Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Basic Features and Comparison table: IPad mini, Google Nexus 7", Kindle Fire HD 7". Updated Nov. 2, 2012 and Mar. 13, 2013

Apple's iPad Mini reveals value of Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus

Updated March 23, 2013
SEE UPDATED CHART INSTEAD (this one now outdated).

Updated March 13, 2013 to use new pricing on Kindle Fire 8.9 in the U.S.

Photo credit: USA Today - Oct 23 post updated Nov. 2 to reflect the Apple change to their specs sheet to indicate more than one speaker even if on the same side.

While this is a Kindle-focused blog, and some in my mailbag want it to stay that way, it's about a Kindle world, and many have been wondering what Apple had up its sleeve with the smaller version of the iPad.

They started out by upsetting iPad 3 owners who just bought their new iPads only 7 months ago or less. That was called "The New iPad" and this would then be "The newer iPad"?  They did call it "4th Generation" though and it sounds good at the same price.
NOTE that after Amazon showed their chart of Kindle Fire HD vs Apple iPad 3, Apple has added dual-band WiFi and other features to their iPad4.

BUT back to the iPad mini, which some feared would "kill" the Kindle Fire.  It in fact boosted it "for the rest of us" (an old Apple marketing tool)

Tweeting the iPad mini part of the event (at @kindleworld) - Added bolding:
I tweeted while reading live blogs today and here are the brief notes I tweeted, in chron order, earliest first, with a couple of TYPOS corrected.
  • iPad mini...7.2mm pencil-thick..68 lb, b/w models...1024x768 hmmm
  • iPad mini...at 7.9" w/1024x768 ...they're going for low-ball pricing [no]...35% more display area than 7" Android...No onscreen controls, more space
  • iPad mini...equal or better than iPad2..dual-core A5 processer, FaceTime HD camera, 5MB camera w/1080p record'g...LTE wireless, dualband WiFi
  • iPad mini...10 hrs battery life...SmartCover has no metal hinge...headphones on top...Cvr in 5 colors...16GB $329 with WiFi
  • iPad Mini...32GB $429, 64GB $519, $130 add'l each, for LTE cellular connectivity. WiFi ships Nov 2, Cellular 2 wks later. Lots of countries.
  • iPad mini ... Almost 8-inches with only 1028x768 and w/16 GB at $329? This was expected though. Surprised at the resolution for that size.

A couple of Twitter conversations on this
David Pogue (@Pogue) tweeted
"Price for new iPad Mini: $330 (for 16gb model). Kindle Fire is allowed to live"

[to which I replied]
"...Not to mention Kindle Fire at 1280x800 vs 1024x768 on bigger 8" & w/ dual stereo spkrs + hdmi-out for $200. It'll thrive: my guess."

Larry Magid (@larrymagid) tweeted:
"I've never seen Apple make such a big deal about how better it is than competition. Makes me think they're really worried about Android"  [and he asked]
"Given a choice between 9.7 and 7.9 inch iPad I'd opt for the 7.9 inch mini. What about you?"

My reply (going a bit off the precise topic)
"...I'd actually go for full 10" for magazines/PDFs and a 7" for portability, easy carry use. The almost-8" size? Odd."

But the size is targeted at optimal display of tablet apps -- and Apple claims that lack of need for some onscreen controls gives users more display space.

Note that Apple said it was equal to or better than the iPad2 -- (and today they introduced the iPad 4, twice as fast, twice the features of the iPad 3, same price: $499 for 16GB).

