Nook vs Kindle .Info
With so many options becoming available, our goal is to provide information about the various ebook readers on the market, especially the Kindle and Nook as they are the top sellers. But rather than counting on “experts” or pay people to write reviews, the reviews you find here are from regular people sharing their experiences or opinions on the product they are reviewing.
Here we're comparing the new 7in Tesco Hudl against both the 7in Amazon Kindle Fire HD and its bigger brother the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch. The Hudl costs £119 inc VAT in the UK, and the Kindle Fire HD tablets cost £119 for the 7in, and £229 for the 8.9in tablet. See also: Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire HD 8.9 tablet comparison review.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Display
Despite the budget price, the Hudl has, we have to say, a reasonable specification. Much better than we expected, in fact.
The Hudl has a 7 in screen matching the Kindle Fire HD, and like Amazon's tablets this has been designed to be used in landscape mode. You can still use portrait if you wish. The resolution is decent for a budget tablet at 1440 x 900 (higher than the iPad mini) and viewing angles are good which, to be honest, we weren't expecting. A pixel density of 243 pixels per inch is not to be sniffed at.
The first Kindle Fire HD has a 7in, 1280 x 800 10-point multitouch capacitive screen which uses an IPS LCD panel. That makes HD movies look good, with decent detail at a decent pixel-density level of 215 ppi. One of the advantages of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is its excellent full HD screen. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 which means that it has a winning pixel density of 254 ppi over a bigger area. In the case of all three devices viewing angles are wide, colours are deep and contrast is good. But the 8.9in Kindle Fire HD tablet makes up for its heavier weight with a bigger, more detailed screen.
Unfortunately we found that the Hudl's screen is occasionally unresponsive and in general we needed to set brightness to the maximum level.
The 8.9in Kindle Fire HD has the best display here. It's a close-run thing between the smaller tablets. See also: The 9 best budget tablets: What's the best budget tablet of 2013?
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Specification and performance
In terms of performance the Hudl beats out the other two, although that doesn't make it a top performer. Just solid and good for the price.
Being blunt, the 7in Kindle Fire HD isn't as fast as we'd have liked. In use it doesn't feel as snappy as an iPad mini or Nexus 7, especially when browsing the web or launching apps. Scrolling around web pages shows a white screen until the content is loaded.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 has a faster dual-core processor than the Kindle Fire HD but this doesn't make it feel noticeably zippier in general use. Both Kindle Fire HD devices trail the Nexus 7 in this respect, although the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 pretty much matches that tablet in our benchmarks.
Turning to the Hudle, its 1.5 GHz quad-core A9 processor copes fairly well with its job. Navigation around the OS is nippy enough if not lightning fast. Web browsing and gaming is reasonable but nothing more which is reflected in our benchmark tests.
The Hudl scores 1583 in Geekbench 2 which is a little more than the original Nexus 7, and beats out both Kindle Fire HD tablets. It's only one frame off the Galaxy Note 8 (which is considerably more expensive) in GLBenchmark 2.5 - it managed 17 fps. In SunSpider 1.0, the Hudl scores a middling 1397 ms.
You might also be interested in: Amazon Kindle Fire HDX: Release date, price and specs and Asus Memo Pad HD 7 review: a surprisingly good budget Android tablet
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Battery life
Tesco says that the Hudl can provide up to 9 hours of video playback, depending on various settings. At maximum brightness (for comfortable viewing), streaming a 30 minute BBC iPlayer TV show over Wi-Fi used just under 10 percent of the battery. So it will last around five hours in total if you only watch video.
General battery life will depend on how often you use the device. If you pick it up occasionally to check Facebook or Google who that actor is on TV you can't place then it will give you a few days' worth of use. The Hudl holds its charge very well when not in use. We'd like some kind of power management though, so that Wi-Fi could be automatically switched off with the screen.
Both the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 offer good battery life, too.
Amazon claims that you will get more than 10 hours of continuous use out of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. In our tests we managed 7 hours and 15 minutes playing back video at full brightness with Wi-Fi switched on. This is a good result for a tablet with a 9in screen. It would certainly allow you to watch movies throughout a long flight, for instance (although you'd need to be online to watch the movie.)
