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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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Kindle Fire Popularity Seems To Spur Interest In Kindle Phone

It’s safe to say that the Kindle Fire has made an impression.  Tablet prices are dropping across the board, some major hardware developers seem to be reconsidering their desire to enter the fray, and Amazon has increased their expected sales numbers on the order of millions of units beyond what was originally planned for the 2011 holiday season.  Not only does this spell good news for Amazon’s first non-eReader (or maybe post-eReader?  Hard to say precisely where to draw the line since it technically can show you books), it means that the hardware line is sure to continue and expand as time goes on.

There is some contention at the moment about exactly which Kindle Fire followup we can expect to see next.  Some are certain that it will end up being a 10.1″ direct competitor for the iPad while a newer contingent citing supposedly inside information from the production chain has started indicating somewhere around 9″ as the next step.  Regardless of where you would place your bet, one frequent point of speculation is the potential for a Kindle Phone.

There has been speculation before that Amazon was interested in entering into cellular devices, but until recently that seemed doomed to be nothing but a rumor.  This past week, though, Citigroup analyst Mark Mahoney noted that certain checks they have done indicate that development for an Amazon Phone is already underway with delivery expected in 4th quarter 2012.

To be honest, it is hard to know what to expect moving forward.  While this seems to be fairly detailed information, it feels like there is little in it for Amazon in the end.  The tablet makes sense since Amazon is able to completely control the data end of things and sell at near cost, undercutting the competition.  In a cellular market closely controlled by carriers, there might well be less room for such tactics.  When consumers are already used to getting hardware for less than half of its suggested retail cost, budget options aren’t as shocking.

What I could definitely envision, however, is a Kindle Fire-like device with a smaller screen and optional 3G coverage along the lines of what is available for the iPad.  It would work marketed as an iPod Touch competitor but still have the hardware necessary to function as a communication device should the desire arise.  Even without the 3G, relying on WiFi availability, such a thing would make a big splash at the right price.

As much as it might be a difficult thing to enter into the smartphone marketplace at this time, would Amazon be willing to pass up a chance to grab hold of what is only going to continue to be an expanding market?  The Kindle Fire has demonstrated for them the potential of Android devices and the fact that they already have an Android fork fully developed and customized to fully integrate into their sales systems means that much of the work is already done.  Maybe it’s just optimism, but I think the Kindle Phone is definitely on its way.

Kindle Fire to Offer Apps for Pandora, Netflix, and More

As many of you know, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has its own Android based app store that offers a free app every day.  The Kindle Fire is set to release on November 15 with a huge selection of popular apps including Pandora, Netflix, Facebook, and games from top gaming companies including Electronic Arts, PopCap and more.

Amazon is set to go with everyone’s favorite apps right out of the gate.  That’s pretty impressive considering how long it took the iPad to get a Facebook app.  But, in Amazon’s case, a precedent has been set in the android market. Whereas the iPad was the first to enter the tablet market, and is the only tablet using Apple’s app store.

EA and PopCap are known for high quality games.  A few favorites include Scrabble, Tetris, and Peggle.  Tetris has been a huge hit since the beginning of gaming systems.  Rovio is also on board, and they’re the makers of the hit game Angry Birds.  What is a tablet without Angry Birds?

Netflix and Pandora are other top apps that are available across tablet and smartphone platforms, so they are a natural addition to the Kindle Fire collection. Amazon also has its own video streaming library for Amazon Prime members set to rival Netflix.  Pandora and Rhapsody are the major players in music apps.

As far as apps go, one niche that Apple has a good hold on is Accessibility.  There are apps for the iPad that serve as decent and much cheaper alternatives to assistive technology.  I just downloaded a magnfying glass and a recorder recently. There are also caption services, and so much more.  I haven’t seen as much of this on Android systems, or on the Kindle in general.  It would be great to see apps that help people with vision, hearing, mobility, and learning disabilities.  Just another way to heat up the competition against Apple.

