Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kindle Fire - a bit more (which means quite a lot of things) - Update2


I'll add to this blog article later.
Now that things have settled down some, here are some additional facts on the Kindle Fire 7" tablet (isn't it odd this is not just another Rumor story and that Amazon actually announced this?)

  Except that there's no SD slot nor functional USB port (except for cabled access), what it IS able to do, otherwise, has exceeded my own expectations for a speedy $200 device.

  First I was glad to see it was a dual-core processor instead of the almost insane-sounding single-core processor suggested in the earlier hands-on that Tech Crunch had and that the screen resolution is 1024 x 600 resolution at 169 ppi, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology (it should be beautiful on this size screen), AND anti-reflective treatment (which works well for the NookColor I have)

  It's not even a pound, at 14.6 ounces.

  Unlike the 6 GB storage guessed earier during the Tech Crunch hands-on that was given, it's 8GB internal, enough, Amazon says, for 80 apps, plus either 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
  As mentioned before, it could be that Amazon was lowering expectations when Tech Crunch received that unit.

  Most of us would like 16-64 gigs but the Cloud technology focus along with Amazon's Silk web browser feature that lets the Cloud do half the work in presenting your content promises a Cloud-accelerated experience on the Web.

  Adobe FLASH player is directly supported. (Most know that a primary tablet doesn't support it.)

Update1 The image at the right is from Engadget's photo gallery yesterday, and I was struck that, taken from the side, the image is very solid, with all the overhead lights.  Normally these won't photograph well from that angle. {End Update1]

The Speakers are top-mounted for once, so maybe we can hear the content rather than let the desk absorb it.   Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX) is supported, as are DOC, DOCX, the usual image files, and non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VPB.

  The warranty is 1-year Limited (will need to look at what that means). Optional 2-year extended warranty.

  *BUILT-IN EMAIL* app "that gets your webmail (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL etc) into a single inbox." You can import your messages and contact lists from other email accounts. Additional email apps are available in the Amazon Appstore.

  FREE PRIME TRIAL for one month. That gets you 10,000+ commercial-free  movies and tv shows (not the most current ones) and free 2-day delivery on Amazon orders.
  It's $79/year after that, something under $7/month.  Students are eligible for Prime, at half that price, currently.

  Amazon offers now over 100,000 streaming videos, including NEW releases and current TV shows (for a price of course but it has been less expensive than most places that do single item sales).

  Amazon has 800,000 book titles at $9.99 or under as well as there being over 2 million free, out of copyright, pre-1923 books also available to the tablet, as many know.

 They now have over 1000 "beautifully-illustrated children's books" (NookColor had the lead on that one).

  FREE CLoud Storage for your Amazon digital content. That's for all books, movies, music and apps purchased from Amazon. 5 gigs of cloud storage for each customer, globally, have come free for some time -- it's about $1/mo. more for each gig beyond that.  Amazon digital purchases never count against the maximum storage selected. So, of course they're banking on customers buying more from Amazon.

Extra Durable Display
Amazon calls this  their "state-of-the-art" Kindle Fire display -- "chemically strengthened to be 20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic, making it extra durable and resistant to accidental bumps and scrapes.

Amazon's Whispersync technology -  "automatically sync your library, last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across your devices."

On Kindle Fire, Whispersync extends to video.  Start streaming a movie on Kindle Fire, then pick up right where you left off on your TV - avoid the frustration of having to find your spot.  Here is more information on Kindle Whispersync

Update2 - CAVEAT - 3G:  Although the iPad did not have a cellular network 3G model for a few months when it was first released, Amazon Kindle users are used to being able to access the Net with free (very slow e-Ink-style) 3G web browsing and that has worked well for me for Net lookups when out and about.  I don't do data contracts for my phone as it's not worth it for me.

  This first Amazon tablet, like the first iPad, also does NOT have 3G network access. So if you are not near a local WiFi network, you won't be able to access the Net, much less that Cloud and its Amazon Silk browser service.

  You saw above how many videos or books will fit on the device locally -- 80 apps plus "10 movies" (that could NOT be at HD size though) "or 800 songs or 6,000 books" -- you would view those without a Net connection

  However, you will also be able to store your videos on Amazon's Cloud storage and redownload them as needed for offline viewing.  While there is basic storage given for any customer, it's "only" 5 gigs/yr but any movie, music or books bought from Amazon will get free storage that doesn't count against storage limits.

  At one point they offered unlimited storage (in a year) for all your music received from anywhere, in addition to storing other files within the max) for $20/yr and I wouldn't be surprised if they make similar offers for the Kindle Fire.
  I'll keep a watch on those, as usual though, to make sure people are aware of that type of promo.  While Kindle users had little reason to care about music or video storage, that'll be different for the tablet. [End of Update2]

Will look over more carefully the other new devices and update the pages on this site also.

