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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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September 2016
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Nook HD Profile Feature Capitalizes on Common Kindle Fire Privacy Complaints

There were few things about the Kindle Fire’s release that sparked more attention than the Carrousel home screen.  This approach set the Kindle Fire apart from other Android tablets by creating a simpler, more intuitive user experience.  Naturally that, alongside Amazon’s locking users into their ecosystem, drew fire from critics who prefer a more configurable, personalizable interface and a device that can tap into Google’s large app selection.  The real problem it caused, however, was less bound to a particular view of how the Android experience should be presented and more in its complete lack of user controls.

For the most part, this boiled down to privacy.  The Kindle Fire, when it was released, could not reasonably be considered a family-friendly device.  In many cases it couldn’t even be comfortably used as a multi-user device.  The Carrousel displayed everything that was accessed, in the order it was accessed, along with every piece of media attached to the user’s account.  It’s hard enough to overlook the potential for embarrassment in that arrangement among adults, but this made it more or less impossible for parents to use their Kindle Fire while moderating the content that children might be exposed to.

This has since been fixed, of course.  The Carrousel offers deletion, parents are able to control more aspects of their child’s access (with even more coming soon thanks to Kindle FreeTime), and privacy is restored.  Barnes & Noble, possibly in response to precisely this debacle, has come up with what is probably an even better set of user-profile features than the Kindle Fire HD now offers or can be expected to offer with the release of Kindle FreeTime.

The details are understandably vague at this point.  The Nook HD is not out until November 1st and some of the software is clearly still being fine-tuned, making over-promising a real possibility if they aren’t careful.  Still, what we know now is enough to declare this a highly family-friendly feature.

Each Nook HD owner will be able to create up to six Nook Profiles.  These will be theoretically autonomous, including their accessible content.  Each profile will have its own private library, though clearly the owner will have override control to a large extent that should allow simple sharing between these.  In addition to personalized content collections, users will be able to tailor all personalization options independently.  The Nook Tablet doesn’t offer much in the way of visual customization, but it doesn’t offer as little as the Kindle Fire either so this could be quite handy.

This makes the situation for parents a bit better as well.  Barnes & Noble is pushing the children’s eBook market fairly hard still and the Nook HD is no exception.  Using Nook Profiles, parents will be able to separate their kids’ books from the main library so that they won’t have to worry about them while looking through more adult-friendly content.  The parental controls will still apply to a child’s profile, of course, but should be able to be bound specifically to that profile.  If you password protect your personal profile, this means that it’s reasonable to use the Nook HD normally without entering in a PIN constantly.

The Kindle Fire HD now has some great parental control options, soon including a finer level of control than anything offered by the competition right now if the FreeTime claims are to be believed, but this is a case where the Nook HD is noticeably superior.  Barnes & Noble really wants the family-oriented customers and it shows.

Barnes & Noble Prepares For Fresh Kindle vs Nook Showdown With Price Cut

It took a while for Amazon to get the Kindle Paperwhite ready for production.  The months since the Nook Simple Touch w/ Glowlight was released have been problematic for the Kindle line, as customers had to consider the fact that there was no comparable Amazon offering.  A lit screen with none of the shortcomings of the backlit LCD is a huge factor in creating the best possible reading experience and Barnes & Noble managed to get it to their customers first.

According to both the specs released and any number of reviewers, however, the new Kindle Paperwhite is noticeably superior to the Nook Simple Touch in a number of ways including that lighting.  There isn’t much that can be done to recreate features like X-Ray on short notice, or to replace the screen being used on the Nook.  That sort of thing will have to wait until at least the next big product release.  Even the superior lighting capabilities of the Kindle Paperwhite are Amazon exclusives at the moment.  The best that can be done to keep the competition alive is a price drop.

The Nook Simple Touch w/ Glowlight is now available for $119 both in stores and on the Barnes & Noble website.  This matches the price of the cheaper, ad-supported Kindle Paperwhite.  The timing of the price drop makes it clear that this was a reactionary move, though probably one that was planned in advance and merely waiting on the final price set by Amazon.

