About

On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader 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 e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

Recent Comments

October 2011
M T W T F S S
« Sep   Nov »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Kindle Fire vs Kindle eReaders: Interface Differences and Why They May Matter To You

With the Kindle Fire opening up whole new avenues of entertainment in the product line and the Kindle Touch providing the affordable touchscreen eReader that people have been asking for for years now, there is a sense that both the Kindle Keyboard (Kindle 3) and just plain “Kindle” (Kindle 4) are superfluous.  Sure the low price on the basic Kindle is great, for example, but for only a $20 difference over the touchscreen model you are asserting that you will never need an audiobook and don’t have much interest in note taking.  Sometimes it is nice to retain those capabilities just in case, even if you have no interest in them from day to day.  This absolutely does not mean that there is no situation where that is the smart move to make, it just means that being aware of your needs is important.

I think that the obvious contrast will be between the Kindle Fire and the Kindle products with mechanical interfaces.  While I will maintain that there is a definite difference between the new tablet and the eReader line it is billed as a part of, Amazon’s association of the two types of hardware under the same brand name makes the comparison important.  It’s true that much of the argument also goes for the Kindle Touch, right now we can look at the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard hands-on.  That makes things a bit simpler.

Naturally I could go on again about the superior reading experience to be found in an E INK Pearl screen over pretty much any LCD we’re ever likely to see.  Fortunately, I think most people have come to accept that already.  The battery life issue is also a big one, but not worth dwelling on.  It is not likely that people would fail to see the benefits of only having to charge a portable device every few weeks.  What I will contend is that there is an advantage to be found in the simplified experience of the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard over that we can expect from the Kindle Fire.

Since the Kindle is traditionally associated with reading and I’m talking about the virtues of the less expensive members of the Kindle family, it’s only natural that a great deal of weight is to be placed on the act of reading.  For example, I consider it a great advantage to be able to read without the distractions offered by a multi-functional device.  I won’t deny this owes to my own easily distracted nature, but that’s hardly an uncommon trait.  Reading a book should not generally be an act of willpower overcoming the urge to do something else.  That detracts somehow.  With a Kindle or Kindle Keyboard, not only can you do little besides read, most of what else you are able to do revolves around acquiring more things to read.  It is a cohesive experience.

The fact that both of the Kindles in question make use of mechanical controls rather than a touch interface can also be an advantage.  Aside from any risk of fingerprints being left, many people will prefer to be able to navigate their eBooks via the page turn buttons on the sides of the device.  When using a Kindle Keyboard, for example, you can adjust your grip to allow for page turning with nothing more than a light squeeze of the thumb.  Even assuming this is possible on a touchscreen, it would involve covering part of the display.  You may only save a small motion, but when Amazon is looking to save on even the effort of a swiping gesture in their touch interface there is obviously a preference for conserved effort in the user base.

The Kindle Keyboard in particular also offers the distinct advantage of being able to interact with your device without tying up screen real estate.  Normally this is not a big deal, I will be the first to admit.  When it comes to making in-text notations, however, it is useful to be able to see as much as possible while forming your thoughts.  I do think that the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire will offer a greater speed to the notation process since selecting text is a bit clunky with the more basic directional control, but it is useful to be aware of the tradeoff.  Losing the keyboard was worthwhile in terms of reducing size and weight, but for some people the keyboard is still a useful part of the Kindle experience.

This is not a claim for the overarching superiority of the older Kindle Keyboard or even the equality of the Kindle 4 (there is a reason that it is priced lower than all the other Kindles).  What I am claiming is that they each fill niches separate from the Kindle Fire and, to a lesser degree, the Kindle Touch.  Yes the newer, more powerful device can do basically all the same things that the eReaders are able to do as well as many other things that people will find useful, but that does not mean that it is a direct upgrade.  For an affordable tablet, the Kindle Fire is great.  For an eReader I would recommend any other Kindle without hesitation.  There is no more reason to disregard the Kindle or the Kindle Keyboard than there is to ignore the situational usefulness of the Kindle DX, which is an issue I have also gotten into recently.  Know your options and your needs when you decide it is time for a new Kindle.

Nook Color vs Kindle: Does B&N Still Have A Shot?