The 7in Kindle Fire HD lasted even longer - putting in a performance of 7 hours and 42 minutes in the same test. Again the Nexus 7 outperforms the Kindle Fire HD tablets, with a result of 9 hours and 40 minutes, but this is exceptional. Even the iPad mini couldn't match that (at maximum brightness), lasting just six minutes longer than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9.
Note that you don't get a mains charger in the box with either Amazon device, and the Fire HD 8.9in will take a foot-tapping 14-odd hours to charge via your laptop or PC's USB port. That drops to around four hours with the optional Kindle charger – it's well worth budgeting for that when you buy if you don't already have a USB charger.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Storage
There's only one model of the Hudl and that comes with 16 GB of storage (around 12 GB available). There is a microSD card for adding up to 32 GB more, which is another plus point when compared to the Amazon competition, although those tablets can come with more storage.
You can choose either 16GB or 32GB models of both the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. Neither of the Kindle Fire HD tablets offers expandable storage. Also, you shouldn't expect to have all of that storage available for apps and media. In our tests the 16GB Kindle Fire HD 8.9 had 12.7GB available for storage. With the 32GB model we found 27.1GB of usable storage.
Let's call this one a draw.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Design and build quality
Build quality and design are subjective things, and it is important to say that these are all well-built devices. Almost on a whim we err toward the Hudl.
The Hudl feels nice in the hand with its soft touch plastic casing which comes in four colours: black, blue, red and purple. It's a little chunkier and heavier than the latest Nexus 7 at 9.9 mm and 370 g but the device doesn't feel unwieldy. It's also very well built for a cheap tablet with a solid and durable construction. At 567g the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is a little heavy for a tablet. If weight is an issue you could opt for the lighter Kindle Fire HD. Its 395g feels significantly lighter, especially when in use as an e-reader. Of course the Hudl beats them both/
Kindle Fire HD tablets are designed to be used often and on the move, and to sell at a cheap price. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 shares almost identical design and build quality with the 7in Kindle Fire HD: a shiny black slab with a capacitative touchscreen taking up most of the front. The 8.9in model is simply stretched to incorporate that bigger screen. This means that in both cases the screen is designed to be used in landscape format for everything but reading books.
The Kindle Fires are robust and built to last but lack a little of the stylish finish of iPads or Nexus tablets. We think we prefer the Hudl in this respect, but all three devices are solid and well-built. The Hudl feels thicker, its rubbbery back panel feels a little like a built-in case. But that gives the impression of a more robust device.
The bezel around the screen on all three devices is thicker than we'd like, but that's what you get at this price.
This virtually identical design means both the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 sport similar ports, features and buttons in similar places. With either device look on the bottom edge for micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, and find the headphone jack sitting near the top. The Hudl's micro-USB sits in the middle of the bottom (in landscape mode). The micro-HDMI can be found top left, however. A memory-card expansion slot can be found on the righthand side, and the 3.5mm jack sits on the top righthand corner.
The Kindle Fire tablets have two speakers seated to the left and the right on the rear of the tablet, and the webcam is situated centrally above the screen. You get a similar setup with the Hudl. It does seem odd for an entertainment device to have rear-facing speakers, but these tablets are hardly alone in that respect.
A range of accessories for the Hudl includes cases from £15, cables and headphones. Some of which are designed for kids. By now the Kindle Fire HD tablets are also blessed with good third-party support. See also: What's the best Android tablet of 2013?
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Software
The winner here depends on your personal tastes and requirements.
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is almost vanilla in the Hudl but Tesco had added a few of its own bits and pieces. Preloaded widgets give first time users a helping hand and other things like Clubcard status at a glance. These can, of course be removed if they are of no use to you.
Alongside the regular android navigation buttons, there is a T button which is a shortcut to the supermarket's services including Blinkbox and Clubcard TV.They are both streaming services but Blinkbox offers up to date content to buy or rent, while Clubcard TV allows free but fewer and older content.
To go with these is a micro-HDMI port to get those films and TV shows on to your TV. Importantly there is full access to Google Play Store which means the Hudl has one up on the Amazon Kindle Fire range of budget tablets.
