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New Amazon Tablet
September 28, 2011 8:32 PM   Subscribe

Amazon unveils a new full color 7" multi-touch tablet it is calling Kindle Fire. Also announced are a new Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G.

According to Engadget the new Kindle Fire tablet features "a 7-inch IPS (!) panel, Gorilla Glass coating, a 1GHz TI OMAP dual-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage and a chassis that weighs 14.6 ounces"

With it, Amazon has inroduced a new browser it is calling Silk. According to Ars Technica, Silk features a " "split" architecture, allowing it to offload much of the heavy lifting to Amazon's cloud computing cluster for superior browsing performance."

Detractors are raising Issues with this split archticture however. Warning that "It sounds as if Amazon will install a trusted certificate in the Silk browser allowing them to provide a man-in-the-middle (MITM) SSL proxy to accelerate your SSL browsing as well." but noted that "Fortunately Amazon will support an "off-cloud" mode for Silk. This lets users opt-out of the benefits of using EC2 while retaining the traditional privacy benefits of connecting directly to remote web sites."
posted by Ad hominem (239 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
This new device will help me with many of the problems I have with my life.
posted by localhuman at 8:37 PM on September 28, 2011 [38 favorites]


I was really hoping that the color Kindle would be color e-ink, not just some other Android thing like the Nook.
posted by Evilspork at 8:38 PM on September 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


The compromises that Amazon made are very interesting.

Because this is a rebranded RIM PlayBook with a slower processor, one problem for Amazon will be overcoming high expectations from people who think this is a cheaper iPad, when this is really just a shot over the bow of Barnes and Noble.

AMZN is already planning to replace this with a revision some time next year, and none too soon, since they will be losing $50 on each sale. They are also splitting off their own branch of Android, which will be interesting when people expect the latest and greatest Android features on this camera-less, accelerator-less device.

All that said, I will probably be buying one to use with my Android Market account, since it will likely be the only Android-based tablet that will have any chance of success in the marketplace. There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer — once the ad price offset incentive ($30) is removed, the color Fire becomes a no-brainer upgrade.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:43 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Leaving aside that most of these are only available in the U.S., and therefore not really relevant for me (though I do like the look of the new base Kindle), I have a question arising from the article:

A 3G-enabled model ($149 with free global roaming!) will also be available

How can you have free 3G roaming? I mean, it has to connect to somebody's 3G network, right? And that company is not going to let you connect if they can't charge you, right? How does that work?
posted by Dasein at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2011


I've seen the 8GB of storage defended on the grounds that you're going to be getting all your music from the cloud anyway. I'm not sold on that.
posted by Trurl at 8:46 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer

To me, the great advantage of a Kindle is that it seems to perform one task really well - display words. You can read e-ink without straining your eyes the way an LCD screen does. Plus it's cheap. I've never owned a Kindle but at the prices they're going for now, I think it's a pretty compelling idea as a cheap way to bring lots of books with you on a trip.
posted by Dasein at 8:47 PM on September 28, 2011 [34 favorites]


"There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer — once the ad price offset incentive ($30) is removed, the color Fire becomes a no-brainer upgrade."

I disagree -- reading the e-ink is so pleasant, and the battery life on the regular Kindles is phenominal. Although I do suspect fewer people will check out the black-and-white Kindle when they can just get the Fire. I may get a tablet in the nearish future, but boy would I not give up my "traditional" Kindle for anything, and if I upgraded it, it would be to another e-ink Kindle with absurdly long battery life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 PM on September 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


The Kindle Fire is really tempting, even though I own a Kindle and IPad. (Never get tired of another cool gadget.) Love the ability as an Amazon Prime customer to stream media right to it. I would like to see some reviews.
posted by bearwife at 8:49 PM on September 28, 2011


You can read e-ink without straining your eyes the way an LCD screen does. 

The iPad and other higher end Android tablets display text just fine without eyestrain. One can lower the brightness as needed. The e-ink display's advantages come into play where glare is an issue.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm going to get the 79$ kindle to read ebooks just because I am too depressingly weak to hold an iPad for the hours at a time I read e-books, and staring at a blacklit LCD display for five or six hours at a time makes me see strange floating spots.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Trurl: I've seen the 8GB of storage defended on the grounds that you're going to be getting all your music from the cloud anyway. I'm not sold on that.

Yeah, seriously. Doesn't anyone ever leave cell phone coverage? In about half the building I work in, the cell coverage is bad, because the building insulates too much. However, this is pretty much irrelevant, because the 3G network in the area is absolutely dogpiled and useless - it goes about 1G speed. You connect fine, but the network is just crushed under the users. I'd say about half of Boise is like that.

If the cloud is ever going to function, the first goal will be making internet connections stop being crap.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:52 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love gadgets but I'm sort of dismayed by the attention tablets are getting.
posted by mecran01 at 8:53 PM on September 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the cloud is ever going to function, the first goal will be making internet connections stop being crap.

The Fire is Wifi only, no 3G support. Another compromise.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:53 PM on September 28, 2011


How can you have free 3G roaming? I mean, it has to connect to somebody's 3G network, right? And that company is not going to let you connect if they can't charge you, right? How does that work?

I have the second generation Kindle with 3G and ... it just does. A few months ago, I was in Greece and spent much of my first day finding a SIM with a decent data plan for my phone. My Kindle just worked.

They make it very, very hard to tether (I'm a geek and I have no idea how) the browser is so slow you'd only use out of desparation, even for a mobile web site, but for buying books or painfully slowly checking email, it's free. They reserve the right to charge you if you do something ridiculous with it, but by default, my Kindle really isn't doing anything high bandwidth.
posted by zippy at 8:54 PM on September 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


The iPad and other higher end Android tablets display text just fine without eyestrain.

Some people think e-ink is work it, some don't. There is room in the market for both. I personally have spent many hours reading LCD screens on phones and tablets, and choose e-ink whenever possible. I'll stick to my standard kindle for reading, but would certainly consider a Fire once the smart kids on the internet figure out how to put stock Android on it.
posted by markr at 8:55 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"They are also splitting off their own branch of Android, which will be interesting when people expect the latest and greatest Android features on this camera-less, accelerator-less device."

I don't know that any of those things are really priorities of the target market here. This is meant to a mass-market consumption device with deep Amazon integration. I don't think too many people are going to be expecting to Skype on their Kindle. Of course it will get rooted like the Nook color for those who desire greater Android functionality. And mind you there's a 10" version coming in Q1 '13 (maybe).
posted by MikeMc at 8:56 PM on September 28, 2011


The Fire is Wifi only, no 3G support. Another compromise.

Why pay for a second 3G plan when you can wirelessly tether to your phone?
posted by markr at 8:57 PM on September 28, 2011


Sorry, Q1 '12 for the 10" Amazon tablet.
posted by MikeMc at 8:58 PM on September 28, 2011


Why pay for a second 3G plan when you can wirelessly tether to your phone?

Probably for the same reason people buy 3G iPads: no need to drag extra gear around with you, nor any need to buy an expensive tethering plan or implement some battery-sucking rooted solution that requires technical expertise. Which is more or the less the non-technical market that Amazon is aiming at.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:59 PM on September 28, 2011


Meh. The Amazon Nook.
posted by spitbull at 9:01 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know why people would want to screw around with rooting and flashing regular Android on the Fire when they could get something like the Vizio Tablet instead. The Fire's advantages are its tight integration with Amazon's services.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:01 PM on September 28, 2011


I forgot you Americans need special "tethering plans". Funny stuff.
posted by markr at 9:01 PM on September 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't know why people would want to screw around with rooting and flashing regular Android on the Fire when they could get something like the Vizio Tablet instead. The Fire's advantages are its tight integration with Amazon's services.

Thus far things with comparable specs have been much more expensive. Such as the ipads 500 bucks.
posted by markr at 9:02 PM on September 28, 2011


T-Mobile has tethering included! *sniff*
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:03 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


when this is really just a shot over the bow of Barnes and Noble.

I dunno, I think it's the most significant iPad challenger yet, if only because of the $200 price tag. The "split" browser is a great idea for mobile devices --- it has the potential to make web browsing a considerably more responsive than on the iPad.

But I'm really hoping this doesn't herald the death of e-ink... I love being able to sit out in the sun and read a book on the Kindle.

How can you have free 3G roaming? I mean, it has to connect to somebody's 3G network, right?

Presumably Amazon has deals with the major wireless carriers, and is paying a cut rate for your "free" 3G. And for Kindle content, the wireless delivery fee gets passed directly to the publisher. The Economist blames this fact for the ridiculously high price of a Kindle Economist subscription.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:03 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Fire, while based on Android, only barely mentions that fact on the product page. It will however be the first Android based tablet that will probably do everything that amazon has it listed capable of doing (compared to previous tablets where somethings are great, somethings kind of work, and somethings will be fixed eventually). Note: Again, this isn't an Android Tablet, this is the Kindle Tablet (that happens to be running android).

Silk I think is an awesome idea, they are pretty much consolidating the network traffic and IO into a single transaction with their cloud. It doesn't make much sense with a Wifi only Fire, but it's going to be in the market for a year, and going to make things really easy for people to buy anything they want from Amazon without a problem. Movies? Music? Socks? Sure, why not.

But really, I think the Fire is about getting the concept of the Kindle Tablet out the door. They want to grab mindshare, and also set the bar that $200 will get you a 7" tablet that does everything it says on the box. Next year the refined Fire 2 will come out, and still probably wont have a camera, or hdmi out or an SD slot, but will be sleeker and lighter. Not to mention there might be a yet unannounced 3G fire coming once they sort out the contract (this could be delayed because the Fire would use considerable more bandwidth than the rest of the kindle line: Amazon pays the carriers for the low bandwidth out of the money they make from selling books to kindle owners, the Fire would really change that, and require a 2gb/month data plan or similar).

It's meant to be something to read your books on, watch your amazon streamed movies (free with prime!) or your purchased / rented movies, listen to your music, and maybe check email and play angrybirds.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:03 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Vizio has better specs and is $269.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:04 PM on September 28, 2011


As with all of these things, I hope this provides a nice fillip to the yum-cha android tablet market. One day, one of these things will be cheap and useful enough for me to justify - and it won't be sold by Amazon or Apple.
posted by pompomtom at 9:05 PM on September 28, 2011


Color. Touch. Meh. Tell me when Kindle gets decent typography and a can handle ebook formatting fancier than a 90's era web browser. I love my Kindle, but for a device designed to mimic books the formatting capabilities are embarrassingly limited.
posted by Wemmick at 9:06 PM on September 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think one thing Apple proved with the i devices is specs don't matter much if you can force developers to work to your requirements. What was it that slashdot said "Less space than a Nomad, no WiFi, lame"
posted by Ad hominem at 9:07 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


> The Vizio has better specs and is $269.

Yeah, but it just runs Android.

Kindle Fire is something I could probably give to my mother and not have to get phone calls about. Just like the first gen Kindle I gave her two years ago.

I can't even say that about the iPad / iOS devices (yet, OTA updates and iCloud will probably change that).
posted by mrzarquon at 9:07 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Fire, while based on Android, only barely mentions that fact on the product page.

