Monday, October 8, 2012

Jeff Bezos: What was that about the goal of "The best tablet" ? - Less-seen reviews of Kindle Fire HD - Comparisons with Google Nexus 7-inch

"This year, we want to have the best tablet at any price."

Introducing "Kindle Fire HD...."

"AND...we decided to go big."

Next, Bezos describes "the best..."

The actual daring comparison

Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos had rather boldly announced that this year they want to have the best tablet at any price, before showing what they had.
  Above are my photos of Jeff Bezos, right after that, introducing the "Kindle Fire HD" line on September 6, 2012, which he began by raising the 7" tablet and saying, "the Kindle Fire HD", pausing for the applause "AND...we decided to go big," holding the 8.9" tablet up along with the $199  tablet.

  After putting them down, he then said:
"Our large display tablet is only 8.8 millimeters, weighs 20 ounces.  Gorgeous 8.9" display, 254 pixels per inch, in-plane switching technology [IPS]..."

The "Kindle Fire HD" (KFHD) designation includes:
A  7" WiFi tablet - 16GB and 32GB versions - 1280x800 resolution - $199 for 16GB
An 8.9" WiFi tablet - 16GB and 32GB versions - 1920x1200 resolution - $299 for 16GB
An 8.9" WiFi tablet w/ 4G LTE - 32GB & 64GB versions - 1920x1200 - $499 for 32GB

He had one chart comparing a Kindle Fire HD's 4G LTE cellular network data plan with the $499 iPad 3's.

Now, logically, from that, would any of us say that he meant the $199 tablet, at 7"
and 1280x800 display resolution and with no 4G, was "the best tablet at any price" in a lineup shown that offers more with each model announced for release this year?

  Or, might he have been referring to the $499  8.9-inch tablet with a 1920x1280 display resolution and 4G LTE cellular network data plan that he compared with an iPad plan in a chart?
  Ya think?

If it HAD been the $199 one that was "the any price," rather than the $499 one that costs considerably more but which would then presumably not be a better tablet, I'd be wondering about Amazon pricing.

The Three, usually referenced as "The Reviews"
  1.  Instead, we have David Pogue wondering, in his NYT review of the 7" tablet, What's been "seeping into the water supply" at Amazon's offices. "They’re hailing Amazon’s new touch-screen tablet, the Kindle Fire HD, as “the best tablet at any price.”

  He goes on to compare the $199 model's features with the $499 iPad 3, of course, and finds what he likes to call more "soot" than sparks.  One could wonder if he chose that image because it may have set his teeth on edge that a company introducing a line of tablets with differing capabilities would challenge Apple with one of them.  Otherwise, why the lack of logic, highlighted by bad-water digs that open and close the article?  He may have been working too fast, however, since there were four NYT corrections made.
  I regularly enjoy his very direct columns and humor, but this one had a shaky basis.

  2.  Even Consumer Report's Paul Reynolds, in a very fair review (as usual), opened his review with, "The Amazon Kindle Fire HD may not meet the company's goal of creating "the best tablet at any price," our tests suggest.  But it's a fine performer..."
  Other media have picked this up along with the other two here as indication of generally not particularly positive reviews, with CNN and other syndication columns repeating a couple of these even this weekend.

  3.  Walt Mossberg, in his All Things D review of the 7" KFHD, headlined his, "Kindle Fire HD is Better but It Isn't the Best Color Tablet" and wrote, "However, after testing the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, I can’t agree with the sweeping claim that it is “the best tablet at any price.  The Fire HD isn't as polished, fluid or versatile as the [$499] iPad."  Of course it isn't.

  He also says the Kindle Fire HD screen is "inferior to the superb Retina display of the current [$499] iPad" (no kidding) but he doesn't list the screen resolution of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" that does have a resolution rather close to the Retina display, at 1920x1280 on an 8.9" device -- announced with a release date this year.
  Others may have noticed that Bezos was introducing a line of tablets with one having greater capabilities and cost than the others.

  The pictures above illustrate what occurred right after the stated goal of "the best tablet at any price" was announced.  As mentioned, Bezos goes on to describe the $499 model after displaying the two sizes and compares the 8.9-inch KFire HD with the iPad 3's 4G LTE cellular network data plan.