For more information on what popular apps will be available on the Kindle Fire, check out the latest Amazon press release.

 

 

Kindle Tablet’s Android Fork A Smart Idea

Admittedly I was one of many people who were initially a bit shocked and disappointed by the news that the Kindle Tablet would run on a forked version of Android from a pre-3.0 base.  Since Android 3.0 was the first version optimized for tablets, and since I want the Kindle Tablet to be as useful a device as the Kindle, there seemed to be an important connection being missed somewhere along the line.  After a bit of further research, though, this could be a great move to establish the new ecosystem.

There were some analyst observations made recently that brought the truth of things out pretty well.  Essentially, since this isn’t just an early release of Android it may not matter quite as much that it isn’t based on the most recent release.  The best way to think of this may be as an alternative to Android.  The Kindle Tablet OS, by all accounts, is built on the Android base code but does not carry over any of the experience.  It seems like something of a slight to Google to take their offering and run in another direction with it, but that’s another matter entirely.

What makes this an observation worth making is the way it increases the Kindle Tablet’s potential for creating a real presence for itself.  On the developer end of things, Android development is forced to exist in such a fragmented environment at this point that there is no simple way to keep up with everything.  Amazon is in a position to immediately take a dominant position among non-iPad tablets.  The combination of a huge user base and a stable environment could be enough to persuade many developers to release software exclusively for the Kindle Tablet, even leaving out the ability to make assumptions about the hardware capabilities of the end user.  A greater selection of apps than competing tablets is a big draw for customers, if the iPad can be taken as an example.

On the customer end of things, Amazon has already proven to be more effective than Google in moderating the content of its own Android App Store.  They’ve also shown a fair degree of insight into meeting user demand, as demonstrated by the Kindle, Kindle Apps, and the Amazon.com websites in general.  Combine the expected $249 price with a unique and positive user experience and it is hard to argue with a purchase, especially compared to more expensive and less impressively backed competing tablets.

Yes, it would have been nice to see Amazon having used a more recent release as their starting point.  The fact that they didn’t does imply that they’ve been at work for quite a while making the best product possible.  The Ars Technica preview that brought so many of these details to our attention in the first place emphasized how fluid and intuitive the tablet was to use, so apparently they have made good use of that time.  While I will continue hoping for certain hardware improvements in the form of a high end Kindle Tablet(Hollywood?), there seems to be no reason to find fault with their software decisions at the moment.

Amazon Kindle Tablet Rumor Recap

There have been a lots of theories, rumors, and “leaked” information floating around for the past couple months about what we all assume will be the new Kindle Tablet (or Tablets) later this year.  Lately, even the Wall Street Journal has printed a few bits of information coming from a “reliable source”.  It all adds up to a potentially impressive picture that a lot of us are looking forward to.  I thought, as a result, that it might be useful to go over what we think we know so far.

The Probable

  • Reports from various sources say that at least one Kindle Tablet, almost certainly the first of a series, will be released before the end of the year.  Possibly as early as October.
  • The Kindle Tablet will not compete with the Kindle, or result in its being discontinued.
  • The new Tablet PC will be running some variation of Google’s Android 3.0 or later, with seamless integration into Amazon’s Android App Store.
  • The focus will be on media consumption, with streaming video being strongly emphasized
  • The first Kindle Tablet will likely have a 9″ screen.
  • Prices on any and all Tablet PC offerings from Amazon are expected to undercut iPad 2 prices.
  • The initial stock order is sufficiently large that selling out should not be a problem.
  • There will be no camera.
  • An improved mobile shopping experience will be a major issue for Amazon’s new device.

