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Baby's on Fire
September 6, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
posted by Artw (249 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interestingly Bezos downplays hardware - "Customers are smart. People don't want Gadgets anymore. They want services. Kindle Fire is a service." - the focus on the tablets still being very much on them as content delivery devices.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They kept saying "order today" but the store keeps not being updated.

My kindle touch (just acquired in January, thanks to joining a credit union that was giving them out to new members) is lovely, but I really want the front-lit one.
posted by rtha at 12:12 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Worse to worser. I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption, and the explosion of tablets has eaten the market for UMPCs and their ilk down to almost nothing, to the point that they're not even common in Japan and Korea any more. I think this latest development just makes that worse.
posted by 1adam12 at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Interestingly Bezos downplays hardware

Consider:
Original Kindle: $400 (launched November 2007)
Kindle Paperwhite: $119
posted by crayz at 12:16 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't want gadgets or content delivery devices, I want tools.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [44 favorites]


And in related news:
A federal judge on Thursday approved a settlement with three major publishers in a civil antitrust case brought by the Department of Justice over collusion in e-book pricing, paving the way for a war over the cost of digital books in the coming months.

For the next two years, the settling publishers may not agree to contracts with e-book retailers that restrict the retailer’s “discretion over e-book pricing,” the court said. For five years, the publishers are not allowed to make contracts with retailers that includes a most favored nation clause.

“The Government reasonably describes these time-limited provisions as providing a “cooling- off period” for the e-books industry that will allow it to return to a competitive state free from the impact of defendants’ collusive behavior,” the court said in a filing on Thursday. “The time limits on these provisions suggest that they will not unduly dictate the ultimate contours of competition within the e-books industry as it develops over time.”
posted by rtha at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Apple can keep prices relatively low because they have a powerful grip on so much of the supply chain.

Amazon can keep prices (really, really) low because - and I loved that Bezos cheerfully acknowledges this - they don't make money on Kindles, they make their money on all the things you do with a Kindle, plugged into the Amazon market.

Microsoft can keep prices low because they're just desperate to win marketshare, and they have (relatively) deep pockets to subsidize devices.

For anyone else... well, good luck.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:19 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't want gadgets or content delivery devices, I want tools.


Don't worry, you can have all 3.
posted by modernnomad at 12:21 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That Paperwhite boasts some impressive technology.

If it ever supports the industry-standard EPUB format, it could even be used as an e-reader.
posted by Egg Shen at 12:21 PM on September 6, 2012 [50 favorites]


Egg Shen -- check out Calibre, which will let you easily convert epub files into mobi and sideload them to your kindle. Works like a charm.
posted by modernnomad at 12:23 PM on September 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


Thus why I'm waiting for Barnes & Noble's inevitable counterpunch that runs an easily-rooted Android variant.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:23 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


check out Calibre

I love calibre, but before I would convert hundreds of EPUBs into Amazon's BS format, they'd have to give the gadgets away for free.
posted by Egg Shen at 12:26 PM on September 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I've been rocking Kindle on my iPhone for a while now and it suits me just fine most of the time, but that Paperwhite is mighty tempting...
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:28 PM on September 6, 2012


I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption

Here you go
posted by theodolite at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


Dunno. I mean, I agree it would be better if they natively supported epub, but it takes almost no time to batch convert epubs into mobis on a relatively new computer ("select all" -> convert), and you only have to do it once. Once they're transferred to the kindle, there's no difference btw them and a native epub sideload.

In all honesty, the only reason I got my kindle was so that I could sideload epubs. If calibre wasn't up to the task, I would have gone with another brand.
posted by modernnomad at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am confused because everyone is saying that Amazon has announced the Paperwhite, yet Amazon do not actually appear to be selling a product called 'Kindle Paperwhite'.

(I do, however, heartily approve of the title of this post.)
posted by trip and a half at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2012


Egg Shen -- check out Calibre, which will let you easily convert epub files into mobi and sideload them to your kindle. Works like a charm.
posted by modernnomad at 12:23 PM on September 6 [+] [!]


I love calibre, but before I would convert hundreds of EPUBs into Amazon's BS format, they'd have to give the gadgets away for free.
posted by Egg Shen at 12:26 PM on September 6 [+] [!]


EPUB support is the primary reason I bought a Nook Tablet. The secondary reasons were better hardware and a MUCH better screen.