It's not even the latest Android. It's a couple revisions behind (2.2?). Still, if Amazon is successful, it could have the hand to dictate the future of Android's progress to Google. That would be a pretty interesting tip of the balance of power away from carriers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:08 PM on September 28, 2011


There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer — once the ad price offset incentive ($30) is removed, the color Fire becomes a no-brainer upgrade.

Nah, e-ink is where it's at. I'm pretty excited about the idea of upgrading to a Kindle Touch 3G from my wi-fi Kindle 3, but I have no interest in the Fire. The whole joy of a Kindle is that it's near-perfect as an e-reader, even if it does nothing else well -- a tablet is not the same thing at all (though a $200 tablet with these specs is pretty cool in its own right).
posted by vorfeed at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


"Meh. The Amazon Nook."

More like the Amazon PlayNook. The reason it's built on what is basically the RIM Playbook hardware platform is to get it on the market for Christmas '11. This is stop-gap measure for Amazon (and for a what it is it looks pretty damn good!).
posted by MikeMc at 9:09 PM on September 28, 2011


I think the Fire is about getting the concept of the Kindle Tablet out the door.

I suspect it's even simpler than that: Amazon wanted to have a line of Kindles for the upcoming Christmas season. Plus, this way they can dump their old inventory at Thanksgiving.

The under-$100 price is, for many families I suspect, the magic line at which a purchase goes from big deal to not such a big deal. They're expecting these to be their big sellers this December.
posted by bonehead at 9:10 PM on September 28, 2011


> Yeah, but it just runs Android.

I know, I was responding to the comment about higher prices and also the one about rooting the Fire for regular Android...there's no reason to do that when you have things like the Vizio.

And by "specs" I mean things like cameras. HDMI outs, Bluetooth, etc...not so much RAM or CPU speed.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: All that said, I will probably be buying one to use with my Android Market account, since it will likely be the only Android-based tablet that will have any chance of success in the marketplace.

There, there.
posted by JHarris at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2011


As posted here, guess who doesn't get all their fun per user analytics anymore since the Fire doesn't have Chrome on it? Google will just be seeing the generic Silk traffic with no analytic data it looks like that Chrome provides (and what Google really makes all it's money on).

And with Silk system caching the most popularly viewed items, and seeing the aggregate statistics across the entire usage, they will be able to provide their own massive heuristics analysis to compete with Google. Not to mention that they are the same data mining stat nerds who obsess about their product recommendations that Google employs for ad targeting.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


And by "specs" I mean things like cameras. HDMI outs, Bluetooth, etc...not so much RAM or CPU speed.

Gotcha
posted by Ad hominem at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2011


The Fire won't even work with the regular "Android Market" anyway. If you want to get apps you'll have to go through Amazon's app store (which is better and worse than the regular Google market).
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:12 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"They're expecting these to be their big sellers this December."

They were certainly big sellers last December. I had a hell of time finding a brick and mortar store that could keep wi-fi Kindle 3 in stock last year. For all the predictions of the Kindle's demise with the coming of the iPad, the e-ink reader seems to be doing just fine.
posted by MikeMc at 9:14 PM on September 28, 2011


Amazon's app store

And likely one of the major reasons the Fire is US only. The Amazon Market isn't available to the rest of the world.
posted by bonehead at 9:14 PM on September 28, 2011


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc).
posted by Auden at 9:16 PM on September 28, 2011


> For all the predictions of the Kindle's demise with the coming of the iPad, the e-ink reader seems to be doing just fine.

Something like 40% of iPad owners also own a Kindle, not to mention just about ever iPad owner I know has the Kindle app as well.

Amazon is creating the Kindle ecosphere: Kindle hardware are mobile devices that allow you to consumer Amazon products on the go. Kindle software does the same thing.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:17 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The new $79 base model is the most interesting, hitting both a size and price point. If I want to read I don't want a keyboard. Don't really want to fool with downloading the latest bestseller on the spur of the moment at the supermarket. It really needs to be seeded with a great selection of good trashy beach books, though.
posted by sammyo at 9:21 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer

I firmly support this reasoning. The more prevalent it becomes the more likely it is that one of my friends will end up giving me their cast-off regular Kindle as a present.
posted by nanojath at 9:21 PM on September 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc).

Rarely enough that I'm downright gleeful for the chance to ditch the damn thing. Its sole use is searching for book titles I'm about to buy but that aren't in my saved wishlist, and that's far too narrow a use for me to want the thing hanging around taking up room.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:23 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was one comment I read that seemed to have the situation right. Amazon sells tablets as a way to sell content like books, media, and software and lock consumers into buying that. Apple uses content like books, media, and software to sell hardware in the form of tablets, and lock consumers into buying those.

Amazon and Apple look at the market orthagonally - one sells content, the other devices. Time will tell the extent to which they coexist, and whether one may win over the other.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:24 PM on September 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Google will just be seeing the generic Silk traffic with no analytic data it looks like that Chrome provides (and what Google really makes all it's money on).

Chrome doesn't send anything back to google that any other browser doesn't.
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or another way to put it is:

Amazon is about ubiquitous consumption and immediate gratification. That is how they make money, selling you everything, and getting it to you fast. Anything that improves the chances of that, they are going to invest money into.

They don't care that the Fire is slower than the PlayBook, it doesn't have to be fast if it only has to do things associated with the above better. It is out for Christmas, and it is going to be under a lot of trees.

It finally is a tablet that isn't trying to compete with the iPad by being another ipad but $100 less or with more gadgets, its a tablet device doing something else interesting, which I find the most intriguing (and hopeful) direction about the whole thing. Maybe people creating other interesting systems as well and creating new innovative systems instead of prone to failure unfunded shot at the moon.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:26 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


How does it work when it gets really hot?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2011


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc).
If you don't count things like the enter key or the font size / orientation key, I use the physical keyboard very rarely. Mostly I use it when I encounter an unfamiliar term in the book I'm reading, and it's not contained in the Kindle's dictionary. Then I'll use the keyboard to go to either Merriam Webster's website (for definitions) or to Wikipedia (for people, places and such).

I'm not actually sure what I use the enter key for, but I'm pretty sure I use it fairly frequently.

Pretty much the only reason I use the font size / orientation key is because sometimes it forgets that I told it to use document orientation, and so it reverts back to auto-orientation - i.e. it detects the Kindle's spatial position and automatically swaps between document and landscape. I find this auto-orientation to be a significant annoyance: Nine times out of ten, I'm not holding it sideways because I want it to display landscape; I'm holding it sideways because I'm laying down on my side.
posted by Flunkie at 9:27 PM on September 28, 2011


The new $79 base model is the most interesting

$79 is almost an impulse buy, buy a handfull of books in kindle format you would have bought in hardcopy and it pays for itself.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:29 PM on September 28, 2011


Also, Silk (the browser shipped on the Kindle Fire) believes that you should run everything you do through their cloud. They get to log, and then store for at least a month, every thing you see - even if you've secured it using SSL (thanks to their brilliant "man-in-the-middle attack masquerading as a service" service.)

Not touching it with a stick.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:29 PM on September 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc).

I use the joystick to highlight regularly and the keyboard to search or annotation occasionally. I could live without the keyboard, but not without easy highlighting.
posted by stp123 at 9:29 PM on September 28, 2011


Sure, the OP mentioned that detail, but it must be emphasized. What's optional now can be mandatory in the future, and even letting it in the door is a bad idea.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


For $79 it is also in range to buy for the kids.
posted by stp123 at 9:30 PM on September 28, 2011


Does anyone have the Kindle with "Special Offers" (cough, ads)? Are the ads for any kind of compelling sales that normally don't get published or is it just standard crap?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:31 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use the joystick to highlight regularly
Oh, I wasn't counting the joystick as part of the keyboard. In case it does count: I use the joystick a lot.
posted by Flunkie at 9:31 PM on September 28, 2011


The "joystick" seems to be on the $79 Kindle at any rate.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:32 PM on September 28, 2011


New kindle still has a directional pad on it, so I would assume that is where the text selection would be.

Setting it up the first time might be a pain, but after that it would work pretty much as any other kindle minus keypad.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:34 PM on September 28, 2011


How does it work when it gets really hot?

Well, the more Kindles they sell the less their workers in the non-air-conditioned warehouses have to run around. (Although that may be a problem in the winter if they are equally poorly heated.)

Not nearly enough to make me return to being a customer after they cut off my Affiliate account and gave me a "final check" that was 30% less than what they had previously told me I had earned. So many good reasons to avoid going up that Amazon.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:35 PM on September 28, 2011


The ads are pretty standard, though unobtrusive, really. I recommended my mother get the Kindle with ads when she wanted an e-reader and didn't want to mess with loading books via Calibre, and i don't really notice them when I borrow hers.

That said, when I replace my beloved yet battered Kobo, I'm going for the ad-free version if I decide on a Kindle, which means Amazon doesn't offer a price advantage if things stay as they are now. Teleread's had a couple of posts today about the switch Amazon's made on the pricing scheme. I guess the other brands will probably follow; I don't mind, as long as ad-free versions stay on the market.

I'm also in the market for either a tablet or a netbook, but the Fire doesn't have what I'd want -- no mic, no Skype-or-equivalent, no sale. Plus being so very cloud-reliant doesn't seem to work well with travel in rural areas.
posted by rewil at 9:40 PM on September 28, 2011


Do we know if the mobi format is going to be competitive against the epub3 format?
posted by jadepearl at 9:43 PM on September 28, 2011


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc).

A text adventure game for the Kindle was posted to the blue a while ago -- I've been playing a lot of it, and it makes heavy use of the keyboard. A virtual keyboard with stylus a la the Touch might even be better for that style of play, though. The Kindle keyboard is pretty clunky.

Does anyone have the Kindle with "Special Offers" (cough, ads)? Are the ads for any kind of compelling sales that normally don't get published or is it just standard crap?

Some of the deals are slightly better than usual. I've noticed that they'll give you a larger (by $10) Amazon gift card if you sign up for the Amazon credit card through the Kindle rather than through Amazon. Once in a while they have good deals on stuff, too -- they had one for clearance coffee crap (teacup/coffee cup sets and such) that was something like pay-$20-get-$50.

I'm waiting for the Upgrade Your Kindle coupon, myself. I'll be shocked if they don't roll one out by the end of January.
posted by vorfeed at 9:46 PM on September 28, 2011


Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard?

A ton, but that's because I buy the New York Times crossword-puzzle collections.
posted by tzikeh at 9:54 PM on September 28, 2011


I can't wait to run some of the hacked Kindle Fire apps on my Nook.
posted by meehawl at 9:55 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dasein: "There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer

To me, the great advantage of a Kindle is that it seems to perform one task really well - display words. You can read e-ink without straining your eyes the way an LCD screen does. Plus it's cheap. I've never owned a Kindle but at the prices they're going for now, I think it's a pretty compelling idea as a cheap way to bring lots of books with you on a trip.
"

E-ink devices have been out for at least five years now and I think it'll take at least five years or more before people realize just what e-ink is. It's whole purpose is to avoid the eyestrain you get from light-emitting LCD screens--why does that not sink in with people? I guess part of the reason is you need to really, physically hold a e-ink reader with your hands before you understand its uniqueness; you can't just watch a demo of one in a picture or even on TV.

