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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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Barnes & Noble Targets Kindle Fire With New Nook Tablet

With the Kindle Fire making such an impression on the Tablet PC marketplace, Barnes & Noble has been placed in a tough spot.  They are quickly coming to rely on their Nook product line and such a thorough triumph over their popular Nook Color would certainly be a tough blow to take.  They had to either put out something big or be left behind.  Fortunately, they’ve managed to come up with an answer.

The new Nook Tablet (that’s it’s name, not a generic designation) amounts to basically a point by point comparison to the Kindle Fire and may go a fair way toward explaining some of the popular bookseller’s more unexpected moves lately.  Here’s what we know so far:

Specs:

Display: 7″ VividView IPS LCD Multi- Touch
1024 x 600, 169 PPI
Processor: 1GB Dual-Core TI OMAP4 Processor
Memory: 1GB
Storage: 16GB Internal (~12GB Available)
Expandable Storage Slot via microSD Up To 32GB
Free Cloud Storage via Nook Cloud
Audio: Stereo Speakers w/ Mic
Dimensions: 8.1″ x 5.0″ x 0.48″
Weight: 14.1 ounces
Battery Life: Up To 11.5 Hours Reading
Up To 9 Hours Video Playback
3 Hour Charge Time
Bundled Apps: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and More
Price: $249
Release Date: 11 / 18 / 2011

Selling Points

Sounds a lot like the Kindle Fire, even if it looks identical to the existing Nook Color.  It might be 25% more expensive, but for that money you get a device that’s lighter, faster, and holds more.  Sounds great, right?  The differences are not extreme.  You save about half an ounce in terms of weight, 6GB of usable internal storage space, and a bit more RAM.  Even the advertised battery life is just slightly better, offering perhaps 90 minutes more video playback time under ideal circumstances.

What Amazon has been pushing, however, is the media.  Barnes & Noble has not been able to offer comparable content so far for their Nook Color’s App Store, so it was important that they be able to bring something to the table here.  Bundling with Hulu and Netflix will go a long way toward making up for the lack of an integrated video store, of course.  That was the whole point of pushing them, despite the fact that they will also be available for the Kindle.  The bookstore is obviously pretty good already, and they’ve been at the color eBooks game a bit longer than Amazon so hopefully they have a good grasp on things there.  Even music is covered thanks to Pandora and other similar services.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is the idea of Nook Cloud Storage.  We don’t have many details on that yet, but it accomplishes another aspect of the Amazon comparison in a vague fashion.  Chances are good that this will not be available for anything besides content purchased through B&N, but that is just speculation so far.

Barnes & Noble is claiming to have a screen superior to that on the Kindle Fire.  It is honestly hard to assess right now since they’re somewhat invested in the comparison.  It might be advisable to reserve judgement on that point until a side by side comparison can be arranged.

They are also making a big deal out of their new Nook Comics line.  This could explain a great deal of why they got so dramatically and publicly upset over DC Comics forming an exclusive deal of any sort with Amazon in preparation for the Kindle Fire launch.  B&N is now boasting the largest collection of digital Marvel comics brought together so far for a single device.  It’s an accomplishment, though there is no notice of exclusivity and therefore no reason to believe this will be a major factor moving forward.

Probably drawing on the same sort of technology that allows for those comics, though, is a new Nook Book category called PagePerfect.  Going off of what information is currently around, this is less an imitation of the new Kindle Format 8 and more a proprietary PDF imitation.  Static formatting, zooming, scrolling, etc.  The only obvious difference is that Adobe isn’t involved.

 Which To Buy

Now that we have a couple of competing budget media tablets to choose from, which is worth the money?  It depends on your needs.  The Nook Color, and by extension the new Nook Tablet since it is just a more powerful version of the same, is primarily an eReader.  Barnes & Noble has done a fairly good job of shoring up their shortcomings by bringing in excellent integration with other content providers, there is no substitute for direct support and every reason to believe that those same providers will be serving up media to Kindle Fire customers as well.

The price is a bit off-putting, now that we’re talking about tablets cheap enough for $50 to make a big difference, but you do admittedly get more power for the price.  While claims about the screen quality remain unproven, the extra RAM will make a difference and additional on-board storage will be a big deal for some.

As usual, which device you go for will depend on your needs as a consumer.  At this point it seems that Amazon is offering a clearly superior library of media to choose from, especially if you take all types of media together. They’ve also done a great job, by most preliminary accounts, of customizing and streamlining their Android Fork to make the Kindle Fire both look unique and perform more impressively than its specs might indicate.

On the other hand, Barnes & Noble is offering what is arguably the better dollar to power ratio.  This will be most important for people wanting to root the device and just exploit its most basic hardware capabilities.  That might be a smaller percentage of the intended user base, but it is worth addressing.  The Nook Tablet also comes closer to offering a stock Android experience, for those who are concerned about potential privacy concerns related to Amazon’s Silk browser and other cloud based services.  They are also more focused on building up the color eReader market, and you can count on Barnes & Noble to maintain the eBook as their primary concern for the indefinite future.

