trilogy.

The writing style and Katniss’s point of view also makes this trilogy so easy to relate to despite the brutal circumstances.  The reader gets a glimpse of her thoughts, emotions, reactions to various situations, and her feelings for the people around her.  I also love the sense of humor.  The characters find humor despite the dire circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

Kindle Library Lending Off to a Slow Start

Kindle Library Lending debuted last year, and has shown modest growth, but has a ways to go before it really takes off.  The number of libraries that offer the service has grown tremendously, but the selection of books offered has not.

My local library offers access to e-books for the Kindle, Nook, and other electronic devices.  But, I rarely find anything I like.  If I do, it already has a waiting list a mile long.

One of the biggest barriers to the program is reaction from publishers.  The Big 6 are having a hard time relinquishing their books for borrowing because they’re afraid that it will make a big dent in sales.

I read an article earlier today that got me thinking more about this dilemma, and I began to mull over ideas suggested in the article that might help them get over their fears.

E-books are easier to get and transport than regular books.  So publishers are afraid that book sales will go the way of music sales did about 10 years ago.

I think with careful handling through licensing, a compromise can be reached.  The result would be a benefit for both libraries and publishers.  By adding e-books to their collection, libraries can shake their old stereotypes and offer something that is new and exciting.

For publishers, the benefit is the exposure to books that can lead to a purchase.  There are people who borrow books from a library, like them a lot, then purchase them to read again.

Another option is to join Amazon Prime and use the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It has a much broader selection, but you can only check out one a month.  I have checked out a lot more books from there than from my library.  I am currently waiting very impatiently until the next month to download the third book in the Hunger Games Series on my Kindle.

I think it is important to still get the word out about e-book borrowing in libraries.  Increasing the demand for books can’t hurt.  Just remember, it is the publishers not the libraries themselves, that are setting the book limits.  I hope to see a future where both print and e-books will be readily available to library patrons globally.

 

 

 

Kindle Fire Release Rumors, and What is More Likely to Happen

There is a major rumor going around that six different Kindle Fire models will be released next week.  The six models may include different screen sizes, resolutions, and who knows what else. These rumors are coming from reputable sources, but no one will truly know what is going to happen until the tablet is actually released.

If that does happen, it will most likely be a 7″ updated Kindle Fire, and a 10″ tablet to compete with the iPad.  These two will possibly have 3G and wi-fi options.  The current model only has wi-fi.  Then a refurbished first generation Kindle Fire will be available at a discounted price until supplies run out.

So the focus will more likely be just two different kinds of tablets that have different connectivity offerings.  That is similar to the set up Amazon currently has with their e-ink Kindle models.

Both 7″ and 10″ models have some heavy competition from the Nexus 7, and of course, the iPad.  Amazon’s advantage will be the books and apps because there are so many of them.  I’m sure they’ll also come out ahead with the price.  In addition to these features, the Kindle Fire will need to include a camera and an updated display to remain competitive.  It makes my head spin to think about the cutthroat competition going on out in the tablet market.

One thing I’d like to see for the 10″ Kindle Fire, if released, is a keyboard. The biggest frustration I’ve had with my iPad is the inability to do more heavy duty computing.  A lot of this comes from the lack of a fully integrated keyboard.  An example of one is the soon to be released Microsoft Surface tablet.  It comes with a smart cover that houses the keyboard.  If Amazon can pull this off plus debut at a price to beat, they can pull some potential iPad consumers towards the Kindle Fire.

So, we’ll see what happens.  This holiday season’s going to be jam packed with tablet options.  That’s for sure.

 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice by Lisa Genova is a fictional account of a 50 year old Harvard psychology professor with early onset Alzheimer’s.  It is available in both Kindle and paperback editions.  This book has won numerous awards and had a long run on the New York Times Bestseller List.

I discovered this book while searching through Goodreads recommendations.  Goodreads has introduced me to a lot of different authors and genres I would never have heard of otherwise.

It is simple, yet poignant.  The book is written from the perspective of the Alzheimer’s patient as opposed to the more common caretaker viewpoint.  So, the reader gets a first hand glimpse into the daily tasks and emotions from the patient herself.

Most people think of Alzheimer’s as affecting only the elderly.  In a majority of cases those people are beyond retirement age.  Before Alzheimer’s struck, Alice held a jam packed schedule full of lectures, research, and teaching.  The aggressive disease took all of that away from her.  It not only takes a toll on her life, but on her family and friends as well.