I use Calibre religiously but an eReader does need to support industry standards.
posted by Malice at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


If [Amazon Kindle Paperwhite] ever supports the industry-standard EPUB format, it could even be used as an e-reader.

Editable EPUB; I h8 typnos. Though I suppose I could use Calibre for that, too.
posted by tilde at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2012


I always feel like a weird old lady for saying this, but I just really, really like my old e-ink Kindle, shitty little keyboard and all. When it finally breaks and I inevitably have to replace it with some newfangled fancy touchscreen descendent, it will be a sad day indeed.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2012 [22 favorites]


I only buy e-readers that can run PaRappa the Rapper.
posted by oulipian at 12:30 PM on September 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Let's say you had a kindle file you wanted to slice into a pdf excerpt. Let's say it was for educational purposes (really!) Let's say you're a little less tech-savvy than you used to be. How would you go about it?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:31 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am confused because everyone is saying that Amazon has announced the Paperwhite, yet Amazon do not actually appear to be selling a product called 'Kindle Paperwhite'.

You could probably get an entire separate FPP on what it says about the market today that failing to open preorders for a new product while the press conference announcing that product is still going on is now considered a grievous faux pas.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:31 PM on September 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


The Nexus 7 hit it out of the park and Samsung is selling phablets left and right - so, no, Android tablets aren't in any trouble.

They do need to concentrate on their family-friendly apps, tho - there's not much on offer of any quality for young kids. If Google's serious about the tablet space, they need to buy Toca Boca or fund a startup along the same lines.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:33 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


check out Calibre, which will let you easily convert epub files into mobi and sideload them to your kindle. Works like a charm.

I don't know about Egg Shen, but for me it's the principle behind circumventing standards in an attempt to control users. Sure, you can convert, but you shouldn't have to.

I guess the upside of buying mobi files from Amazon is that they're not delivering them to you by cooking temp workers in an unventilated warehouse.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:34 PM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


Until they put back the physical next and previous buttons on both sides, I'll stick to my keyboard kindle.
posted by quoththeraven at 12:34 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, those side buttons are brilliant for one-handed use, I can't imagine getting rid of them.
posted by mek at 12:35 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does the illuminated display on the Paperwhite mean that there's more potential for eyestrain? Or is this still eInk technology that is as easy on the eyes as paper?
posted by naju at 12:35 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that microsoft machine sells for $200 I'm in. It's beautiful, it's pretty much exactly what I've been wanting for flippin' years -- a small, lightweight, pretty machine that'll easy carry anywhere, easy internet/light data processing/movies and music, pretty much the ultimate laptop for my purposes.
posted by dancestoblue at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every book I've bought lately has given me the option of either no Kindle edition or $9.99 Kindle editions versus $3 used paperbacks delivered. I opt for the used books every time.
posted by COD at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Until they put back the physical next and previous buttons on both sides, I'll stick to my keyboard kindle.

...t-they got rid of those?

.....I hadn't noticed....................

*clings to keyboard Kindle with renewed desperation*
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:37 PM on September 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


The paperwhite is a bad bad name. You know every single person who ever has one malfunction is going to call it a "paperweight". And that is bound to stick.
posted by idiopath at 12:38 PM on September 6, 2012 [15 favorites]


Thus why I'm waiting for Barnes & Noble's inevitable counterpunch that runs an easily-rooted Android variant.

I haven't seen any word on what variant the new Fires will be running, but it's worth noting that the current one is running a heavily-skinned version of Gingerbread, which came out two years ago. I can't say for sure whether that's a testament to the staying power of that version, but there's been so many optimizations to Android (not the least of which is an entirely new Linux kernel) with the intervening iterations that I would hope that they'd at least try to use ICS or JB as a base for the new devices. Of course, the Nook Color/Tablet is also still running Gingerbread, but all you have to do to switch to CM9/10 or AOKP or whatever is install it on a microSD.

Yeah, those side buttons are brilliant for one-handed use, I can't imagine getting rid of them.

That can be read very different than how I think you intended it to.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:38 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


The paperwhite is a bad bad name. You know every single person who ever has one malfunction is going to call it a "paperweight". And that is bound to stick.

