This is about Amazon's 2-day, much-discussed main-page ad.
See Update for Nov. 2
It was a challenge to the iPad Mini, and it's been the focus of the news since then.
While I thought I'd not editorialize on the iPad mini on launch day and let the numbers speak for themselves with a features-comparison table, Amazon came out punching, pointing out the precise differences in features and pricing that would be of most interest to those not already invested in the high-quality Apple ecosystem.
When the iPad Mini was announced, I put together that quick comparison table of the basic features of main interest to buyers, for the Kindle Fire HD, the Google Nexus, and the iPad Mini.
I was startled at the time by the price of the iPad Mini when Apple chose to use resolution standards and technology now two years old (openly stating the mini was more or less equal to
First, people who have bought iPads and iPhones will want to be able to run their Apple apps on any alternate-sized iPad, so the iPad Mini would be a no-brainer best-choice for those buyers.
I just didn't think Apple would charge them that much for a model offering features below Apple's own standards.
And within a week, many others are having a similar reaction.
Initially, everyone was relieved that Apple finally released a smaller version of the iPad (the current one released in March 2012 with the beautiful Retina feature and already being replaced by a faster iPad 4 with more features), and some have been pleased that the smaller iPad is larger, at 7.9 inches, than market-leading 7-inch tablets, while being lighter and thinner than those smaller ones, at that.
But, do most people really want a larger-sized portable version with screen resolution that produces a less-clear image, especially for reading? Apple set the screen clarity standard with Retina early this year. Yet, they decided to offer a smaller sibling device that will be harder to read with smaller fonts and which cannot do high-definition video while the competing devices and its older siblings can, in an HD world -- AND Apple is charging 65% more than the price of the more technologically advanced 7" models.
This did take analysts by surprise. Many who did expect that pricing also expected it would include the high-resolution Retina feature.
True, tablet quality is not just about hardware, but the major apps are now available also in Android. How many will find 50,000 (Kindle Fire) or 600,000 (Google Android) apps, too few to plow through? Apple, Google, Amazon all have strong ecosystems.
Sales of Kindle Fire HD 7" and iPad Mini since the launch
These tablets have different audiences.
As a result of the iPad Mini launch and probably because of it -- as people had been waiting to see what Apple would offer for whatever price -- Amazon had its highest Kindle Fire HD sales since the launch of that device.
Even then, Apple is selling out its first batch of iPad mini's ahead of time, since it's a natural buy when 100 million iPads have already been sold and when in the recently completed quarter alone, 26.9 million iPhones were sold.
Many iDevice owners will want a more portable tablet to carry out and will naturally gravitate toward this one, mainly because it provides the specially curated Apple apps they know and enjoy and a smooth interface they don't have to learn.
Small-tablet shoppers not already iPad owners
For those not already wed to Apple's app system, things have been less clear.
And for the first time, Apple is offering a device that's behind the pack when it comes to capability rather than looks. Sleekness counts for a lot, for many. And Apple management team felt $329 was an apt price. It had to be pricier than the equivalent iPod and not so inexpensive it would cannibalize iPad 4 sales. Also, their understandable policy is to make profits on the hardware rather than on the ecosystem where it's closer to break-even from what I've read.
Another important factor for them was that the resolution be kept the same as for the old iPad2 so that iPad2 apps will run on it without having to be redone.
Excerpts of media reactions as they set in this last week:
The Inquisitr's James Johnson:
"...As potential buyers have discovered, the iPad Mini features one of the worst displays among 2012′s high-end 7-inch tablets, offering a low-resolution count compared to the HD-quality video found on the Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 tablet and other comparable devices.
...Amazon was quick to point out the 216 pixels per inch verses 163 pixels per inch advantage it holds over the much higher priced device.
Amazon also noted that its device features dual stereo speakers while the iPad Mini offers on a Mono speaker." *[Footnote][NOTE: Amazon has an HDMI-out port. Attach a microHDMI cable from it to your HDTV and whatever HD video you're streaming or playing will show up on your HDTV so that more can watch it. The iPad mini doesn't have HD capability.]Computerworld's Jonny Evans headlines "Pride: Apple's biggest weakness gives Amazon Kindle easy fire in the iPad mini war."[Evans points out that that Apple's marketing chief, Phil Schiller lay down the gauntlet when he said, about the Android devices that offer more advanced features, "Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad, and they've failed miserably."Evans writes, about the Apple event's tricky comparisons and assessments of the other small tablets:
That's a statement that presumes or hopes for ignorance on the part of his audience.]
