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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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Can the iPad Mini Give the Kindle Fire a Run for its Money?

In Steve Jobs’ biography, he repeatedly stressed the importance of creating fewer, top of the line products, rather than a slew of mediocre ones.  Apple has always thrived on branding and staying ahead of the game.

It surprised me that the iPad Mini is not only real, but it is named exactly what rumors called it.  Is Apple getting too predictable?  Now we have a big variety of sizes for tablets and smartphones in the Apple lineup.  Most people can reconcile having both an iPad and an iPhone, but can you do that for the iPad Mini and the iPhone?

I don’t see it taking the hold of the 7″ tablet market like the original 10″ iPad currently has on the larger tablet market.  Obviously, price is one factor.  The iPad mini is $329, whereas the Kindle Fire HD, Nook Tablet, and Nexus 7 are all $199.  So, they will attract different types of consumers.

For thee moment, I don’t think the Kindle Fire HD has too much to worry about from that end.  The Nexus 7 is proving to be a solid competitor, but competition is good because it make the devices strive to get better and better with each generation.

It used to be that the major tech giants excelled in different areas.  Google held the monopoly on search engines, Amazon was the pioneer for ebooks, Microsoft reigned over the PC market, and Apple took control over computers, and later music.

Now, they’re all trying to one up each other by creating competing products.  This can be quite overwhelming for the consumer!  Maybe it is best to just let them duul it out, and see what the winners are.

As far as choices go, longevity is a good thing to consider.  The Kindle Fire is in its second generation, and has ironed out some issues that the first generation had. The new Kindle Fire family includes better display, better designed hardware, and a camera.  Amazon also has a good sized marketplace with a free app every day.

For the 10″ inch tablets, the iPad still dominates that market, and has had a couple of years to improve.  Apple of course has a huge appstore, and includes a number of business apps.

Only time will tell what the winners will be in the tablet market.  It is sure to be a wild ride.

Nexus 7 Thoughts

I have to hand it to Google.  They, along with Asus have put together a tablet that should do well in the market.  Based on my experience with an Asus laptop, it is a great company.  According to reviewers who have had a chance to get their hands on the Nexus 7 claim it is solid and easy to use.  It is going for a competitive $199 price, the same price as the Kindle Fire.

Good news for Android lovers.  The Nexus 7 will run on the latest Android operating system, Jelly Bean.

Here’s the catch. Google has a tendency to release a lot of projects that show promise, then they fizzle.  Note Google Wave, and Google Buzz.  Even Google Plus hasn’t found a strong footing.  They’re very innovative with their ideas, but they don’t quite follow through from start to finish.  If the tablet went in the same direction, technical support would be mediocre at best.

An advantage that Amazon has over Google as far as tablets are concerned, is seniority. Over the past year, Amazon has built up a robust app collection for the Kindle Fire.  It is also the front runner on books, which is the way it should be considering that books are what Amazon is most known for.

The 2nd generation of the Kindle Fire is expected to release on July 31 with a camera and other much needed tune ups.  So, if you can wait a month,  see what this new version has to offer, and then weigh it with the Nexus 7. Chances are that Amazon will include a lot of the features that the Nexus 7 currently offers that the first generation Kindle Fire doesn’t, such as a camera.

When it comes to buying technology, I try to wait til the 2nd generation or later.  I did this with my Kindle, iPad, and phone.  The price goes down and the device gets a tune up.

Google’s biggest asset is search engine technology.  Different companies excel at different things.  I think they have what it takes to make a good 7 inch tablet that can be competitive.  The question is, will they go the extra mile and make it better than good?

As consumers we have options that can fit different preferences as opposed to being locked into one device, which is awesome. I’ll be watching closely to see what happens with the new Google tablet, and how it will fare in the tablet market.

 

10.1 Inch Kindle Fire, is it a good idea?

I have watched so many people who otherwise wouldn’t consider a tablet purchase a Kindle Fire this year because of the great price and good company brand.  In addition to the $199 regular price, you can find deals for refurbished Fires for $139.  The Kindle has certainly come a long way in 5 years.

The Kindle Fire took the tablet out of the niche market and into the hands of your average consumers.