I'm pretty sure that's not accidental.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2012


A tiny machine for content creation, you say?
posted by Aizkolari at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


zombieflanders, TechCrunch and Verge seem to think it's running on top of Ice Cream Sandwich.
posted by deezil at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2012


Artw: "Interestingly Bezos downplays hardware - "Customers are smart. People don't want Gadgets anymore. They want services. Kindle Fire is a service."

Even as someone who's not the biggest fan of the Kindle Fire, I think Bezos is right on the mark here. The Kindle Fire provides a better "integrated" media consumption experience than just about any other device on the market -- including Apple's offerings.

Amazon packages good hardware, their industry-leading media catalog, and a very good custom UI to provide a very seamless experience for their customers. Amazon are selling an "experience," and they do it well enough to be able to make that claim without exaggeration.
posted by schmod at 12:40 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's interesting how quickly I become set in my ways. I'm looking at all this and thinking "God, why would I ever need my Kindle to do that? I can read books on it, isn't that enough?" It's weird to be curmudgeonly about a product that I've had for just over a year.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:40 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


The e-readers, I mean - even the e-ink Nooks run on Android, which means they can be made to run the Kindle app for nigh-universal compatibility, while there's nothing that can reasonably be done to give a Kindle compatibility with non-Amazon formats.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:40 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are new versions of the Android OS hard to root? That's a major selling point of something like a Kindle Fire for me.
posted by naju at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2012


a “cooling- off period” for the e-books industry that will allow it to return to a competitive state free from the impact of defendants’ collusive behavior


I'm conflicted about this. The publishers' collusion was somewhat shady, but Amazon is Goliath in the e-book industry (and also self-publishing, but that's another story). Like Wal-Mart, Amazon has a market-distorting impact that may not be a Good Thing.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I love my Kindle Fire and golly, I'd love me one of those Fire HDs. Time to start savin'!

Even as someone who's not the biggest fan of the Kindle Fire, I think Bezos is right on the mark here. The Kindle Fire provides a better "integrated" media consumption experience than just about any other device on the market -- including Apple's offerings.

And this is pretty much all I use my Fire for. If I want to create something, I go to my laptop. Besides, typing on anything less than a regular sized keyboard is a slow, painful process for these paws of mine.
posted by Atreides at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2012


Let's say you had a kindle file you wanted to slice into a pdf excerpt. Let's say it was for educational purposes (really!) Let's say you're a little less tech-savvy than you used to be. How would you go about it?


The aforementioned calibre. After getting the file on your computer and putting it in your calibre library, it's just a matter of selecting "Convert Books" and changing the output to PDF. (I've done it before but forgotten that I had, and I just opened it up to do it.) Very easy even for noobs.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are new versions of the Android OS hard to root? That's a major selling point of something like a Kindle Fire for me.

Android itself is open-source, so ease of rooting is entirely down to hardware (mainly bootloaders) being locked down. The Fire has not proven to be an easy device to root, especially compared to the Nook family.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are new versions of the Android OS hard to root?

That depends entirely on the individual device. To wit, the Nook Color is exceedingly hackable, but the Nook Tablet, by virtue of a very simple change in its boot-up programming, took months to root properly. If you're interested in getting one of these to install CyanogenMod, the best advice is to wait and see what the reports are like.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2012


The Nexus 7 hit it out of the park and Samsung is selling phablets left and right

I won't have my personal opinion until I've had a chance to directly compare a Nexus 7 to the $199 Kindle, but I'm starting to get worried that Amazon is going to kill the Android tablet market.

...I know I'm late to that party, but still. I don't see Google Play standing up to Amazon, if for no other reason than Amazon can combine online & offline shopping in all manner of terrifying ways.

I'm equally worried about mainstream physical retailers.
posted by aramaic at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders: "I'm pretty sure that's not accidental."

The classic joke is "oh it's not totally broken, I can just use it as a paperweight now" (or some variation). You might as well make a car called "redneck lawn ornament".
posted by idiopath at 12:44 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know about Egg Shen, but for me it's the principle behind circumventing standards in an attempt to control users.

Seriously, if Apple announced a new gee-whiz portable music player that wouldn't play MP3s, how do people think that would go over? [Actually, don't give them any ideas.]
posted by Egg Shen at 12:44 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does the illuminated display on the Paperwhite mean that there's more potential for eyestrain? Or is this still eInk technology that is as easy on the eyes as paper?