Attached is the usual footer that shows what types of book-buying deals exist at Amazon -- and the Kindle 3 keyboard models and the larger DX Graphite are still for sale and in-stock, for those who don't want touchscreens.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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  1. The USB port is the same as what's on Kindle: it is just for connecting to a computer as a drive you can copy content to. It does not have 'host' capability for plugging in external storage, input devices etc. The Apple 30-pin dock connector port has this as one function, but also supports (licensed) peripherals, some USB hosting (camera connection kit), video output, etc. So that is a 'minus', not a 'plus.' What people complain about is the proprietary nature of the 30-pin port, which means standard USB devices cannot be used, not its capabilities as such.

    I wish they had included Bluetooth (audio and input devices) but apparently they did not.

    Perhaps they will have these 'expansion' features on the rumored 10" tablet (which I hope shrinks to 9" before it ships...).

    Interesting about MIDI playback support. I assume it has voices for standard MIDI mapping (GM 2?), we'll have to wait to discover how cheesy they sound. But you should be able to store a lot of MIDI encoded music on there. The AAC and OGG support is good too (but Cloud Player does not support the latter, or MIDI for that matter)

    I'll probably ask Amazon CS about this, but I am curious as to how much of Amazon App Store is 'compatible' with Kindle Fire. There are some very good ePub and PDF reading apps there now (not to mention Kobo), and I'd like to assume I'll be able to use them on KF. I trust that app publishers who up to this point have ignored Kindle App Store will understand the opportunity that it presents and get Fire-compatible apps submitted before it ships. Dropbox? Netflix? Nook? Overdrive? Because it is not at all clear that KF will have the little checkbox to allow applications with 'Unknown sources', short of rooting.

    I feel sad about DX. But clearly production costs are not sufficiently low to get the price down where it could compete with tablets.

  2. Hmm. Thank you, Tom ! Why didn't they say micro USB port? That's what's generally used. My Pocket Edge has both the functional USB and the cable-focused micro USB as with te Kindle.

    Yes, I remember you had to pay $500 for the WiFi only iPad and then $30 for the adapter kit that would allow you to use USB and SD adapters...

    Aldiko: Is that at the Amzn AppStore? Sort of important (something like it), for reading ePub?

  3. Aldiko is probably the most popular Adobe DRM ePub reading app on Android. It's in Amazon App Store. My favorite for this is Mantano Reader, however—also in AAS. A little pricey, but does TTS and great PDF support. They're adding cloud to it also for syncing, storage, etc. And for PDF, ezPDF seems to be pretty good, and creates 'real' PDF annotations apparently. I think Fire's screen resolution is not quite enough for good, full page PDF rendering, but relative to eInk devices it should be much more usable.

    Speaking of TTS, hope Kindle Fire supports it, if not for the Kindle reading app, for Android apps generally—though the main motivation for including TTS on Android is for street navigation, and Fire will not support that (no aGPS). VOX TTS is also in AAS, and is noticeably better than Kindle/Nuance TTS. I'm not very hopeful about this, though, since it doesn't appear in the features list (wonder when they'll post the User's Guides?).

  4. I have a question that perhaps Andrys or another kindle geek who has done more reading than myself could answer. It is in the vein of some of what @Tom Semple mentioned. At the link below Brad Stone of clearly states that owners of the Kindle fire will have access to apps such as Pandora and Netflix. These are not in the Amazon app store. So I assume that, if Bloomberg is correct, Amazon will have to preload them onto the device. But that seems counterproductive considering Amazon is directly competing with Netflix for sales of digital media. Do you suppose that Stone is speaking of the possibility of loading apps from unknown sources? My guess is that Amazon will leave that functionality available but keep it more or less hidden so you will have to make an explicit effort to install non-Amazon apps on the Fire. But surely this wouldn't be stated so casually or so positively since no one knows for certain that this functionality will be available short of rooting the device. He also mentions, in the same sentence, the official twitter app which is available in the Amazon app store. In summary my question is this, could Stone's information be wrong or is he speaking of unofficial sources or does He know something which is not in any other article or official release that I have read?

  5. I am really (really) disappointed at no bluetooth, but imagine a lot of features fell to the wayside in order to get to that $199 price point.

    I think my biggest concern is the apps. It never occurred to me that any of the apps in the Appstore wouldn't be compatible. At least none which don't have functions not available on the KF.

    I need access to SiriusXm, DirecTV Sunday Ticket and Pandora at a minimum for the KF to be my iPad replacement. All have Android apps, but aren't yet in the Amazon Appstore.

    Also, Dropbox would be nice as well unless they plan on releasing an Amazon Cloud app. After all, the Kindle app trained us to be device agnostic--its the content that matters.

  6. Just woke up and I've been blown away already :). Too bad I was sleeping peacefully while on the other side of the Earth the world was changing. Well, at least a little bit. Enough drama? OK, fine...

    While at first the $79 Kindle looks like a drag, I know plenty of people who would find it a perfect fit.

    All that said, while you people over the ocean enjoy yourselves, we from the Old World can only watch. Only the basic Kindle is available to preorder outside the US, but no Special Offers, so $109. The rest of the jewels are not available. I do hope they will be available at a later date, maybe in time for the holidays (though I doubt that last one).

    I have a feeling that the Amazon Silk browser won't be available internationally, or at least not in the same form.

