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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 2014
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Kindle Fire HD 8.9” Takes on iPad But May Face Other, Unexpected Competition

We’ve recently talked about the release of the new Kindle Fire HD 8.9”.  It’s a solid device that gives every indication of being worth an investment.  While not quite as versatile as many Android tablets due to Amazon’s proprietary software configuration that prevents access to the Google Play service, there is little else to complain about and a lot to be excited for.  Some reports indicate that between this and the 7” model, Amazon’s tablets will outsell the iPad Mini 2 to 1 over the upcoming holiday season.

All that sounds great for Amazon and it’s definitely a sign that they will remain a major part of the Android tablet scene for some time to come.  They may be in trouble as time goes on, however.  The problem is not what many people have expected.  The iPad is hard to compete against, but the surge in video game consoles with touchscreen accessories may hit Amazon in a major way.

The Wii U just dropped, which is what brings this to mind.  Nintendo’s new console comes with a controller that doubles as a tablet.  It offers a supplementary second display that should come in handy in everything from game play to movie watching.  Sure, it requires a Wii U console to work, but that also allows the user to tap into a wide selection of content associated with that system.

Microsoft is also said to be working on a 7” tablet to supplement the Xbox 360 and the as-yet unannounced Xbox 720.  Their Smartglass software already allows anybody with a portable device (smartphone or tablet), or even a convenient PC, to tap into the console experience.  The Xbox Tablet, as it’s being called, will offer many of the same benefits that the Wii U controller boasts as well as serving the role of standalone portable.

Now, the main use of the Kindle Fire line is in consumption.  Amazon designed them for that purpose and there has been no real effort to make them into anything but a convenient gateway into Amazon’s digital content selection.  This means that in many ways the same customers they are looking at attracting are also likely to be interested in gaming and entertainment consoles, for obvious reasons.  If we’re looking at a class of devices that are exceedingly popular and tie into their own proprietary tablets, as in the case of these consoles, it may cut into Kindle Fire prospects.

While this is all speculation, I can’t help but feel that Amazon is going to have to come up with some special service that distinguishes their hardware offering in the next year or so.  The budget tablet market is still going strong, but there are a lot of big names that seem about as well equipped as Amazon who are set to enter the market.  Since all the digital content sold through the company is meant to be platform-agnostic, there’s going to need to be something special done.  Otherwise it’s only a matter of time before the iPad is just one of many strong competitors for the Kindle Fire HD.

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.

 

Is Microsoft About to Reveal their Kindle Fire Killer?

A few days ago word went out that Microsoft is holding a June 18th gathering that will involve a major announcement of some sort.  Shortly after that there was a leak of inside information that indicates this will be Microsoft’s first computer hardware offering.  As early as tomorrow we may have some details about an upcoming Windows 8 tablet developed and manufactured by Microsoft itself.  The big question now is what market they are shooting for.  It might make sense for this to be a big push against the Kindle Fire.

Consider the situation that Microsoft has gotten itself into.  They are trying to take over the tablet market from Apple while still maintaining dominance in the PC market.  They are doing this by supporting everything in an attempt to create consistent experience.  Tablets, PCs, video game consoles, phones, everything will have Metro on it sooner of later.  Unfortunately this includes supporting multiple architectures, which has made the company split their project.

Windows RT is what they are calling the branch of Windows 8 that runs on ARM devices and it might be in trouble.  While Microsoft is trying to create consistency, none of the applications that run on Windows RT will run on the rest of Windows 8, nor will the reverse be possible.  This means that they can’t necessarily count on the hordes of existing Windows software developers to jump on board.

The reason this matters to Kindle Fire fans is mostly that this would be a great time for Microsoft to demonstrate how a well designed product running their software can perform.  They’re already going to be pulling in a lot of people with touch interface experience for their app store.

The segment that is willing to concentrate specifically on tablet customers to the exclusion of desktops will likely be Android and iOS developers.  As a result we might see something that can do everything the Kindle Fire can, with a similar integration into a large existing media ecosystem, running an admittedly better tuned OS.  Amazon might end up with problems.