The Kindle Paperwhite continues to use an eInk display. It's just been improved with a higher resolution display and better contrast. The display new illumination is reflective, just like if the display were lit by ambient lighting.
posted by RichardP at 12:45 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Amazon can keep prices (really, really) low because - and I loved that Bezos cheerfully acknowledges this - they don't make money on Kindles, they make their money on all the things you do with a Kindle, plugged into the Amazon market.

Slate's technology guy recently posited that in the not-too-distant future Amazon will be giving the Kindle away for free.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:46 PM on September 6, 2012


I have a Sony (buttons PLUS touchscreen = love) but I so desperately want a ereader with a glowy screen. I'm in Canada so no Nook, but I really don't like the way the Kobo looks, and also no buttons. Of course I need a new ereader like I need a bigger credit card bill.
posted by jeather at 12:47 PM on September 6, 2012


Ever since the whole Prime push started it's been only a matter of time until they start sending out a basic Kindle with the first year's subscription.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


This article claims that the Paperwhite is based on e-ink technology . . . but issues the following caveat:

There’s no getting around the fact that a backlight obviates the joy of e-ink being a non-emissive and non-eye-straining display, though.

So, e-ink lovers. This may not be the holy grail.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2012


They effectively already do give a lot of Kindles away for free, since their warranty covers accidentally smashing the things. I know I'm on my second.
posted by mek at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2012


Interestingly Bezos downplays hardware - "Customers are smart. People don't want Gadgets anymore. They want services. Kindle Fire is a service.

He sure did talk a lot about specs for someone selling a service.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Paperwhite is not backlit, it is frontlit.
posted by mek at 12:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've hears the runout that Prime members will be getting a free eInk reader for Christmas or whatever multiple times, it hasn't happened yet. Might have to just buy one of the bloody things.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2012


I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption

You want a tiny machine with an underpowered mobile processor, no keyboard, a 9 inch screen and 1GB of RAM for content creation? What kind of content are you creating with that? Every content creator I know wants (or has) a massive 27" monitor, high end processor, SSD drive and tons of RAM.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:50 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually I do the bulk of my writing on a netbook, but other than a huge display all of that sounds good.
posted by Artw at 12:52 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They effectively already do give a lot of Kindles away for free, since their warranty covers accidentally smashing the things. I know I'm on my second.

I bought an old refurbed Kindle from Woot, but it got smooshed. I called Amazon and they offered me a new model (brand new or refurbished, I'm not sure) for $40. It wasn't free, but it's damned cheap, written off as a purchasing device for the Amazon marketplace.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on September 6, 2012


After getting the file on your computer and putting it in your calibre library, it's just a matter of selecting "Convert Books" and changing the output to PDF.

Are you sure you don't have something else installed to break drm? Also, can my friend just grab an excerpt rather than the whole book?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:56 PM on September 6, 2012


Regarding "loosening" any DRM, I think Apprentice Alf is still the go-to for this info. The blog is a bit un-bloggy, in that Alf edits posts instead of making new posts.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am confused because everyone is saying that Amazon has announced the Paperwhite, yet Amazon do not actually appear to be selling a product called 'Kindle Paperwhite'.

You could probably get an entire separate FPP on what it says about the market today that failing to open preorders for a new product while the press conference announcing that product is still going on is now considered a grievous faux pas.


I don't know about "grievous faux pas", but I was a bit surprised that I (who don't even really keep up on these things) had heard about this thing apparently third-hand (here on MetaFilter via EnGadget via some official announcement, yet when I got to the site it was nowhere to be found.

My visit to Amazon was not entirely in vain, however: I ordered some bulbs. Cheaper than a Kindle, and they will cheer up the house when I force them for the Holidays!

(It's there, now, BTW.)
posted by trip and a half at 1:02 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


We have a price point on the big-screen Kindle: $299 for the 16GB WiFi variant, and $500 for a version with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE. They even got a prepaid AT&T contract - $50 a year for 250MB a month of data. It's a great price, relative to what you'd pay on contract, but there's got to be an option for higher data limits, right? They're selling this thing as a media-consumption device and pairing it with enough data to stream two-thirds of a standard definition TV episode every month.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:03 PM on September 6, 2012


You can edit ePub ebooks with an HTML editor, as epub is basically a ZIP file with (x)html files, image files, and such. Not sure if Calibre can clip segments out.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:08 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


what it says about the market today that failing to open preorders for a new product while the press conference announcing that product is still going on is now considered a grievous faux pas

Surely it would not be inconceivable to the decision-makers at an Internet-based company that, yes, even before the press conference was finished, people would have heard about the new gizmos and wanted to buy them?