A misinterpretation that was the large focus of each of those reviews
  Here's the thing.  W. Mossberg wrote this review on September 11, 5 days after the announcements were made and with enough time to have read the fairly important interview with Jeff Bezos by All Things D (the tech publication where his own reviews appear) right after the September 6 announcements.

  Mossberg's now famous videoclip with his good questions for Steve Jobs, cited by the Dept of Justice as evidence regarding Apple's foreknowledge of 'set' group pricing, was shot by writer Kara Swisher, who described Mossberg as "my All Things Digital partner."

  So, the closing paragraph of that announcements-day interview of Bezos by one of his website news partners was something he would likely be told about.  What was actually said by Bezos in that last paragraph, with his final point, matched the sequential stills from my video from the event.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, from the interview with All Things Digital's Tricia Duryee, Sept. 6, 2012, 6 PM, titled,

  "...Jeff Bezos Explains It All (Mostly)"

It's a fun interview, by the way.
' Final question: What’s the message that you wanted people to walk away with today?
Bezos:  That we have the best tablet at any price.  Last year, we wanted to build the best tablet at a certain price.  And, this year, we wanted to build the best tablet at any price.
  Take away the price and it’s still the best tablet.
  It also happens to be only $499.

Walt Mossberg missed that final statement from the interview in the tech publication that later carried his review of Sept 11?  Or did All Things D just not tell him about the interview (which was a coup, as Jeff Bezos doesn't give many) before he wrote his review?

OTHER REVIEWS (more detailed) and w/ no focus on the false 'best' idea.
I read the reviews below earlier, before The Reviews by The Three trickled-down to other news-sites that then referenced them heavily for summaries of Kindle Fire HD reviews and before a flood of literally hundreds of local newspapers picked up those summaries.

  An example is a syndicated article by Doug Gross for CNN (Scripps Media), as seen at local wptv today and many other local news sites, focusing on "Not the Best" and ending with Pogue's easy crack about "Seattle water" needing inspectors. :-)

  The many other reviews below, of the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, have interesting details about features of interest to consumers, rather than just unimaginative quick-loading of web pages and saying one took a second or two longer than another and wasn't as good as an iPad.  Bezos had said the difference in WiFi time would show up in high-definition streams of video and other multimedia material that often give viewers problems when watching movies via WiFi.

CNet's Josh Miller
"Streaming-video performance was where the Fire HD's new networking hardware earned its keep.  I started streaming an HD episode of "Breaking Bad" on both the Nexus 7 and Fire HD and while neither had any trouble reproducing a crystal-clear 720p image when within close proximity of my test router, things changed as I left the lab and walked several feet away.

"   At about 20 feet away (and between two or three walls), the Nexus 7 lost the streaming signal and never picked it up again, delivering only a spinning circle for several minutes.  The Fire HD, on the other hand, never stopped streaming and kept the episode's HD resolution even as I left the test router's range and the tablet seamlessly switched to CNET's building-wide network.

"The 7-inch version of the Kindle Fire HD features an in-plane switching (IPS) screen, running at a 1,280x800-pixel resolution.  Colors pop from the display and have a really vibrant, high-contrast look.  Everything just looks a bit sharper and cleaner here compared with the Nexus 7's still-great screen, and when viewed from extremely wide angles, the Fire HD's screen better retains its brightness, color integrity, and contrast ratio.  Pinch-to-zoom requests were delivered quickly, and the Fire HD responded just as fast to them as the Nexus 7 did."
[My note:  Miller finds the Nexus better for games performance for various reasons and writes that there are 'very few compelling games' for the Fire HD ready yet "if you're not willing to go through the trouble of sideloading" install-files (the way I did for the Google Maps app, but it's actually easy to do).