Pretty much only one thing makes this somewhat questionable.  Microsoft has not shown any particular interest in going into the budget tablet market.  They actually seem to want to disregard Android devices entirely and head straight for the top to knock down the iPad.  Reports indicate that OEMs working on ARM tablets will be charged $85 per device just for the operating system.  You can’t do that and compete with the Kindle Fire on price.

We will know more tomorrow afternoon.  This could be big news, and explain a lot about Microsoft’s interest in the Nook line, or it could turn out to have no effect at all on Kindle customers.  If not, it seems that there is nobody else on the verge of taking off until the anticipated Google Nexus tablet is finally finished.  To be totally honest, a Kindle Fire vs Windows 8 tablet competition would be a much bigger thing to worry about.

Amazon Kindle Faces Big Trouble as Microsoft Backs Nook Line

Barnes & Noble has finally begun to spin off their Nook brand into its own subsidiary company and Microsoft has jumped at the opportunity to be a major part of that effort.  According to an announcement released jointly this Monday, the software giant will be investing $300 Million into the Nook business thereby acquiring 17.6% equity stake.  This could be bad news for Amazon’s Kindle line, which is already facing some of its toughest competition to date in the realm of eReading thanks to the new Nook Simple Touch w/ GlowLight.

Making things even more pleasant for B&N, this arrangement will also involve the settlement of Microsoft’s ongoing patent litigation the bookseller over certain aspects of the Nook’s design.  Microsoft will now be picking up royalties for all Nook products, but in the end this may result in significant savings compared to the cost of legal defense.  Whether or not that is the case, and admittedly I’m not a lawyer so it is purely speculative, this partnership will open up some major new opportunities for advancing the Nook.

In the immediate future we can expect a Nook app for Windows 8.  This will be an important development for both companies as Microsoft is betting big on the potential for tablets using their new OS while Barnes & Noble will need to be ready for the next major push in operating systems.  The nature of the Metro UI that Windows 8 (and its ARM compatible offshoot Windows RT) uses will actually create an even better reading experience than existing Windows reading apps if done right.

More long-term, Microsoft has already alluded to an interest in using Windows 8 to gain a foothold in the eReader market.  While this was mostly an offhanded remark at a recent event, and could therefore have been meant as a subtle emphasis on how adaptable their new operating system is, buying into as big a player in eReading as the Barnes & Noble Nook line is a fair indication that something more serious is going on.

In the face of this, Amazon has to be wondering what to do next with the Kindle line.  While the Kindle Fire is coming out on top of every other Android tablet on the market today, their Android fork might not quite compare to a properly configured Windows 8 installation powering the next Nook Tablet.  Nothing stops Amazon from following suit and licensing the new OS themselves, of course, but this would likely lose them the ability to completely control the user experience enjoyed under the existing system.  Microsoft will certainly allow locked-down version of their software to circulate, but fragmenting the Metro UI is not going to happen.

This might end up being the first step in a major Android vs Windows 8 fight.  The Kindle Fire holds the majority of non-iPad tablet users, but if a new Nook offered superior hardware and an operating system that shines when compared to Android without increasing the price significantly then the tables could turn.  Amazon still has their content distribution and the tight integration that gives them the edge, but the next Kindle Fire might need to be especially impressive to keep consumer interest going.

Windows 8 runs Kindle

In case you were wondering where I was off to last week… I was on the BUILD conference watching Microsoft unveil Windows 8 developer preview.

Amazon Kindle App on Windows 8

Amazon Kindle App on Windows 8

One of the first things I did is install Kindle App and I’m happy to report that it runs nicely on Windows 8. Microsoft did a great job ensuring backward compatibility.

The screenshot was taken with the app I’ve just finished hacking together. So if you are into installing Window 8 to see what all of this is about, you can use this Window 8 Screenshot Share app to easily take screenshots and share them online with a few clicks (or taps of you finger if you have touch).