The Kindle Fire HD tablets are very different. Although strictly speaking based on Android, the platform is very much Amazon's own. These are entertainment devices for people who don't want or need the freedom of a plain Android device: the people who don't demand the latest Android apps or to be able to buy content from wherever they like. Amazon is hoping to make its money from you via your purchases of media and apps. That does mean, of course, that the lifetime cost of a well used Kindle Fire will be alot more than what you pay to purchase it in the first place.
If you want to be able to access Android apps and Google Play media, the Hudl has to be your choice. But the Kindle Fire HD tablets offer easy access to Amazon's unrivalled media catalogue.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: verdict
The Hudl is a great little full-Android tablet, with a decent display and offering solid performance at a brilliant price. The Kindle Fire HD tablets can match the price and, in the case of the 8.9in device at least, offer a better display. But remember that a 7in tablet is much better for reading and watching videos on the move. Performance is marginally down for the Kindles, and they don't offer access to full Google Play apps and media. But if you can stand to miss out on choice, you get a better curated media experience courtesy of Amazon's amazing stockpile of books, video and music. Choose any of these tablets and you won't be disappointed: just choose the right one for you. See also: The 10 best tablets of 2013.
Not since free shipping has there been a better reason to become an Amazon Prime member than the Kindle Fire HDX 7. The new tablet is affordable, powerful, comfortable, and it boasts enough new and refined features to more than earn its $229 (starting) asking price.
With prices like that it's no wonder that as PC sales decline tablets have been on the rise. However, tablets are just as commoditized now as PCs were in their heyday. Apple arguably created the tablet market, and the iPad still rules the high end; an endless array of Android clones fight it out at the low end, with both sides squeezing the middle.
Enter Amazon and its new Kindle Fire HDX tablets. The new HDX tablets -- the third generation of the Kindle Fire brand -- shoot toward the top of the tablet hierarchy thanks to three notable features: excellent pricing that's competitive with the best premium tablets on the market; an awesome content ecosystem (especially for Amazon Prime members) that goes toe-to-toe with iTunes; and real-time customer service with the new Mayday button, which brings a live Amazon rep on a video screen within seconds -- for free.
Unfortunately, the video sling feature -- you can "kick" video from your HDX to a compatible device or Smart TV -- isn't ready at launch. And neither is Goodreads integration. Also, 16GB is fast becoming too small to store HD content, and without access to the Google Play store, HDX owners are still missing out on plenty of Android apps.
Still, the HDX is the strongest evolution of the Kindle Fire brand yet; however, you'll want make sure you're a card-carrying citizen of the Amazon Prime eco-verse to get the most out of the tablet's offerings.
The Kindle Fire HDX is the smallest, thinnest, lightest Kindle Fire yet (pictures)
Last year's Kindle Fire tablets were bulky, substantial, and seemed to prioritize durability over comfort. The Fire HDX 7 is much more thoughtfully designed. Its corners aren't as rounded as I usually like, but it's well-balanced and really comfortable to hold in one hand. It's light without feeling too airy.
Both the power button and volume rocker have been moved to the back, and while they're easier to find and press compared with the old Fire HD, I'm not sure it's the best solution. It's fine when held in landscape mode -- the rear edges can be used as a tactile guide -- but it's annoying when I want to quickly wake it from sleep, but have to pick it up first to reach the back instead of just tapping a button on its side.
There's a Micro-USB port on the left edge and a headphone jack on the right. The Micro-HDMI port from last year's Fire has been exorcised in favor of a new video fling feature we'll get to later. The front-facing camera returns along with an actual camera app this time, but there's no rear camera.(Credit: Josh Miller/CNET)
The new version of the Kindle Fire OS -- dubbed Mojito -- is based on Android Jelly Bean and is more of a refinement over last year's OS rather than something completely new.
The carousel returns, allowing you to swipe through a lineup of your content, but now swiping up from the home screen reveals an array of your installed apps. And thanks to the higher-resolution screen, all menu items are visible at once from the top of the home screen.(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
Swiping down from the the top still brings up the shortcuts menu and the settings button. The menu now includes new entries Quiet Time, which turns off all notifications -- this needed its own button? -- and Mayday, which we'll delve into shortly.
