Archive for January, 2013

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 vs Nook HD+ is no contest

By Alan Ng Posted 5 Dec 2013, 04:10

Earlier on this month we took a look at how the popular Nook HD+ compared against the even more popular Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Now though, we wanted to show you how Amazon’s upgraded model fairs against Barnes and Noble’s tablet, with a brief Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 Vs Nook HD+ review for you to watch.

It’s clear that Amazon has really hit their stride at the moment. After launching the Kindle which originally only offered e-book capabilities, we’ve now reached a stage where Amazon’s Kindle Fire HDX tablets can offer serious competition to the likes of the iPad Air, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 and soon to be released Nexus 10 2013 model.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX is also a consumer favorite as it’s selling for an incredible price. A price tag of $349 is over $100 cheaper than the 16GB iPad Air, although it doesn’t come close to matching the unbelievably cheap Nook HD+ which is just over $160 at various retailers.

Having said that, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9-inch tablet offers significantly better hardware specs out of the box, compared to the Nook HD+. These include a quad-core 2.2Ghz processor with 2GB of RAM, compared to the Nook HD+ which only has a dual-core 1.5Ghz processor with 1GB of RAM.


Other differences include an 8MP rear camera on the Kindle Fire HDX, but only a 1MP rear camera on the back of the Nook HD+. It’s clear that the Nook HD+ is no match for the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 in terms of hardware performance.

Then again the Nook HD+ still has access to the Google Play Store to download any apps that the Kindle Fire HDX can. So for the average consumer, this is still fantastic for a tablet that only costs around $160 compared to the $349 Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

We’ve incldued a brief video review below, giving you a further analysis of both devices if you need it. If you have picked up either of these tablets over the busy shopping period, let us know how you are getting on so far.

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Nook vs Kindle
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9 9 Let me start out my review of the kindle 4 by saying I own the Kindle 3 keyboard as well as the nook 1st gen and the nook color (more on those later). I gave there kindle 4, 4 o

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Oberon Design Medium Tablet Sleeve review

I typically carry my gear around with me in the Colonel Littleton No. 1943 Navigator bag reviewed last year. But there are those occasions where I want my iPad mini with me either totally by itself or in something like my gi/sports bag. In both situations, I do not want my tablet rattling around in whatever I am carrying it in. The Medium Tablet Sleeve from Oberon Design appeared to be an ideal candidate for protecting my iPad while on the fly. Fortunately the folks at Oberon sent me one to try out/review, so let’s see how it fairs.

Surprisingly (at least to me), I have never reviewed or even seen an Oberon Design product in person before. Being part Scottish and Welch, I always took special notice when other members of the Gadgeteer Team reviewed Oberon products, appreciating their Celtic design and Old World craftsmanship. Oberon products are handmade and crafted from high quality leather, uniquely designed with eye-catching art stamped into the surface of the leather.

The iPad mini fits nicely inside of the Oberon Medium Tablet Sleeve. It slips in and out easily, but will not come out on its own. The sleeve is leather lined to protect the tablet from being scratched. The leather is a bit stiff but in a good way; while it does not interfere with use, it does provide great protection against bumps and minor drops.

Medium Sleeve Fits:

  • iPad Mini
  • Nexus 7
  • Kindle Fire
  • Nook HD
  • Nook Color / Tablet
  • Kindle 3 / Keyboard
  • Kindle Fire HD7 does NOT fit.


  • 6″ x 9″


  • 5.4 oz

The two most distinguishing features of this sleeve are the detailed designs pressed into the leather and the Oberon signature Britannia pewter strap button attaching the closure strap to the sleeve itself.

The leather closure strap folds over the top of the sleeve and is held in place by magnets. Personally, I would have used stronger magnets but the ones Oberon use work fine.

The handmade craftsmanship is top notch. The leather, while a bit stiff, is finely finished and nicely stitched.

Oberon Design creates the Medium Tablet Sleeve in 12 additional colors and designs.

Oberon Design definitely hit the mark with this statement and the design of their sleeve. It is well made from quality leather, has Old World craftsmanship, stylish design, is lightweight and protective – all that for under $65. Last, this case will long outlast whatever tablet you are currently using, growing better with age, ready for the iPad mini 3 or Nook HD 6 .