I have a Nook, but I have a few gripes with it, so I'm looking to replace it with a Kindle or perhaps the Sony reader. I'm actually this close to getting a Sony, actually, because their newest touch models are really quite nice, and so compact you can put them in your pants pocket (well, baggy pants). This new Kindle touch I'm much more interested in than the tablet; I'll have to compare it to the Sony to see which is better.
posted by zardoz at 9:57 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I can't wait to run some of the hacked Kindle Fire apps on my Nook.

Heh. The first app I installed on the rooted/flashed Nook Color I had (which I sold for the same price that I paid for it) was Amazon Kindle. Not having the open Google market notwithstanding, the Fire appears to be a far better device than the Nook Color overall.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:58 PM on September 28, 2011


Do we know if the mobi format is going to be competitive against the epub3 format?

All I know is that with 500+ EPUB files, I'm never going to use a device that refuses to display them - even if they give the device away free with a McDonald's Value Meal.
posted by Trurl at 10:03 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


E-ink is definitely one of those things you have to experience to fully grasp. I didn't get it until I ran into a prof with a Kindle and saw it in person. Right there it went from curiosity to must-buy. Being able to use a computer outdoors without any strain is absolutely fantastic... at $99 the Kindle Touch is an incredible deal. Honestly, I would buy a full-profile e-ink display laptop, just so I could do my word processing job sitting outdoors in the sun, instead of camped out in the office in the middle of a spectacular summer day, as I so often find myself doing.

All I know is that with 500+ EPUB files, I'm never going to use a device that refuses to display them

Yeah, that batch conversion could take minutes.
posted by mek at 10:07 PM on September 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


The epub3 is sufficiently advanced over the standard epub, but, yeah, there's no reason why a device can't display all of those formats other than trying to lock purchases.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:07 PM on September 28, 2011


> Honestly, I would buy a full-profile e-ink display laptop,

A few more generations of these things and we won't have to choose. Companies like Notion Ink are already marketing dual-mode displays, but they're really not quite there yet.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:10 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horselover Phattie: "the Fire appears to be a far better device than the Nook Color overall."

Lack of an SD card slot kills it for me. I have a 32GB microsd in my Nook (and of course that still feels tight, even with WiFi or tethering to the phone's 3G for cloudy access - which often just dies or is slow as crap). Looking forward to a Nook Color 2 with an SDXC slot and dual-cores...
posted by meehawl at 10:16 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Looking forward to a Nook Color 2

(Apologies for posting so much in the thread) Is there much news on what the Nook 2 will offer? It seems it may have a new color e-ink display, but I've not seen much on its other specs.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:27 PM on September 28, 2011


Seems like most reviews (or reactions in blog posts) of this focus on whether or not it's the next big whatever. That's Apple's logic, always coming out with the brand new shiny thing with a brand new shiny price tag. Apple turned consumer electronics into a fashion item, yadda yadda. Amazon (or Bezos) always seem to take the long view. Think about what the Kindle Fire is really meant to be - the easy Xmas gift for Dad. Apple makes bank by selling "new" at a premium, but Amazon is the Walmart of the internet - unsexy but functional, and unbeatable on price.

This isn't really about tablets at all, it's about have some device that is unsexy and nearly disposable that unifies ebooks, music, games and apps. iTunes is a wreck to use, it really is pretty damn horrible if you've ever tried to plug an iPad into someone else's computer to download a file or something, everything goes bonkers trying to sync and update Quicktime, certain filetypes only, etc. If you've used a Kindle, it really is fantastically simple. This is going to be a device where you don't NEED any "geniuses" to help fix something - Amazon will just send you a new one. They're making tablets a commodity, and Apple could end up something like a bigger Alienware, making specialty products for mega-nerds who don't mind paying 4x for "the best".

Amazon is taking on BOTH Apple and Netflix with this move, and they're likely to win big on both fronts just because they own the store. The Kindle Fire itself doesn't really matter, this is about selling their deep integration with their storefront and getting everyone to sign up for Amazon Prime. THAT'S where your new cable bill money is going to end up soon. I feel like in two years this is all going to be really obvious.
posted by lubujackson at 10:30 PM on September 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


Kindle 3G is pretty nuts from a low-income perspective, too. I'm a student who can barely afford a cellphone at all... an iPhone 4 or an iPad has always been a non-starter for me. But this thing has free wireless internet AND lets me steal my course readings? It pays for itself in a single term. Thanks for the beer money Amazon!
posted by mek at 10:42 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed, Amazon just signed a deal with Fox as well, they are gong to go head to head with with the now floundering Netflix.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:43 PM on September 28, 2011


The Vizio has better specs and is $269.

Yeah, but it's a Vizio, so it'll fall apart in your hands about 30 seconds after the warranty expires.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:44 PM on September 28, 2011


Apple gets 30% of everything you purchase on an iOS device that goes through their store (Apps, music, movies, iBooks).

I think this isn't about dominating the market, it's about broadening the tablet market.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:46 PM on September 28, 2011


I don't understand this Amazon vs. Apple vs. Netflix commentary. It's convenient to look at consumer selection as either/or but I think the reality is way more nuanced than some posts suggest. These devices and services are not mutually exclusive. Users have different goals with different devices offered to them at different price points. Yes, in reality someone may own an iPad, a Fire and subscribe to Netflix. Because consumers will utilize those devices and/or services differently. Haven't you ever known someone who owned more than one vehicle, or computer, or shoes, or whatever? Same principle.
posted by quadog at 10:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Yeah, but it's a Vizio, so it'll fall apart in your hands about 30 seconds after the warranty expires.

Just to be clear, I mentioned the Vizio in response to a comment about getting a Fire just to root and flash regular Google Android (2.3 or whatever) on it. The Nook Color was kind of a fluke in that area. Since devices with more features can be had for less than $100 more, it really wouldn't be worth it. As has been said many times, the Fire is a easy to use content delivery platform for Amazon. It's good to have more options for consumers rather than "one tablet to rule them all". There will still be a market for regular Android tablets since many people like to get their own content, dubiously procured or otherwise.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:02 PM on September 28, 2011


It's not so much a linear race as it is a game of Risk with the option to add additional territories not on the board. What Amazon just did is add a whole ton of armies in their corner of the world. The question is how fast can it and Apple grow the tablet market, where will they meet up, and whether they choose to coexist, grow the field, or beat each other down.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:03 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use the Kindle 3 keyboard occasionally but it is one of those crappy grid keyboards that mess up a touch-typist like me. The soft keyboard available on the touch models might even be a better keyboard, since they offset each row of keys just like a real keyboard.

Kindle 3G is pretty nuts from a low-income perspective, too. I'm a student who can barely afford a cellphone at all... an iPhone 4 or an iPad has always been a non-starter for me. But this thing has free wireless internet AND lets me steal my course readings? It pays for itself in a single term.

I absolutely love e-ink for reading. But it does not make for a great web browsing experience. I mainly use the Kindle's web browser to look things up on Wikipedia that come up during reading when other devices aren't convenient. You won't want to send your e-mail with it.
posted by grouse at 11:07 PM on September 28, 2011


E-ink is definitely one of those things you have to experience to fully grasp

E-ink is the best thing in the world for novels. For technical papers, textbooks, references, it blows chunks. The refresh rate just kills you when you're zooming in and out or flipping back and forth between some PDE and some plot, or scanning for some equation.

This is why I shitcanned my old sony reader and bought an iPad for reading. Until E-Ink has LCD refresh rates it will be useless for non-novels.
posted by Chekhovian at 11:08 PM on September 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


No DX Touch?

:(
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:19 PM on September 28, 2011


Horselover Phattie: "> Honestly, I would buy a full-profile e-ink display laptop,

A few more generations of these things and we won't have to choose. Companies like Notion Ink are already marketing dual-mode displays, but they're really not quite there yet.
"

This is what I'm waiting for, too, but it looks like I'll be waiting for some time. A startup that's been around for a while (the name eludes me...something with a Q...) is looking to have a kind of hybrid screen for laptops. In other words, the concept is you have a normal laptop, but the screen has a switch to turn off the LCD mode and turn on the e-ink mode. The screen swivels and folds down, and as an e-ink reader, it has its own separate battery and memory card, so you can read ebooks without having to power up the hard drive. This is my dream laptop. Make it a high-powered netbook--something small and lightweight--and I'd have a full-blown nerdgasm.
posted by zardoz at 11:22 PM on September 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Current Kindle users: how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard?

I highlight a lot with the joystick, and I annotate a fair bit with the keyboard. However, I have a DX, and the ergonomics are not good with the tiny keyboard at the bottom of the big screen... I'm looking forward to touch highlighting and a soft-keyboard.
posted by findango at 11:27 PM on September 28, 2011


There's always the dual E-Ink, Android LCD display Tablet! Too bad it was a DOA POS clunker
posted by Chekhovian at 11:29 PM on September 28, 2011


Too bad it was a DOA POS clunker

Heh. Turds like that are probably one of the main reasons why Google kept a tighter lid on Android Honeycomb source code.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:34 PM on September 28, 2011


I'm actually liking the new Kindle touch a lot. I've seen Kindles in the store and yeah, the e-ink is amazing. The first time I saw one I actually thought it might be just one of those display models that just have a card where the screen goes, then suddenly it flipped to a new screen in the demo.

The refresh does suck for doing anything interactive. Although transflective displays are supposed to give you the benefit of e-ink with a better refresh rate.

Also, yeah, the Silk browser. It's an interesting idea. If you have enough bandwidth you could do all the rendering on the server and just send back (essentially) a video feed. But Amazon's ability to datamine is a little worrisome. I'd love to see an open source version, maybe from Mozilla.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on September 28, 2011


Tip for roadwarriors like myself: install calibre on your home machine, expose it to the internet (port 80 please, the Kindle is particular about that) and let it download news and magazines for you automatically. So when you're on the road in strange countries with roaming fees, just launch Kindle 3G's browser, hit your calibre web page and get reading. For free.
posted by costas at 12:09 AM on September 29, 2011 [21 favorites]


If you're worried about data-mining or security in Silk, apparently you can turn off the off-site rendering and process everything locally. It will run slowly, but you have that level of control, apparently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 AM on September 29, 2011


I actually read a lot of technical papers on my sony reader and absolutely love it. But then, I'm a slow-reading mathematician, so the flipping back and forth isn't so intense... I _really_ love the e-ink display, and the touchscreen on the device is really great.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:24 AM on September 29, 2011


I have a kindle 3 (two in fact, since I had to buy the wife one) as well as a laptop, asus transformer tablet and galaxy s. They all do different things and serve different purposes.

The e-ink screen on the kindle really does have to be used in person to see the advantage. The resolution is impressive, it really does look like printed text. It's very light, the battery lasts an insane amount of time (literally over a month between charges with daily use) and it works in daylight. It's a direct replacement for paperbacks - I honestly prefer to read copies of books I have on the shelf (we have a number of groaning bookshelves) on the kindle, it's that good. It's far easier to read in bed or on the sofa one handed than a 10" tablet, and the screen is easier to read than on a 4" phone.