The Silk browser finally feels like a useful, welcoming tool for accessing the Web and not a clunky, low-rent app struggling to keep up with my Web-based proclivities. Pages loaded quickly and whizzed by when swiped.
Taps also are much more accurate now. Not only when tapping links, but it was especially impressive when typing. I'm usually one to make plenty of mistakes when typing on a touchscreen, but either I'm finally and suddenly getting much better or Amazon's engineers have put in a lot of work in this area. My bet's on the latter.
I'm probably a bit overly excited about just how trouble-free the Web experience was, but there's really nothing special about it. It simply works with little issue, which, compared with previous Fire tablets, I guess maybe is pretty special.(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
Amazon also took a critical eye toward other native apps like e-mail and calendar as well as adding a new contacts app. E-mail has been redesigned to require fewer steps to set up and is now compatible with threaded conversations, so instead seeing a single e-mail from each person in the conversation, you now see a message from the last person to contribute to the thread.
Calendar includes a number of sensible improvements that for the most part makes the interface a more efficient and gratifying experience.
Managing your storage is now a lot easier, as items can be located by type and each deleted on the fly.(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
While the vast majority of the changes work, there's also a missed opportunity here to add more customization. Samsung does this to great success on its latest version of the TouchWiz UI, last seen on the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Samsung's shortcut array behaves in much the same way as Amazon's, but also scrolls to the left to include more options and can even be customized to add more choices.
It's difficult to talk about how great the new OS is without mentioning the Snapdragon 800 processor, whose inclusion makes it clear that Amazon finally got the horsepower-to-interface overhead balance just about right. Accessing different sections of the interface feels much more immediate and it's an all around a less stressful and frustrating experience.(Credit: Screenshot by Eric Franklin/CNET)
X-Ray for music is karaoke on your Fire. Sort of. The Fire displays lyrics onscreen while compatible songs play. Lyrics are timed to appear as they play in the song, and the feature's quite a bit more engaging than I thought it would be. That may be strictly due to the excitement of learning the actual lyrics to some of my favorite songs.
And X-Ray trivia with its handy "jump to scene" button is a pretty effective way to learn more about your favorite movies or TV shows.
What I've always liked about the Kindle Fire interface is how the content is organized. Instead of pages and pages of app icons like other OSes, on the Fire, each type of content is siloed into its respective section. When I tap Audiobooks, I know I'm seeing all the audiobooks I own and by tapping Store I can easily add more. There's just something comforting about having all your content automatically organized for you.
Mayday is near-instant personal customer service. Pull down the shortcut menu, tap the Mayday button, then tap Connect. And within 15 seconds -- at least that's Amazon's goal -- a customer service representative appears on your screen. The rep can't see you, but can see whatever your HDX is currently displaying and apparently none of your actual account information is visible to them.
Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/amazon-kindle-fire-hdx-7-inch/
Amazon's really laid off the pomp and circumstance this year. Between a new Paperwhite e-reader and a trio of tablets, the company's hosted nary a press conference; just a couple of small-scale meetings. In the case of the Paperwhite, the reason seems clear. From the name on down, nothing about the device screams "major upgrade." Both the hardware and software received some tweaks, sure, but, well, if this were an Apple product, it would almost certainly be called the Kindle Paperwhite S. Then again, we loved the Paperwhite the first time around, so why mess with near perfection?
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review (2013): is last year's best e-reader still tops?
It's hard to say if this is just one of those in-between years, or if Amazon has just throttled down e-reader development. Maybe the company has taken a less-than-bullish view of the space, or perhaps it's convinced the original Paperwhite didn't need much work. Either way, for the first time in a while, there aren't major hardware changes here -- nothing the company can hang its latest ad campaign on. Indeed, even the product's name plays down the upgrade; it's referred to the device as the "All-New Kindle Paperwhite" in Amazon's press materials, though from an aesthetic standpoint, the "all-new" seems a tad generous.