  However, sometimes games are a bit more hardware specific or might do better on pure Android systems until a version is made for the Kindle Fire HD's customised Android operating system.  Miller is careful to point out that the current iPad is 2.5 times the price of the $199 Kindle Fire HD.]
"While watching movies, playing games, or listening to music, I found the Fire HD's speakers deliver clear, loud (if you need it to be) sound that's noticeably better than what I've heard from other tablets.
"The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD serve different purposes and the advantages of one do not diminish the value of the other.  They can coexist and still prosper..."   Full article here

Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner - "Everything a Tablet Should Be -- And Not Much More
  [ Wagner wishes it were a "hardcore multi-tasking workhorse."
  "You won't use this as the device to power you through a day full of events and email and documents."
  But when he lists the pluses they are stated pretty strongly.]
"Basically, the Fire HD is wonderful to hold and touch and look at and listen to.  It's exactly what you'd want any tablet to be.  But that doesn't mean it's perfect.
"Reading and watching and listening on the Fire HD is sublime.  Once you're in, you're in...
"The screen in particular is wonderful, and holding the 7-inch tablet in portrait is actually comfortable (unlike the first Fire or the Nexus...
"...The onboard sound is really makes quite a big difference in using a tablet to watch a movie.  There's no comparison to any other popular tablet, and it's even louder than most laptops we've tested it next to...

"...As a value proposition, it's hard to argue with top notch hardware at a total cut-rate price.  You could spend the same on a Nexus 7, but you'll have to trade the Fire HD's screen, speakers, and extra storage for a more robust UI and the full Android app ecosystem.
"...The Skype app is as good as any Skype client you'll use, and the front-facing comes across crisp on the other end.  It also handles the crappy lighting video chats typically have pretty well.
"...The Wi-Fi really is better than competitors;  MIMO is no joke.  The Fire HD was on average more than twice as fast as the Nexus 7 and the original Fire.
"...Momentum scrolling is still choppy at times, and touch areas for smaller stuff, like "See All", can be frustratingly small and hard to activate.
"...Amazon's Silk Browser, which is built on Chromium this year, instead of the base web client, generally outperformed the Nexus 7 in HTML5 benchmarks, and was vastly more consistent than either.  Its real world performance isn't nearly as full-featured as mobile Chrome or even Safari, though.
"'s a very well-made tablet, with an outstanding ecosystem behind it and enough perks to make it very appealing for the price..."  Full article here.

The Verge's Joshua Topolsky
"The 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display on the Fire HD is fantastic.  The IPS, LCD screen looks better than probably any other tablet display I've seen, save for the new iPad.  While the pixel density is the same for both the Nexus 7 and the Fire HD (216 compared to the iPad's 264), the Fire blows away the Nexus in terms of color richness, black levels, and general brightness.  It definitely looks more like an Apple-quality display..."   Much more at the full article.

Wired's Roberto Baldwin - "...Second Time's a charm"
"The new features Amazon has added to the e-book reading experience are also top-notch.  Initially, I thought the Immersion Reading feature — a sort of “read along with me” trick that highlights text while the audio version of a book is read aloud — was just a cute gimmick I would tire of quickly.  But after reading along to the text of “Bossypants” as Tina Fey spoke the same words to me through the speakers, I’m a believer. It’s mesmerizing.
"...All the herky-jerkiness of the original Fire’s UI has been exterminated."
[But he does list where it's not always as smooth as he'd like.]
"X-Ray — the feature that brings up an index-like listing of information for whatever you’re reading or watching — is outstanding, and especially helpful for novels with a plethora of characters.  The new integration of IMDB data into the X-Ray for Video feature is also excellent

"Speaking of sound, the audio pumped out by the Kindle Fire HD sounded better than other tablets.  The Dolby-tuned stereo speakers actually produce a clear stereo image..." [More at the long, full review.]

USA Today's Edward C. Baig -"Kindle Fire HD gives Nexus 7 stiff competition"
"The processor is more robust, leading to a faster and more fluid experience.  I did have one crash — and discovered a bug that messed up audio.  On some songs, I couldn't hear any sound at all; on others, the volume inexplicably rose by itself.  Amazon says a fix is coming in an upcoming software release.
"The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD that I reviewed weighs 13.9 ounces, making it a little heavier and roughly an inch wider than the 12-ounce Nexus 7.  That makes a difference if you're trying to stash the tablet in your inside coat pocket. Advantage: Google.
  [My note: For photos, it's a better size, showing the full photo.]