QUICK table of differences in features for price, with Google Nexus and IPad mini
Kindle Fire HD 7"
7-inch display
1280 x 800 resolution
216 ppi
16GB storage
Dual stereo speakers
  w/ Dolby Plus


Front-facing camera, 1.2MP

Dual core TI OMAP 4470 w/ Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core

Dual band, 2 antenna WiFi
Battery-life claim: 11 hrs

Customized Android, does Amazon store w/setting that allows apps from other app stores
50,000 apps + access to getjar.com, 1mobile.com, etc for google-play apps

$10 more for a charger if you need one  Older Kindle & smart phone chargers work

$15 add'l: no lockscreen ad

$249 for 32GB model

($269 for 16GB 8.9" 1920x1200 resolution, 254 ppi)
($299 for 32GB 8.9" 1920x1200 resolution, 254 ppi)

Google Nexus 7"
7-inch display
1280 x 800 resolution
216 ppi
8GB storage (soon 16GB)
One mono speaker *

No HDMI-out to HDTV

Front-facing camera < 1 MP

Quad core Tegra 3

Basic WiFi
Battery-life claim: 9-10 hrs

Pure Android and can do direct Google Play store
~600,000 apps

$249 for 32GB model soon

Apple iPad mini 7.9 inch/
7.9-inch display
1024 x 768 resolution
163 ppi
16GB storage
512MB? Per A5 chip specs. TBC.
Built-in speakers *
  Nov. 2, Apple finally added an 's' to 'speaker' *

No HDMI out to HDTV **

Front (HD) & Back (to 1080p) cameras

Dual-core A5

Dual-Band WiFi
Battery-life claim: 10 hrs

iOS 6
275,000 heavily-curated tablet-optimized apps
 (Can also run small iPhone apps - any w/ Retina resources can scale w/o pixelating. 450,000 add'l.)

23% & 53% lighter than iPad.
Lighter than the other tablets.

$429 for 32GB model

  * iPad mini: See Speaker discussion - to be changed when Apple changes its iPad mini specs page.
    Update - On Nov. 2, Apple finally updated their iPad-Mini specs page to show "Built-in speakers" instead of "Built-in speaker" -- something I requested they do since Specs pages are official reference pages.  The speaker grilles are about an inch or two apart, on one short side, and maybe that's why they don't mention 'stereo' after the correction.  The whole thing has been bizarre.  This would be the first iPad w/ two speakers but they can do nothing for movies or videos viewed the usual way, as they are close together on just one side.

    Google Nexus: See Nexus owner forum thread about the speaker.

** Those w/ Apple TV's can do AirPlay Mirroring to them.

Table updated Oct 31

For initial comparison article, I haven't included the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet HD,
which has higher display resolution - but it has no cameras, not even one for Skype (important for family & friends who like to communicate via video chat), and B&N will not allow owners to enable installation of apps from non-B&N sources.  I'll do an additional table later though, which will include them.

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  1. Well, my predictions failed to pan out. But I didn't imagine that Apple could credibly ship a non-retina device when they have done so much to promote the drive to higher resolution screens. Then they make this into a virtue by saying 'the screen is 40% larger than 7" Android tablet', though that doesn't automatically translate into 'better web browsing'. The pricing appears to reflect their usual profit margins rather than any attempt to compete directly. I was disappointed that there was not a single technology advance associated with it.

    I think it is a misfire (apparently shareholders agree), but they really needed to have some response to maintain momentum in education market. This is going to be a lot more attractive than a full scale iPad for that. But I think prospects for 7" Android tablets remain undiminished. Apple is leaving a huge price/performance gap.

  2. All the articles I had read from supply-chain sources said it was not Retina so I was prepared for that -- but not for the fact they'd still charge that much more then!

    I wondered why they'd want to put one out, with the specs the large-ecosystem-companies making Android tablets are showing for the smaller devices now, but Apple has a ready-made audience of many millions of loyal iPad users who will love having a smaller version to carry more easily outside the home (but then why ~8"?) and let them run the same apps. There'll be no learning curve.

    That's probably a worthwhile goal. They're not going to pick up much from Google Nexus and Kindle Fire inclined audiences (meaning those willing to pay only a rational price for quite a bit in both cases).

    And the iPad glass is known to be considerably more vulnerable or fragile than the gorilla glass of KFire and Nexus.

    I agree with your final assessment, for sure.