The choice will be up to you and the distinctions are honestly fairly slight right now.  What is most important is that the Kindle Fire might have some valid competition after all.  Competition always leads to improvement.  Just look at how far the Nook Tablet is beyond the Nook Color.

Kindle Fire Sets New Tone For Tablet Industry

So, the big news has finally broken and we now know all there is to know about the new Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet.  If anything, it exceeds much of the high expectation surrounding the initial hype.  Everything from the drastic undercutting of competition pricing to the well thought out theme of the interface seem calculated to dominate a currently scattered industry.  With something like this available, even the iPad might have more to worry about than previously expected. That said, there are some other things going on here that aren’t entirely apparent at first glance.

A couple things go a long way to guaranteeing that Kindle Fire customers will remain Amazon customers as long as they own their device, for example.  For one, while nothing says that you definitely cannot import content from other sources, and indeed it seems almost inevitable that you will be able to do so, the integrated storage is fairly limited and only Amazon content will be given unlimited storage space on their cloud servers.  Will it be possible to stream content, especially video, over your home network to the tablet?  That remains to be seen.

We also have to assume that a great deal of the functionality, as far as content access and even web browsing go, would be lost with the rooting of the device for whatever reason.  Amazon has been concerned enough with piracy in the past to make this something they will have taken into consideration, even if it means that some legitimate users will be inconveniences by it.

For your average user, still not really a bad deal.  You have access to movies, music, magazines, and even books, all at a reasonable price.  The Amazon Prime functionality becomes almost mandatory to get the most out of things, but it provides value far beyond its cost. Kindle Fire’s even light enough for one-handed use and can multi-task enough to play you music while you read or browse the web.

What would have made it even better?  In the future people are definitely hoping for a larger viewing area, expandable storage, optional 3G capabilities, and longer battery life.  Some of that fell to the side in order to allow the Kindle Fire to be priced so low.  Some of it, like the battery life, just isn’t reasonable yet.  Of course if we’re speculating about hardware that does not exist yet then I suppose full color, low power, non-backlit displays would be nice.  These things will happen when the tech is available, I would assume.  Better to do it right with what is mature right this minute than jump in too soon.

Should this take off, and I think we can all be pretty sure that it will after today’s reveal, expect to be seeing a larger, more powerful Kindle Tablet on the horizon.  Amazon supposedly spent time and manpower getting a 10″ tablet designed already, and they’ll need it to top this offering.  The competition will need some time to adjust, in the meantime.  It’s unlikely we’ll see such an affordable yet functional tablet from anybody else in the near future.

New “Kindle Fire” Tablet To Be Revealed On Wednesday

All year we have been getting bits of data, speculation, and supposedly leaked information about the upcoming Kindle Tablet.  This past month has seen huge dumps of information about the upcoming product, and today we’ve got even more thanks to TechCrunch.  In a press conference being held this Wednesday, we should get confirmation and all of the other information we’ve been waiting for.

Probably the first big revelation is the name.  In order to differentiate it from the Kindle eReader line, the new Tablet has apparently been dubbed the “Kindle Fire”.  This was actually hinted at several months back when people stumbled on Amazon’s acquisition of several Kindle related domains, including kindlefire.com.

We now know that the Kindle Fire will be feature a 7″ backlit screen that may look quite similar to the BlackBerry Playbook due to shared manufacturers and a lack of time to get the product out for this holiday season.  It will be using a custom fork of Android (probably built on the 2.1 base), but altered to the point of complete uniqueness.  This will be running on a TI dual-core OMAP chip, probably in the 1.2GHz range, putting the hardware in line with other newer Android devices.  Overall a strong offering.

Now, the existing Kindle line has effectively dominated the eBook market in the United States by bringing customers an impressive reading experience that improves value despite the inability to price their eBooks as competitively as the company might desire (Hooray for the Agency Model, right?).  If a similar relationship with customers can be achieved with the Kindle Fire, Amazon can completely turn the current hardware-based Tablet sales model on its head (Some reports indicate that as much as 90% of iPad based profit for Apple comes from hardware sales).

To pull this off, Amazon has been pulling together a great support base.  Major app developers have apparently been approached to get them ready for the launch, for one.  Also, quite importantly given the media-centric nature of this device, Amazon has been putting together deals with the likes of CBS and Fox  to secure access to extensive video content for the Amazon Instant Video service.

There is currently some question as to the exact nature of what will be offered as incentives to new users.  Some sources are saying that this will be a $250 Tablet PC with Amazon Prime bundled free for the first year, while others are claiming that there will be two packages available that will differ mainly in their inclusion of the Amazon Prime membership.

What we anticipate at this time is an announcement by Amazon that the Kindle Fire will be available either late October or early November.  This seems like a large delay between the press conference and first shipments, but Amazon is clearly under pressure from competition in both tablets and eReaders at the moment and needs to get ahead.

Check back on Wednesday for confirmation, revisions, and any other Kindle Fire news that we are able to bring you.