The writing itself is really direct, with no frills.  Sometimes there is a bit of disorganization in the flow of the plot, but in a sense, it represents Alice’s train of thoughts.

Still Alice has glowing reviews.  Many of the reviewers suggest that everyone affected by Alzheimer’s in some way should read it.  I also saw multiple reviews saying how accurate Genova’s depiction of the disease is. The fictional account has a loose connection to the author because she is a Harvard educated neuroscientist herself.

Vicki Evans

“Wow! This book is so realistic and, for me, a real tear-jerking read. I teach high school and I have always told my students that if a book can draw you in, make you live vicariously through a character, and somehow help you with life experiences, then it’s a good book. This book did that for me and so much more.”

Genova has another bestselling novel: Left Neglected out, and will release Love Anthony on September 25th.

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I’ve been on a reading binge lately, both print and on my Kindle.  The latest book I read was called Sisterhood Everlasting.  It is the fifth installment of the bestselling Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

Sisterhood Everlasting will appeal to those who grew up along with the previous books.  The first four are more for the young adult audience, and the series finishes when the friends are still in college.  I actually didn’t discover them until I was already in college myself.  That was when the original movie first came out.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series consists of four friends, Carmen, Tibby, Bridget, and Lena, who all grew up in the same town.  They all have very different personalities.  They find a pair of pants that carry special meaning. It goes wherever they go, kind of like a Flat Stanley type of thing.

Sisterhood Everlasting is set ten years later.  The author took a break to write other books and explore other things, then came back to revisit her characters in this series.  The four teenagers are now almost 30, and are each finding their way in the life of being an adult.  Work, marriage, children, etc.  I could really relate to the post college craziness of trying to find my way in the “real world.”  This book is emotional to say the least, and the author does a good job of getting into the heads of her characters to capture what they were thinking.  Especially how they each handled grief in their own way.

This book has goes a lot deeper than your typical beach read.  I highly recommend it.  After shopping around, the Kindle and paperbacks are about comparable in price.  The handy part about the Kindle edition was that I could sneak a few pages during breaks at work on my phone’s Kindle app.

The following reviewer sums up Sisterhood Everlasting quite well.

Laura OC

“While I like most readers enjoyed growing up with Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby throughout the first four sisterhood books, the fifth addition to the series makes the story real and even more relatable for me. Sisterhood Everlasting shows us the consequences and joys of life decisions and that while a friendship between girls may be undeniably strong, it cannot fix all problems.”

 

Nexus 7 Thoughts

I have to hand it to Google.  They, along with Asus have put together a tablet that should do well in the market.  Based on my experience with an Asus laptop, it is a great company.  According to reviewers who have had a chance to get their hands on the Nexus 7 claim it is solid and easy to use.  It is going for a competitive $199 price, the same price as the Kindle Fire.

Good news for Android lovers.  The Nexus 7 will run on the latest Android operating system, Jelly Bean.

Here’s the catch. Google has a tendency to release a lot of projects that show promise, then they fizzle.  Note Google Wave, and Google Buzz.  Even Google Plus hasn’t found a strong footing.  They’re very innovative with their ideas, but they don’t quite follow through from start to finish.  If the tablet went in the same direction, technical support would be mediocre at best.

An advantage that Amazon has over Google as far as tablets are concerned, is seniority. Over the past year, Amazon has built up a robust app collection for the Kindle Fire.  It is also the front runner on books, which is the way it should be considering that books are what Amazon is most known for.

The 2nd generation of the Kindle Fire is expected to release on July 31 with a camera and other much needed tune ups.  So, if you can wait a month,  see what this new version has to offer, and then weigh it with the Nexus 7. Chances are that Amazon will include a lot of the features that the Nexus 7 currently offers that the first generation Kindle Fire doesn’t, such as a camera.

When it comes to buying technology, I try to wait til the 2nd generation or later.  I did this with my Kindle, iPad, and phone.  The price goes down and the device gets a tune up.

Google’s biggest asset is search engine technology.  Different companies excel at different things.  I think they have what it takes to make a good 7 inch tablet that can be competitive.  The question is, will they go the extra mile and make it better than good?

As consumers we have options that can fit different preferences as opposed to being locked into one device, which is awesome. I’ll be watching closely to see what happens with the new Google tablet, and how it will fare in the tablet market.