It was a bonehead violation of Cegłowski's first law of Internet business: Never get in the way of people trying to give you money.
posted by Egg Shen at 1:09 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Their seven inch still doesn't compete with the Nexus 7, imo. Less than a minute to root, killer hardware.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:09 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can also edit epubs with Sigil, a very easy to use free epub editor.
posted by jeather at 1:10 PM on September 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Narrative Priorities: "I always feel like a weird old lady for saying this, but I just really, really like my old e-ink Kindle, shitty little keyboard and all. When it finally breaks and I inevitably have to replace it with some newfangled fancy touchscreen descendent, it will be a sad day indeed."

Fear not. Amazon still sends replacements. Several weeks ago, I opened my courier bag to find that my beloved Kindle Keyboard 3G's screen was smashed. It's been a constant companion for the last two years, so I was rather upset. Being out of warranty, I didn't expect Amazon to be much help, but after a chat with a rep, they shipped me off a brand new Kindle Keyboard 3G for $80. I just had to ship back the broken one.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:11 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


While we're talking about market distortion, I'm just going to mention that I got an email this week from Kobo saying that they are paying 80% royalties until November for publishers and self-publishers who use their brand new "Writing Life" service (which is branded as a self-publishing tool but which they also have small presses like mine using). I am kind of hoping this starts some sort of royalty pricing war, since Amazon and Apple pay 70% and Barnes & Noble pays 65%. Back in the day, it made sense to pay the bookstore 30% or so of the cover price for providing not only a point of sale but also storage for your books, but I feel like 30% is a bit high for what they provide to ebook sales, which is basically a storefront, an inventory database and a bunch of algorithms which are supposed to lead interested readers to your stuff (that don't seem to work particularly well, especially at Barnes & Noble where straight-up searching on the exact title sometimes won't bring up my writers' work, but anyway). I'm not saying what they do doesn't have value, clearly it does, but I'd be happier if they ended up with 20-25% of the pie instead of 30-35%. (Of course, I am not unbiased, either.) I'd like to see authors getting half of the cover price, with publishers and bookstores evenly splitting the difference.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:11 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the regular spam-free Kindle Touch goes to $90. Almost, but not quite, the price point I was hoping for.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 1:12 PM on September 6, 2012


When I look at buying an e-reader, and this might be a Canadian thing, I always wonder *but how will they do in the cold? Because I walk my dog while reading a book in some very cold weather.

Frigid conditions are a deal breaker.
posted by One Hand Slowclapping at 1:13 PM on September 6, 2012


My oldschool Kindle still works in the cold, but the screen refresh rate slows significantly. But that's just in Vancouver winter, -5C or so.
posted by mek at 1:18 PM on September 6, 2012


Re: my previous comment, that's not even the Touch, that's the regular Kindle with the button controller. The Touch is gone, I guess? Replaced by the Paperwhite? Bummer.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 1:20 PM on September 6, 2012


I still love and use my Kindle DX all the time, though I avoid DRMed content. It's only good at one thing, sequential reading of books for entertainment, start to finish (and looking up the occasional word mid-read), but at that one function, it's probably the best device ever created by human beings.

I think this will be one of the gadgets I keep and use until it physically doesn't work anymore.
posted by Malor at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2012


Amazon drives me crazy with its Kindle battery claims. 4 weeks on a single charge based on reading 30 minutes a day! I agree nobody reads 24 hours a day, but what they are really saying is 840 minutes, 16 hours. That's not far off cellular battery life.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


No sarcasm or fightiness intended, but can someone explain why iPods/Android/whatever can't be used for content creation?

I know MeFi's own cstross has written about writing on the iPad, but I'm still unclear on the limitations. Are the proper apps not allowed to be sold in the walled gardens? Does rooting change anything? Is this something that's going to improve as the tech improves or is it specifically blocked out?
posted by Evilspork at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've just ordered a Nexus 7, should I start feeling buyer's remorse before I even take delivery?