The Possible

  • Some sources have claimed that two Kindle Tablet models will be available at launch, codenamed ‘Coyote’ and ‘Hollywood’.  The former would be a low powered, but affordable option with either a 7″ or 9″ screen.  The latter would feature more impressive hardware and a 10+” screen.
  • In order to fill as many niches as possible, Amazon plans to offer pocket-sized devices similar to the iPod Touch eventually, and maybe even a Kindle Phone.
  • The Kindle Tablet could be priced at or below cost in order to bolster sales, with any deficiencies made up through advertising space on the Tablets themselves.
  • Amazon may have some deals in the works with AT&T to provide 3G connections to the Tablets.
  • It is hoped that the displays for the Kindle Tablet line will take advantage of newer, more power conserving technology, based on Amazon’s criticisms of LCD shortcomings in previous ad campaigns.

A fair amount to go on so far, especially since Amazon has declined to even officially confirm the existence of the new device.  The only things we can be completely sure of are that Amazon has a Tablet PC in the works, they are anticipating strong sales based on manufacturer information, and it is unlikely that the Nook Color is the intended competition.  Amazon seems to have their sights set a little higher than Barnes & Noble’s almost unintentionally impressive budget Tablet.

Given that some rumors place the announcement and release as early as August, and that almost all of the more well sourced ones mention 3rd quarter 2011, it is certain that we’ll know more definite details soon.  In the meantime, it might be a good time to hold off on impulsively buying the next cool looking Tablet on the market.  Amazon has done a pretty good job of proving they know what they’re doing via the Kindle.  It should be worth the wait to see how they hold up on their next big hardware push.

Kindle for Android is Now More Tablet Friendly

Today Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced that they were releasing an update to their popular Kindle for Android software that would optimize it for use on tablet PCs using Android Honeycomb (Version 3.0).  The new software is intended to take all of the fun stuff that users liked about the existing software, add a few perks, and generally improve the way it takes advantage of larger screens than are common on Android based smartphones.  It all sounds pretty good.

The new features that users can expect from the update include an integrated storefront for the Kindle Store, an improved layout for newspaper and periodical display, an expanded enhanced dictionary with over 250,000 words, and the ability to control downloads of Kindle media.  On top of this, of course, is the usual Kindle experience including single purchase reading from any compatible device and convenient access to pretty much any book you might happen to want to read. The big improvement is naturally just the fact that it is a version specifically for tablet PCs rather than a stretched version of the reading software for Android phones.

This all ties in quite well with Amazon’s increasing presence in the Android marketplace.  Their app store is clearly doing well and this will be just one more thing that ties users into the larger Amazon customer experience.  If there was yet any doubt as to the efficacy of Amazon’s concentration on the media consumption side of gadgetry rather than on hardware profits, then we yet again have support in their favor.

Overall, the biggest improvements seem to be those for browsing and shopping the Kindle store.  It’s gone from a slightly unwieldy experience to that of literally having everything you’re likely to need at your fingertips right there within the app.  The Magazine improvements are hardly surprising, but they’re more than a little bit noticeable too.  Magazines and newspapers are the place where tablets really shine compared to eReaders, so it’s great to see full advantage being taken of the opportunities the hardware provides.

While I have no complaints about a better dictionary or greater control over downloading, they’re more subtle when it comes to day to day use.  I never really found the existing dictionary all that lacking, nor is there much of a problem in terms of books clogging my bandwidth.  I would assume the latter feature is geared toward situations where you would rather be able to download your book via WiFi or where audiobooks are simply too large to make sense to download all at once.  Neither one is anything to complain about, just not the fun flashy Kindle features that people tend to get excited about.

Existing Android users will not see any loss of functionality, of course, in spite of using the same software.  The smartphone friendly display mode is still present, and all the other new features are included anyway.  It’s a good time to be an Android user who shops at Amazon, whether your device of choice is a Honeycomb tablet or not.

Kindle Applications

iPhone Kindle Application

Kindle for iPhone or iPod touch gives you about all of the features you can get on a regular Kindle or Kindle DX.  You can download any of the books from the Kindle Store, sync to pages and adjust the font.  Kindle for iPhone or iPod touch uses a backlit screen so you can read your book in the dark if you want to.  The home screen allows you to sort your books by recently added, author, or title.