"...now, in the new truth economy of product comparisons,the company has actually hurt its argument claiming the iPad mini to be the best smaller tablet in the world, it has undermined its credibility just a little more."
All Things D's Tricia Duryee discusses the iPad mini's cost and how it may have led many to decide against it after the announcement and head toward Amazon.
"In addition to being $130 cheaper, the Kindle Fire HD is also slightly smaller than the 7.9-inch iPad mini and comes with a high-definition display, unlike the iPad mini’s display, which is standard definition."
TechCrunch's Chris Velazco adds that the Kindle Fire also has a "smarter speaker layout than the mini."[NOTE: That would be two stereo speakers in Dolby Plus, that are louder and clearer than any heard in tablets so far, with good spatial separation for casual watching of movies w/o needing external speakers or headphones. The iPad mini is listed on the Apple specs page under input/output as having a "Built-in speaker." *]Velazco also points out what Amazon left out from Gizmodo's statement by Brent Rose "on Apple's perceived hypocrisy when it came to crafting a smaller tablet"“…Your [Apple’s] 7.9-inch tablet has far fewer pixels than the competing 7-inch tablets! You’re cramming a worse screen in there, charging more, and accusing others of compromise? Ballsy.”Well, the sentence that preceded that quote wouldn't have worked on Amazon's family pages :-) He also recommends that TechCrunch's comment section is "pure gold" for anyone from Amazon needing a 'feisty anti-iPad quote or five.' Apple's diss'g of other tablets while entering the smaller-tablet field is causing strong, not generous reactions from commenters on almost every news-site I read the last couple of days.
Gizmodo's actual article by Brent Rose.
Wall St. Journal's Walt Mosserg reminds us that the mini has a back-camera to take photos. I do wonder how many buyers who can afford a more expensive tablet don't already carry a camera in their cellphone though or, like many of us, a smaller, yet powerful, pocketable one these days. Mossberg really likes the look and the "sturdier aluminum and glass body."
I've begun to think that the venerable Walt Mossberg was not at the Kindle Fire HD launch or lost attention during it, judging from his review that mainly ragged on the $199 7-inch model not being as good as a $499 iPad because he apparently felt he heard Bezos say that this lowest-priced KFHD model was "the best tablet" rather than the 8.9" LTE model.
Here, he talks about the iPad mini having an option for LTE while the Kindle Fire HD doesn't.
But during the KFHD launch, the audience saw that the 8.9" model (not notably farther from the 7.9" size than the 7" size is) was launched as part of the line with a ship date of Nov. 20 and the 8.9" model HAS an LTE option and sells for $499 (vs the mini's $559 price with LTE option included) AND comes with a $50/yr plan for the limited 250MB of data per month that would be useful mainly for brief email and book reading when needing 3G/4G access.
That same $50/yr plan with AT&T the first year costs $230/yr with the iPad.
The screen resolution differences are larger with the larger Kindle Fire HD.
ADD that the screen resolution for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" is 1920x1200 at
254 pixelsper inch (ppi) vs the iPad mini's 1024x768 and 163 ppi and it's even more clear that the latter has mediocre resolution for a smaller sized tablet in today's HDTV world.
I don't understand why Walt Mossberg doesn't mention this 8.9" model being pre-orderable if he is interested in LTE as an option.
Add *further* that the 8.9" HIGH-resolution KFHD starts at only $299 for the 16GB that will cost $329 for the 7.9" mini with the much lower-res screen.
The smaller Kindle Fire HD 7-inch model has a screen resolution of "only" 1200x800 at 216 ppi. About the 163-ppi iPad mini, Mossberg does write,
"My only complaints were that it's a tad too wide to fit in most of my pockets, and the screen resolution is a big step backwards from the Retina display on the current large iPad...
"Unlike its closest competitors, the Mini can't play video in high definition. Apple insists the device does better than standard definition, if you are obtaining the video from its iTunes service, since iTunes scales the video for the device, so it will render somewhere between standard definition and HD. It says some other services will do the same. But the lack of true HD gives the Nexus and Fire HD an advantage for video fans."
He really likes it though, so read the rest of his report.
BGR's headline by Zach Epstein is that the mini display "is 'terrible'" because what he's seeing with the early reviews is that "basically all say the same thing..." that the hardware and software are great but "the screen is terrible."