"...The Nexus 7 has GPS.  The 7-inch Fire HD has location-based technologies built around Wi-Fi hot spots. (GPS is coming to the 8.9-inch 4G models, Amazon says.) Adding GPS improves accuracy.
"...Kindle Fire HD includes an HDMI port for connecting the tablet to a large high-definition display that the Nexus 7 lacks.  Kindle Fire HD also has integrated stereo speakers with Dolby technology.  Movies and music come alive with the bolstered sound, even when you don't don headphones.  And Amazon promises more robust Wi-Fi connectivity.
"...Where Amazon especially shines is in some of the latest features that bolster content.  I'm especially keen on X-ray for Movies, a boon for cinema fans.  If you ever have watched a movie and wondered the name of an actor, you'll appreciate this neat feature...The beauty is you don't actually have to leave the movie to open a separate app.

"...You can view and download photos on the device that are stored in Amazon's cloud.
"...I got just about 5½ hours in my own harsh battery test in which I kept the display on at all times with the brightness cranked up, kept Wi-Fi going and had a movie playing.  I suspect you'll come much closer to the 11 hours or so that Amazon is claiming under more normal conditions." Full article here.

Engadget's Tim Stevens
"It's the Kindle Fire HD and it quite handily addresses nearly every concern that we had with the original Fire...
... MIMO connectivity.  That's multiple-input multiple-output if you're not hep with the lingo, basically meaning the tablet can both send and receive data simultaneously over its pair of antennas.

"In theory, if you're sending and receiving a lot of data this means you'll receive better overall throughput.  The dual antennas will also mean higher overall signal strength, and compared to a few other Android devices we had kicking about (a Nexus 7 and a Motorola Droid RAZR M), the Kindle Fire HD was easily the best of the bunch.

  We loaded up the Wifi Analyzer app on all three and the Kindle consistently had a 10 to 15dBm stronger signal, and was able to keep that signal farther away from the router than either of the other two.
"...[It]...can finally do all that HD content in the Amazon store justice.  That said, with that HDMI output you also can push that content digitally to whatever other display you want.

"...sound is distinctly on the tinny side, as one might expect given the size, but they are respectably loud and, frankly, it's a refreshing change to have two of the things.
  Here they're well-positioned so that you get maximum stereo separation when watching a movie or playing a game and we found that they work well even when covered by your hands.  That, too, isn't something that can be said for the sound ports on other slabs.
    [My note: Both the Nexus and iPad have only one speaker.]
"Web pages load quickly...The Chrome browser on the Nexus 7 rendered every page we threw at it faster than the Fire HD, all without relying on any fancy off-site rendering techniques...
    [ My note: I turn OFF KFire's "web acceleration" mode and it's faster that way.]
"...the SunSpider JavaScript browser test gave us an average score of 1,767ms.  That's nearly 700ms faster than the previous Fire and almost identical to the Nexus 7's 1,785ms.
" can listen on any supported device and have your current position follow you wherever you are.  We tried this with the recently updated Android app and it worked perfectly, dropping us into the book right where the Audible recording left off.
  [ Vs the Google Nexus 7 ]  "For the same money the Fire HD gives you twice the storage, proper stereo speakers, HDMI output and better WiFi performance. Plus, there's an amazing wealth of premium content always at your fingertips"
[AB Note: But while the Nexus and Kindle Fire HD are close in Engadget's overall comparison, Stevens prefer the huge Google apps store, Gmail, Google Maps and the feeling of "raw, uncompromised Jelly Bean [OS]."

  However, Amazon (unlike Barnes and Noble) allows its tablet owners to install apps from "unknown sources" and there are a few more or less trusted sites like,, and that carry the major files from GooglePlay.

  I was able to get Google Maps from the Getjar app by just downloading it via the web browser, and then it installed.  After the Install, it seemed to give me a revolving circle, I closed the Getjar app, opened up the Google Maps app and was able to get around just fine, including in Satellite maps mode (Google uses Location Services when the hardware doesn't include GPS). [End of Note]
  Full Engadget Article with even more detail here.

Digital Trends's Rob Enderle -
"...while both the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are good products, the Kindle Fire is more Apple-like in its focus on the user experience.  That makes it, in my opinion, the better product.  It may not have all of the sensors that the Nexus does, but chances are you won’t use them anyway if you already own a smartphone.  Amazon focused on things like a more expensive case and better screen instead.  As a result, the Kindle Fire HD diverges sharply from the Nexus 7, is easier to use, and does core things better.  But it doesn’t do as many things, so the two products likely appeal to different audiences."  Full article here.