The 7″ Kindle Fire is a good compromise for those who want the advantages of a smartphone and tablet in one device.  You don’t have to worry about a data plan, and the app store boasts a robust collection of Android based apps for the tablet.  It is portable and less than half the price of the low end model iPad.

With all of that said, I question the need for a larger Kindle Fire at least for the time being.  I don’t doubt that Amazon has the means to produce a good quality, competitively priced one.  There is a rumor going around that a 10.1 inch Kindle Fire will be released later this year, and plans for a smaller, second generation one will be put on hold.  That is the part I’m skeptical about.  If Amazon wants to reach out to a full audience, it needs to appeal to both markets.

Larger tablets lose portability.  The iPad is not easy to hold for long periods of time.  The computing power would need to be stronger.

So, to sum it up, I think that the first generation Kindle Fire fared quite well with room for improvement.  Those improvements such as a built in camera, faster browsing, screen quality, etc, can all be addressed in the next generation.  Working from that, a larger version is a good goal to work towards.

But, that’s just my opinion on it.  The tablet market as a whole is exploding.  The competition is fierce and we are most likely headed for tablet centered computing.

Rumors will fly and lots of times you can take them with a grain of salt, but it will be interesting to see what really happens in the next few months.

 

How the Digital Revolution has Changed the Nature of Reading

I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately.  Some kept my attention better than others though.  I just finished Tina Fey’s hit autobiography, Bossypants.  It has been awhile since I’ve laughed out loud so much while reading a book.  I highly recommend this one.

After reading an article about how distractions from social media and YouTube have changed the nature of reading, it made me realize how true that is just from observing my own recent reading habits.  The whole social media is distracting concept is not new, but sometimes we just have to be reminded how much of a time suck it really is.

I have always been a voracious reader.  I used to could lie on a couch immersed in a book, or in more recent years, my Kindle, for hours on end.  I have always liked how the e-ink Kindle has managed to continue to create a quality, relatively distraction free reading experience. Enter the iPhone, and later the iPad and those days were mostly gone.

Books don’t grab my attention like they used to.  I’m finding that it is harder and harder for me to focus on one book for a length of time.  Even with one as good as Bossypants, I was still mindlessly checking my email or Facebook every so often.

So what will instant access to other forms of media do to reading?  It has and will continue to become more fragmented.  Twitter has introduced the idea of saying what you need to say in just 140 characters.  We go in to get what we want, and move on.  The good thing about this is that more people than ever before have access to information.  Most people are reading something, even if it is just blog articles.  So, this is a big step in the right direction for literacy efforts.

With that said, I do hope that good books hold their charm for years to come.  There are times when our overstimulated brains just need a break from the mindless social media checking.  I sometimes like to leave everything behind and go sit in a park on a nice day and just read.  Hide your phone, or revoke your Kindle Fire’s wi-fi access, and escape into another reality for awhile.

Sony to Launch a Foldable Tablet Later this Year

The Sony Reader was the first to get touch screen technology.  It set off a big touch screen craze that included all of the major e-readers: Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.  The Kindle Touch in turn became Amazon’s bestselling e-ink Kindle.

So, Sony has a some good ideas going as far as e-readers go. I happened upon an article about a foldable tablet that the company is currently preparing for release next week.

The new tablet, called the Tablet P, will have dual screens, one on each side of the foldable hinges.  My biggest question in regards to the screens is how they will mesh together for the display.  Will they show separate content?  Do they somehow come together to create a larger display?

The odd thing is that the Tablet P will feature last year’s Android operating system, Honeycomb.  That will be a big drawback right there.

By making this table foldable, it is protecting the screen from scratches and dings, so that is a big plus.   Although Apple was onto something when it created a smart cover to protect the iPad’s screen .  Sony’s new tablet also includes a camera, which is not currently available on the Kindle Fire.

Obviously, there are some real winners in the e-reader and tablet market, most notably,  the Kindle and iPad, but is still fun to explore the other ideas are floating around.  Despite the Tablet P’s lack of computing power and poor sales outlook, it sparks an idea that can be developed further to grab the attention of consumers.

I would really like to see the major players in the tablet and e-reader world become powerful enough to handle heavier computing.  It would be nice to have the benefits of both in one device.  The foldable tablet could emerge as a hybrid laptop/tablet device.  The tablet would be hinged to a keyboard, but also removable.

