e-readers

Dec 172013

Just a quick note that, today (Dec 17) only, Amazon offers its Kindle for just $49 with free shipping. That is an amazing price for a new Kindle!

Yes, it is the entry-level model, without the built-in light or the touchscreen, and it does have Amazon’s “special offers,” but for this price it’s still a great deal for an e-reader for yourself or as a gift.

Pick it up direct from Amazon here — but remember, the sale is today only. Tomorrow it will be back to $69.

The New Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

Today Amazon announced their latest-generation e-reader, the “All-New Kindle Paperwhite,” starting at $119.

I’m not really sure about the name. First of all, it’s not exactly “all new,” although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since the Kindle has been refined over time and is a pretty great e-Ink-based e-reader. I guess Amazon didn’t want to name it the “Kindle Paperwhite 2″ or the “Kindle 6,” as it’s the second Kindle generation to include the side lighting system, and the sixth Kindle generation overall.

In any event, what is new about the All-New Kindle Paperwhite is:

  • 50% Improved Contrast with E-Ink Carta (whiter white background and darker blacks)
  • 25% Faster Processor (for faster page turns)
  • A “Next Generation” lighting system (lit from the side, not the back, so it’s easier on your eyes)

The specs, which are similar to the previous model, are:

  • 6″ e-Ink Carta display, 212 ppi
  • 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm)
  • 7.3 ounces (206 grams) — “30% lighter than an iPad Mini”
  • 2 GB internal storage (about 1,100 books)
  • Wi-Fi wireless connectivity
  • Battery lasts about 8 weeks (Wi-Fi off and reading for 30 minutes per day)

It is available with “Special Offers” for $119 (with free shipping), or without them for $139, and ships September 30.

Also coming soon is the version that also includes 3G wireless connectivity (in addition to Wi-Fi), coming November 5 for $189.

It looks to me like a solid, although not necessarily game-changing update to a very successful product. Better contrast (which was already excellent starting with the Kindle 3 and getting better from there) is always welcome, as is the faster processor. If any readers get their hands on one, please leave me your hands-on experiences in the comments below. Thanks!

UPDATE: The new e-Ink display technology used by the new Kindle is called “E-Ink Carta.” According to E-Ink:

“E Ink Carta delivers a dramatic 50% increase in contrast over earlier generations of ePaper, giving eReaders a contrast ratio close to that of a paperback book. The crisp text and detailed graphics are also highly readable in direct sunlight. Carta’s 16 levels of grey produce the sharpest rendering of images with smooth tones and rich detail.”

Jun 242013

Kobo Mini - $40

From now until July 18, the Kobo Mini e-reader is on sale for just $39.99 here. That’s not much more than a hardcover book!

The Kobo Mini comes with a 5″ e-Ink touchscreen display, Wi-Fi, 2GB of memory, and 1 month of battery life. The 5″ screen is smaller than the 6″ e-Ink screens on the Kindles and Nooks, but that makes for a very small and light e-reader, weighing in at just 4.73 ounces (much lighter than a hardcover, or even most paperbacks).

Kindle Paperwhite

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Oct 022012

The new Kindle Paperwhite

The newest Kindle (Kindle 5?), called the Kindle Paperwhite, came out a couple of weeks ago, and from all the reviews I’ve seen, it’s a big hit.

The main new feature is the side-lit e-Ink display, which allows for reading at night or in low light, while still retaining the easy-on-the-eyes nature of e-Ink and ability to be read in direct sunlight. Reviews also say the lighting is more even than the similar Nook Glowlight, and that it noticeably improves the contrast of the display (Amazon says by 25%), because it makes the greyish background look more white. In the pics and videos I’ve seen of it so far, that was the first thing I noticed — the effect seems pretty dramatic. The display is also higher resolution (212 ppi vs. 167 ppi, or 62% more pixels) than the previous e-Ink Pearl screen used in the last two Kindle generations.

The Kindle Paperwhite is available in both Wi-Fi and WiFi + 3G flavors:

The new Kindle weighs 7.5 oz, or 7.8 oz for the 3G version, either of which are comfortable enough to easily hold in one hand. (For comparison, the Kindle 4, now just called the “Kindle,” weighs 5.98 oz and is available for just $69. The Kindle 3, known as the “Kindle Keyboard,” weighs 8.7 oz and comes with 3G for $139.)