I don't think losing the keyboard is a bad thing; it makes the new kindle quite a bit lighter still; at 6 ounces, it's about a 1/2 - 1/3 the weight of a paperback. The only thing I've used it for are registering it to my amazon account, and finding the odd book to buy in the kindle store when I'm too lazy to get up and go to the computer. You've still got the 5-way nav for selecting books/highlighting text, and the page flip buttons which are the ones you actually use. A soft keyboard would be sufficient for normal kindle use I think.

That said, the kindle is ruthlessly single purpose. The refresh rate makes it terrible for browsing, email, wikipedia or pdfs/textbooks. Reading large chunks of prepared printed text is all it does, even if it does that very well.

I'm not sure about the touch screen version; it's infra-red, and the whole point of a touch screen (easy scrolling, selecting from icons) is kinda moot on e-ink, as you can't functionally scroll on it anyway due to the refresh rate. I think I'd miss the side page-turn buttons, it's so easy to hold one handed and just thumb next page. Plus you know, fingerprints. I can live with it on a backlit screen as you don't really see them, but dust on the kindle screen is visible enough to be annoying, a big smudge where my thumb rests for flipping to next page I think would be distracting.

I don't know about the 'ads-on-screensaver' versions; they're not available in the UK. I'd probably still buy the non-ad version, but it does show the difference in price - the UK version of new 'lite' kindle is £89, whereas even including VAT, the US price would be £60.

One nice thing about the kindle is the standard warranty policy; if you drop it from under shoulder height in the first year and damage it, they'll send out a replacement immediately for free, no problem, and you just need to return the damaged one inside 30 days. The warranty on the new one will still last for the rest of the purchase period too. Was very pleasantly surprised by that recently. I'll be impressed if they have the same policy for the fire.

Clearly the design of the fire is an extension of the current text kindles, not a direct assault on the ipad as such. The recently used view, for example, mixes media, books and apps all together in one flip-stream. No camera, amazon app store only, free streaming with prime.... it's clearly designed to be a one-stop gateway into amazon-provided content rather than a more general purpose device. Amazon don't care what you use, as long as you buy stuff for it via amazon.

That is the threat to apple though; the ipad is a gateway to the itunes store, and they make a LOT of their profit on the 30% cut for apps and content sold via it, which is why apple is so ruthless at forcing all transactions on iOS to go through them.

I don't think the playbook-knockoff hardware is much of a problem. The basic problem with the playbook was the god-awful OS on it, it benched must faster once someone hacked android onto it (which is hard to find now, as they've launched their terrible android compatibility layer thing). The omap4 SoC with dual-core ARM cortex A9 and powerVR gpu is the basis for a number of current and upcoming android smartphones - such as the optimus 3D - and performance there is just fine. It's very, very similar to the A5 (which also uses dual-core ARM cortex A9 and powerVR gpu) used in the ipad 2, in fact. It should do what its designed to do unless amazon have really screwed up their mods to android.

Of course, it's not designed to do everything an ipad does; but then at 2/3 the weight and a 7" screen and half the price, it's not meant to be. It will do some things better than an ipad I think, such as reading webpages/books on the sofa. And of course, not having to deal with itunes sync will be a popular feature for some :)
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:31 AM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It struck me when I when I saw the newest iPad ad, all the things they show as the cool things to do with it are 3rd party apps. You never see the bare OS underneath it all.

A buddy of mine got one of the ultra cheap touchpads and just raves about the native OS, but my usage of my iPad mirrors the ad. Basically the apps are what matter. It can be frustrating sometimes getting a "file" from one app to another, but its generally workable.

I wonder how much the iOS app headstart is going to matter for the OS competition in the long run.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:34 AM on September 29, 2011


If you're worried about data-mining or security in Silk, apparently you can turn off the off-site rendering and process everything locally. It will run slowly, but you have that level of control, apparently.

Well, slower, anyway. It shouldn't be any different without silk than usual rendering in the android browser, which is generally considered to be pretty good. Where silk will really help out is complex heavy scripted pages, complete with multi calls to ad-scripts and tracking stats pages - that's what really slows down the browser, on mobile, especially on 3G. Having all that pre-rendered and chucked down a single fast connection instead of having to independently pull down the few hundred links an average web 2.0 page needs should make things considerably faster for browsing. Hell, I'd be tempted to test on the DESKTOP, were it possible, given there's always some analytics script I end up waiting for.

Opera already do something similar with their turbo mode for opera mobile, but amazon have really got the grunt to pull it off with their EC2 cloud, especially since so many people already use amazon's hosting for their own sites.

Privacy is the big concern of course, especially for SSL traffic, so I'd want to see more about that personally before I turned such a thing on. Not that it really matters, since I suspect it's going to be a long time before the kindle fire launches in the UK, given we don't have amazon music, or video streaming, or even the app store.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:38 AM on September 29, 2011


I see the iTunes sync issue get mentioned a few times, but starting with iOS 5 (which is out next week) it won't be necessary. I've been using it for the last few months and it worked pretty well.

So, no more iTunes, if you don't want to.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:47 AM on September 29, 2011


BP: Any word out there "on-the-street" if iOS 5 will run on gen 1 iPads? Or will it be one of those iOS 4 on iPhone 3G type experiences where it will technically run, but you really won't want to use it?
posted by Chekhovian at 12:50 AM on September 29, 2011


I don't have personal experience with iOS 5 on a first-gen iPad, but it is supported. I am running iOS 5 on a 3GS iPhone and it is snappy enough, fwiw.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:52 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


iPad 1 doesn't have any problems. For reference it is the base hardware that became iPhone 4. The same will probably be true for iPhone 5 or whatever, same chips but smaller version of iPad 2 (the biggest components of the iPads has always been the batteries).
posted by mrzarquon at 12:58 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd be interested to hear how a $79 Kindle becomes £89 when offered in the UK.
posted by salmacis at 12:59 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


E-ink is the best thing in the world for novels. For technical papers, textbooks, references, it blows chunks. The refresh rate just kills you when you're zooming in and out or flipping back and forth between some PDE and some plot, or scanning for some equation.

The iPad is great at viewing PDFs (for me, journal articles) and the screen is sized well for that application. I could never seem to get my Kindle 3 to work well at rendering PDFs (eInk refresh lag aside), and like an iPhone, the screen is too small for usable, day-to-day reading. I don't see that aspect being too different with these newer models, or even with the Fire.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:34 AM on September 29, 2011


I'm surprised that the Amazon warehouse worker abuse scandal from a few days ago has only been mentioned once (I think) in this thread. The first line of this new Kindle announcement, "There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less" is absolutely galling in that context. I don't know when next I'll be ready to give these people any of my money, but at the moment, it's out of the question.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:39 AM on September 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


salmacis: It's because you should be comparing it with the ad-free version, which is $109 (the 'special offers' version is not available in the UK). I made the same mistake and got outraged myself, but $109 to £89 isn't so bad.
posted by adrianhon at 1:45 AM on September 29, 2011


We asked Amazon a few questions about the privacy implications of the split browsing model. We were told that collected usage data is anonymous and stored in aggregate, thus protecting user privacy. It's also possible to completely turn off the split browsing mode and use Silk like a conventional Web browser.

Chris Espinosa has a pretty interesting take on this:

Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they’re being offered there. What’s more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they’re getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence... And all of this on Google’s dime.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 AM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


salmacis: It's because you should be comparing it with the ad-free version, which is $109 (the 'special offers' version is not available in the UK). I made the same mistake and got outraged myself, but $109 to £89 isn't so bad.

Yes, this. $109 is £69.70 at today's headline exchange rate; add-on 20% VAT and that makes £83.64, so £89 isn't hugely outrageous compared to the usual 'cross out $, swap with £' UK pricing.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:11 AM on September 29, 2011


From mrzarqon's link to Chris Espinosa (which on preview Blazecock just quoted, but left out the final, fascinating sentence):

But what this means is that Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon’s opportunity here....

Google’s whole play of promoting Android in order to aggregate user behavior patterns to sell to advertisers is completely subverted by Amazon’s intermediation. Fire isn’t a noun, it’s a verb, and it’s what Amazon has done in the targeted direction of Google. This is the first shot in the new war for replacing the Internet with a privatized merchant data-aggregation network.

posted by mediareport at 2:30 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


We were told that collected usage data is anonymous and stored in aggregate, thus protecting user privacy.

This is the standard reassurance, of course, and it's always worth keeping in mind that this is not required by law. It's just something the company says it does, with the implication that the company will never, ever, ever change its mind about that in the future, honest.
posted by mediareport at 2:32 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking of getting a Kindle anyway, so I've gone ahead and ordered one.
posted by salmacis at 3:02 AM on September 29, 2011


That is the threat to apple though; the ipad is a gateway to the itunes store, and they make a LOT of their profit on the 30% cut for apps and content sold via it, which is why apple is so ruthless at forcing all transactions on iOS to go through them.


That is a common misperception - - it turns out it is not a "LOT"...


iTunes Store Revenue

From Seeking Alpha’s transcript of Apple’s last quarterly finance call:

"The iTunes store generated strong results with revenue of almost $1.4 billion. iTunes revenue was up 36% year-over-year, thanks primarily to continued strong sales of music, video and apps. With more than 225 million accounts, iTunes is the #1 music retailer in the world and customers have downloaded more than 15 billion songs today."

Note: that’s $1.4 billion in revenues, not profits. And that includes the music side, which is almost 10 years old. And further note that Apple doesn’t mention profits from the iTunes Store at all. If they were making big bank, Apple would brag about it. I’m pretty sure the iTunes Store is profitable, but it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of Apple’s income. And yet that’s the business Mike Arrington thinks HP should focus on while selling piece of crap $200 tablets.

posted by fairmettle at 3:19 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have the Kindle with "Special Offers" (cough, ads)? Are the ads for any kind of compelling sales that normally don't get published or is it just standard crap?

Some of the offers are decent, some are meh, some are just ads. There was one awhile back for $25 off of a $50 jewelry purchase that I probably would have taken advantage of if I hadn't been broke at the time. The past week or so it has run an ad for the new show Revenge, a sale on Kindle romance novels, and right now it is offering a $50 gift card if you sign up for the Amazon Visa (the Amazon website is offering a $40 gift card for signing up.)

I didn't get the special offers version for the offers, though. I just liked being able to get the 3G Kindle for $139 instead of $189. The ads & offers are absolutely no bother at all, and maybe I'll take advantage of one sometime.

Incidentally for those who might be wondering like I was before I purchased: You only see the ad full-size on your screen saver and really small at the bottom of your home page. Nothing scrolls or blinks or dances or pops up, and there are no ads displayed within the e-books themselves.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:42 AM on September 29, 2011


Hey two or three cars - Don't worry about those people in the warehouse, this is the latest shiny new gadget and it has 3G and 5Z and and 84 friggabits and an LSMFT display and it only costs a buck three fifty!

I wonder how they sell it so cheap?
posted by tommyD at 3:58 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So following fairmettle's link got me to Daring Fireball's link of the AMAZON SILK TERMS & CONDITIONS page. Can someone explain to me what the appearances of the word "generally" are supposed to mean in the following sentences?