BloombergBusinessweek's Rich Jaroslovsky has no problem holding the somewhat larger mini with just one hand and says it's "Crazy thin and crazy light."
"Besides the size and price tag...the most notable thing about the mini is the quality of its display, which can be best described as adequate. Unlike the big iPad...the iPad mini lacks Apple’s ultra-sharp Retina display. His caveat:"Fine PrintHe points out the GPS the mini has but the Kindle Fire HD doesn't - at least not in the $199 model (it's included in the 8.9" KFHD model with LTE).
I didn’t see a huge difference in some uses, such as watching videos or reading e-books. But I found it noticeably harder to read some Web pages, particularly those with fine print. If you’ve got eyesight at all like mine, be prepared to do a lot of pinching and zooming."
Despite it being hard on his eyes with webpages with small print (so many of them too), Jaroslovsky feels it's "the best small tablet you can buy" but you'll have to answer for yourself, he says, "whether it's that much better."[NOTE: I don't know about others, but if I can't play an HD streaming video in HD because the tablet isn't capable of that, I really don't see how it's worth $130 more except to iOS device owners who most prize the unmodified iOS apps in lower resolution, in which case that's everything so it can be worth it to that specific audience. But, the 'best' when it won't run HD videos and the less-expensive devices will?]
CNET Asia's Jacqueline Seng posted a specs comparison and wrote that, like a colleague from that site, who was "giving the iPad mini a miss" due to the low-resolution screen, she considers it out of contention, due to "the low-res screen, which doesn't justify its high price tag" but does see that many will want it for its "sleek, aluminum" look and of course those who are already loving their iOS apps will too. On this site, Apple stalwarts are up in arms in the comments area.
Upshot, the iPad mini is worth the extra money to many as a beautiful accessory that is also VERY light. Just don't expect too much otherwise, as I've said, even for an HD world, which the iPad mini avoids.
But would you buy a standard definition TV today for a 65% higher price, instead of a high definition one, because the older resolution model is a prettier piece and lighter? The answer would be Yes, if it has the programs or content you like to run or play and you don't care about high definition video or reading small print on web pages more easily. For everyone, it comes down to personal taste and what gives you the most pleasure.
EARLIER posts on Kindle Fire HD
. Basic Features Comparison Table for iPad mini, Google Nexus 7", Kindle Fire HD 7"
. Comparison reviews of the Kindle Fire HD 7" and Google Nexus 7" tablets
. Step-by-step guide for installing a working Adobe Flash player when needed.
. KFHD Tips - Flash video, Using the camera and Video, Panorama mode,
App for WiFi file transfers w/o cable.
* There is currently some controversy over whether the iPad mini has one or two speakers or speaker baffles. As I tweeted to Joshua Topolsky and Jay Yarow, here's what I've found out so far. (At the detailed and interesting MacRumors forum discussions linked to in my posting there, it's still up in the air.)
Am adding the discussion at 9to5Forums, landing you at the last post so far, asking what I asked too.
' http://www.apple.com/ipad-mini/specs/. Here in "Input/Output" they say "Built In Speaker" singular, and above, "3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack". Why would they forget to say that it is stereo, when they did not forget to mention it for the minijack and they also wrote "speaker" and not "speakers"? '
Others mention that the terse email statement by Phil Schiller being quoted that goes against the Apple specs info (which should at least be corrected if his emailed "It is stereo" refers to the question of whether the speakerS -- only one grille is identified as a speaker in the diagram -- are stereo or whether the 'it' (the unit) actually refers to the unit having a stereo headphone minijack). The double-grille configuration is similar to a 'pair' used in an iPhone but one of those in the latter doesn't hold a speaker inside. Mainly, Apple needs to be clear and not blame it on readers of their specs page.
Phil Schiller is SVP of WorldWide Marketing (Sales), so he can see that the technical info is changed on the official specs page if his email response is correct, which would mean a brand new iPad feature not seen in the other iPad models and strangely not mentioned in all the announcements. I emailed him also, and he may be inundated at this point.
Update Nov. 2 - After I also tweeted to ask if Apple would be correcting their iPad mini specs page (instead of having their fans accuse others of 'lying' when merely quoting the specs Apple posted) -- to match Phil Schiller's "It's in stereo" email-reply that seemed to reply re speakers, "It's in" rather than the headphones minijack -- Apple finally updated their iPad-Mini specs page to show "Built-in speakers" instead of "Built-in speaker"... without comment.
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