The Nook Color was not the first color eReader by any stretch of the imagination, for all it beat out the Kindles to that point.  Even if you exclude all of the PDAs, Blackberrys, and smartphone types of devices in general that gave the Microsoft LIT format a space to thrive in, there were others that came before.  Credit where credit is due, however, B&N created the first reading tablet that was worth owning.  Its value might just not come as much from the pure quality of reading experience as it could need to to remain competitive as an eReader.

Analysts have regularly indicated that the appeal of the Nook Color, for the average consumer, is in its ability to access magazines and casual games along the lines of the ever popular Angry Birds series.  The portability, full color display, and Android based operating system make it great for short periods of interaction and immersion, even if the screen is less than ideal for extended reading.  Now, with the release of the Kindle Fire, there is reason for Barnes & Noble to be concerned over their device’s future.

What it comes down to is a practically point by point feature trumping on Amazon’s part, plus a superior media distribution base to draw on in the areas where a tablet is most useful.  The points of comparison stand out a little bit when you consider the Nook Color’s superiorities over the Kindle 3 (Kindle Keyboard).

Kindle Keyboard Nook Color Kindle Fire
Display 6″ Monochrome E INK 7″ Color LCD 7″ Color LCD
Interface Keyboard & Directional Controls Capacitive Multitouch IR Multitouch
Dimensions 7.5″ x 4.8″ x 0.34″ 8.1″ x 5.0″ x .48″ 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″
Weight 8.5 Ounces 15.8 Ounces 14.6 Ounces
Battery Life 2 Months 8 Hours 8 Hours
Storage 4GB Internal 8GB Internal, Expandable Memory Slot 8GB Internal, Amazon Cloud Storage
Browsing Capabilities Basic HTML Experimental Full Browser w/ Flash Support Silk Browser w/ Flash Support
Price $99 – $139 $249 $199

That comparison is based on what features Barnes & Noble has chosen thus far to highlight on the device specs section of the Nook Color sales page, in an effort to present things fairly.  I’m ignoring the majority of software concerns, especially in terms of file type compatibility, since apps are theoretically able to make up for most any deficiency.  These would still, however, favor the new Kindle.  While the Nook Color is the only one of these with an expandable memory slot, which would seem incredibly useful to many users, this has proven a mixed blessing for the company since it provides people with a simple and effective way to bypass the Nook’s proprietary Android build.

Basically it appears that with the Kindle Fire Amazon has looked at what the competition was doing and improved on it.  No surprise, that’s what competing products are supposed to do.  They’ve essentially got a slightly smaller, slightly lighter 7″ tablet that they’re not hooked on the idea of presenting as an eReader.  Overall the technology behind the Kindle Fire is newer and more powerful in every way that matters and still comes in at a lower price for the end user.  The only real question now is what B&N does with this information.

We can take as a given that Barnes & Noble is not in a position to provide the same sort of robust media library that Amazon is bringing to customers.  Even if they were to start pulling in video streaming deals and other things along those lines to fill in the gaps, the time factor would be a problem.  What they can do is work to get Netflix, Hulu, or any number of other streaming services on-board as partners.  With Amazon poised to make a move into that market in a larger way than they have so far, it shouldn’t be too difficult.  It would mean giving up on potential media sales revenue, but it also eliminates the need to build up the infrastructure to support that media.  We know that rooted Nook Colors are able to access services like Netflix already, so it would only make sense to cash in on it given how easily root-able these devices have proven to be.

There is also the rumor of a new Nook Color that will bring hardware upgrades.  Now, this is pretty flimsy in spite of having seen posts declaring it would be released “any day now” since early September, but it could make a big difference to their presence in the device market.  While a price drop in the current Nook Color is a given, having a newer more powerful model available would work well whether it was a more expensive option or as an outright replacement.  In the former scenario it would highlight the fact of the low price point while providing options.  In the latter, there is room to hope that in some way the Kindle Fire will be inferior.  If the hardware option is going to make a difference, however, it needs to happen soon.  Once people start getting their hands on the Kindle Fire, barring major issues with them, the momentum is likely to increase leading into the holiday season.