1. Privacy Information

...Amazon Silk optimizes and accelerates the delivery of web content by using Amazon’s cloud computing services. Therefore, like most Internet service providers and similar services that enable you to access the Web, the content of web pages you visit using Amazon Silk passes through our servers and may be cached to improve performance on subsequent page loads.

Amazon Silk also temporarily logs web addresses...for the web pages it serves and certain identifiers, such as IP or MAC addresses, to troubleshoot and diagnose Amazon Silk technical issues. We generally do not keep this information for longer than 30 days.

You can also choose to operate Amazon Silk in basic or “off-cloud” mode. Off-cloud mode allows web pages generally to go directly to your computer rather than pass through our servers. As such, it does not take advantage of Amazon’s cloud computing services to speed-up web content delivery.

posted by mediareport at 4:00 AM on September 29, 2011


how often do you use the Kindle's physical keyboard? (email, typing in urls, search function, etc). --- Rarely. The only time I use it is when I'm actually making a book purchase on the Kindle (also rarely), and need to type in the title or the author's name. The web browser on the kindle is worse than a bad joke, and I've never even tried to send an email using it.
posted by crunchland at 4:21 AM on September 29, 2011


I'm waiting for the Apple iBall, attaches directly to the retina of the user, charges by blowing your nose.
posted by spitbull at 5:13 AM on September 29, 2011


The cycle is complete. Temporary workers at Amazon warehouses can now have an affordable shopping device.
posted by SoFlo1 at 5:17 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


$79 is almost an impulse buy, buy a handfull of books in kindle format you would have bought in hardcopy and it pays for itself.

Maybe it's because of the types of books that I buy, but that hasn't been my experience in the past few years. The Art of Fielding, for example, is $13.52 new in hardback and $12.99 for the Kindle version.
posted by amarynth at 5:27 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, thanks to Steve Jobs, the age of the $9.99 Kindle ebook is gone.
posted by crunchland at 5:33 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I won't get one. Purchasing a product to take part in crowd sourcing for corporations is icky. Fuck 'em, I say. Besides - my browsing is gmail, meta filter the age news paper and ABC Australia news - there - you have it. Oh, and Reddit when I want to see a self drawn cartoon of how some kid felt when he was late for history class.
posted by the noob at 5:50 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, thanks to Steve Jobs, the age of the $9.99 Kindle ebook is gone

Thanks to Steve Jobs it is incredibly easy to read un-optimized pdf's that cost you $0. I'm thinking of scans of old books where each page is an image etc. The internet is so damn good at distributing 1GB files. So many books fit into 1GB even when each book is a terrible 50MB of uncompressed scans.

This is what the publishers should be crapping their pants over, not a differential price of $3.99
posted by Chekhovian at 6:42 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


[[ All I know is that with 500+ EPUB files, I'm never going to use a device that refuses to display them. ]]

Yeah, that batch conversion could take minutes.


Maybe on your machine. On mine it would take an hour at least.

But more to the point, why should I be put to the trouble of converting the universal open format because Amazon wants to force people into using their inferior proprietary format?

Isn't that the kind of corporate bully-boy shit that people are always bitching at Apple about?
posted by Trurl at 6:52 AM on September 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I always loved the e-ink on my Kindle but never realized just how much more soothing it is until I tried to read on my iPad for four+ hours on a cross-country flight. It really is that much better.

All I know, though, as a small publisher, is that I wish everyone would just settle on one ebook format and stick with it. And as far as I'm concerned, I wish it could be PDF. Right now, converting our (graphics-intensive) books to proper ebook formatting is a TOTAL PAIN IN THE ASS, if not nigh-on impossible.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:00 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


where's my single purpose eInk djvu reader?
posted by ennui.bz at 7:00 AM on September 29, 2011


$200 for a 7" tablet with a 1Gig processor is pretty nice. I might wait a few months for it to get rooted and a CyanogenMod build of Ice Cream Sandwich comes out for it. There's no real reason to have all that Amazon junk on it when just install the Kindle app on a standard Android install.
posted by octothorpe at 7:06 AM on September 29, 2011


where's my single purpose eInk djvu reader?

It's anywhere, once you undo that worthless file format.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:10 AM on September 29, 2011


I'm not so gung-ho about the Kindle Fire, but the Kindle Touch models are really technologically impressive -- touch + e-ink -- this is brand new technology isn't it?
posted by peacheater at 7:20 AM on September 29, 2011


The Nook Touch does the same thing with e-ink and IR touch sensing. Older sony readers have had touch for 5 years? But always with a resistive film on top of the e-ink (think of an old palmpilot). The resitive film cuts out about half the benefits in contrast and glare reduction of the e-ink. The newer Sony readers are all IR based.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:24 AM on September 29, 2011


Yeah, thanks to Steve Jobs, the age of the $9.99 Kindle ebook is gone.

While iBooks did give more power to the publishers to charge what they like, at the end of the day, it's not Steve Jobs who dictates to Amazon what to charge for eBooks, and it's not Steve Jobs who buys them.

The market has spoken. Mostly by price fixing between separate publishers, sure, but the inability of the US government to enforce antitrust law isn't Steve Jobs' fault.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:28 AM on September 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's anywhere, once you undo that worthless file format.

oooo someones trying to sell a frontend to a bunch of open source utilities... if they haven't configured it correctly the pdf's will be fucking huge: the utilities convert djvu -> tiff -> pdf and take forever and choke with frequency.

Supposedly the kobo touch can do pdf's in landscape with pan and zoom workably... but i don't have $139 to spend on a impulse buy.

for me, the crazy thing about Android is that google never saw fit to include a native pdf renderer as if reading pdf's isn't really the only compelling use for a tablet.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:43 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Amazon is the Walmart of the internet - unsexy but functional, and unbeatable on price.

Also, destructive to smaller retailers and hostile to its employees. Damn, you nailed it!
posted by entropicamericana at 7:43 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you certain about that?

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that everything is Steve Jobs' fault.
posted by Trurl at 7:43 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I am still trying to understand the name. Is Kindle Fire redundant? Is it missing an indefinite article (Kindle a Fire)?

The one thing I do know is that Kindle Touch is a really poor suggestion, likely to result in burned digits across this great land of ours, and that Amazon should extinguish it.

I apologize for the interruption. Please return to discussing Steve Jobs and working conditions at Amazon sweatshops.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 7:51 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, FWIW I have an iPad2 on order (supposed to be here tomorrow) as a gift from my wife. And after seeing the announcement from Amazon about the new Kindles, as of my preorder a few minutes ago it looks as if she's getting a Kindle Touch for Christmas in return.

From what I've seen from coworkers who already have one, I like the iPad. And from the several years of experience using it, I like my old Kindle. But they are for two different purposes. One is for work (PDFs, notes, conference travel, presentations with the VGA adapter). One is for reading books. In my mind e-ink is way better for reading, if you're reading for more than a few minutes here and there (PDFs aside, which the Kindle can display but isn't great at doing so). I like the small form factor of the Touch, it will be perfect for her on her daily commute to and from work.

Ars Technica is calling the Fire the first mobile tablet that can be competitive in a world with iPads - simply because it's not trying to be an iPad. I can see that. Every other Android tablet out there looks like the designers tried as hard as possible to build an iPad clone, or as close as they could get without getting sued. Most of the time, it fails miserably, because no one out there can compete with Apple on the supply end of things and still keep the price down.

The Fire ought to do pretty well, but I can't see the e-ink versions getting phased out any time soon. There are some advantages to the color screen, but really, for reading books I think black and white is just fine. Especially with the insane battery life.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:53 AM on September 29, 2011


oooo someones trying to sell a frontend to a bunch of open source utilities... if they haven't configured it correctly the pdf's will be fucking huge: the utilities convert djvu -> tiff -> pdf and take forever and choke with frequency.

Psh, its not like I paid for it. I'd be thrilled to know how you use the open source utilities, unless its some linux command line thing. That's beyond my patience.

the kobo touch can do pdf's in landscape with pan and zoom workably.

My old Sony PRS 600 could pan and zoom and screen rotate. The refresh rate is what kills you.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:54 AM on September 29, 2011


The market has spoken. Mostly by price fixing between separate publishers, sure, but the inability of the US government to enforce antitrust law isn't Steve Jobs' fault.

How wonderful for him.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that everything is Steve Jobs' fault.

He co-founded Apple. In the home computer field, it may well be.
posted by JHarris at 7:58 AM on September 29, 2011


Personally, I am still trying to understand the name. Is Kindle Fire redundant? Is it missing an indefinite article (Kindle a Fire)?

Sorry, I'm not following you.

Kindle Fire seems a perfectly acceptable grammar construction to me.
posted by fairmettle at 8:07 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't that the kind of corporate bully-boy shit that people are always bitching at Apple about?

Let's be clear about this: yes. Yes it is. Amazon isn't exactly saintly. Neither is Apple, of course, but still. They're giant companies, they're required by law to be 15% minimum evil by weight.
posted by JHarris at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that everything is Steve Jobs' fault.

Yeah, I forgot where I was. Sorry! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:16 AM on September 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


How can you have free 3G roaming? I mean, it has to connect to somebody's 3G network, right? And that company is not going to let you connect if they can't charge you, right? How does that work?

It obviously doesn't work everywhere. But it works in a LOT of places (I have used my Kindle 3 3G in Mexico and Ireland). But surfing the web on an e-ink display is horrendously painful. Handy to check email maybe, but that's about it).
posted by antifuse at 8:24 AM on September 29, 2011


I'm not so gung-ho about the Kindle Fire, but the Kindle Touch models are really technologically impressive -- touch + e-ink -- this is brand new technology isn't it?
posted by peacheater


The Kobo touch has already been out for a while.

Why all the Kindle love? I understand that they were the first affordable ereaders - but they are also locked into Amazon. Whereas Kobos offer a great cheap ereader which is completely open - you can even load it like a harddrive. I can get my books anywhere, plus the screen size is perfect for manga.
posted by jb at 8:24 AM on September 29, 2011


Why all the Kindle love? I understand that they were the first affordable ereaders - but they are also locked into Amazon. Whereas Kobos offer a great cheap ereader which is completely open - you can even load it like a harddrive. I can get my books anywhere, plus the screen size is perfect for manga.

My sister and I both got e-readers at the same time (last Christmas) - I got a Kindle 3, she got a Kobo. She has had to replace her Kobo 4 times (the last time she replaced it, they upgraded her to a Kobo Touch for free, which is pretty cool).

I'm pretty happy with my Kindle - I've only bought maybe 3 books from Amazon (with a gift card I got when I got the Kindle), the rest are books that I've just converted from other formats to .MOBI (or found in .MOBI already). I love it. And the 3G is kinda neat too - being able to buy a book, turn on my Kindle anywhere in the world, and it's just THERE? That is sweet.
posted by antifuse at 8:27 AM on September 29, 2011


Because people are willing to accept "lock in" in exchange for ease of use. And buying from the amazon store on a kindle is light years simpler for my mom than trying to walk her through using Calibre.
posted by DigDoug at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2011


Supposedly the kobo touch can do pdf's in landscape with pan and zoom workably... but i don't have $139 to spend on a impulse buy.

It's not bad - you can't read while panning (you see a faint image moving) but once you've placed it, it snaps back to clear as fast as the page changes on a regular book - which is very fast these days. I know that I found the refresh on the first Kobo slow, but the touch is fast enough that I went from iPod to touch without noticing.