While the new Kindle is impressive, and is probably a must-have for anyone who likes reading at night, it does lose some features from earlier models. Obviously, there is no physical keyboard, which Amazon went away from with the last generation Kindle Touch, but everything is accomplished through the touchscreen — including typing on a touchscreen keyboard and tapping or swiping on the screen to turn pages when reading. It also only has 2GB of storage (down from 4GB), although that is still enough to hold a thousand books or so, and Amazon will back up all your purchases in their “cloud” for free, so it’s not much of a limitation. The newest Kindle also removes the speakers and headphone jack, and thus is unable to play text-to-speech, which is a deal-breaker for some people. It comes with a USB cable (which you can plug into your computer to charge the device), but if you want a power outlet adapter, that’s an extra $10 now. (Again, if any of these limitations bothers you, the Kindle Keyboard is still available.)

The battery life is supposed to be excellent — 8 weeks even with the light on (at 30 minutes per day). All the reviews I’ve seen have reported that the battery life is excellent — you’ll probably only need to charge it once a month or less.

The software on the new Kindle Paperwhite is a big departure from the simple, text-based lists that dominated the older Kindle user experience. The user interface is much more “tablet-like,” with a scrollable list of book covers, and a strip of menus across the top. Everything is accomplished using the touch screen, including adjusting the strength of the light (in 24 steps, from very dim to quite bright), selecting a book to read, shopping in the Kindle Store, or tapping and holding on a word to bring up options to search that word in the built-in dictionary, look it up on Wikipedia, or even have it translated. While the addition of cover art to the home screen seems like a welcome change and an easier way to browse books, Amazon does place a strip of “Suggested Books” or “Bestselling Books” at the bottom of the display — and this is in addition to the “Special Offers” below that if you opted for the cheaper model — which shows that Amazon is selling Kindles and Kindle Fires at very aggressive prices partially in the hopes that users will buy lots of stuff from their excellent and expanding content ecosystem, including Kindle Books and newspapers, as well as videos and songs and apps for the Kindle Fire.

In any event, it looks like a solid offering from Amazon. While it came out later than Nook’s Glowlight model, every review I’ve seen has praised the Kindle Paperwhite’s lighting system as superior to the Glowlight’s, so those of you who like to read at night will probably be glad you waited.

Do you have a Kindle Paperwhite? Please feel free to share your experiences and thoughts about it in the comments below.

Apr 182012

Kindle 4, just $49 at Wal-Mart

Pretty amazing deal … the Kindle 4, which retails for $79, comes with a $30 Wal-Mart gift card at Wal-Mart the week starting April 29. That makes the final price just $49 for the latest-generation e-Ink Kindle.

It’s a pretty phenomenal deal, even though this is the non-touchscreen Kindle version (some of us don’t want fingerprints on our screen anyway and prefer page turn buttons), and it comes with “special offers.” More info on Amazon’s website here, or my blog posts here.

If you’ve been looking to jump into e-reading, but don’t want to spend much money, this is the deal for you. $79 is already a pretty attractive price for a Kindle, which gets you a 6″ Pearl e-Ink screen, Wi-Fi connectivity to download books wirelessly, adjustable text sizes, dictionary look-up, and access to Amazon’s world-leading e-book store, plus thousands of free public domain e-books. Add in the $30 gift card, and it’s like spending less than $50 for the Kindle — which is the cost of a couple of hardcover books.

If you want to grab this deal (perhaps as a Mother’s Day gift?), it will probably only be available at Wal-Mart for a week, from April 29 to May 5.

Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight

B&N today unveiled a new version of their Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight — an e-Ink based e-reader with a built-in reading light. Designed to appeal to readers who read in bed at night (without wanting to disturb a sleeping spouse), the new Nook uses an LED lighting system hidden around the bezel of the screen. As it’s built into the device and runs off the Nook’s internal rechargeable battery, it’s a superior solution to clip-on nightlights and reading lights.

Impressively, the new Nook manages to actually weigh a hair less than the previous Nook Simple Touch, and is still under 7 ounces, which is plenty light enough for easy 1-handed reading. It retains the touchscreen, e-Ink Pearl display, Wi-Fi, and other features of the regular (unlit) Nook Simple Touch, and the light can be turned on or off, for equally easy reading at night or outdoors in bright sunlight. It retails for $139, compared to $99 for the unlit version. It will be available on May 1.