What we do know is that the Nook line as a whole is pretty much the only part of Barnes & Noble that is growing right now.  They need to keep things going.  As a result, you can be sure that something is on the horizon to keep the situation competitive.  Tablet PCs just tend to be the most useful when it comes to things that aren’t reading, so it might take a bit of a shift for B&N to really make their presence known now that there are comparably priced options available.  Whether or not they manage remains to be seen, but hopes are high.  While the Nook Color has not been my favorite device personally, it did provide us with one of the first reasonably priced yet fully functional tablets almost by mistake (rooting is essential in a way that many are hoping will not be the case with the Kindle Fire).  It would be a shame to seem them fall aside now.

Getting Around at DecalGirl.com / Kindle 4 Skins

This is the second post in a series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. I’ll start it by announcing the winner of last weeks giveaway: @nbrown1981. I’ve sent the redemption code via Twitter. This weeks giveaway works in a very simple way (same as the last one): click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. Winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. Last week only about a dozen people participated in the giveaway so chances of winning were pretty high.

I’ll let Bill take over from here…


This week I would like to start by introducing the DecalGirl website to those who have never been there before, and showing everyone some of the ways to navigate and quickly find what you are looking for.

If you click on the images of Kindle 4 skins below (more about them in a bit) you will be taken to a page for that particular design. Let’s take a look at various ways to find what you are looking for from there.

You can make a selection from the main menu and the drop down sub-menus at the top of the page. Those will help you navigate to the main pages for each device where you can see all of the stock skins for that device. (Don’t forget, you are not limited to the skins you see on this page. More about that later, too.) There is also a “directory listing” type menu just above the content area of each page that allows you to jump back over multiple levels with one click if you so desire.

If you look over the skins on any particular page and you don’t see anything that really tweaks your interest, or if you just want more choices, you can go to the right side of the main menu and click on “More ways to shop.” If you select “Shop by artist” you will be taken to the main artists’ page, where you can select an artist to view his or her gallery. If you select “Shop by design” you will be presented with all our current designs, which can be sorted by “Freshest,” “Best Sellers,” or “Name.” There’s a filter option on the left that lets you filter by artist, color, or style of art.  Any design can be put on a skin for any device.  When you choose to shop by design or by artist you will be presented with a menu to select the type of device, and then the specific device you would like skinned.  After making those selections you will be presented with a choice of gloss or matte finish, you will see the price, and you can add the skin to your cart.

We are occasionally asked about custom skins.  It’s a little hard to find information about it on the website, so let me make everyone aware:  Yes, DecalGirl can do custom skins.  If you want a picture of your favorite pet, or your daughter, or whatever on a skin, all you need to do is email [email protected].  We will send you a photoshop template via email.  Put your art on that template, send it back to us, and we will create your skin.  There is an additional $5 charge for custom skins.  You can also request to have color changes made or text added to any of our stock designs.  We will soon be streamlining this process by adding an online customizer tool to our website.

Still can’t find what you are looking for, or have questions? You can contact DecalGirl in several different ways. Go to the bottom left of any page to find our customer service links. From there you can send us an email or find our snailmail address, as well as our toll free customer service telephone number. Live customer service is available Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Eastern. When you call you will be talking to a friendly helpful customer service representative who is right here on site at DecalGirl, not someone at a foreign outsourced call center! (You’ll be talking to Amy, Keith, or Erin, not “Peggy!”  For anyone not in the U.S., this video will introduce you to “Peggy.”)

Now let’s talk about the skins for a bit. We have most recently added skins for the Kindle 4, and you can expect to see skins available for the other new Kindles in the near future. Right now there are 157 skin designs available on the Kindle 4 page, but remember you can shop by design or artist to select any of our more than 2200 skins to cover your Kindle 4. Here are three of our currently most popular designs. Click on any of them to visit the page for that design.

The first design is called “Library,” by Vlad Studio. Could there be a more appropriate skin for an ereader than this one?  Vlad lives in Irkutsk, Russia. He produces clever designs on a variety of subjects – from inanimate objects to stylized animals and people.

The next design is by one of our newer artists, Kate McRostie, and it is called “Fresh Picked.” Kate lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and gets her inspiration from people and things around her. “Fresh Picked” is reminiscent of the upholstery on an old fashioned chair, or perhaps decorative wallpaper.

The third and final design I want to share this week is called “Infinity” by David April. David is a software developer who produces fractal and photographic art. “Infinity” has multiple layers that give it an almost 3-D look.

Next week I’ll share some of our designs that will get you in the mood for the Halloween season. Have a good week, everyone!