As for the calibre issue with kobo: if you're going to be locked into one store anyways, Kobo has its own store where books sell for as low as $5-6 (for older paperbacks), accessible through a webpage, the Kobo desktop (which will act like iTunes for your Kobo) and also from the Kobo itself if you have wireless.
posted by jb at 8:33 AM on September 29, 2011


Why all the Kindle love? I understand that they were the first affordable ereaders - but they are also locked into Amazon.

They're not locked very well. Get a file from wherever onto your computer, convert from epub if you have to, and put it on your kindle over usb.

I get that this is a mild inconvenience that many users wouldn't bother with, but at least from my perspective it's pretty damn far from an actual lock-in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


By the way, I've found this free online epub converter to be pretty darned good. The only drawback is the 25MB size limit so you can't hurl massive PDF scans at it.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:44 AM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Great.
More stuff for people to 'upgrade to' so that it can become landfill next year.
posted by codmate at 8:52 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why all the Kindle love? I understand that they were the first affordable ereaders - but they are also locked into Amazon.

One of the useful side-effects of the amazon/itunes/30% scuffle is that you can now specify the kindle reader as your default-open-with app for downloaded .mobi's on the ipad. You've always been able to load non-DRM'd mobi's via USB to the physical kindles. It's not a lock-in, more like a ring of salt on the ground and an admonition not to cross it.
posted by nomisxid at 8:53 AM on September 29, 2011


> More stuff for people to 'upgrade to' so that it can become landfill next year.

Find the shiny!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:56 AM on September 29, 2011


I have yet to have a single ebook that I haven't been able to get onto my kindle, either through usb directly or through calibre or the email-amazon-and-they-email-it-back service. If it's locked in to anything, it's pretty shitty at it.

I even tried putting the whole run of Cerebus in .pdfs on mine (I've never read it before; I'm not a Dave Sim fan or anything, just curious). Turned out to be way too small to read, but it certainly took them. Worth it as an experiment.
posted by penduluum at 8:59 AM on September 29, 2011


More stuff for people to 'upgrade to' so that it can become landfill next year.
The amount of (post consumer) waste created when these devices are trashed is maybe 3 or 4 days worth of food packaging, at least by volume.
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> The amount of (post consumer) waste created when these devices are trashed is maybe 3 or 4 days worth of food packaging, at least by volume.

Not to mention that when it's time to get rid of something you should take it to a recycling center (any Best Buy will have bins in the entrance) where at least some portion of it will be reclaimed.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:08 AM on September 29, 2011


How can you have free 3G roaming? I mean, it has to connect to somebody's 3G network, right? And that company is not going to let you connect if they can't charge you, right? How does that work?

They're charging Amazon for it, and Amazon's willing to eat the cost to promote Kindle use.
posted by kafziel at 9:28 AM on September 29, 2011


maybe 3 or 4 days worth of food packaging

Yeah, but food packaging waste doesn't usually make people sick.
posted by msbrauer at 9:30 AM on September 29, 2011


Between my iPad, my Kindle 2, and my phone I have a lot of the coverage that the Kindle Fire is going for, and I'm still considering one as an early next year purchase.

Mainly as an inexpensive mobile tablet that I actually would use outside my house; my iPad was expensive and it's big enough that I don't like taking it into situations where it might get beat up or broken, and as such it is my netbook replacement around the house. The Fire could be a useful bigger-than-my-Galaxy-smartphone tablet that I take abroad when I want to have a computer handy, but don't want to risk my Apple.

What it won't do, however, is replace my e-ink Kindle for reading books. The qualities of e-ink (as already indicated here) are a deal breaker enough that even if I'm using the Fire as a mobile device, I won't be using it for reading my ebooks, which is actually kind of funny, considering that it was exactly what it was meant to do.
posted by quin at 9:54 AM on September 29, 2011


I'm not so gung-ho about the Kindle Fire, but the Kindle Touch models are really technologically impressive -- touch + e-ink -- this is brand new technology isn't it?

No, the Sony Touch from a year or two back was a very nice implementation of the touch + e-ink combination. I own one myself, and I love it, except for Sony's miserable Mac support. The best part is its format flexibility and its memory card slots - when the proprietary Sony software didn't play nice with my new laptop, I simply switched wholly to Calibre and an SD card.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:00 AM on September 29, 2011


Well, i just pre-ordered one, so I hope it's good.
posted by Artw at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I don't have much to say about the Fire that hasn't already been said. It looks well-made and it's sort of a blend between the Apple world of a single device and a tightly spec'ed ecosystem and the android world, at least from a developer perspective. I'm sure consumers will love it.

But I have one question per a previous comment: (and what Google really makes all it's money on).

Can someone explain to me how Google makes money on raw data? Because this simply isn't true. Chrome collects a bunch of stuff for a bunch of reasons, but data does not magically turn into money. I think Silk has serious issues and it's not innovative in the least, while being costly to develop and maintain, so I can only assume they put it out there because the native browsing experience was extremely bad on the low-CPU-power Fire. But whatever data they collect from Silk isn't going to magically turn into gold coins either.
posted by GuyZero at 11:34 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and the other thing, from an environmental aspect these e-book readers use much less power then reading on your PC, and you don't have the environmental costs of each book printing either. Paper mills are hardly environmentally pristine, you have to cut down forests, ship the heavy paper everywhere and so on.
posted by delmoi at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google is the default search for the majority of the internet, which means it has a huge chunk of user behavior data (along with the free google analytics js they offer). Google uses it to figure out what adwords and ad's to show people when they are searching, and they bill the advertisers based on the number of successful click throughs from the ads they showed. Google wants to only put an ad infront of a person who will click on it, if they put an ad type A in front of person type B, that is a wasted impression. They should have put ad type B in front of person type B, etc.

It is the market Facebook is in as well, their raw data on me is why I don't see ads for tampons, instead I see ads for razor blades.

And it is why the front page for Amazon has ads for zwave light switches, hellboy comics and other gadgets that I am more likely to purchase than generic products. It is a wasted impression to try to sell me Ashcroft's biography or whatever, put something else on the page that has a better chance of being sold.

All of these things mean money. I may never click on an adword, but google is used by millions if not billions of people a day, and only a fraction of them need to. Increase that fraction by a fraction, and that is still an non insignificant change in revenue.
posted by mrzarquon at 12:02 PM on September 29, 2011


A Machine For Reading Books

Turning pages using a touchscreen also means that you have to cover part of your screen with your tumb.

And it means that your screen will get really dirty, really quickly. This doesn’t matter too much with something like an iPad. When an iPad is turned on, the screen is bright enough that you usually don’t notice the dirt that has accumulated since the last time you wiped it down. The Kindle’s reflective screen is different. I immediately notice when I accidentally touch my Kindle’s screen.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:13 PM on September 29, 2011


All I know, though, as a small publisher, is that I wish everyone would just settle on one ebook format and stick with it. And as far as I'm concerned, I wish it could be PDF. Right now, converting our (graphics-intensive) books to proper ebook formatting is a TOTAL PAIN IN THE ASS, if not nigh-on impossible.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:00 AM on September 29


OMG this. I'm starting a small ebook publishing company and figuring out how to get mobi versions to work (i.e. recognize that the cover is the cover and not just some random page, or recognize the metadata) is still stumping me.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:17 PM on September 29, 2011


If it can work with PDFs like the ipad, I am sold. I currently cannot afford the ipad but need a pdf reader so I don't print ~50 pages per day.

Seems like Andriod apps works on the Fire (?) and if so I could easily sync my Mendeley library with the droid app.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 12:18 PM on September 29, 2011


The RPG industry seems to have settled on PDF en masse. That seems to cause a lot of complaint, as they don't work well in readers and really the only thing worthwhile you can do with them right now is print them.
posted by Artw at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2011


PDFs work fine in every other android tablet, so I can't imagine they wouldn't work fine with this.
posted by kafziel at 12:21 PM on September 29, 2011


I think Silk has serious issues and it's not innovative in the least

I don't know if it has to be innovative as such, but what they are doing there would appear to avoid something mobile browsers don't handle well (high numbers of HTTP hits) while still delivering something that is going to be exactly the same as far as the browser is concerned (so you're not getting an altered version of the page, like with Opera) , and adding a ton of caching that they are able to provide because they are Amazon. That sounds like something taht;s going to both work well and play their strengths, so good on them for that.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Kindle Fire is built on an earlier version of Android, 2.1, than the current Gingerbread version, 2.3. I asked Bezos about his plans to upgrade, and he indicated that the underlying operating system would not stagnate. “Our goal is to make sure on the developer side that if you develop an Android app, you can put it on a Kindle Fire and on other Android devices. We want developers to be able to develop once.” He understands that apps are media too and he wants to sell as many of them as possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:31 PM on September 29, 2011


And you can already get the popular e-reader Android apps from Amazon's walled store. Those support just about every format, and offer a flowing text option to easier read PDFs.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 12:40 PM on September 29, 2011


Turning pages using a touchscreen also means that you have to cover part of your screen with your tumb.

Not when you have a Sony eReader that has a touch screen with page-turning buttons and a stylus. I'm pretty sure that the Nook Touch also has page-turning buttons. Odd that Amazon didn't go that route.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:41 PM on September 29, 2011


Serene Empress Dork: "You only see the ad full-size on your screen saver"

Wait! E-ink has a screen saver? Now I am confused. What is the point of that?
posted by meehawl at 12:49 PM on September 29, 2011


Wait! E-ink has a screen saver? Now I am confused. What is the point of that?


Same point as your computer screen. After you stop using it for a bit, it just turns to a pretty screensaver image (not animated though) and stays that way till you wake the device.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 12:58 PM on September 29, 2011


Wait! E-ink has a screen saver? Now I am confused. What is the point of that?

Mostly so you know that the buttons are disabled, so you don't worry that you're going to change pages when you throw your kindle in your bag. I got my Kindle 3 for free, but I kind of wish it was a Kindle with Special offers because by god if I have to see Emily Dickinson's face ONE MORE TIME... At least advertising would break it up every now and then.
posted by Kyol at 12:59 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Same point as your computer screen.

Unless you're still using a CRT made before 1997, of course. Then a screensaver sort of still... saves your screen.
posted by grubi at 1:00 PM on September 29, 2011


But god knows what for.
posted by grubi at 1:00 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


but I kind of wish it was a Kindle with Special offers because by god if I have to see Emily Dickinson's face ONE MORE TIME... At least advertising would break it up every now and then.

You can add your own custom images. Here is how I did it:

Jailbreak Kindle (takes 2 minutes to do and doesn't interfere with standard updates).
Kindle wallpapers (you can also copy in any image you like that would look good in b&w)
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 1:02 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wait! E-ink has a screen saver? Now I am confused. What is the point of that?

I'm with Kyol on this one, I've always assumed it was to let you know that the device was locked and that the buttons wouldn't work until you used the power switch to wake it.
posted by quin at 1:03 PM on September 29, 2011


And as far as I'm concerned, I wish it could be PDF.