Additional features include the ability to download the book in the background for IOS 4.0 devices, read free and out of copyright books from Project Gutenberg and other similar sources.  For a more comprehensive list of features go check out the Kindle for iPhone page on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Software requirement: IOS 3.0

To install: Search for Kindle for iPhone in the iTunes App Store on your computer or on your iPhone or iPod touch.  Get the latest version: 2.5.1.

Windows PC Kindle Application

The Windows PC Kindle Application allows you to read your Kindle books on your computer.  It includes full screen color and brightness adjustments, the ability to sync annotations and last page read, and you can search for all books available in the Kindle Store.

Requirements for the Windows PC Kindle Application:

Windows XP Service Pack 2, Vista and 7.

At Least 128 MB of RAM

Screen Resolution of 800 by 600 or greater

500MHz Intel or AMD processor or faster

100MB of disk space

Most PC’s nowadays fill these requirements easily.

To install: Click “Download Now” on the Kindle for PC product page and the installation should begin automatically.  If it doesn’t, Amazon provides you with a page that gives you a link to try installing it again.

Mac Kindle Application

Kindle for MacKindle for the Mac does has most of the same features as Kindle for PC except that the Kindle for the Mac just allows font adjustments.

Requirements for Kindle Mac Application:

A Mac with a 500MHz Intel processor or faster

512 MB of RAM

Leopard or Snow Leopard OS

800 by 600 or greater screen resolution

100MB of Disk Space

To install: You can install directly from the Kindle Mac Application Product Page, or you can install from the Mac App Store.

Blackberry Kindle Application

Kindle for BlackberryThe Blackberry Kindle Application is available for:

Bold 9000 and 9700

Curve 8520 and 8900

Storm 9530 and 9550

Tour 9639

Torch 9800

To install: Sign into your Amazon account and send an email to your Blackberry or download directly from your browser at “amazon.com/kindlebb”.

This is the only app that is available to just U.S. customers.

iPad Kindle Application

The Kindle for iPad Application is the same as the application for the iPhone, but on a larger device.  It also includes Kindle Audio and Video.

Software requirements: iPhone/iPad 3.2 OS software update.

To install: Download Kindle for iPad from the iPad App Store.

Android Kindle Application

Kindle for Android users can share reading progress, read in landscape or portrait mode, zoom in with a double tap and read over 100 magazines and newspapers in addition to the 810,000 books in the Kindle Store.

Software Requirements: Android 1.6 or greater

To install: Search for “kindle” in the Android Market or use your phone’s sensor to capture the Kindle for Android Application barcode on the product page.

Windows Phone 7 Kindle Application

Windows Phone 7The Windows Phone 7 Kindle application has 5 different font sizes and 3 background colors to choose from. You can also email a link to a book you are currently reading or one from your library to a friend.

To install: Download the Windows Phone 7 Kindle application from the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace.

Read Kindle books on Nook Color

Yep, you are reading this right. It’s actually quite easy now to get Kindle books on Nook color and have both eBook stores available to you on a single device. This is possible because Nook Color is more of an entry level Android tablet than a dedicated eReader. As it comes out of the box it just happens to start the Nook application by default and not let users run anything else.

However that can easily be fixed by rooting the device and enabling the Android Market. With Andoid market you can install all kinds of applications, including Kindle, Kobo reader. You would also be able to play Angry Birds and watch Youtube videos. Installing the Kindle application for Android will let you read Amazon Kindle books on your Nook Color device.

The downside however is that as with all hacks, you risk bricking the device and voiding the warranty. You may also lock yourself out of future updates from Barnes and Noble. So it’s a trade off but in my opinion a profitable one.

It took me less than 5 minutes to execute all rooting instructions from NookDevs.com to root the device, enable Android Market, download Kindle for Android and have WhisperSync open the book I was reading on the same place I left it off on my Kindle device.