That new price will at least keep the superficial comparison about even, especially for customers who don’t care much about getting the absolute best hardware and for those who like having access to the advantages provided to Nook owners in local brick and mortar outlets.  The associated product line, filled out as it is with a new set of low cost tablets, certainly won’t hurt reactions either.

While the Nook Tablet has been looking a bit dated, the new Nook HD tablet is a huge improvement.  They did essentially the same thing that was accomplished with the original Nook Tablet vs Kindle Fire competition.  Amazon has the superior content ecosystem and a decent device, but B&N trumped a number of hardware features while matching the price.  Oddly enough, while the screen on the Nook HD is slightly high resolution it does lack cameras and comes with significantly less storage space then the Kindle Fire HD (when comparing base models).  The lack of ad support and therefore a need to opt-out of on-device advertising is not a small advantage to offset that.

Realistically, a point by point comparison of the products leaves Amazon firmly ahead in the Kindle vs Nook competition again whether we’re talking tablets or eReaders.  It isn’t enough of a lead to make the Nook unable to compete and it certainly won’t end the competitor’s prospects, but this latest price drop does highlight the fact that Barnes & Noble knows they will need to stretch a bit if they want to continue gaining market share this holiday season despite the Paperwhite‘s strong showing.

Nook Services Follow Kindle to Browser-Based eReading App

As was bound to happen eventually, Barnes & Noble has joined Amazon in offering a browser-based reading solution for their Nook customers.  Since last August, the Kindle Cloud Reader has been offering the same capabilities to users of the competing platform.  The current promotion set to launch Nook for Web, as the new application has been dubbed, offers users six free best sellers for giving it a try.  Both the promo and the features make this worth taking a look at.

To try it out for yourself, simply head over to the Nook for Web site.  Currently supported browsers include Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.  In the preview, you can choose from any of the six selections available in this promotion.  You get the first portion of the book immediately with no need to establish a Barnes & Noble account.  This allows you to check out the features of the web app and see for yourself if it meets a need.  Should you like what you see, these books are available for download through a link at the end of their sample portion.

In terms of features, Nook for Web is definitely competitive with the Kindle Cloud Reader.  You can choose from eight font sizes, eight font styles, and a set of different page layouts.  The default layout will take into account the width of your browser window and decide whether or not you need two columns for an optimal reading experience.  If you don’t like the choice it makes, you can also choose to go with the publisher’s default layout preference or restrict things to a single page no matter the width of the window.  At this time you can’t force a two column view.

Pull-down menus let you access the table of contents on the fly, as well as use the Nook platform’s social networking features and access information about the title you have open.  The whole package fits well in Barnes & Noble’s established eBook platform and you can see where they have made efforts to keep the experience consistent for existing users.  Obviously any books you already own for your Nook will be available to you as soon as you log in.

In some ways B&N has done a great job of meeting the needs of their community here.  The features are sound and compatibility is extensive.  They have even made Nook for Web work in Internet Explorer, which the Kindle Cloud Reader still does not do.  On the other hand, they are missing compatibility with non-desktop browsers and I think that is going to hurt adoption.

The motivation behind the Kindle Cloud Reader was Amazon’s need to get around Apple’s restrictive terms and conditions for in-app sales.  As such, iPad and iPhone owners were the priority in its development.  Launching without letting those users take part in the new service immediately costs Barnes & Noble the chance to pull in some potential converts from the Kindle Platform.  No matter how many people use Internet Explorer, and that isn’t a small number, the percentage of people who read on their mobile device is far higher.

It doesn’t hurt to take advantage of this promo (available through 7/26) even if you’re otherwise a Kindle customer.  A free book is a free book.  To gain access to the complete text of each title, you will need to create an account.  Other than that, there’s no hoop to jump through.  Having tried both, I definitely prefer the Kindle Cloud Reader.  This is a good first step in what could eventually be a really impressive web app, though.