While there have been rumors of Amazon coming out with a similar lighted Kindle version (and Sony had an e-reader with a similar, but not as advanced, built-in lighting system several years ago), kudos to Barnes & Noble for beating them to the punch. This seems to be a superior alternative to Amazon’s case with a built-in reading light (which also charges directly from the Kindle’s internal battery). Of note, the reading light will of course reduce the long battery life for which e-Ink e-readers are famous, but B&N says you can still read for a month for half an hour a day with the light on (compared to two months with the light off).

I haven’t seen one in person yet, but it seems like a great solution for people who like to read in bed while their spouses sleep. Now, if only B&N would cut back on the overblown hyperbole in their press releases and product descriptions. First of all, you don’t have the “World’s #1 Reader,” sorry, guys. And how they manage to pack “first & only,” “perfect,” “breakthrough,” “optimized,” “revolutionary,” “great,” “exclusive,” “Best-Text,” “fastest,” “most advanced,” “lightest,” “unbeatable,” “best of e-Ink,” and “amazing” all into a few lines of marketing copy is impressive. It’s like playing Superlative Bingo. And their press release is even more over the top. Really, B&N, you make a good product, but when you have to tell me 50x per press release how “most advanced” and “industry-leading” and ”most stupendously amazing” and “world’s best in the whole world” your own device is, it just sounds like you’re trying too hard.

The revamped Nook lineup

Today B&N announced a lower-cost version of its Nook Tablet, the “reader’s tablet” with a 7″ color LCD screen, which I’ve discussed before here. This new version matches Amazon’s Kindle Fire pretty much spec-for-spec and dollar-for-dollar by reducing the price to just $199. It also reduced the memory to match the Kindle Fire, now with 8 GB of internal storage (instead of 16 GB for the $249 Nook Tablet version) and 512 MB of RAM (instead of 1 GB for the $249 version).

A quick re-cap of the specs of both Nook Tablet versions (different specs in italics):

Nook Tablet:

  • $249
  • 7″ VividView IPS LCD touchscreen display with 1024 x 600 resolution
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 16 GB of internal storage (plus SD card slot)
  • 14.1 oz
  • battery life: 11.5 hours reading / 9 hours video

Nook Tablet “Lite”:

  • $199
  • 7″ VividView IPS LCD touchscreen display with 1024 x 600 resolution
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 8 GB of internal storage (plus SD card slot)
  • 14.1 oz
  • battery life: 11.5 hours reading / 9 hours video

Probably a good move on B&N’s part to match the sub-$200 price of the Kindle Fire competition — I think many people would rather save $50 as a trade-off for the slightly reduced specs.

B&N also still offers the older-generation Nook Color (lowering the price by $30, to $169) and the e-Ink-based Nook Simple Touch (for $99).

The big news in the e-reader device world this year is the introduction of the Kindle Fire, a 7″ touchscreen LCD tablet that goes head-to-head with the new Nook Tablet, and undercuts the larger, more expensive Apple iPad 2. There is also a new generation of e-Ink-based e-reader devices, mostly focusing on adding touchscreens to the reading experience. And prices have come down fairly dramatically from last year, with sub-$100 e-readers fairly common.

Click on the device names in the bullet point lists for my more detailed posts about each model.

E-Readers

On the e-reader side, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Sony all have new e-Ink based offerings, each offering touchscreen models. Prices have come down to about $100.

Amazon's new Kindle Touch

Amazon Kindle

Amazon has an array of new 4th-generation Kindles this holiday season, starting at just $79 for the simply-named “Kindle,” which is their basic e-reader, lacking a touchscreen and keyboard (the 3rd-generation models are now called “Kindle Keyboards”). They make up for lacking these features with a small size, low weight, and very low price, starting at just $79 ($109 without “special offers“).

Amazon also offers the Kindle Touch, which adds a touchscreen and starts at $99 ($139 without offers). Both models come with Wi-Fi connectivity. If you want to add 3G, the Kindle Touch 3G is $149 ($189 without offers).

Black Friday Deals:

Find the Kindle Keyboard 3G (normally $139) for just $89 at Best Buy. Target is offering it for $85 in-store on Black Friday.

Staples offers the $79 Kindle (with offers) with a free $15 gift card. Radio Shack does the same with a $10 gift card.

Of course, $79 for the basic Kindle is hard to beat — and you can order from Amazon or buy it anywhere without waiting in Black Friday lines.