Here’s what you will need in terms of hardware:

  1. NookColor device with USB cable
  2. microSD card that is larger than 128MB (if you are in a rush and have Amazon Prime, amazon will overnight it to you for additional $3.99)
  3. SD card reader if your computer doesn’t have one.

In terms of software you’ll need:

  • On Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 32 or 64 bit – Win32DiskImager.exe
  • On Mac or Linux you can get by with tools that ship with the operating system.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before rooting make sure that you’ve registered the device with B&N as it might not work after rooting.
  2. Download nooter that corresponds to you Nook version. You can check your Nook version by pressing Nook button, selecting “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “About your NOOKcolor” >> Software version:
    1. for 1.0.0 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.15 file 15 Dec 2010
    2. for 1.0.1 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.25 file 25 Dec 2010
  3. Unpack the file
  4. On Windows use Win32DiskImager to write the image to microSD card (please note that all data on the card will be lost). For Linux or Mac, check out NookDevs.com for detailed microSD imaging instructions.
  5. Completely power off NOOKcolor by holding the power button until the screen blurs and “Power off NOOKColor” dialog appears. Select “Power Off” and wait for the device to shut down completely.
    NOOKcolor microSD card slot
  6. Turn device face down and open the microSD card container in the lower right corner. Push the card in with metal contacts facing down.
  7. Connect the device to your computer via USB cable. The device will power up and book from the SD card but the screen will not turn on. This is normal.
  8. After about a minute your computer show detect the new device. This means that the rooting is complete. Your Windows computer will complain about missing drivers. This is normal.
  9. Disconnect the USB cable and remove the card from the reader.
  10. Power cycle it by holding the power button for 20 seconds and then releasing it. The press the power button briefly to power the reader on.
  11. As the reader boots you will see a red splash screen.
  12. Once the reader boots, you will be prompted for you Gmail account (as usually with Android) and some initial settings. This will only happen once.
  13. As you open the extras folder you will see that it now contains Android market icon and some extras (Youtube, Gmail, etc)
    NOOKcolor rooted extras including Kindle
  14. You can now start the market app and download other apps that you like. You will need to reboot the device for apps to appear on the extras page. The apps themselves can be used right away just as with usual Android apps.

After that the sky is the limit.

First thing that I did was to download Kindle application and verify that it works – it did. See – for yourself.

Amazon Kindle on NOOKcolor

Amazon Kindle App on NOOKcolor

While this works, it’s not 100%. Initially I had some problems with apps not downloading via the market app. Reboot fixed that. Kobo app for android logs in and displays the list of books but then all books get stuck in “Waiting for download” state. Kindle app didn’t have such problems.

I also tried Youtube, remote desktop, Gmail and Angry Birds and that worked well.

All-in-all, I’m quite happy with this experiment as it shows once again that Kindle books can cross device boundaries and run even on competing devices. Does it add value to Kindle or NOOKcolor? I think both. If you have Barnes&Noble LCD eReader you can now get books from either store. Kindle opponents meanwhile have one less reason to complain about device-restricting DRM system.

I wanted to do Kindle vs. NOOKcolor review first, but this post turned out more about how these two devices cooperate rather than compete. The comparison review will be posted sometime early next year. I promise.

Unrooting and updating

Some people claim that using NOOKcolor can be “unrooted” by “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “Erase & Deregister Device” but I haven’t tested it yet. I’m quite happy with my rooted NOOKcolor. Another method is to hold power, nook and Volume+ buttons pressed until you are prompted for device reset.

I’ve tried both methods and both reset the nook but apps were still present on the “extras” screen.

The official 1.0.1 update got installed without problems and after rebooting all rooting extras were completely gone.

I then went ahead to re-rooted the device and installed the Kindle reader apps back.

Social Media and Technology Blogs for Kindle

Mashable is a leading social network news blog that was founded in 2005.  You can get it on the Kindle and Kindle DX for 99 cents a month.  By downloading the site to your Kindle, you can read it anytime with or without the wireless capability.  Just keep in mind that the wireless needs to be on in order for the content to be refreshed.