 

Kindle Touch Hidden Gem

There is one issue with my Kindle that I wish Amazon would make more intuitive.  That issue is deleting books directly from my Kindle.  I understand that there is a lot of room for books on the device itself, but often, people would like to get rid of books that aren’t really serving any purpose anymore.

On my Kindle 2, I just slid the 5 way toggle button to the side and it gave me a menu option to remove a book or game from the e-reader.  I just figured out how to do this randomly when I was maneuvering around on it.

Figuring out how to delete books are little more difficult on the Kindle Touch, but once you know the trick, it is quite easy.  If you have an iPad or iPhone you have to press down the app for a few seconds, and an x will pop up and allow you to close or delete the app.

Using this same idea based on the iPhone delete commands, I pressed down on a book on my Kindle’s Home screen for a few seconds and sure enough, a dialog box popped up giving me an option to delete the book.

So why is this worth mentioning?  Now that you can check out Kindle Books from the library or Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, there are a lot of books coming and going.  When you return a book, the title still shows up in the list, and says “recently returned.”

Frankly, they are annoying, and can really clutter up the device’s library.  They also hide the books you actually need or want.

A friend asked me once how to do this, so I thought I’d pass it along in case you were wondering the same thing.

And don’t worry, even if you delete a book from your Kindle, it remains stored in your account on Amazon.  You can always re download it on any Kindle or Kindle app supported device at any time.

 

 

The Tablet Divide

When I got my iPad, I also got an external keyboard.  It worked okay, but since it wasn’t directly integrated with the tablet, it did have some lag time.  My biggest hope is for the tablet to merge with the laptop.

I was unsure of how long it would take for this to happen until the release of the Microsoft Surface tablet.  It has a keyboard built into its cover.  This is the catalyst that will nudge tablets towards a hybrid laptop/tablet deal.  I’m really excited about this new development because it eliminates the need for both a computer and tablet, adds portability, and increases accessibility.

Now, to my point.  Rumors are indicating that Amazon is set to release a 10.1 inch Kindle Fire.  How much of this is just wishful thinking, it is hard to tell.  I have no doubt that the online retail giant can create a competitive larger tablet, but will they lose their original focus?

The competition gap and functionality of large and small tablets is widening.  Larger tablets more computer like in terms of power, whereas smaller tablets such as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are more for gaming, reading, and internet browsing.

I would love to see Amazon create a Kindle Fire that would provide both an optimal reading experience and serve as a multi purpose device.  There really aren’t that many major adjustments for e-ink Kindles left, at least not any that we know of at this point.  We’ll get a glowlight version this year, and maybe color next year.

Maybe a few years from now, the technology will be there to do a hybrid e-reader and tablet.  But, considering how quickly technology changes, there may be something completely different hitting the big market by then.

So, basically, I think Amazon definitely has the resources to build a larger tablet that will sell well.  But, I would like to see them hang on to their core mission: a better reading experience. Better to excel at one or a couple of products than to make a slew of mediocre ones.

 

$79 Kindle Gets a Tune Up

The basic, non touchscreen version of the Kindle just got a new update.  The update includes improved readability, parental controls, and better support for graphics.  Good to know that this model is still getting some attention since most of the focus seems to be on the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire.

The text display is supposedly sharper and intends to provide better readability.  I have a Kindle Touch.  I am curious to see how the displays compare for both versions.  Since the $79 Kindle has physical buttons, it probably doesn’t experience the issue with text trails or shadows that the Kindle Touch does.

The best part of the update in my opinion, is the ability to view comics in side view.  The e-ink Kindle is so close to the nature of traditional comics, as opposed to the bright tablet screens, that it is only natural that it would include accommodations for better viewing.

For children’s books, the update includes Kindle text pop up, the ability to zoom into part of the screen.

Books that allow zooming have that capability.

I’m not sure how important adding parental controls is because the web browser isn’t all that easy to use to begin with.  However, a lot of young kids got this model since it is inexpensive and simple to use, so having parental controls is a nice feature to have.

With all of that said, the manual download is available for those who want to go ahead and get the new update.  This is also handy for those who don’t have wi-fi access.

If you’re willing to wait, the update will download automatically onto your Kindle sometime soon.  In their usual fashion, Amazon is being vague about when exactly it will happen.

Stay tuned.