UPDATE: The 9.7″ Kindle DX is $120 off, just $259 from Amazon until Monday.

Nook Touch

Barnes & Noble Nook

Barnes & Noble’s Nook Simple Touch has the same 6″ e-Ink Pearl screen as the Kindles, and (as the name implies) comes with a touchscreen. It is 7.5 ounces, has Wi-Fi, and adds an SD memory card reader. It retails for $139.

Black Friday Deals:

The Nook Simple Touch is just $79 for Black Friday, matching Amazon’s non-touchscreen Kindle, even without “special offers.” Alternately, Target offers a $30 gift card with the purchase of the Simple Touch for $99.

Kobo Touch

Kobo Touch

Kobo offers its $99 Kobo Wireless and $139 Kobo Touch, both of which have the same 6″ e-Ink screen as the B&N and Amazon models. Both models offer Wi-Fi connectivity, and the more expensive Touch (as the name implies) adds a touchscreen. They have only 1 GB of storage, but do include an expandable SD card slot, and come pre-loaded with 100 free public domain books.

Black Friday Deals:

Kobo is offering its Touch e-reader with “offers” for just $99.

Sony PRS-T1

Sony PRS-T1

The latest Sony e-reader, the PRS-T1 (also called the “Reader Wi-Fi”), continues Sony’s touchscreen tradition (while the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo are recent touchscreen converts, Sony e-readers have had touchscreens for years). Like the other 3 above, this model also comes with the 6″ e-Ink Pearl screen and Wi-Fi connectivity. The Sony touts itself as the lightest 6″ touchscreen e-reader (just 5.9 oz) and, like B&N, takes aim at Amazon’s ad-supported “special offers” models by calling itself “Awesomely Ad Free.” Sadly, at nearly double the cost of Amazon’s entry-level model, Sony maintains its tradition of overpricing.

Black Friday Deals:

I haven’t seen any yet, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled and update this post if I find any.

Tablets

Amazon and B&N’s new 7-inch offerings highlight the new tablet/e-reader hybrids, and Apple’s iPad 2 continues to be the top-selling tablet by a wide margin.

Amazon's Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

Amazon’s Kindle Fire boasts a 7″ LCD touchscreen, a dual-core 1 GHz processor, and 8 GB of storage for movies and other content. More impressive than the hardware is Amazon’s custom software (including its cloud-computing-accelerated Silk Browser and unlimited cloud storage for Amazon content) and content ecosystem, which includes Amazon Video on Demand, the Amazon MP3 store, the Amazon Android App Store, and of course the Amazon Kindle Store with over 1 million e-book titles.

Probably the most impressive thing about the new Kindle Fire, however, is the price: at just $199, it undercuts B&N’s tablet substantially and is well under half the cost of the least expensive iPad 2.

Black Friday Deals:

I haven’t seen any yet, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled and update this post if I find any.

Nook Tablet

B&N Nook Tablet

B&N’s Nook Tablet is an update of last year’s Nook Color, and is of similar size to the Kindle Fire, with the same 7″ LCD touchscreen (although B&N boasts a laminated & bonded “VividView” display that is said to reduce glare and improve readability).

Its hardware specs are a little better than the Kindle Fire, with double the RAM and internal storage, although B&N only allows users to access a paltry 1 GB of that storage for their own stuff — the rest of the space is kept free to buy stuff from B&N. B&N lacks the large content ecosystem that Amazon has created, although it does have a healthy e-book store, interactive children’s books, magazines, and a small but growing app store.

Black Friday Deals:

If you’re OK with last year’s tablet model (the Nook Color), you can get it plus a $30 Target gift card for $199 at Target stores.

Apple iPad 2

Apple iPad 2

Apple’s iPad 2 is still the 900-pound gorilla of the tablet world (no, that’s not a crack about its weight), outselling all other tablets by a considerable margin. The smaller, lighter, cheaper Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet might be its first serious competition. However, the iPad counters their low prices with a larger 9.7″ LCD touchscreen, an external video camera, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, available 3G connectivity, and a much more robust App Store.

On the down side, the iPad 2’s price ranges from $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi model, all the way up to $829 (plus data fees) for the 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

  • Apple iPad 2 ($499 from Apple): Wi-Fi (3G avail.), 9.7″ LCD touchscreen, 21.2 oz., 16-64 GB

Black Friday Deals:

Apple will be knocking $41 to $61 off the price of the iPad 2, so the 16 GB Wi-Fi model will sell for $458.