Peter Cashmore founded the site from a small town in Scotland.  The site includes up to date news on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Web 2.0 trends.  This is a great resources for libraries because libraries are constantly striving to stay on top of the technology curve.  In addition to libraries, this site is popular with entrepreneurs, social media enthusiasts and pretty much anyone who is interested in Web 2.0 trends.

Some recent news topics include the newest iPhone apps.  There is an article about an interesting looking case that makes the iPhone kid friendly.  Another article discusses the ease of using the iPhone to swipe a credit card.  If you are an Android user, there is news for you too.  Of course, you can also find news on the Kindle, Nook and other e-book readers.

Social Media Marketing is a big deal right now, and Mashable is an excellent resource for finding suggestions on how to market yourself on Facebook and Twitter.  Marketing your business on these sites helps get your brand out there and is also a good way to network with people in similar fields of expertise.

Looking beyond social media, another good technology blog to consider is TechCrunch.  TechCrunch was founded in 2005 and profiles start ups, shares the latest technology news and reviews new internet products.  Some of the latest articles include education and e-learning, an interview with the popular movie company, Netflix and thoughts on AT&T’s reaction to the rumored Verizon iPhone.   There is also a section on environmentally friendly technology.

Both Mashable and TechCrunch are rated as top technology blogs.  The reviews for the Kindle edition are great overall.  Reading them on the Kindle makes them much more portable.

Mangle: Manga Meets the Kindle

For anyone interested in manga, there is a free, open source software available called Mangle.  Manga is a series of Japanese cartoons or comics that cover all genres such as action, comedy, romance, sports, science fiction, fantasy and others.  Manga has become a huge hit in Japan and worldwide.  Usually the comics are printed in black and white, but there are a few color versions floating around.

Mangle was created by Alex Yatskov several years ago for the older generation version of the Kindle.  This software works really well with the Kindle 3.  Click here for downloading instructions, and for images of software demonstrations.

The Kindle 3’s improved screen makes graphics much easier to read.  Graphics have been a common complaint among Kindle users, but that seems to be improving.  You can zoom in or out and rotate the images as desired.  Manga pages in the physical books are small, but there are a lot of them.  More pages take up space, so transferring them to a digital format solves that issue.

The other cool thing about providing manga in a digital format is that it attracts an audience who might not like to read regular books.  Some people just enjoy reading a story through graphics rather than words.  It would be awesome if this option could be provided on all of the Kindle platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad.  When I think about it though, the black and white aspect of manga might just be a better fit for the Kindle device itself.

There is a good selection of manga available in the Kindle Books section on Amazon.  A lot of them seem to be either in the romance or horror category.   Anyone know of any particularly good novels they would recommend?  I have been introduced to the world of manga, but would like to hear about what great titles are out there to check out.

Amazon Considering Other Gadgets

Reports have been swirling around this past week that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is supposedly considering creating other gadgets to sell along with the Kindle and Kindle DX.  This would be one tough feat considering that Apple has the monopoly on music players with its iPod, and cell phone carriers make the most revenue from cell phone services.  Plus, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have a good head start with the iPhone and Android smartphones.

Amazon might be able to compete more closely with the iPad if it creates a tablet like device with a color screen and better internet access.  However, by going to a LCD color display, the company would be abandoning it’s stance on providing a pleasurable reading experience that simulates the experience of reading a regular book.

A recent article from Bloomberg Business Week suggested that Amazon resell items that are already popular in it’s marketplace.  That would save the hassle of creating a new product, and they could still make a decent profit from it.

I think Amazon should focus on the Kindle Books by working with the publishers to make the digital quality better and the prices more affordable.  The Amazon Kindle app. is available on many different devices, including the iPad, and books can be transferred from one device to another.   The recent drop in price and Wi-Fi only model was a smart move on Amazon’s part because the newest Kindle is now sold out.   A cheaper Kindle means consumers can make up for the cost in buying more books.