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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’s Response to Kindle HD Keeps Them in the Tablet Market

Obviously the Nook Tablet hasn’t done quite as well as Barnes & Noble hoped it would.  While the hardware was a definite step up from the Kindle Fire from the start, their inability to bundle the same quantity and quality of non-eBook content had an effect on adoption rates.  Now, with the Kindle Fire HD poised to bring Amazon back into the front of the Android tablet market for the first time since Google announced the Nexus 7, Barnes & Noble has come up with some much stronger competition.

The Nook HD is priced at $199, just like the Kindle Fire HD.  It has a higher resolution (1440 x 900) and a smaller hard drive (though a 16GB model can bring that spec even with the Kindle Fire’s basic model for only $30 more).  The processor on the new Nook is 1.3GHz, which gives it a slight edge in power as well.  It even has a microSD slot, which is one of the features Amazon seems to be making a conscious effort to avoid.  Overall we’re looking at a nearly identical device with small points of superiority here and there.

There are a few points where the Kindle Fire HD still stands alone, however, and they may be particularly important.  Since the major purpose of this variety of tablet is media consumption, we have to assume that there is some video viewing planned for the average user.

The Kindle Fire HD’s Dolby sound system and stereo speakers are widely considered to be the best tablet sound system on the market today regardless of the device size or price.  That’s a big step away from the old Kindle Fire’s lackluster audio performance and will be attractive.

The Kindle’s superior wireless capabilities and larger hard drive only serve to push it further ahead.  If the goal is to enjoy the best possible viewing experience, the ability to stay connected, download quickly, and store more will obviously come in handy.

The deciding factor as far as overall success, however, is going to still be the content ecosystem.  A media tablet that has nothing in the way of media to serve up is clearly unappealing.  Amazon has the lead on this, having both a head start and a huge presence in practically every aspect of digital media distribution.  Barnes & Noble is stepping up to at least stay competitive until they can develop a more robust selection, though.  Nook Cloud and Nook Video are good examples, even if they are still a bit unfinished-feeling.

While I don’t think that the Nook HD can necessarily compete on even terms with the Kindle Fire HD for the price, the Nook HD+ might be able to pull it off.  The 9” Nook HD+ offers comparable hardware to the Kindle Fire HD 8.9” for $30 less than Amazon’s $299 asking price.  It’s easier to overlook a couple shortcomings for a discount.

Whether or not they can pull ahead with an offering like this remains to be seem.  Nothing about the new Nook tablets stands out as a major downside except perhaps the limited Barnes & Noble ecosystem.  This launch demonstrates a commitment to stay in the market for a while, so maybe even that will see rapid improvements as time goes on.  It’s good to see a situation like this where nobody can pull ahead as the clearly superior option.