    1. Apple really can't scale down iPad apps to a screen size less than 7.86", regardless of whether it is 'retina' or not. There's a very conscious correlation between the size of human fingertips and the smallest any given UI element can be without violating their Human Interface Guidelines, which they rightly place a lot of stock in. The only alternative would be to create a new iPad form factor, which they have avoided thus far by pixel-doubling. Hence the narrow side bezels. The width is actually a little smaller than Fire HD, which has wider-than-normal bezels. But give me more pixels any day. I can always hold it closer if I need the screen to appear 'larger'.

      I was wondering how you would hold it without activating the touch interface but it turns out that iOS has a mechanism whereby the 'sides' have a 'DMZ' where if a thumb is resting on the side and the area touched extends to the edge of the screen, no touch event is generated. Some are touting this as 'magic' but even my iPod Touch has this feature (and I assume iPhone also), and there is a 1/4" DMZ on each side. UI elements can still be located in the DMZ since tapping on them directly will generally not trigger the 'ignore this' behavior as the touch area will not extend to the edge. I don't know if iPad has this DMZ (mine is not handy to check) but obviously they can set the device properties appropriately to elicit the desired behavior.

      Anyway, there was one technological advance that I overlooked: 'faster wifi' (probably the same thing Fire HD has).

      Curious that they are rolling out iPad4 so quickly.

    2. Tom, re the size of fingertips and smallest UI element appropriate, how does this work with the smaller iPod touch? All relative to area size?

      Interesting re the DMZ - pretty clever.

      I put down 'dual band' -- didn't see 'dual antenna' but with a similar capability on the Kindle Fire HD, the KFHD reviews have tended to stress more the relatively effective signal strength than the speed, except that one reviewer said that while a Nexus kept buffering an HD stream, the KHFD had no problem with it.

      Apple would have been planning this 4th Gen for awhile. At first I thought one thing that propelled production of this was the fact that the 8.9 KHFD (and LTE version especially) was definitely a strong challenger) come November...

    3. If you work out the math, on a 7.86" iPad the app icons will be about the same size as they are on an iPhone/iPod Touch. And that's about as small as they can be without being too small. I don't remember exactly what the HIGs say the minimum is for UI elements in general, but it is expressed in physical dimensions. It will be interesting to see how people used to iPad will adjust to the slightly smaller sizes.

      It will also be interesting to put Nook HD and its yet higher resolution (1440x900) next to the iPad Mini when both are available.

      Seems Apple and Wall Street analysts are in damage control mode about the pricing, assuring everyone that people will be willing to pay more for 'quality', though what quality that is is not really clear. Android has largely caught up in terms of build quality and performance, continues to improve, and is clearly the price/performance leader. Apple's app ecosystem remains 'better' though for most users that is irrelevant.

      There are also articles explaining that iPod Touch will be 'de-emphasized' going forward, as if that has not been the case (it took 2 years to push the 5G model out). Again, I suppose, to justify the existence of iPad mini.

      Of course they will sell a lot of these, particularly to people already heavily invested in Apple's ecosystem (and the heavy iPad3 ), I just wonder if the expectations are inflated. People who are not so invested are probably going to find the price a barrier.

  3. [ but then why ~8"? ]

    ... because as a multi-media cult whose last priority are book readers, they are generally clueless as to what makes for a good reading experience of which there's a fine line to tread between too small and too large.

    What's too large for smart phone users (carry-wise) and too small for multi-media consumers (visual impact and physical interaction) is just right for book readers. Several hundred years of book readers have defined the general limits on physical dimensions and font size, and the eReaders that don't hew to that are probably pursuing other non-book reading priorities.

    I got my Paperwhite 3G this week, and even tho I have some issues with it, overall the form factor is great. Not a surprise since it's made by people with an avowed admiration for books, and itself could easily hide on a shelf among real books :)


    1. Good points about the size... I actually do read a lot on the Kindle Fire HD and wouldn't want it to be larger for that.

      I hope whatever the issues are with your Paperwhite, that they're minimized with time, but if it doesn't seem right, they are open to replacing any problem ones.