Sadly, not until we have magic e-book readers that can physically stretch to be the size of the original page.
posted by Zed at 1:04 PM on September 29, 2011


> Sadly, not until we have magic e-book readers that can physically stretch to be the size of the original page.

E-reader apps can do this now with PDFs with a "flowing text" or reading view option.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 1:07 PM on September 29, 2011


I don't know if it has to be innovative as such, but what they are doing there would appear to avoid something mobile browsers don't handle well (high numbers of HTTP hits) while still delivering something that is going to be exactly the same as far as the browser is concerned (so you're not getting an altered version of the page, like with Opera) , and adding a ton of caching that they are able to provide because they are Amazon. That sounds like something taht;s going to both work well and play their strengths, so good on them for that.

It may play to their strengths, but that doesn't mean it's free to operate. Thus my conclusion that they must be doing it to offset shortcomings of the device itself. Plus I'm not 100% certain that it's just a SPDY proxy; it may well be cooking the pages a little, but yes, probably not. Not that that matters much - the proxying itself is more problematic than cooking pages to improve rendering time.
posted by GuyZero at 1:08 PM on September 29, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: "I asked Bezos about his plans to upgrade, and he indicated that the underlying operating system would not stagnate"

Note he did not say "fork". Why would anyone seriously believe that Bezos would ever follow through on anything he says if it went against his mercantilist principles? This is the same duplicitous person that for sympathetic audiences over the years has made noises about the evils of the current patent system and the virtues of openness, yet heads an aggressively legally proactive and incumbent corporation that extracts a vig from every significant online merchant who dares to try to let people buy something with a single click, thanks to the legally byzantine and conceptually absurd one-click patent. Amazon has already created its own app store separate from Google's multi-profile store. It can create its own closed ecosystem of apps tied to its own tablets to cement lock-in (just like Apple). Given enough sales, it has a definite incentive to ensure that apps for its tablet range are not interoperable with "vanilla" Android tablets.
posted by meehawl at 1:09 PM on September 29, 2011


E-reader apps can do this now with PDFs with a "flowing text" or reading view option.

...which is no doubt fine for some subset of very plain running text PDFs. For the ones I've actually wanted to read, not so much.
posted by Zed at 1:09 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The RPG industry seems to have settled on PDF en masse. That seems to cause a lot of complaint, as they don't work well in readers and really the only thing worthwhile you can do with them right now is print them.

The iPad can read PDFs in Safari in the more recent version of iOS, a free download to get iBooks lets you read PDF files from your computer, and GoodReader is a quite awesome third-party reader with cropping, bookmarks, multiple online server support (including Dropbox), web downloading, and more. I was really surprised, it's almost (but not quite) like paging through a physical book. I have to reason to believe Android has similar support.

I can't speak for other e-ink devices, but Kindle doesn't really do PDF well; it's too slow and is generally unreadable unless you zoom in, and then cursor around. You'd probably get better performance converting with Amazon's online PDF translation service (but it doesn't work well on all files and has a file size limit, which is even lower for free use of the service) or using Calibre (which works on even fewer kinds of files).

On Kindle screensavers: some earlier Kindle models had an undocumented feature that allowed you to customize the screensaver, but the K3, to my knowledge, has to be jailbroken to change the screensaver. (The reason for this might be related to its use in the Special Offer Kindle.)

Something that hasn't come up yet is my absolutely least favorite thing about iOS machines: you have to either jailbreak or use iTunes to get files on and off the device, and they're tied to an individual app so it's very difficult (although in certain isolated cases possible) to share files between apps, requiring you to keep several copies of files around. This is grossly problematic for that reason, and because iTunes is horribly slow and bloated and like to consume lots of memory and freeze up for no discernible reason.

Be warned Apple friendlies: every time I hear someone talk about the iPhone/iPad as if it were molded by God's own product designers, their words turn to ashes in my ear and I subconsciously brand them with the Death Name SHILL because of this one thing. I sincerely hope iOS 5 has better ways to get files onto and off the device, because the iTunes requirement is very nearly a deal breaker. I'm actually counting the days until its release. Kindle, for its faults, lets people use Explorer to transfer stuff on and off.
posted by JHarris at 1:15 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thus my conclusion that they must be doing it to offset shortcomings of the device itself.

I'm really not seeing any reason to suspect it would operate any differently than any similarly specced device with the EC2 acceleration turned off.

There's a good explanation of how it works and why it might be needed here, BTW.
posted by Artw at 1:37 PM on September 29, 2011


The iPad can read PDFs in Safari ... I have to reason to believe Android has similar support.

There are many decent PDF solutions for Android yes, from the basic, but functional default viewer to better, paid options (which allow annotation, editing, whatnot).

Even so, I prefer ebooks/epubs---even cbr/cbz---to pdfs in almost every case. PDFs are designed to exactly reproduce content in only one form. That's their greatest weakness.

PDFs don't reflow properly for differnet screen sizes, orientations or levels of magnification. Fonts can't be changed (easily) for better reading. Selection, annotation or modification of a PDF is possible, but fraught with various stupid problems. In my long experience with them, they're a one-way format, immutable and uselessly read-only. PDF feels like the 1990s technology it is. It serves a purpose when its main use is as an intermediate electronic form between creation and printing, but it needs to die as a viewing format. It's no wonder the content companies all love it.
posted by bonehead at 1:52 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is the market Facebook is in as well, their raw data on me is why I don't see ads for tampons, instead I see ads for razor blades.
Which brings up an important question: Can you install adblock on any of these devices? I don't see any ads on amazon or anywhere else when using Firefox. I mean, unless you restrict yourself to a handful of sites I don't think I would enjoy surfing the web without adblock at all. I don't use chrome as much so I when I hit an ad-laden site in chrome it's really kind of a shock.
posted by delmoi at 2:00 PM on September 29, 2011


> I don't use chrome as much so I when I hit an ad-laden site in chrome it's really kind of a shock.

Chrome has its own port of Adbock. Hell, IE even has a decent ad blocker. You can also block ads via a hosts file manager in Android devices. There's really no excuse to look at those things.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:04 PM on September 29, 2011


And here we have a video of the Jeff Bezos presentation of the Kindle family. Spooky modeling of Steve Jobs via Jeff Bezos duly noted.
posted by VikingSword at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kindle Fire - throw in free 3G and we have a deal. Until then, I'm watching from the sidelines.
posted by VikingSword at 2:19 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kindle Fire - throw in free 3G and we have a deal.

I suspect that will not happen, for the same reason iPads aren't sold this way. The Fire is (likely going to be) a decent enough web browser and game player to need a fair bit of bandwidth. I imagine that when 3G/4G versions of the Amazon Android tablets come, they'll come with monthly data plans.
posted by bonehead at 2:25 PM on September 29, 2011


...and here's the Kobo Vox for all of us frozen touque-lover who can't buy the new Kindles. It's got very similar specs from all appearances and is priced at $250. On sale in late October.
posted by bonehead at 2:34 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, what's also funny is that the Playbook and the Fire seem to come from the same contract manufacturer. I wonder whether Amazon got a free ride on RIM's R&D work in developing the device. They're basically identical.
posted by GuyZero at 3:08 PM on September 29, 2011


Oh, and Ryab Block says they're the same thing too.
posted by GuyZero at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2011


Just looked at a video of PDFs on a RIM Playbook. Looks quite sluggish and the Fire is about half the processing speed, right? This does not get my hopes up that I could use the fire to read academic pdfs (many of which are figure heavy).
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chrome has its own port of Adbock.

I don't use chrome enough for it to matter.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on September 29, 2011


This does not get my hopes up that I could use the fire to read academic pdfs (many of which are figure heavy).

Some PDFs that are figure heavy take a little while to render on an iPad 2. Unfortunately, I can only imagine how slow it will be on a Fire/modded-down PlayBook. I guess we'll see, when it arrives.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on September 29, 2011


The screen on the Kobo touch does not get dirty; it's matte and nothing shows up on it. The back of the light-coloured ones do get a bit grubby, but my black one looks snazzy still after 2 months of heavy use (4-5 hours reading a day).

And so far I still haven't heard of any reason to prefer a kindle over a kobo, other that putative construction quality. I don't know if they've been sending something else to the US, but my kobo touch is like a little plastic tank - I carry it everywhere, have dropped it several times - and I'm rough on electronics. I do have friends who have broken their Kobos, but that was doing stupid stuff like throwing it into a bag with no protective case. I don't even do that with my iPod, let alone a device with a lot more surface area to be hit. My husband's first generation kobo is going perfectly over a year later, and he also carries it at all times of the day.
posted by jb at 3:33 PM on September 29, 2011


Well turns out RIM is is not exiting the tablet market.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:37 PM on September 29, 2011


There is now much less reason for people to buy a regular Kindle any longer.

Disagree strongly. I love the idea of a quality $200 tablet, but I don't have a use case for this myself, as the existing iPad + Kindle in my bag does more than the Fire could.

If I want to watch movies on the airplane or surf the web, the iPad is correct, and yes, I can see the Fire taking that position. But when I want to spend nine or ten hours reading a book, I will pull out my Kindle every time, because that 30-day battery life and easy-on-the-eyes e-ink is unmatched. A long reading session on the iPad, as great as that screen is, is still eye-draining.

But the (classic) Kindle is essential since it offers something else the Fire doesn't: it's my go-to emergency device for e-mail, as others have reported. Worldwide free 3G internet, slow as it is, has saved my life many times in the last year or two. It's not fun to use, but sometimes you just need e-mail, or to look something up online, and the awkward, slow browser works well enough for such emergencies. And it sure beats hunting for internet cafes or fiddling with expensive/unreliable SIM cards for short trips.
posted by rokusan at 3:45 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't have high hopes for the regular Kindle's free 3G coming to the Fire, because the Fire browser looks good and usable. This would lead people to, you know, actually use it, and Amazon's costs in subsidizing all that bandwidth would go through the roof.

The existing Kindle's free worldwide 3G doesn't get used much, I would imagine, because the web browser is so awkward to use. I have always assumed this was a deliberate decision.
posted by rokusan at 3:47 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some PDFs that are figure heavy take a little while to render on an iPad 2. Unfortunately, I can only imagine how slow it will be on a Fire/modded-down PlayBook. I guess we'll see, when it arrives.

Right. But I see my coworkers using the ipad to read standard pdfs (not OCRed) and 90% of the load and scroll just fine. Guess I'll have to suck it up and keep saving for the ipad (or wait to see how the Fire performs once people get a hold of it). But most tech blogs seem to share the consensus that this version is just so Amazon can get into the market before the holidays and release a more powerful Fire 2 next summer.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 4:07 PM on September 29, 2011


But most tech blogs seem to share the consensus that this version is just so Amazon can get into the market before the holidays and release a more powerful Fire 2 next summer.

As if it would somehow be better to just keep the Fire the same old thing in perpetuity. Gadget blogs are weird in that they often bemoan planned obsolesce which is basically the very thing they exist for.
posted by GuyZero at 4:20 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


As if it would somehow be better to just keep the Fire the same old thing in perpetuity

But that is not the point though. Amazon is intentionally releasing an underpowered device right now rather than wait a little longer (and miss the holiday season). Seems like a fair assessment to me.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 4:24 PM on September 29, 2011


But most tech blogs seem to share the consensus that this version is just so Amazon can get into the market before the holidays and release a more powerful Fire 2 next summer.