ABC15's Kirk Yuhnke, Phoenix.
"...The smaller form tablet makes for a great Skype experience and the caller on the other end said my video looked good.
"...Simplicity is key my testing, the entire OS felt fluid and complete. Love their interface or not, they have put together a nice package that makes consuming multimedia very, very simple.
"...included Kindle FreeTime app.  It essentially allows parents to lock down the tablet before handing it over to their kids.  It limits what apps, movies, videos and books each of your kids can access.  On top of that, you can set time limits for certain categories.  For example, you can limit games to 30 minutes a day while setting books to unlimited.
"...It’s built well and is a multimedia monster...designed for people who don’t want to notice the operating system while on their way to enjoying a movie, reading a book or playing a game." Full article here. '

Links to other reviews and reports that give detailed information
  .  Larry Magid for Huffington Post
  .  Seattle Times's Brier Dudley with some very interesting info.
  .  TechCrunch's event coverage with good instant write-ups of Kindle Fire HD tablets.

Reminders from the above reviews
The KFire HD is really for media consumers and not Android techies.  The Google Nexus at $199 also, has only 8GB storage (for an HD world), one speaker instead of KFireHD's two Dolby-Plus speakers, and no HDMI port out to HDTV while KFireHD does, but the Nexus is good for the full-Android-inclined.
  For multimedia without dependence on external stereo spkrs, headphones, etc., the Kindle Fire HD is definitely very nice.  Gorgeous picture.  Loud (for a tablet), clear speakers with good spatial effect.

Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links.
NOTES on newer Kindles.

Updated Kindle Fire Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$249
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $299/$369
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $499/$599
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free but slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
Kindle Fire 2, UK
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB, UK
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Tienda Kindle

* Kindle Fire HD to be released October 25, 2012 in listed European areas above;
    Paperwhite to be released November 22, 2012 there.

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
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   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular

The Kindle Daily Deal

What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care

Highly-rated under $1
,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
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Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.

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  1. I think that the $299.00 8.9 WiFi only model will cut into the iPad's market share. At the price it is a very compelling deal. The 4G model is also a great bargain when considering what a comparable iPad costs, and that's even before you consider the first year cost of a basic data package. Most people are only comparing the $499 price but not considering it's for 32 not 16 GB. apple charges an extra $100 for 16 Gigs of storage.
    With 3 compelling HD tablets each clearly differentiated ( a 7 incher, a low cost large screen model and a high storage LTE premium model ) Amazon may be able to gain a 25% to 35% overall market share. Apple needs someone to shake them up. The original Fire made them sit up and notice, hopefully the HD models will force them to improve their weak areas such as their sometimes poor customer service.

    1. JY, Yes re Apple charging another $100 for 16 more GB of storage, so theirs would be $599 to start.

      Then you add $130 to Apple's for the 3G/4G capability and it becomes $629. And that's before the data plan, and you see the illustration I used in photo 4 above...

      Besides the Kindle Fire 8.9" to give Apple some 'pause' (at the quite high resolution for that model, too), Google seems to be coming out with a 10" Nexus with resolution that will surpass Apple's.

      And then there's their litigation approach :-)

    2. JY,
      Also - Apple's said to be coming out with a 7" but not likely to sell it at $199 with all that is in either the KFire HD 7" or the Google Nexus.

  2. Have you used the new Kobo Glo? i have looked at a few video reviews and the software seems lacking. There is no Landscape mode at all and you cannot purchase periodicals directly on the device. ( the device prompts you to use your pc and then sync on the Kobo )
    There also appears to be no pinch to zoom on the Kobo, you have to use a slider to zoom in pdfs. Strange software choices imo. I will give them this though, I love the achievements and rewards system they developed. Kobo devices are available in the Caribbean but on the evidence of the video reviews I will pass and likely get the Paperwhite to supplement ( not replace) my K Touch. I am not ready to give up the audio features on the touch just yet and will be keeping it as my audiobook player and porch reader.

    1. Junior Yearwood - In the Paperwhite thread's comment area, I've mentioned a few times that the Kobo itself gets not-great reviews due to buggy software with awkward navigation. Haven't seen one that I could try out ...


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