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Amazon Kindle Fire HDX: 7-Inch Tablet Takes Compact to a New Level

While it was Barnes Noble (BKS) that really started the whole run on 7-inch tablets with its Nook Color, Amazon (AMZN) took the ball and ran with the Kindle Fire tablet. Soon the small and cheap tablets were booming with consumers, and even Apple (AAPL) was forced to retreat from its long-held position that the only real tablet was a big one. The Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet is this year’s offering from Amazon … and it’s better than ever.

Kindle-Fire-HDX-review-Amazon-Kindle-Fire-tabletPlus, if you played your cards right, you could have saved big money on the Kindle Fire HDX (which is already competitively priced). The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch tablet was one of Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals, with AMZN knocking $50 off the price and offering free shipping.

Since then, it’s also been offered as an Amazon Gold Box deal at 20% savings. In other words, if you want a Kindle Fire HDX, keep an eye on the bargain tracking sites and Amazon might just discount it again during the holiday season.

Most tech publications have offered a Kindle Fire HDX review that’s largely positive. But if you’re not sure if the new, upgraded Kindle Fire 7 is for you, read on for details about Amazon’s most advanced compact tablet yet.

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Kobo Mini review

The Kobo Mini is currently the smallest and lightest eBook reader on the market – at least until the German-made Textr Beagle comes along – and also one of the cheapest, coming in at £10 less than the base-level Amazon Kindle. The key to its diminutive size is a smaller 5in E-Ink screen, and it’s this that turns out to be the Mini’s biggest strength and biggest weakness. On the one hand, you have an eBook reader that you can take just about anywhere, and that you can fit inside a jacket pocket, a large trouser pocket or even the smallest handbag. On the other hand, the screen size brings with it a range of legibility issues, which we’ll go into in more detail later on.

One thing Kobo is getting right is design and build quality. The Mini is light at just 134g – it is made entirely from plastic, but it’s still perfectly solid, with a thick frame around the screen that contributes a fair bit to the 101 x 133 x 11mm (WxHxD) size. It doesn’t feel particularly luxurious or expensive, but it does feel robust. It comes in black or white, but you can customise the rear colour with interchangeable backs in teal, bright red and purple. As we found with the Kobo Glo, the rear is an absolute fingerprint magnet and the marks don’t easily rub off, but otherwise it’s a very likable and comfortable unit, easy to hold and with nice rounded corners.

The Mini uses touchscreen controls, and the only elements of note beyond the screen are a micro USB port at the bottom and a power slider at the top, with a small, highly-recessed reset switch to be prodded to the left of that. Unlike the Glo there’s no SD card slot for expanding the memory, so you’re stuck with the 2GB built-in. Kobo claims this will be enough for up to 1,000 books.


While the Kobo Glo had one of the best screens of any eBook reader, the Kobo Mini isn’t quite so lucky. It’s a 600 x 800 E-Ink Vizplex 110 display with 16 levels of greyscale, and while the resolution is perfectly adequate for normal reading, it just doesn’t have the contrast of the Glo, not to mention even the base level Amazon Kindle. Combine this with the smaller size, and it’s a struggle to read the Mini in poor lighting.

The screen size also poses another challenge. Left to its default font and font-size, the Mini dishes out text so large that you’re lucky to get more than a paragraph on the screen at once. Personally, I’m not a big fan of turning the page almost constantly, so I turned down the font size, decreased the generous margins and reduced the line-spacing, all of which the Mini generously allows. However, the more you do this, the harder the text is to read, so there’s a fair bit of work involved in getting the best possible balance between the amount of text you can get on a page and making sure that text is legible.

It can be done, and this was always going to be a problem with a 5in screen, but the Mini then brings in another issue. It varies from book to book, but on some books we’ve tried the Mini refuses to split paragraphs between two pages, so you might find yourself reading a full page, then a half page, then a full page, then a half page, and so on, so that you’re back to turning the page every few seconds.