      A friend got one today and she's enjoying it. Mine arrives tomorrow.

    2. My Paperwhite issues are probaby my own. I have unusually dry hands that don't register on many touch screens resulting in balky response which drives me nuts.

      I also have the first gen Kindle Fire which by contrast (to both the PW and a Lenovo Ideapad A1) is completely responsive. I also like that it has inverse video (good for reading in the dark) and an accelerometer that automatically adjusts for portrait vs landscape. And of course, KF completely surpasses PW in color pictures and diagrams such as in some books (but also web browsing). My only problem with my KF is its heavier weight and larger size. For that reason, I didn't get the KF/HD which while lighter, is also wider (too wide to fit in my back pocket any more).

      I rarely watch videos so a lot of the HD improvements are lost on me, but I had high hopes for the PW. It was sad to see the 3G blocked on a Google search, but at least Wikipedia works, one of my main reasons for getting my first Kindle (a K3), and of course its eInk screen is far superior to KF in daylight, although I'd like to hear how well the new HD screen performs with its new matte surface.

      A KF/HD Mini (ala iPad) sized to the PW would be my dream machine, assuming a reasonable battery life. Of course subsidized 3G would be a big plus too, but that's history now :(

      I may give my PW to a family member. It's too cute to return especially in its cool little Amazon leather case.


  4. Thr price point is strange. Well I suppose for Aple it's not. They seem to expect people to pay more simply to be associated with the parent company. The Fire HD 8.9 is only an inch bigger with substantially greater resolution and it still cost less than this thing. I don't think Apple is going after 7 inch devices, this looks like a direct attack on the 8.9 Fire HD. Similar screen size, similar price point. I can't really see any compelling reason for anyone to get this mini over an 8.9 Fire HD. I think Amazon should directly target this mini iPad with comparison charts and ads comparing it to the similarly sized Fire HD 8.9

  5. Not sure if you mentioned this before, but Engadget is reporting that The official Kindle store for Japan is launching tomorrow. The Paperwhite wifi and 3G models and two Fire Models are up for Japanese pre-order right now. Here is a bit of what they say

    "... Amazon's just announced that it's bringing the entire Kindle family to Japan. The basic Paperwhite is now available to pre-order for 8,480 yen (around $106) from the online retailer, with the 3G version arriving at a slightly pricier 12,980 yen (approximately $162) -- both will start shipping November 19th. Obviously you're going to need stuff to read, so the Kindle Store is opening its doors tomorrow and shelves are stocked with over 50,000 Japanese language books (including 10,000 for free) and more than 15,000 manga titles...."

  6. I own a first-generation iPad (my son is the primary user), a Nexus and a Fire HD. Reading the press coverage and many of the comments, I'm struck by the collective air of, well, unreality. For instance, I repeatedly read that Apple stuff "just works" or words to that effect. Yet, in my experience, iOS is by far the most crash-prone of the three operating systems. It is not close. I don't why but the idea that usability is automatically in the Apple column is risible.

    As far as reading, Apple just doesn't "get" reading. Its visionary-in-chief famously said that "no one reads anymore." Shrinking a second-generation iPad to 7.9 inches and charging $329 -- you can get a refurbished "New," i.e., retina, iPad for $50 more from Apple -- does not the stuff of reading make and it certainly isn't the stuff of a mass entry into the education market.

  7. Amazon is running a comparison with the Fire HD and mini on their home page. What strikes me is that the mini doesn't even look better than the $159 Fire at half the price. The rugged build of the cheaper fire seems far better suited for school use than the relatively fragile looking mini. What was Apple thinking?

  8. Comparing the Fire HD to the iPad mini is one thing, but the comparison with the cheaper Kindle Fire illustrates little Apple is offering for twice the plain Fire's price. Add to that the very robust build of the little Fire, and it seems to me that schools would be better served to pass on the the fragile looking mini and buy twice the number of Kindles.