So, we’ll see what happens.  It is always fun to speculate on the future of technology.

 

iPad 3 Release Date Rumors Flying, What will this mean for the Kindle Fire?

If you are familiar with Apple’s PR strategy, you’ll recognize the hype that goes along with each potential new product release.  Speculations fly while Apple stays tight lipped until the product is launched.

That trend continues with the much anticipated release of the next generation iPad. March 29 seems to be the latest “magic date” for the release of the iPad 3.  This goes along with the usual spring release date of the highly sought after tablet.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if this release date was at least close to the actual one.

So, what will this mean for the Kindle Fire?  In the beginning, I don’t see it being affected too much because it seems to appeal to a different market than the iPad.  A big reason for that is the price.  The iPad is also geared more towards heavy duty computing, and includes a camera and bluetooth compatibility.  The Kindle Fire is great for browsing the internet, videos, reading and games.  It is just a matter of determining what you will use the tablet for and what you want it to do.

Apple has been known for top quality devices without too much cap on price.  Despite the $500 price tag on the iPad, consumers know they are going to get a top notch product.  Amazon designs the cheapest device they can that is still functional so that it can reach out to the biggest number of users possible.  I don’t see the price of the iPad 3 dropping a whole lot, at least not anywhere near the price of the Fire.

The Kindle Fire is the second best selling tablet after the iPad, and has been the only tablet to show a margin of success comparable to the Apple tablet, but the iPad’s sales hit record numbers in recent months.  So that just proves the point that both can exist and do extremely well.

Let’s take a look at a longer term effects. Now that so many consumers own a tablet, they will want to move up in features and quality.  Amazon will need to continue to try to integrate more features at the lowest cost for the Kindle Fire to show strong sales figures.  Another key factor is maintaining a strong Android Marketplace.  So, once Amazon achieves that, then they can release a second generation Kindle Fire.

This is all speculation base on the 10″ iPad.  If the rumored iPad Mini shows up, then Amazon will really need to get into gear to present a Kindle Fire version that can compete with it.

Until I see what the new iPad will look like and the price, it is hard to tell exactly how it will affect the status of the Kindle Fire.  So, more concrete observations to come after March 29, or whenever the official release date is.  Stay tuned.

 

What the Future Means for E-Readers

The tablet market is off and running and the Kindle Fire is doing very well. I have often wondered what the future of the original e-reader will look like.  Now that the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo e-readers are all touchscreen, what is the next big update?

I’m not saying they’re perfect by any means.  The page transitions could be smoother, and the page turn buttons could be arranged a little better to make things more comfortable for lefties.  Then of course, there’s always the potential for faster browsing in the Amazon Store.

Right now to me at least, my Kindle and iPad serve completely different purposes.  I have tried reading a book on both an iPad and Kindle Fire, and the screen is just too bright for me to read for a long time.  My Kindle Touch isn’t really a gadget to me that I feel like I need to separate myself from like the computer or phone.

A hybrid tablet and e-reader has been mentioned in the past, and I think this is most likely what will happen.  The trick is designing one that can create the same effect that both an e-reader and a tablet can.  I’m not exactly sure how far off this possibility is, but it would be nice to be about to just carry around one device that does multiple things.  At the same time though, if that device is stolen, you lose everything.

With the Kindle Fire out now, I’m not sure I really see a point in creating a color e-ink Kindle.  Most books, regardless of whether they are print and electronic don’t use much color.  I can see it being used for highlights and annotations, but how high is the demand for that?

In the short term, I would love to see a light built into the Kindle.  I don’t mean a backlight necessarily, but perhaps a light that is built in at the top that can flip in and out when needed.  There are a number of good clip on lights available, but having one that fits seamlessly into the device would be ideal.

E-readers are continuing to show strong sales, and now that the prices are lower than ever, many more consumers are able to jump on the e-reader bandwagon.  In the next year or two at least, I think e-readers like the Kindle and Kindle Touch will draw sales from these new consumers.

