Well, the Kindle Fire has been announced and will be released on Nov. 15th. I have to say, I have not seen such an overhyped, unimpressive piece of hardware in years.
First, it is a 7″ Android tablet which has Android highly modified. I don’t know what other modifications they have made but most “highly modified” UIs have been harder to use than the base UI. However one modification I do know about is just silly. They have disabled the Android Market in lieu of their own, proprietary, market. So all the great software available for the Android? Yeah, unless the publishers submit it to two marketplaces you don’t get to install it easily.
Second, everyone is oohing and aahing over the price, $199. It’s as if noone has ever seen a $199 7″ Android tablet before. As of this writing there are no less than 7 such units for sale on Newegg alone. Granted, the specs for the Fire place it at the high end of the 7″ Android tablet market but given that it is competing against tablets released months to a year or so ago that isn’t surprising.
Of course being just another tablet means it gives up what make Kindles (and other similar products) such a great device as an eReader. Namely the E Ink display and it’s long battery life.
Finally, it isn’t as if we haven’t had the ability to read books on our Android tablets before. On of the first apps I installed on my Android phone was Kindle for Android. It was the first app I installed on my ASUS Transformer. Of course the second app was Nook for Android and Google Books came pre-installed. Hmm, I think we now know why the Android Market is disabled, eh?
So, in the end what is the Kindle Fire? It is a crippled 7″ Android tablet with a $199 pricetag. For $199 one could get one of several non-crippled Android tablets and still get the major selling point of the Fire, Kindle for Android. Aside from the Kindle name is there really anything going for this tablet? No.
I finally finished the third book of the Vampire Memories series by Barb Hendee. Since there aren’t any more in this series, yet, I decided to see if the latest in the Kate Daniels series from Ilona Andrews is available. Head over to Amazon, plug in Kate Daniels, click on a random book in the series and look for a link showing the other books in the series. There isn’t one. In fact only the first book is clearly marked even being in a series! Well, that’s Amazon stupidity for you.
Barnes & Noble has that feature, right? Nope. Though they did mark all four books as being in a series. They even got which book each was in the series. An improvement, but certainly not ideal.
Look, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, here’s a clue from a computer geek. Add a table which holds all the book series. Link the books to the series in that table. Then have your website list the other books in the series. Those are probably the easiest sales you will ever get! Sure, it may not seem like a big deal for the two series I mentioned. They number three and four books respectively. But when you start following the likes of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series with its twelve main books, five anthologies and four secondary books it is a chore to track down the latest books.
You have the database. You have the website. Make it trivial!
My wife loves her Kindle. So much so that she’s giving it the heave-ho and getting a trophy-Kindle. In a fun twist we are going through role reversal on the tech hand-me-downs. Normally she gets the tech toys of which I have tired but this time it is she that is asking if I want dibs on her old Kindle 2.
Thus far I have gotten by with Kindle on other platforms. First by wrangling Kindle for PC to work under Linux on my Dell Mini. More recently it has been with the Kindle app for Android. So, strictly speaking, I really don’t need a Kindle. It would be nice.
On the other hand I haven’t given up on my plans for a Nook. I still order all my tree-killing books via B&N. So it naturally follows that I would prefer to obtain my electron-killing books via the same source. My wife, naturally, disagrees.
But in this internal debate I have been giving consideration to a third option. The Kindle 2 & Nook represent a lightweight device w/6″ screen upon which I could read books in electronic format. Both cost around $150-$170 for the Wifi only version. Both are locked in the format they can read. Meanwhile I have a device which can read both, right now. My Droid. Why not look for a 6″-7″ variation thereof? The first person to mention the iPad gets slapped. Seriously.
A few minutes of searching yielded two possible results. First up is the Gentouch, an Android 2.1 device with a 7″ screen for $150. Only problem is they are sold only at K-Mart and are currently sold out until late August. Then there is the Archos 7 based on Android 1.5 and coming in at $200. By the end of the year there are supposed to be several tablets available under the $200 price point, most running Android 2.1 or higher.
The more I think about it the more appealing it becomes. My main gripe about reading on my Mini is that it isn’t as portable and easy to handle as a book. Meanwhile my Droid, awesome as it is, is too small for long-term reading. My wife raves about the eInk display on her Kindle and daylight reading. I work nights and am an indoor geek. I rarely read out-of-doors, let alone during the day. So while I normally think specialized devices are better for the tasks for which they are designed I am finding it hard to want any eReader for $150 when I could spend the same on a Gentouch and get the functionality of 2 eReaders along with all of the other apps written for Android.
Given that the Gentouch is out-of-stock, and not without some problems detailed in different reviews, I think right now I might take up my wife’s offer of the use of her Kindle 2. Use it for a few months until a decent Android based tablet comes out.