Conclusion

If you’re not sure which tablet you want, check out my Kindle Fire vs. Nook Tablet comparison post here. Whatever you decide, good luck with your holiday shopping, and please be sure to come back and comment if you find a better deal, or to let us know how you like your new e-reader or tablet!

Slotted as hybrid devices somewhere between full tablet computers like the iPad 2 and pure e-Ink based e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook Simple Touch, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have unveiled “e-reading friendly” tablets just in time for the 2011 holiday season. So let’s take a look at Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet.

Both devices use 7″ LCD touchscreens, not the easier-on-the-eyes e-Ink screens of the Kindle. As such, they are designed for full color and video, including watching movies, playing games, surfing the Internet, and reading magazines.

In fact, these mini-tablets seem ideally suited for consuming content: movies, web pages, magazines, music, games and apps, children’s books with audio, and plain text e-books. To that end, Amazon has made it easy to consume lots of content: e-books from the Kindle e-book store, movies from Amazon’s video on demand service, music from Amazon MP3, and apps from Amazon’s Android app store. In fact, Amazon users who purchase Amazon Prime get access to a selection of thousands of free streaming movies and TV shows, as well as a selection of free apps, and a library of free e-book titles as well — and this is in addition to the free 2-day shipping on purchases of Amazon’s physical goods that the $79 Prime subscription already buys users (30 days of Prime is free with the purchase of a Kindle Fire). Amazon also leverages its cloud computing power to offer the Silk Browser (which speeds up Internet surfing by rendering webpages on Amazon’s supercomputers before sending it to your tablet), unlimited cloud storage for Amazon digital media purchases, and WhisperSync, which allows you to resume reading (or watching) when you switch from your Kindle Fire to your Kindle Touch, iPhone, or computer. (For my standalone post on the Kindle Fire, click here.)

B&N is also moving away from the “reader’s tablet” marketing of the original Nook Color and seems to have designed the Nook Tablet (which is really the “Nook Color 2″) as less of an e-reader and more of a tablet computer (the new name is a dead giveaway). To that end, they’ve beefed up the specs with a more powerful processor, and added apps (like Hulu Plus) more prominently to the device. Similarly to the Kindle Fire, it is designed as a content-consuming mini-tablet, able to stream movies, check email, surf the Internet, and display specially-produced multimedia children’s books (where narrators read the stories aloud and kids can interact with items on the screen). At $249 ($50 more than the Kindle Fire), it offers twice the RAM and double the internal memory of the Kindle Fire, and still costs only half as much as Apple’s iPad 2. (For my standalone post on the Nook Tablet, click here.)

The Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and Apple iPad 2.

The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are really more similar than different. They both share a 7″ IPS LCD touchscreen of 1,024 x 600 pixels, and both connect wirelessly through Wi-Fi. They are both similar in size and weight, with the Nook Tablet being slightly larger (0.6 inches taller) but lighter (by 0.5 ounces). They both sport identical 1 GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processors. They are both based on customized versions of the Android operating system, and come with software that allows for email, web browsing, movie playback, listening to audio, running Android apps, playing games, and reading magazines and e-books. They are both significantly smaller and lighter than the iPad 2, and are less than half the price, although they give up a few of the iPad 2’s features (like webcams, GPS, and Bluetooth).

As for differences, a couple jump out as critical. First, the Kindle Fire sells for just $199, compared to $249 for the Nook Tablet (and $499 for the cheapest iPad 2). Second, your preferred content provider — Amazon or Barnes & Noble — will heavily influence your choice here. If you’re already a Kindle user with a library of Kindle e-books (or movies or MP3s from Amazon) or an Amazon Prime member, it will be hard to argue against the Kindle Fire. Similarly, if you have a vast library of B&N e-books and prefer the in-store support at B&N stores, the Nook Tablet is the more likely choice for you.