Placed next to each other, 2012's and 2013's Paperwhites are pretty difficult to distinguish. Slip a $100 bill underneath one, and you can play a round of two-Kindle Monte. The reader's retained the same dimensions as its predecessor at 6.7 x 4.6 x 0.36 inches -- so, if you do ultimately decide to upgrade, you can at least keep your old case. Amazon managed to shed a few fractions of an ounce off the previous generation, bringing the new model down to 7.3 (which even those who've handled last year's model are unlikely to notice). The newest Kindle is also a touch heavier than Kobo's offering. (As ever, adding in 3G connectivity will add even more heft, bringing the total weight to 7.6 ounces.) The Paperwhite's noticeably taller than the Kobo Aura too, and hence not quite as pocketable.
In the wake of the Aura, the Paperwhite's design feels pretty utilitarian: it's a black rectangle designed to do a specific job, without much concern for style. In the center is a 6-inch display, a size the entire industry seemingly settled on during some secret, underground Masonic e-reader meeting. It's a tough point to argue, though. Kobo's recent size experiments didn't go too far in convincing us that six inches isn't indeed the sweet spot for e-readers, and Amazon didn't seem to get much traction with its newspaper-oriented DX.
As ever, a black plastic bezel juts out a bit around the display -- something Kobo managed to avoid with the Aura's contiguous design. Indeed, the Paperwhite's plastic bezel seemingly doesn't need to exist either, as the company moved from IR to capacitive touch a while back, which should have eliminated the need for the display gap. There's a prominent white Kindle logo along the bottom bezel, though the company's made it a little bolder this time out and tightened up the kerning a bit, so no one sitting next to you on the train will mistake the thing for a Nook. Once again, you'll find a micro-USB port and power button on the bottom -- and that's about it. Amazon's long made it clear that it has no time for page-turn buttons or expandable memory.
On the rear, Amazon's preserved that nice soft-touch feel, which adds a bit of traction. And while we'd definitely welcome a move toward the Nook's more hand-friendly concave back, after so many iterations, Amazon's still pretty set in its ways here. There's one interesting change back there, however: the company's swapped out the subtler indented Kindle in favor of a glossy black version of Amazon's familiar "A to Z" branding. Clearly, the smaller Amazon type on the last version just wasn't getting the point across. It's a bit louder, but when it's not set down on a table, your hand or a case will be obstructing the logo most of the time -- and heck, we're just glad that Amazon hasn't figured out that it could make a little extra money by selling that real estate to a third party. But we've already said too much...
Last time, the company was all about reading in the dark, enough so that its new front-lit technology gave the reader its name. Sure enough, we were impressed, particularly coming on the heels of Barnes Noble's Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, though the Kindle would soon be eclipsed by Kobo's Glo. Amazon took great pains to improve illumination this year, and while the difference isn't exactly night-and-day, the company's done a fine job nonetheless. At full blast, the Paperwhite lives up to its name, with an impressive white balance and more even coverage toward the bottom of the screen.
The processor's also been bumped up this time, from 800MHz clock speed to a full 1GHz. In real-world use, that translates to a slight improvement in page-turn speed, sometimes more noticeable than others. The difference is decidedly clearer when loading books or waking up the device, with the new version outperforming its predecessor each and every time. Granted, these readers don't have to do a ton of heavy lifting, so you're not going to see a massive improvement in speeds with an upgrade like this. Still, the less time you spend loading, the more time you can spend actually reading.
Unlike Kobo, which has a strong anti-refresh stance, Amazon still gives you one every so often, with a quick black flicker as the system gets everything in place. Though the industry standard for a while was every six pages, the refreshes do appear to come about half as frequently here. The screen still has a pixel density of 212 ppi -- that's less than the Aura's impressive 265, though honestly, if you're spending most of your time reading text, the Kindle's screen should be plenty crisp. Also, the improved white balance in the front lighting helps create the appearance of improved sharpness / contrast.
Onboard storage is still limited to 2GB -- when all's said and done, that works out to around 1.2GB of actual space, or, by Amazon's count, 1,100 books. Again, that's probably more than most of us need to carry around at any one time, and with the benefit of Amazon's free cloud storage, you'll never want for re-reads again. Battery life is estimated at up to eight weeks, though keeping track with these e-ink devices is getting a bit silly. Even if you're a particularly voracious reader, you won't find yourself charging up too often, though keeping the light on will certainly have an impact on runtime. As will WiFi and, should you opt for it, 3G. That particular upgrade will cost you an additional $70. It's not a necessity by any means, but as frequent travelers ourselves, we can attest to the fact that being able to download books anywhere is really, really nice.