Looking ahead 5 years or so, I predict that the hybrid e-reader/tablet will emerge and take a share in the market.  But who knows, there may be something completely different around to shake things up.  Technology progresses incredibly fast these days.  To say the pace of technology competition and updates are overwhelming is a major understatement.

Kindle Fire was Top Selling Item on Amazon This Holiday Season

It shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, but the Kindle Fire took the top spot as the bestselling, wished for, and gifted item on Amazon.  Right behind the new Kindle tablet were the Kindle Touch, and regular Kindle.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN)  is keeping quiet about exact numbers, but reports are going around that they hit around the 4-5 million mark.  Around a million Kindles were sold each week in December.  The prices are said to be one of the biggest reasons for the record breaking sales figures.

In addition to the Kindles themselves, sales of accessories and apps got a big boost.

With all that said, the holidays are now over, and we’re firmly into 2012.  2011 was the year of the tablet, and 2012 will most likely continue that trend.

I think the Kindle Fire will continue to be very successful.  Reviews went up after Amazon released the update that improved navigation.  Amazon is good at listening to its consumers, so more improvements are sure to come.

I think that the tablet market has already and will continue to split.  The Kindle Fire is much smaller than the iPad and is geared for consumers who want a multifunctional, portable tablet without too many bells and whistles.  All tablets will compete for the market share, and the Kindle Fire has definitely taken a hit at the iPad’s sales.  However, the direct competition for the iPad is projected to be the new Asus Eee Transformer Prime.

The reason for this is that the Prime and the iPad have much more powerful processors, and can be used as a makeshift laptop.  They are both compatible with external keyboards.  The decision on what tablet to buy simply depends on what you want to use it for, and how much you’re willing to pay.

There are rumors about a bigger Kindle Fire, and smaller iPad in the works, but any concrete details on them are yet to be seen.

Tablets in general has a solid foothold in the market, and now it is just a matter of seeing how they will continue to develop competition and feature wise.

 

Kindle Fire a Huge Hit This Holiday Season

Amazon reported record breaking Kindle sales this holiday season.  The Kindle Fire was a major player in making those sales possible.

My sister got a Kindle Fire, so I thought I’d grab it and give my thoughts on it.  First off, I was shocked at how small it is.  It is not that much bigger than my Kindle Touch.  I guess the size came as a shock because I’m used to the iPad.

The Kindle Fire is the best of two worlds.  It is compact enough to tote around in your purse, but it yields a bigger screen than a smartphone.  So, you don’t have to squint to see what you’re reading.  Plus, there’s no data fee each month on top of the fact that the Fire is the same price as most smartphones with a contract.

The display is as crisp and vibrant as described in the product description.  I like how some of the most prominent navigation buttons are bold or in a different color to make sure you don’t miss them.

Now, here’s where the Fire could use some improvement, and I have to say that I am biased because I am a staunch advocate for user friendly technology.  The Kindle Fire is very appealing to the masses because of its price and features, which is Amazon’s goal.  That sentiment can certainly be proved with the rush of new Kindle Fire owners this Christmas.  However, there are a few aspects of it that make it counter intuitive.

The app wheel that spins the apps on the home screen is cool, and it allows you to quickly zoom into the app that you want. But, the home screen in general is a bit cluttered with apps and links.  It took me awhile to figure out where I needed to go first.

There is only one button that switches the tablet in and out of sleep mode.  My first instinct was to find the physical “home” button, but that is actually on the screen in the bottom left corner.

As for the web browser, I like that the text does not require scrolling, and it reads down the page regardless of whether you flip the tablet vertically or horizontally.  I am visually impaired, so I have to zoom in on the text that I am reading.  I couldn’t find an easy way to do so in the Kindle Fire’s web browser.  I also had a little trouble with the tabs.

Accessibility is something that Apple excels at, and integrating it would take a little more effort on Amazon’s part.  It would probably also ramp up the price because of the extra time.  But to truly appeal to everyone, a device has to include features that make it usable for people who cannot access it the conventional way.

So, to sum it up, there are aspects of the Kindle Fire that are awesome, and there are others that need improvement.  It is just like any other new technology that will improve over time.  So for now, I am quite pleased with my Kindle Touch, and with my iPad for more heavy duty stuff.

So, new Kindle Fire users, what do you have to say about it?

 

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.