Website has them up now, but not on Amazon.ca yet. Have an original 3G Kindle with the keyboard, still going strong so not changing up yet.
posted by arcticseal at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2012


840 minutes, 16 hours. That's not far off cellular battery life.

Can we trade phones?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


4G LTE. They even got a prepaid AT&T contract - $50 a year for 250MB a month of data.

How long will 250MB last on 4G/LTE?

Perhaps they'll make a significant portion of their profits on over limit fees, like the video industry used to do with late fees.
posted by fairmettle at 1:40 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


How long will 250MB last on 4G/LTE?

My brother's Verizon Galaxy Nexus could pull up to 12MB/s. Assuming you could pull that rate with something like Netflix or HBO Go... the $50/year you paid for those 250MB/month would get you 21 seconds of video.

I'm really not sure what the point of that plan is.
posted by VoteBrian at 1:46 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


They even got a prepaid AT&T contract - $50 a year for 250MB a month of data. It's a great price, relative to what you'd pay on contract, but there's got to be an option for higher data limits, right?

Yes, the product page for the Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE says that "If you need more data, additional 3 GB and 5 GB data plans are also available for purchase. You can sign up for a data plan right from your device." Unfortunately, they don't disclose the price for these larger data plans, they only mention that the 250MB plan is $50/yr.
posted by RichardP at 1:48 PM on September 6, 2012


To use something I know actual file sizes for, a single 42-minute TV episode, in HD, downloaded through Amazon's web store runs slightly over a gigabyte.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:48 PM on September 6, 2012


Amazon drives me crazy with its Kindle battery claims. 4 weeks on a single charge based on reading 30 minutes a day! I agree nobody reads 24 hours a day, but what they are really saying is 840 minutes, 16 hours. That's not far off cellular battery life.

This is realistic for me. My Kindle 3's battery really does last for weeks without plugging it in, even with an LED light attachment running off its power. Whereas no mobile phone with a 16-hour battery would.
posted by grouse at 1:51 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


No sarcasm or fightiness intended, but can someone explain why iPods/Android/whatever can't be used for content creation?

I think iPads are great for content creation. Maybe not for writing a novel or coding HTML (although I have dictated short essays to it and been pleasantly surprised with the results), but for drawing or creating music? Amazing stuff on there. I used Procreate to create HD elements for animation; that app is incredible. And one of many. They're not all fart apps.
posted by fungible at 1:52 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went the Nook route, because it's what my husband gave me for Christmas last year. I realized immediately, after he dropped his $250 on the full-blown Nook tablet that I would have rather had the Kindle Fire because they seem to get apps faster than Nook. Now I have a Galaxy Nexus phone and I don't touch my Nook any more. It's full of free kid games my daughter downloaded, along with some Junie B. Jones books.
posted by PuppyCat at 1:54 PM on September 6, 2012


I like the new aesthetic, but half the storage space of the original flavor? Too bad. I'd pay another twenty or thirty for an extra GB or two.
posted by Iridic at 1:57 PM on September 6, 2012


Worse to worser. I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption, and the explosion of tablets has eaten the market for UMPCs and their ilk down to almost nothing, to the point that they're not even common in Japan and Korea any more. I think this latest development just makes that worse.
This is pretty much my feeling about the current state of "personal computing." My Android phone is okay. It's falling apart after less than two years but not any sooner than one is to expect of a consumer electronic. But I still mostly use it for calling, texting, emailing, and passively checking the web. It's not useful for anything beyond consuming data. I can't write with it because the keyboard is awful and tiny. I can't program on it for similar reasons. And none of the new iterations of Android make doing these tasks any easier.

It feels we're entering an era in which consumer computers are divided into two categories: consumption devices, and creation devices. The alarming thing to me is the huge cost gap between the two. I own a MacBook Pro and an Android phone. The Android cost me less than a hundred dollars with rebates, but the MBP set me back well over a thousand. It occurred to me recently just how valuable the MBP – I can use it for casual web surfing, programming, web design, graphic design, organizing writing – lots of creative tasks. The Macbook can serve as an income source, a tool for professional and personal development. The Android is too small and crippled to do most of that. It's not hard to imagine a future in which poor folk will own cheap devices for surfing the web and buying DLC, while rich folk alone can afford the tools of production, especially if that gap begins to widen, either by mobile devices getting cheaper or the full-featured devices getting more expensive.
posted by deathpanels at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's not really an apples-to-Apple comparison, though; a top-of-the-line iPhone would have run you hundreds of dollars plus a monthly subscription fee, not chump change at all, while a solid Windows- or Linux-based laptop that does all the creative and/or income-generating things you're talking about can be had for less than half the cost of an MBP.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:06 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


The alarming thing to me is the huge cost gap between the two.