Notice anything different? Us neither. Not at first, at least. As with the hardware, Amazon's largely stuck to its guns on the software side, and it's not hard to see why. Over the years, the Kindle OS has evolved into something quite user-friendly. As with the Fire, content is king. When you pop into the home screen, you'll see your three most recently read books (though you can also refine things by author, dates or title) with a small, dot-based progress bar showing you how far you've read. On the left side, you can click into the cloud, to see what you've got stored with Amazon. The prominence of that feature makes upgrading simple -- just turn on your device, tap on Cloud and you can repopulate your new Kindle with the books you've already purchase.
Below all of this are four suggested titles -- Amazon does want you to keep buying, after all. Personally, we prefer to just see the books we've bought up there and save the recommendations for the store -- or Goodreads, which offers a much better system for customizing suggestions. If you decided to save a couple of bucks (20, actually), by picking up the Special Offers version, the bottom sixth of the screen will feature an ad banner. If not, you'll simply have more real estate for book covers.
The book carousel is also home to two new features: Dictionary and Vocabulary Builder. The Dictionary (Oxford English, to be precise) is really just an outgrowth of the offerings on past devices. This time, however, you can also consume the dictionary as a standard book, flipping through or doing a quick search. Fair warning, though: it makes for some pretty dry reading. Vocabulary Builder, meanwhile, aggregates all of the words you've looked up while reading into flashcards. You can flip through them and mark each as mastered once you're clear on the definition. Not exactly a killer app there, but it could certainly come in handy for students -- or, as one German Amazon employee pointed out when we saw the reader at IFA, those trying to master a new language.
The reading experience, too, is largely unchanged. Again, there's not much to do when you've got a page mostly full of text. In the bottom-left corner, you'll see your location in the book. You can tap through that to find out how much time you've got left in the text or in a specific chapter -- a feature that's actually helped improve our speed reading, as we often end up competing with ourselves. It's a sickness, really. We do wish Amazon would cave and display good, old-fashioned page numbers for all titles, but the "time left" feature is pretty handy nonetheless, as is the percentage of progress you've made, which is displayed in the bottom right.
Tap in the upper-right corner, and you'll add a quick bookmark, by way of a little dog-eared animation. Tap up top, and a whole bunch of options will pop up, for searching within the book, advancing to a different section, sharing passages and adjusting the font, among others. You can also change the font with a simple pinch-to-zoom maneuver, which will pop up a box featuring eight different sizes. There are also seven styles and three options for both line spacing and margins. Once again, Kobo wins on that point, with far more potential font variations. Still, we suspect that the Paperwhite's font options will prove more than sufficient for most readers. Finally, flipping between pages can done with a swipe or a tap.
Hold down on a word to highlight it and the dictionary definition will pop-up. There's also a handy tab in there for looking things up on Wikipedia -- particularly useful if you're a non-fiction buff like yours truly, though as you'd expect, that functionality only works where you've got an active connection. Oh, and if Amazon's got an X-Ray listing for that particular book, that will pop up there, too. Click on a proper name, for example, and you'll see that person's bio. You can also click through to find every time someone on that particular page is mentioned throughout the book. It's a particularly handy feature if you're attempting to slog your way through an avalanche of names in a Game of Thrones-type title.
From that window, you can also add notes, share and translate. Those options pop to the front if you highlight more than one word. Amazon's also improved the dragging functionality in highlight, making it easier to pick the correct words. Clicking on a footnote symbol, meanwhile, pops up a window with the note, rather than jumping you directly to the end of the chapter -- a handy feature for quick references. And as before, when you're all finished reading, Amazon will quickly offer you some related books before you go, which is a pretty easy way to get caught in a World War II reading loop. Believe us.