The Nook Tablet also sports twice the RAM (1 GB compared to 512 MB in the Kindle Fire), which should lead to slightly better (but not nearly twice as fast) performance. The Nook has double the memory (16 GB compared to 8 GB), but B&N only lets you use 1 GB of the 16 to store your own stuff; they force you to leave the rest free to buy content from them. Considering that Amazon lets you use all 8 GB how you want and stores all Amazon purchases in the cloud, this would be a loss for the Nook if not for the built-in MicroSD card slot, which can add up to 32 GB more memory (so factor an additional $15-40 for a MicroSD card into your pricing). The Nook also has a built-in microphone, which allows you to record your own voice on certain children’s audiobooks. The Nook’s screen also boasts a “VividView” lamination and bonding process that is supposed to reduce glare and improve readability.

The Kindle, on the other hand, offers the superior software, including the Silk Browser, cloud storage, and WhisperSync. It also has an advantage with a larger Amazon Android App Store, compared to B&N’s App Store, which has a more limited selection of games and apps. The Amazon Video on Demand library, free e-book library, and free content that comes with a Prime membership is another plus.

In the end, both tablets seem to offer a promising content consumption experience, with impressive hardware specs and easy-to-use software. The Nook gets the slight nod on the hardware side, while the Kindle Fire seems to have slightly better software and content. In the end, I think the similarities outweigh the differences, and your affiliation to either Amazon or B&N will likely determine your choice. Barring that, the $199 Kindle Fire likely wins by virtue of being $50 less expensive, which will allow you to start filling up your new tablet with movies and e-books.

Nov 172011

The $199 Kindle Fire, with a 7" color LCD touchscreen

As expected, Amazon entered the tablet fray with a 7″ offering it’s calling the Kindle Fire. At just $199, it promises to be the first serious challenger to the iPad’s dominance in the tablet market.

With a 7″ color LCD touchscreen instead of the iPad 2’s 9.7″ screen, the Kindle Fire is smaller, lighter, and cheaper than the iPad, but is designed even more for content consumption rather than the iPad’s limited content creation capabilities. It boasts Wi-Fi connectivity, and is designed for watching movies, playing music, surfing the Internet, using apps, playing games, and reading magazines, comics, and e-books. It lacks cameras, GPS, bluetooth, and some other advanced features of full-fledged tablet computers, but at less than half the price of Apple’s cheapest tablet (which runs a hefty $499), that’s a trade-off many people will be willing to make.

Amazon also has the advantage of connecting their new Kindle Fire to their burgeoning content marketplace: Amazon Video on Demand, the Amazon MP3 Store, the Amazon Android App Store, and, of course, Amazon’s class-leading Kindle E-Book Store. In fact, a $79 subscription to Amazon Prime (which nets users free 2-day shipping on Amazon purchases) comes with a library of free streaming movies and TV shows, free apps and games, and even a free library of Kindle e-books.

Amazon is also leveraging the power of its impressive cloud computing ability in improving a critical function of the Kindle Fire: the Internet web-browsing experience. Called the Silk Browser, it allows the Kindle Fire to off-load the rendering of webpages (including processor-intensive tasks like parsing Javascript functions) to enormously powerful Amazon computers. Those computers then render the webpage and shoot the finished product to your tablet for a faster browsing experience. It’s a neat feature that no one else currently matches.

Similarly, Amazon offers to store any content you purchase from them (movies, music, apps, newspapers, magazines, e-books) in their Cloud storage for free — so you can always download your content and don’t have to worry about running out of space on the device itself. Amazon’s WhisperSync service also saves your place in e-books and movies, so you can pick up reading or watching where you left off if you switch to your Kindle or computer.

Now for some specs on the $199 Kindle Fire:

  • 7″ IPS LCD touchscreen display, 1,024 x 600 resolution
  • 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″
  • 14.6 ounces
  • 1 GHz dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 8 GB flash memory
  • Battery life: 8 hours reading, 7.5 hours video playback (Wi-Fi off)

Still, the most impressive spec is probably the sub-$200 price, which gets you a portable mini-tablet connected to the Amazon content ecosystem. For current Amazon customers (especially Amazon Prime subscribers), it’s an almost irresistible gadget for the price. And for anyone looking for a 7″ tablet, it’s a great bargain — handily undercutting the competition.

My only gripe about the Kindle Fire is the same gripe I have with all LCD-based tablet computers being marketed as e-readers: most people find LCD screens tiring on the eyes, and would prefer the reading experience on an e-Ink screen (which is easier on the eyes, visible in bright sunlight, and allows for much longer battery life). But as a movie-streaming, game-playing, Internet-surfing device, the Kindle Fire looks like a hot gift this holiday season.

© 2010 David Derrico