$.99 Sale on Children’s Books for Kindle

For a limited time, there are almost 50 children’s books on sale for .99, usually around $7.  All of these are for the Kindle Fire.  How fitting that they are in full color.  That will definitely grab kids’ attention.

The collection includes a variety of classic fairy tales and parables.  Think The Velveteen Rabbit and Jack and the BeanstalkThe Velveteen Rabbit is a must have since it is such a poignant story. The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood also made the list.  I also noticed a few that I didn’t recognize.

The books include music and narration by celebrities including Meryl Streep.  These features make the story much more interactive.  That’s not to say it isn’t just as enjoyable to play narrator yourself.

I will be very interested to observe how well perceived Kindle Fire children’s books are in the immediate future, as well as over the next decade or two.  It is still a very new thing, but will probably become more mainstream as tablets become more widely adopted.

The vibrant colors of the digital book creates a much more exciting visual experience than an old worn out print book does.  But, both forms have their advantages and disadvantages.

Many of the books on sale include Kindle Text pop up.  This is a cool feature that zooms into selected text with a couple of finger taps.  Once you’re done, you can just double tap anywhere on the screen and go back to normal view.

I don’t see very many reviews of the books available in digital format on the Kindle Fire yet.  Again, it is still very much a new idea, but the steep discount should at least be an incentive to give them a try.

 

 

The Importance of Page Turn Styles

Before the Kindle debuted in 2007, and even now, with e-readers becoming the norm, there is something about the ability to flip through pages in a book.  In used book stores and libraries you’ll find a lot of dog eared pages.  Quite handy when there’s no bookmark available.

I was reading an article earlier today about program that replicates the tactile sensation of turning pages in a book.  It works on a tablet, like the iPad, but not really on the Kindle.

Electronic page flips are really cool, but you have to get used to it.  It allows for more tangible bookmarks and highlights.  You can flip through the book without bending the pages.  It gives the look and feel of a book.

The Kindle’s page turning methods are kind of blah, but they have their benefits as well.  The simplicity doesn’t take suck up memory.  You also don’t have to worry about losing your place.  The e-reader takes you back where you left off, even across different devices.

The drawbacks are that it is harder to get to different parts of the book.  You have to take a couple of steps to get to the spot.  There’s no tangible indicator to let you know where in the book you are, except for the percentage point.

How important is the page turn style to you?  It is true that once you’re immersed in a book, the formatting doesn’t really matter so much.

Digital natives are growing up with e-readers, and won’t get a chance to really appreciate the nostalgia of print books as much.  Sign of the times I suppose.

The good news is, that no matter what our preferences are, we have options.  I still read regular books in conjunction with my Kindle.  So, if I want the nostalgia, I head over to the used book store.  I think these options will be around for awhile yet, at least until print no longer plays much of a role in the world of reading.

UNO Now Available on the Kindle

UNO is such a fun game for all ages.  It was just added to the ever expanding Kindle game list.  There are a number of popular board games and card games available on the e-reader.  There is an edition for both the Kindle Fire and the regular e-ink Kindles.

The Kindle Fire edition uses full color and is formatted more like the traditional UNO game.  It is about 99 cents and has okay reviews.  The version for the e-ink Kindles is brand new and is showing promise.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game of UNO, basically you match up different numbers and color cards until you run out.  You have to say “uno!” before any other player if you have one card left, or you have to draw.  There are special cards: reverse, draw 2, and wild cards.  It can get pretty crazy, especially if a lot of people are playing.

Gameloft, the developer, worked around the color issue by creating shapes to identify the different cards.  You will see this on a lot of the Kindle based card games.  I noticed a good point in the product description.  By eliminating color, it makes the game accessible for people who are color blind.  That’s a good perk.

The Kindle version of UNO includes a variety of play modes and game types.  You can set up customizable rules and enter different challenges.

I’m a fan of traditional card games, but putting them on the Kindle definitely adds some portability to the game.  You don’t have to worry about spilling the cards everywhere in the car or other similar situations.

UNO has good reviews overall.  There really aren’t that many up yet.

If you are looking for a good bargain, check out this week’s sale on the classic hit, Yahtzee.  In addition to that one, there is a slew of other fun games that are either free or just 99 cents.

 

 

Amazon Signs a Deal With Paramount

Amazon Prime Instant Video has hit a growth spurt again.  This time, the major online retailer has signed a deal with Paramount.  This is huge, because some of the most popular movies of all time come from this production company.