Nice updates, all, but Amazon's still got an ace or two up its sleeve. Thing is, some of the biggest software updates aren't even here at launch. It's a bummer, for sure, but how often do you get an e-reader software update that legitimately brings new functionality? For parents, there's FreeTime, which lets you create profiles and generally encourage more reading through achievement badges and so on. The update we're really waiting for, though, is Goodreads -- functionality we've been anticipating since Amazon bought the startup earlier this year. Kobo made a smart move in bringing Pocket integration to its line of new devices; likewise, Goodreads may well prove to be the killer app for the new Paperwhite.
Once enabled through an over-the-air update set to arrive before the holidays, Goodreads will bring a far more social reading experience. Baked directly into the Kindle's software, it will allow you to track your friends' reading, rate books and discover new titles in a more organic way. We saw a quick demo of the functionality in beta a while back, but we're going to reserve final judgment until we get the update ourselves.
Over the past couple of weeks, we've been bombarded with ads for the All-New Paperwhite -- and on the Special Offers screen of our All-Old Paperwhite, no less. It's a tempting upgrade; we have to admit. At the end of the day, though, is it worth the $119 starting price (or for that matter, $189 for the 3G version)? Not really. For all intents and purposes, the 2013 edition is a lot like what we saw in 2012, though improved processing speeds, better front lighting, software tweaks and forthcoming Goodreads integration are all welcome updates. Ultimately, they all help solidify the Paperwhite's status as a truly terrific e-reader.
This time next year, we'd love to see a fundamental upgrade to the hardware, similar to what Kobo did with the Aura, but between the Kindle's great UI, Amazon's impossible-to-beat content selection and the price difference (the Paperwhite is $30 cheaper), the new Paperwhite is already an extremely well-rounded choice.
Edgar Alvarez and Daniel Orren contributed to this review.
Amazon wants to control all your media consumption, and with its new tablets and ambitious software features, it may just succeed. The company has officially unveiled its new line of Kindle Fire tablets for 2013. The three new tablets consists of the redesigned Kindle Fire HD (2013), the Kindle Fire HDX 7, and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.
Preorders for all three are available now. Look for the Wi-Fi-only version of the HDX 7 to ship on October 18, with the 4G variant coming November 14. The Wi-Fi-only Fire HDX 8.9 ships on November 7 with the 4G version coming December 10. The newly designed 7-inch Kindle Fire HD ships on October 2.
The three tablets -- along with the new Fire OS -- are incredibly ambitious (check below to find out why), but until we spend more than just a few minutes with them, we won't know for sure how well they live up to their potential.
Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablets (pictures)
As with last year's stable, 2013's Kindle Fires will display full screen ads on the lock screen. Buyers can completely turn off the ads by paying an extra $15.
To make the pricing as clear as possible I've thrown into this handy chart below.
Each new kindle Fire gets a new design for 2013. Gone is the subtle curvature of last year's models in favor of a much more angular backside that maintains a clear space between the speakers and your coffee table when laid down flat.
At 0.82 pound, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is the lightest large-screen tablet I've yet heard of, and posts an even lighter load than the Sony Xperia Tablet Z's 1.06 pounds.
The power and volume rocker on each are no longer flush with the device and are now much more easily depressible.(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch features a 1,920x1,200-pixel-resolution screen (323ppi), whereas the 8.9 gets an even more impressive 2,560x1,600-pixel-resolution screen, with a 339ppi. Amazon also says to expect 100 percent sRGB color accuracy, reduced glare, dynamic image contrast -- which may be a first in a tablet -- and a higher brightness.
Each of the new HDX tablets houses a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 CPU and an Adreno 330 graphics processor. Essentially, this means fast, fast, fast gaming performance, as the 800 is no joke when it comes to frame rates, even on phones. That, coupled with 2GB of RAM, and the Fire HDX might be the most graphically advanced portable device yet when it releases later this year.
Amazon says to expect up to 11 hours of mixed-use battery life and 17 hours when reading. While reading, the CPU goes into a low power state and awaits more stressful tasks before powering on again.
(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
For my money, you don't get any better than the 2012 Kindle Fire HD tablets when it comes to sound quality, and fortunately, the HDX will inherit this oft-overlooked, but much-appreciated tablet feature.
Each HDX includes a front-facing HD camera, but only the 8.9 gets a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera, with an LED flash.