What makes all this a bit annoying is that, where the Glo used a 1GHz Freescale processor, the Mini uses one that’s 200MHz slower. This appears to have hit page turn speeds hard, and if the Glo was already no speed demon, the Mini is decidedly laggardly in its page-turn pace. Even though it only refreshes the page fully every six turns, each normal turn still seems to take a good second.

Interface and Software

Where the cheapest Kindle still uses physical controls, the Kobo Mini uses a touchscreen. There’s nothing wrong with the underlying technology, which seems fairly accurate and responsive, but the meagre processing power and the smaller size of the screen can also make it tricky to tap the right point or make adjustments with sliders or buttons. The Mini is perfectly usable, and when you’re in the middle of a book you won’t always find yourself fiddling with the font size or formatting, but when you do have to do it you might need a little patience.

Yet we’re not just here to whinge. As with the Glo, you get a decent range of options in terms of font sizes, margin widths, line-spacing, typeface and justification, plus an Advanced page where you can adjust things like sharpness and see a before and after view of the results.

What’s more, the Mini doesn’t skimp on advanced features either. You can still tap and hold a word to summon up a definition, translate words, search for snippets of text and add your own annotations, and the Mini also packs in Kobo’s reading life and social networking features, tracking your progress, dishing out awards for various reading-related activities, and allowing you to comment on what you’re reading, and post information to Facebook. The Mini even manages the same Extras as its bigger brother, with a rather basic monochrome Web browser, a Sudoku game and a Sketchpad app.

Purchasing Books

One of the advantages of buying a Kobo eBook reader is that you’re not tied into one specific store. Kobo’s own store is the most convenient, partly because you can browse for and buy books using the Mini’s Wi-Fi connection, and there’s even a Discover feature that recommends them – though as with all such things it makes some good guesses and some less impressive ones.

Given the size of the screen, however, it’s easier to use Kobo’s nicely-presented desktop software to search and buy, then transfer over USB. There is, however, no need to feel restricted. You can visit the WHSmith online store and transfer books to your Mini from there, or visit Waterstones or anyone else that sells (or distributes) Adobe DRM-protected (or unprotected) books, then transfer them using Adobe Digital Editions (downloaded separately).

This is always a difficult choice. Kobo, WHSmith and Waterstones are now catching up on Amazon for pricing on many bestsellers, but Amazon still seems to offer a wider range and more enticing offers. Joining the Kindle ecosystem has its advantages and disadvantages, and as other eBook stores evolve it’s becoming less of a disadvantage to shop elsewhere. For some people, the freedom is worth paying extra for. For others, the price advantages of Kindle will win out.


PDFs can be easily copied over using Adobe Digital Editions. Fidelity is pretty good, but text and images can look pretty ugly on the smaller screen, and if the text is tiny then you’ll struggle to get enough zoom to make anything out. Scrolling performance is predictably painful, but then it’s unlikely you’ll buy a Mini to read PDFs or any other graphical material. It’s like buying a Fiat 500 when you’ve got a family and a dog to get around.

Battery Life

Kobo claims a battery life of one month for the Mini, though – as always – this depends on how you use it. Within ten days of rather inconsistent daily use we’ve drained 40 per cent of the battery, but that’s with Wi-Fi switched on most of the time. In any case, you won’t have to charge it more than every few weeks, which is fine as far as we’re concerned.


There’s a lot to like about the Kobo Mini. It’s very small and very light without feeling at all flimsy. It’s extremely affordable and it doesn’t tie you in to one specific book vendor. However, we keep coming back to the reading experience. The 5in screen makes it harder to get a good page full of text without affecting legibility, and the poorer contrast levels only exacerbate the situation. In fact, it doesn’t offer many real advantages over reading on a good-sized mobile phone.

If you’re a frequent traveller and you want the lightest and most portable eBook reader on the market, then the Kobo Mini is it. Deal with the compromises and it’s still quite usable. If you can spend a little more, however, and you’d rather have something you can read comfortably for hours at a time, then Amazon’s base-level Kindle, the Kobo Touch, the Nook Simple Touch or Kobo Glo would all give you a better experience without giving you an awful lot more to lug around. It seems you can have small or comfortable, book-like reading, but not quite both at the same time.

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