I wonder if this will poison expectations. Granted, people didn't sour on Kindle after the first-gen Kindle, but there wasn't really anything out there like it to compare with (mainly because people didn't really have much in the way of eBook reader selection). Here, you basically have a watered-down Android tablet that some will likely compare against existing $600-800 Android tablets, wondering why it doesn't do as much or work as fast. I'm almost wondering if I should wait, myself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:25 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are intentionally releasing the device they have that they think people will buy as opposed to waiting for a device they do not have. The Kindle has not generally been a cutting-edge-tech play with the exception of the e-ink screen. Not every device requires the newest processor available especially if you're aiming for a lower price point.
posted by GuyZero at 4:32 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find pdf's, especially things like journal articles, are pretty much unreadable on a 7" screen. Take your favourite journal, walk over to your photocopier and reduce to 70% to see what I mean.
posted by bonehead at 4:32 PM on September 29, 2011


I find pdf's, especially things like journal articles, are pretty much unreadable on a 7" screen. Take your favourite journal, walk over to your photocopier and reduce to 70% to see what I mean.

I find everything smaller-ized to be unreadable, fortunately there is zoom. Seriously, does anybody not always read stuff zoomed in on even an iPad?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 4:38 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


>The RPG industry seems to have settled on PDF en masse.

How often do you really need to read the manual for your Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher anyway?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:46 PM on September 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here, you basically have a watered-down Android tablet that some will likely compare against existing $600-800 Android tablet

More like $300-500.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 4:53 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, does anybody not always read stuff zoomed in on even an iPad?

A 10" screen is close enough to a letter/A4 page that I don't normally need to, no. Normal 10-12pt article text on my Transformer's screen is legible, if tiring after a few hours. When I want larger text though, I'd rather increase the font size rather than zoom in, hence my preference for epubs over pdfs.
posted by bonehead at 5:17 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]



How often do you really need to read the manual for your Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher anyway?


The loading mechanism is really confusing.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2011


Seriously, does anybody not always read stuff zoomed in on even an iPad

I generally zoom in and scroll, which is why the fast refresh rate on an LCD screen makes life so much better.

I'd rather increase the font size rather than zoom in, hence my preference for epubs over pdfs.

The average journal article or textbook does not reflow very well (usually making them quite unreadable), especially when you add in equations and graphs. Less sophisticated scans will not reflow at all, as they are just images, not rendered text.

Working reflow would be great, don't get me wrong. I suppose that's the reason you guys apparently pay for your books, quaint as that sounds to me.

And let me tell you, goddamn do I read so many more books since I stopped paying actual money for them. Its like like demand is proportional to 1/cost as cost->0
posted by Chekhovian at 5:43 PM on September 29, 2011


More like $300-500.

No, those have been loss-leader, HP-fire-sale, buy-a-fridge-get-a-tablet prices. I don't imagine that the other vendors can keep that up for too much longer, without shareholders getting really nervous.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:47 PM on September 29, 2011


Not at all. Transformers, wifi only, sold initially at $400 and have now dropped to $350 (T2 is apparently coming before Christmas and they're discounting the old ones). Asus apparently is very, very happy with their sales.
posted by bonehead at 5:52 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I am still trying to understand the name. Is Kindle Fire redundant? Is it missing an indefinite article (Kindle a Fire)?

The simple Bard, unbroke by rules of art,
He pours the wild effusions of the heart:
And if inspired 'tis nature's pow'rs inspire -
Hers all the melting thrill, and hers the kindling fire...


Robert Burns
posted by the noob at 6:41 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


DC Offers Digital GN's Exclusive On Kindle

A very strong line-up there.
posted by Artw at 10:41 PM on September 29, 2011


200-odd comments and nothing about putting books into a Fire? Disappointing.
posted by solarion at 11:24 PM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


nthing that the e-ink screen is an incomparably better reading experience. I hope Kindles with it are always available.
posted by xammerboy at 11:21 AM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm amused with the exaltation of PDFs in this thread. Let's be clear--PDFs are the enemy of e-ink readers. They are the worst format for an e-ink reader. PDFs were designed so that they couldn't be changed, so that fonts and margins and indentations couldn't be fiddled with. PDFs are wonderful if you want to print out a document. But for the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony, whichever, PDFs are bad news for all of them. (I have read that the Kindle DX is pretty good with PDFs, if only because the screen is already so big, at 8.5 x 11 size.)

Ebooks should be epub. Epub epub epub! Which in turn is just a spruced up version of HTML. Which is really just a spruced up text file. Any of those three work great with e-ink readers. It becomes a problem on an e-ink reader--in any format--when you want to check maps (for us fantasy nerds), glossaries, appendices, etc. At least with my WiFi Nook, switching around the hyperlinks is frustrating at best. I gave up reading a few books like this and bought the paperbacks out of exasperation.
posted by zardoz at 11:23 PM on September 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


PDFs need to die in a Kindle Fire.
posted by mek at 11:56 PM on September 30, 2011


PDFs are the enemy of e-ink readers
Sure...but they're what we have, path dependency and lockin and all that. If the only way I can get a book I need is PDF, then I'll take the damn PDF, problems and all, and I want my reader to be able to smoothly handle it.

If someone figures out a way to convert all the PDFs out there into better eread documents, hell I'd be thrilled. End-state ideal Communism would be great too, if we could somehow get past all the nasty intermediate stuff.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:30 AM on October 1, 2011


Yeah, Calibre does a reflow conversion from PDF to epub (or other versions I suppose), and the success rate is hit and miss. For graphics-heavy PDFs with unusual fonts, challenging margins, etc., the resulting epub can be pretty much unreadable. But if it's simple text on the PDF, the epub can be perfectly fine. All depends how that PDF was made in the first place. Calibre is pretty robust, though; I haven't gotten too deep into the conversion settings but I'm sure someone here knows better how to convert to a nice looking epub.
posted by zardoz at 1:27 AM on October 1, 2011


The old Sony PRS600 I used for a while could reflow most text PDFs pretty well on its own, with no prior conversion. It would fail to produce anything sensible from textbooks or papers, which is why I bought an iPad.

I'm surprised there's so much Kobo love on this thread and nothing for Sony. They were the true e-ink pioneers. Now they've pretty much Sony-ed themselves into irrelevance, but damn their design is good.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:02 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm the kobo fangirl - and not just because their headquarters are in my hometown.

But I've heard good things about the Sony readers - definitely the pioneers. And shockingly, they didn't do that thing that had me boycotting Sony: proprietary cables (and different ones for every device, unlike ipods/iphone/ipad). My friend's Sony has a standard USB mini. The screen is a bit smaller than a kobo, though, which matters more for manga.

Speaking of manga - epubs handle images well. But flipping back and forth in any ebook is less convenient than a codex; I ended up saving maps for my favourite fantasy books as images on my pda, so I could refer to them whenever I wanted.
posted by jb at 3:26 AM on October 1, 2011


Does anybody know if the contrast will be better in the new Kindles? I love my current Kindle, but I want true black and white. Like black ink on a white page.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:34 AM on October 1, 2011


Amazon Fire arrives — comics ready with comiXology

If they are putting ComiXology on it traight out of the box then that's a pretty smart move - anyone whose used their app on iPad knows how much their tap-to-panel and guided reading enhance the reading experience.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2011


I'm amused with the exaltation of PDFs in this thread. Let's be clear--PDFs are the enemy of e-ink readers.

I'm amused that you haven't noticed we are talking about how PDFs might work on the Kindle Fire, which is not e-ink. I don't think anyone is going to dispute the fact that e-ink is excellent for reading plain text but not much else.
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 11:07 AM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


How can you read 8x11" comics on a small screen? If it's a panel at a time, that would still mess up the information/art that is encoded in the panel layout (which is part of how comics are timed, paced). I want to see a page at a time - ideally, two pages, like the original, but that's not going to happen - and is only important for the two page spread, while being clunky for the rest of the time.
posted by jb at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2011


It's an issue even on a 10" screen, but Comixology actually does a pretty good job of it.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on October 1, 2011


Q&A at Kindle demo: What Fire can and can't do

It has a new PDF reader they are pretty happy with apparently.
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on October 1, 2011


It's an issue even on a 10" screen, but Comixology actually does a pretty good job of it.

At that point, it's less about screen size than it is about screen resolution. 1024x768 requires a bunch of hacks to get things legible, where 1280x800 doesn't.
posted by kafziel at 3:06 PM on October 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Single page comics are really nice on a 10" screen, but I don't think they would work well on a 7" one. Text on the 10' panel is small, but legible. Call it 8-10 pt depending on the lettering. The 7" panel would be 5-7, too small for me, even with a good scan image.

Double page layouts already have this problem on the larger panels. It would be even worse on a smaller screen.

I also really don't like the single-panel solution some of the vendors have been pushing for phones. Like seeing the sunset through a tiny porthole.

That all said, the single-page comic experience on a 10" tablet is amazingly good.
posted by bonehead at 6:48 AM on October 2, 2011


Single page comics are really nice on a 10" screen, but I don't think they would work well on a 7" one. Text on the 10' panel is small, but legible. Call it 8-10 pt depending on the lettering. The 7" panel would be 5-7, too small for me, even with a good scan image.

Double page layouts already have this problem on the larger panels. It would be even worse on a smaller screen.

I also really don't like the single-panel solution some of the vendors have been pushing for phones. Like seeing the sunset through a tiny porthole.

That all said, the single-page comic experience on a 10" tablet is amazingly good.


I use Perfect Viewer on my Xoom, and that has an option to split double-page spreads to show one page at a time. When it's all one big splash panel, it's a little awkward, but in the majority of situations it works ... well, perfect.
posted by kafziel at 10:40 AM on October 2, 2011


I just took the plunge, and put myself on the waiting list for a Fire. If this thread is still open by the time I get it, I'll try to remember to post a review.
posted by crunchland at 12:30 PM on October 2, 2011


Kindle Fire pre-orders heat up, reportedly reach 95,000

I'd guess more actually - it's been their best seller in electronics since they announced it (followed by el-cheapo Kindle and Kindle Touch)
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2011


I am burning with anticipation of all the Fire puns we're going to see.
posted by grouse at 10:59 AM on October 3, 2011


If WalMart put a loss-leader Kindle on the front page of all their flyers and at the door of all their stores it would sell out too.

I mean, as a control study, put a can of Spam on the Amazon front page and see how many orders you get.
posted by GuyZero at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2011


It seems it would be a lot of orders... Kindle Fire pre-orders exceeding 2,000 per hour .
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on October 4, 2011


As a Californian who registered an Amazon affiliate account he never used, I just got this email:
As you may have heard, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation repealing the law that had forced us to terminate our California Associates. We are pleased to invite all California Associates whose accounts were closed due to the prior legislation to re-enroll in the Associates Program.
Well, at least California is spared a zillion dollar ad campaign for Amazon's proposed ballot initiative (unless they go for it anyway to make it functionally un-repealable.)
posted by Zed at 2:38 PM on October 4, 2011


Kindle App Development FAQ - offering some clues as to what is in and out.
posted by Artw at 10:56 PM on October 7, 2011


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