Kindle for Windows Phone 7 is out

Well… that didn’t take long. Only less than a month ago Kindle for Windows Mobile 7 was announced and as of today it is available for download.

Currently, I don’t have a Windows Phone 7 phone handy and once I do I’ll be sure to write-up a comprehensive hands-on review. For now it seems that the app provides pretty standard reading experience for a smartphone eBook app.

Although it is nothing extraordinary by itself, the Kindle for Windows Phone 7 expands the reach of Amazon eBook to yet another platform. What it means for end-users is that Kindle books are available on the widest selection of devices possible, despite using Amazon proprietary DRM system and completely ignoring ePub standard.

If you happen to have WM7/WP7 phone and installed the application, please comment about your experience here.

Slate for Kindle

Slate magazine is offered daily on the Kindle and Kindle DX for $2.49 a month.  Slate is a fully online magazine, and its revenues rely on advertising.  I was surprised at the price of the Kindle version of this magazine considering that the web version is free.  I’m assuming that the subscription fee is mostly in the Kindle formatting process.  The issue comes out daily, so the price comes out to only 8 cents an issue. That is not a bad deal.

Slate was created as an online magazine in 1996 by Michael Kinsley under Microsoft, who later sold the magazine to the Washington Post in 2004.  Slate covers the usual everyday news topics such as Technology, Politics, Life, Arts and Business.  I love the lighthearted, informal style of writing that this magazine uses.  This informal, first person style of writing was one of the pioneers of the writing style we associate with blogging today.

The writing style seen in Slate matches the nature of the Kindle.  The Kindle is designed to make reading appear fun, lighthearted and portable.

Slate includes a blog section that includes the well known blog: “Kausfiles,” by Mickey Kaus, who is currently running for Senate in California.  Other blogs include: “Brow Beat,” a culture blog, “The Wrong Stuff,” a blog about making mistakes, and others on various topics.  In addition to blogs, Slate also creates podcasts on current issues and hosts a readers forum called “The Fray.”

Overall, the reviews for Slate are really good.  The main complaints are that it comes out a little later in the day than the average newspaper at 9am, and the content includes articles from previous days.  By 9am, most people are at work, so there goes the reading on the subway theory.  Other than that, the reviewers said that it is really nice to have a summary of all of the major news papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and others all in one place.  Another positive note about this magazine is that many of the articles are original and well researched, which says a lot about the quality of the content.

PC Magazine for Kindle

PC Magazine is delivered wirelessly on the Kindle monthly for $1.49.  The Kindle edition is released the same day the magazine’s digital edition is released to subscribers.

PC Magazine is a great resource for expert reviews on electronics and computers.  PC Magazine was introduced in 1982, the year after IBM set the world into a tailspin with one of the first personal computers. PC Magazine chronicled through the evolution of computer technology.  In the 1980’s you could get a desktop for around $6000.  You can get one now with a lot more memory and capabilities for less than $1000.  The 1990’s were  a big decade for computers.  Microsoft took off several versions of its Windows operating system.  The internet went mainstream into businesses and homes.  Apple found it’s niche in graphic design software.  Amazon.com, Yahoo and eBay were introduced in the late 1990’s. more

The last decade has brought evolution of existing technologies by improving them and making them much faster.  The 2000’s have also seen the introduction of PDA’s and mobile devices such as cell phones, blackberrys, palm pilots and others.  The e-book reader market is taking off with the Kindle, Nook and the iPad coming along. The tablet computer market not is too far behind.

Over the years it has been PC Magazine’s job to cover the latest trends, analyze them and share the best results to the consumers so that they can make the most informed decisions in such a rapidly changing market.

PC Magazine stopped selling print editions of its magazine so it makes sense to get it for Kindle if you want a portable device to read it on.  However, based on the comments provided, it is highly recommended that the Kindle team add the images in for the articles.  Many of the articles are based on the reviews of an item and it is helpful to have a picture of that particular item to refer to.

Currently, PC Magazine is owned by Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc and the stock information is private.