Forrest Gump, one of my favorite movies, is part of the list of newly added selection.  Other well known titles include: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Top Gun, Mission Impossible 3, and Mean Girls. moreMean Girls is another favorite of mine.

The benefits of paying for a separate Netflix plan are shrinking rapidly.  For $79 a year, you can get free two day shipping, check out a book a month on your Kindle, and enjoy unlimited movie streaming.  I take advantage of all three of these services quite frequently.

I’ve found some popular Kindle books such as the Hunger Games Trilogy in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  The downside is that you have to wait a month to get the next book in the trilogy.  I’m okay with that, but I know many Hunger Games fan want to jump in to the following books immediately.

In addition to popular series, there are also a ton of books by independent authors that are fresh discoveries.  Kindle Direct Publishing has opened up a new world of publishing, and has given many authors a chance to excel.  In the past, authors were an elite group.

In the first half of 2012, Amazon Prime Instant Video has grown from roughly 13,000 to 17,000 titles, and is still growing.  Earlier deals include Viacom and Discovery.  These two production companies, along with Paramount bring an eclectic collection of movies that spans across many different genres.

Prime Instant Video is compatible with both PC’s and Mac’s.  If you have a Kindle Fire, you can also enjoy them on there as well, for more portability.

Personal Finance for Dummies

I just finished a book called Personal Finance in Your 20′s for Dummies on my Kindle.  I recommend this getting started guide for anyone setting out in the working world, or those who are looking for learn more about financial matters.

This book covers everything from health insurance to investing.  It is geared for high school or college graduates more so than someone in their late 20′s like myself, however, many of the tips ere very relevant since recent graduates are having a harder time finding jobs.  That in turn puts them getting into the workforce later.  The work force also looks a lot different now than it did even 10 years ago.

The book also gives suggestions for different companies or organizations that are good options to use in each category.  It includes a variety of choices, so there’s something for everyone.

There is another one called Personal Finance for Dummies, as well as Investing for Dummies.  Those go more in detail on the the topic than the 20′s one does.

Seems like there’s a Dummies book for everything.  The language used is written in a way that explains whatever the topic is, really well.  It takes good writing for me to stay engaged, and these do.

You can about all of these on the Kindle for less than $10.  I’ve been switching between my Kindle and iPhone Kindle app a lot.  Quite handy since I use these books as a reference for both personal and professional reasons.

Aimee Elizabeth


“This book covers a wide variety of general personal finances. It’s a great starter book for anyone just getting out of school, just entering the workforce or better yet while still in school, before any financial mistakes have been made! And also a great book for anyone to read BEFORE they get their first credit card or any other type of debt. Highly recommended!”

 

 

10.1 Inch Kindle Fire, is it a good idea?

I have watched so many people who otherwise wouldn’t consider a tablet purchase a Kindle Fire this year because of the great price and good company brand.  In addition to the $199 regular price, you can find deals for refurbished Fires for $139.  The Kindle has certainly come a long way in 5 years.

The Kindle Fire took the tablet out of the niche market and into the hands of your average consumers.

The 7″ Kindle Fire is a good compromise for those who want the advantages of a smartphone and tablet in one device.  You don’t have to worry about a data plan, and the app store boasts a robust collection of Android based apps for the tablet.  It is portable and less than half the price of the low end model iPad.

With all of that said, I question the need for a larger Kindle Fire at least for the time being.  I don’t doubt that Amazon has the means to produce a good quality, competitively priced one.  There is a rumor going around that a 10.1 inch Kindle Fire will be released later this year, and plans for a smaller, second generation one will be put on hold.  That is the part I’m skeptical about.  If Amazon wants to reach out to a full audience, it needs to appeal to both markets.

Larger tablets lose portability.  The iPad is not easy to hold for long periods of time.  The computing power would need to be stronger.

So, to sum it up, I think that the first generation Kindle Fire fared quite well with room for improvement.  Those improvements such as a built in camera, faster browsing, screen quality, etc, can all be addressed in the next generation.  Working from that, a larger version is a good goal to work towards.

But, that’s just my opinion on it.  The tablet market as a whole is exploding.  The competition is fierce and we are most likely headed for tablet centered computing.

Rumors will fly and lots of times you can take them with a grain of salt, but it will be interesting to see what really happens in the next few months.