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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.

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November 2011
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Kindle Fire vs Kindle Touch Hands-On: Is The Dedicated eReader Obsolete?

In the past several weeks, especially as the Kindle Fire’s release date drew near, many people have been touting the new media tablet as a higher end, more advanced Kindle.  While it is definitely true that it opens up new doors for Amazon in terms of content distribution, I don’t necessarily think that it is fair to assume that the Fire is a direct evolution of the line it takes its name from.  As such, I figured I might as well do a small comparison on the relative virtues of Amazon’s two newest Kindles.

Kindle Fire

This is the clear winner in terms of general usefulness.  We don’t need a breakdown to prove that, it simply is.  The dedicated eReader didn’t rise to popularity because of its exclusive access to the text contained inside eBook files, though.  The question is how this device stacks up specifically as an eReader.

Pros:

  • More Responsive Interface
  • Larger Storage Capacity
  • More Intuitive Sorting/Storage Library Interface

Cons:

  • LCD Display
  • Short battery Life

It really is a good system in general besides the back-lit LCD, offering the full functionality of any Kindle or Kindle App prior to the Touch model.  When you swap to the white on black color scheme it isn’t even terribly uncomfortable to read for hours at a time, though the fact that you are reading on a screen is never forgotten.

Kindle Touch

Pros:

  • E Ink Screen
  • X-Ray
  • Long Battery Life

Cons:

  • Slightly slower than Fire
  • More Basic Menu System
  • Limited PDF Functionality

The biggest things that the new Kindle Touch eReader has going for it revolve around the strengths that the Kindle line has always played to: a reading experience analogous to that of a paper book.  This includes no eye strain, page turns faster than physically possible with paper, seemingly endless battery life, and the best selection of books on the market.  That last is obviously not restricted to this model, but it helps.

On the downside, the responsiveness of the Kindle Fire when doing things besides plain old reading is far superior.  Both the color display and the simple ability to rotate your document also make it the superior device for PDF viewing.  While the zooming and scrolling on the Kindle Touch is superior to any previous Kindle due to the touchscreen implementation, for some reason this resulted in the loss of landscape mode.  That can be a pain when you’re unable to reflow your document.

Conclusions

When in comes to extended reading, the Kindle eReader is still king.  The E Ink screen isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker for everybody, but the loss of battery life that comes along with the move to LCD is likely to be.  X-Ray is a nice feature and will add some great tools for students and reading groups, but I have yet to find it more than a perk.

On the other hand, for active reference and note taking I would definitely recommend the Kindle Fire.  The reading experience shows no lag for me in about 15 hours of use so far, the page turns, highlighting, and note taking are nice and quick, and it can be useful to have the full web browser handy.

The experiences are indeed distinct, and probably will remain so until some form of Color E Ink or an equivalent comes along.

Nook Tablet’s Larger Storage Offers Less Than Kindle Fire

In the eyes of many, the Kindle Fire didn’t have much of a chance of competing with Apple’s technically superior iPad tablet.  That remains to be seen in the longer term, of course, but for now it’s all just speculation.  Regardless, this shifts the focus of people watching for active competition to the Kindle vs Nook battle.  They have been ongoing rivals in the eReader world, of course, and now they both offer budget priced tablets that will do a lot more than help you read.

On paper the Nook Tablet is quite possibly the better device.  It has the same processing power, more RAM, and most importantly twice the local storage of the Kindle Fire.  This last alone was enough to get many people to declare it a clear winner before either device hit shelves.  Now that we can use them both side by side, the situation has drastically changed.

The Nook Tablet, despite having 16GB of storage space (~12GB available to users), severely restricts what users are able to do with that space.  To such a degree that the idea of purchasing the device as a video player without the intention of rooting it is fairly laughable.  Users will find that Barnes & Noble has chosen to allow a mere 1GB of storage for the loading of outside content.  While the remainder can be filled by anything B&N sells, the fact of the matter is that right now they don’t offer nearly enough content to justify the choice.

There is not, for example, a video store for the Nook Tablet.  Neither is there an MP3 service.  You can, of course, access services like Netflix or Pandora for all your media consumption needs, but should you desire to watch or listen to things that you yourself own already then chances are good there is a problem.  Basically the only thing available in any quantity besides apps, and the scarcity of Nook apps is another complaint to address at another time, is reading material.  It simply does not justify this.

While I think that anybody would agree that the Kindle Fire‘s 8GB on-board storage is one of its weak points, Amazon at least manages to expand your options.  Sure you might have trouble loading everything that you want onto the device at once, but you can always stream it or store in their provided cloud storage until it is needed.  This is in addition to also offering equally functional access to Netflix, Pandora, and basically everything else that the Nook Tablet is using to make up for its lack of media store integration.

What probably should have been a clear win for B&N has turned their device into a joke for many prospective buyers.  We can hope that as time goes on this will be changed via a software update of some sort since the Nook Tablet is honestly a decent piece of hardware for just $250.  It is ridiculous that to get any decent amount of storage space a new user should feel compelled to purchase a memory card when the drive is just sitting there more than half empty.