New Origami-style covers will be available for each tablet; they can be configured to stand the tablets up in portrait or landscape orientations.(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
Get your 'Mojito' on
With new hardware also comes new software, and Amazon is keen on stuffing as many new features into its Fire OS 3.0 -- christened, "Mojito" -- as it can.
Amazon has plans to significantly improve the Kindle Fire OS with software optimizations across the board, including Goodreads integration, and better enterprise support, but let's talk about the major updates that are coming.
Accessed from the quick setting menu, the Mayday button is built-in and nearly immediate tech support like we've never seen before. According to Amazon, after tapping the button, a live tech support representative will appear on your screen within 15 seconds. The rep can draw on your screen, take complete control of your tablet, or simply coach you through difficult times. With the tablet, that is.
The service will be available 24-7, 365. Hopefully, Amazon has figured out an effective way of weeding out false calls from those of us simply looking for some extra company on a lonely Saturday night.
Amazon Prime videos, offline!
Amazon Prime videos can now not only be streamed, but also downloaded to your HDX device for viewing when you don't have an Internet connection. You know, like on long trips overseas or when visiting your cousins out in the sticks
X-Ray is now available for music. Expect synchronized lyrics that let you follow along with a song, even when offline. Also, X-Ray for Movies and TV now displays the name of the song playing in a given scene.
Character backstory info will appear as the appropriate actor appears on screen. Bloopers and additional trivia are also new.
You can kick your video content from your new Kindle Fire to your PlayStation 3 (and later this year, PS4 and Samsung Smart TVs; Amazon made no mention of other devices, however). But, instead of simply mirroring your tablet, the Kindle Fire will be freed up to browse the Web, play a game, or whatever else you desire to do with it -- you can even leave the room with it -- while your video content plays on your TV with X-Ray info.
According to Amazon, the quality of the video will not be dependent on the tablet's processor load or connection.(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
Kicking your content to a larger screen is becoming quite the common feature in tablets, but Amazon appears to take the concept one impressively useful step forward.
Hands-on with the new Fire HDXes
In some ways, the 8.9 HDX is the more impressive device because it feels very light for its size -- and it's thin.
Both the 7- and 8.9-inch HD screens seemed very crisp, with excellent color saturation and good contrast. Most importantly, they seemed fast -- significantly more responsive than previous versions.
(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
Amazon has also updated the UI. There's still the carousel view, but there's also the grid view and the left-hand nav view. It's built on Jelly Bean, so you could say Amazon made it more Android-like. You can also close out apps and see what's running in the background.
The Mayday feature is a key differentiating point. There's also the aforementioned second-screen feature. It's all done through the cloud and is pretty cool.
Amazon says the Silk browser is improved, but I didn't get a chance to test it. Also, battery life is better by an hour. The Origami cases are thin and nice but starting at $60, are fairly pricey.(Credit: David Carnoy/CNET)
The entry-level Kindle Fire HD performs the same as the previous Fire HD, but its design is in line with the rest of the devices. No camera, but $139 is a great price.
The backs of the devices do attract fingerprints, as you can see from some of the pictures here. There's also some glare on the screens, though Amazon says they have the same lamination feature (no gap), which is supposed to cut down on the glare.
Overall, I was most impressed by the 8.9 because it so much thinner and lighter. From a design standpoint the 7-inch doesn't seem like a big leap, though I did like the button placement for the volume controls and power button, and it feels pretty good in one hand.
I'm impressed. Well, as much as one can be impressed by a specs and features list of devices he's never touched -- David Carnoy wrote the hands-on portion above.
Amazon appears to be firing -- pun intended -- on all cylinders with its new devices. The prices are low, the specs are high-end, and the feature set is incredibly ambitious, especially Mayday and Second screen.
Could this be Amazon's first big step towards taking over your living room? Maybe. If nothing else, the company has shown that it is at least attempting to move one step closer to creating that near-perfect all-in-one media device most of us seem to want.
Everything listed is no doubt impressive, but the proof will be in how well it's all implemented and working once you get it into your home. The company's devices have a pretty good track record for living up to hype, so I'm willing to give Amazon the benefit of the doubt for now.
Article source: http://reviews.cnet.com/amazon-kindle-fire-hdx-7-inch/