  9. DWS, Saw that this morning and was planning to do a piece on this subject but got waylaid from a message that alerted me that someone at Project Gutenberg had gone absolutely hysterical with nonsense saying the Kindle Fire is not allowed to show anything but Amazon books, so I'm trying to work up a how-to guide for the Kindle Fire, which requires an additional step with ES File Explorer (getting the downloaded file and moving it into the right folder).

    In doing THIS column you're commenting to -- the table comparison the other day -- I tried to be subtle! But I think I overdid it. Amazon's showing exactly where the apple falls down IS smarter.

    The Mini is an unconscionable delivery in that only those already invested in Apple and of course wanting/needing Apple's terrific apps would pay that much for 2-year old materials that were out of date when they did the iPad 3 and now iPad 4. In other words, they're shafting their most loyal crowd.

    It's lighter and thinner if that's all that's important to one although it won't fit into a pocket and it's now only 1 inch difference from the iPad 4 except for iPad 2 technology, so Why ???

    I guess they think that Apple users will go for a THIRD camera as the reason, as it's the only thing that was a plus (for those who still need a camera and would those people be buying a Mini for $329?)

    But they will sell well to those who are invested in Apple apps or in the sheer 'name' of it. But the best reason is the quality of some of the apps. The most popular ones are available for Android, but there are some educational types that are not, and if I were an Apple owner, I'd want a device that can read Apple apps, but I'd be upset that they would charge me that much for less capable hardware only because they know they can.

  10. I took a look at the Gutenberg review...what was that all about? As a test, I went to the mobile download site and downloaded a prc file directly to my Kindle Fire HD. It downloaded, and I clicked on the notice saying it had downloaded and it displayed immediately. After the download notice was gone and I had quit the reading app, I had to use a file manager to move it to the documents folder. I tried this with my Nexus 7. I was informed that it couldn't be opened (both prc AND epub). I used a file manager just as with the Fire, and the Kindle app opened it. Not only is the Fire not locked, but the Nexus 7 is very slightly less convenient, as you can't open the download immediately as it finishes. Virtually no difference between them. I like both tablets for different purposes. Why would anyone want to return the Fire HD? It's really a beautiful device.

    1. DWS,
      I'm still shocked that any half-reputable person could post that nonsense at Project Gutenberg. I have been waylaid by many things and have not gotten to the two blog entries I want to do, including the Gutenberg anti-Nonsense guide and the new funny battle between Bezos and the Apple men.

      When I downloaded any Gutenberg file it went straight to the "download" folder, and of course it can be opened by the ES File Explorer right there though not by other Android file explorers for some reason -- they don't even see the obvious mobi support.

      BUT it's better to move the file to "Kindle" folder eventually and it sees it as a Doc or personal doc and puts it in that Menu Category and it's read as a Kindle non-Amazon file.

      However, people can't sync or back up annotations unless they send it to themselves at their ____@kindle.com and I'm battling w/ myself whether I should even mention that since I risk (once again) just confusing readers with too much information.

      My favorite one-sentence review of this site seen on a forum was that it is "visually and verbally frenetic." Couldn't have said it better.

      I received no notice from the Kindle itself that anything was downloaded. Oh, in Notifications...Ok. I seldom look at those and 'clear' them as there are so darned many...

      I agree re the KFire HD. I think people return it because novices can easily be mystified by it. Long presses and little "||" markings to indicate a hidden menu may seem normal to us, as well as a touch at the top or center to bring out an options menu? Anti-intuitive. there should be a clue somewhere there is a menu to get...

      Of course the Nexus is even tougher for novices...

    2. The claim that the Kindle fire is locked down is false. Thanks for reminding me about the "send to Kindle" app...one more way to get your files to your Kindle easily. And since when was drag and dropping from a computer a hardship? I used to have to use the mobipocket converter to get Gutenberg text files into a format that could be read on the Palm Pilot. Apple doesn't allow any "to and fro" to the iPad except through iTunes.


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