  7. Just back.
    Tom, thanks for the info on what Mantano Reader does, beyond the popular Aldiko. I do have ezPDF on my NookColor but it runs only under an SD card on that device and I've not added one.

    Re screen resolution, that's the same as the iPad but on a screen 50% smaller, so the resolution appears better -- however, PDFs laid out for 8-1/2 x 11 paper cannot look fantastic on any 7" screen.

    I think almost surely a TTS app should work since the hardware is there and Amazon put Vox on there early.

    IPad had no printing or PDF support directly at the start, but both were done via 3rd party developer apps after awhile.

  8. jw,
    The DX Graphite (June last year) is still there and in stock. My link for it has been and it's still showing fine.

    I still feel that they must and will update the PDF software on it. But they've obviously been pretty busy.

  9. Tom,
    the Touch 3G wording is different from the Keyboard 3G one in saying that the experimental browser is avilable on WiFi.

    The Keyboard one says only that the experimental web browser is free, without differentiating.

    I have asked for clarification (which doesn't mean I should get it, but I feel Amazon must be clear on this).

    The one possibly good thing I can say, outside of the obvious de-emphasis on any web browsing via 3G, vs product descriptions for the keyboard model in the past:

    The individual country descriptions have always used that wording about experimental web browser being available in WiFi (rather than being available in WiFi "also.")

    They chose to say it as a fact. However, they also chose not to say it wasn't useable in 3G. This has been true for the K3 for the last year. The product page info for all countries who do get free 3G web lookups has always had this sentence. But it didn't preclude using it in 3G. I think they want to discourage the 3G browsing but I don't think they are nixing it.

    But they need to be clearer.

  10. Timothy,
    If Jeff Bezos said Pandora and Netflix apps would be available, that means there is movement between the companies to do this.

    Apple had no Netflix or Hulu apps at first either. They had no Youtube access at all since they don't support Flash and YouTube was not yet using HTML5 on much of it. But a YouTube app was added afterward.

    Might be preloaded, might not -- but they could be made available, just as Apple did in its Apps store.

    Stone's article that included information from what seems an interview was extensive.

    Root the Kindle Fire (w/o an SD card?) and one would probably lose access to the Cloud advantages of the Silk browser.

    I think those wanting ALL marketplace Android apps should watch big sales of Abdriud tablets being discontined in favor of newer ones but which can access all these things. i'm enjoying a unit like that.

    Too bad the RIM Playbook is not using the Androis OS since it's only $200 right now.

  11. Jazz,
    My take is that apps like those WILL be available. He made a statement to the fact that they are going big on this with much interest from the popular developers.

    An app in the appstore using a camera won't be compatible with the KFire though, since it doesn't have one.

  12. Corneliu,
    When ramping up production, especially for holidays, they do delay releases in UK and elsewhere. Eventually it comes but it has to be frustrating to wait.

    If you don't use searches, the $79 model is said to be quite fast and very light. But I do use searches, highlights, and notes a lot, so it wouldn't be for me...

    No keyboard, no Touch -- only a Sym-like picking of characters to put into a text box. That would be very painful for me. But many friends never use the search or notes functions...

    For an add'l $20 for touch and audio? I can't see going for the lower cost one UNLESS one wants lightest and smallest e-reader. 6 oz is nice, for a good 6" screen too.

  13. Tom and others, re the wording on the Touch 3G browsers, here's what one person at Kindle forums was told by a Kindle Support person, just reported a few minutes ago:

    "triplesss says:

    I just called KCS and a lady insisted (as I questioned her familiarity with Kindle Touch) "...we are trained in this...." She says the
    experimental Web browser is available via 3G and/or wifi. Her explanation was that the descriptor was applicable as well to Kindle Touch without 3G and that was why it cites the wifi capability. "


    Imprecise wording on the product pages will lead to misunderstandings, especially if few are sure of what the proper understanding would be.

  14. yes, it's still there. But look at the product links on the pages for the other Kindles. There's a big bar at the top listing all the models EXCEPT the DX.
    And on the international Kindle pages (rather than the US product pages) the product comparison which does mention the DX is not present.

    So they're certainly seriously downplaying the device, whether intentionally or by oversight.

  15. jw,
    The DX isn't shown at the top (which is not a good sign) but it's definitely nn the "Compare Kindles" table in the U.S. when I'm looking (at the 3G Kindle so that was put in intentionally so it wouldn't appear they're discontinuing it soon.

    They may just have it on an as-needed basis, since it's the only e-Ink model that we can half-comfortably read PDFs on. But it's priced too high, as the display is too expensive.

    It may well be discontinued someday. But int'l buyers can get it from the U.S. at any rate.

    Did you delete your original comment? I can't see it. Or 'find' it on a search of the page.

  16. no, I deleted nothing. Didn't even know if that's possible for someone who's not a site admin :)

    They're certainly deamphasising the DX right now. Which is a shame as it's the only large screen reader of any quality out there (and the small screen devices are just too small for many people, one reason quite a few outside the US put up with tablets as eReaders, they can't get a dedicated large screen reader for non-Kindle content and don't want to be restricted to English (and mostly US) books.


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