I payed about $500 for a non-Mac 'content creation' laptop. A new, non-subsidized Android phone is somewhere around $250-$300 or more. So yes, half the price for way less than half the capabilities.

I wonder if people just don't know how much their phone actually costs.
posted by muddgirl at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


epending on its rootability and whether it can act as a USB host, the Kindle Fire HD may beat out the Asus Transformer Infinity for the coveted position of tablet I'm lusting for but not buying.

Seriously, if Apple announced a new gee-whiz portable music player that wouldn't play MP3s, how do people think that would go over?

It would be brilliant and visionary, of course.
posted by Zed at 2:08 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not hard to imagine a future

Is it really so different from the past? When I was in high school, and early in my college years, only rich people had home computers (and college students who got financial aid for their required machines). I have no idea what a desktop computer cost in 1986, but I can't imagine they were cheap. Now, at least, there are a range of actual computers that can be bought/cobbled together for not too much money.
posted by rtha at 2:08 PM on September 6, 2012


I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption, and the explosion of tablets has eaten the market for UMPCs and their ilk down to almost nothing, to the point that they're not even common in Japan and Korea any more. I think this latest development just makes that worse.

I guess it depends on what you are intent on creating.

For example, on a recent trip, I used my (wifes) android tablet to create a route and find interesting places to go, and then make a record of our travels. I used my cell phone to record the trip from the dashboard and some other things.

With a Bluetooth OBD-II sender and the Torque App, you can use the onboard GPS to collect data about your trip and how your car peformed.

With a GPS tracker and a photo app, you can take dashcam shots or whatever and have them tagged with the location automatically.

Now, this is all sort of nascent - the tools are hard to use and integration is tricky. But the potential is there for much more.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2012


I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption

Here you go


Way to go all NaNoWriMo on him...
posted by MikeMc at 2:11 PM on September 6, 2012


Read all this on my Nexus 7, which is doing the whole eBook/media center/comms thing superbly, cheaply and portably. It is not a Google Play funnel, no matter what the laughing boys are bitching at Verve, it is an open, flexible, clever bit of work.

The new Kindles may be lots of things, but unless they provide orgasms, lox bagels and Islay malt on demand, the chances of buyer's remorse for this N7 owner are slim indeed.
posted by Devonian at 2:12 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do want! I have a Nook, the old kind with the bottom LCD touchscreen. And I hate it. The touchscreen is slow and it kills the battery life. And compared to virtually every other reader I've tried, the Nook is heavy. Been wanting to upgrade for a while. The Nook with Glowlight looks nice, but doesn't have 3G. Wifi in my area is not good, so I'm holding out for a 3G version. This new one looks perfect but $60 more for 3G? Really? Why the hell is the 3G version so expensive? Can't justify spending $180 on that, damn.
posted by zardoz at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2012


This thing looks so much like a Nook ST Glow. I get that it has different hardware and such but it seems really weird to me, for some reason, that the designs are so similar.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2012


The new Kindles may be lots of things, but unless they provide orgasms, lox bagels and Islay malt on demand, the chances of buyer's remorse for this N7 owner are slim indeed.

Oh, you didn't hear about how Amazon is providing Kindle owners with free memberships to pr0n.com, localjewishdelidelivery.com, and beerdelivery.com?
posted by kmz at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2012


I want a tiny machine that I can use for content creation, not merely consumption

My dad used to work for Fujitsu right when they bought Poqet Computer Corp. I wonder if there's still a market for devices like that.

(Also, for years and years and years we worked our way through 3 pallets of little white boxes that used to ship the PC Cards. They were great for Christmas presents and little dioramas.)
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on September 6, 2012


I just got a bluetooth keyboard for my Nexus 7 today. It's even more a device I could travel with in lieu of a laptop. (admittedly I did have to spend a few hours dicking around with a modified version of connectbot, which I built on my desktop computer .. details!) The keyboard dwarfs the Nexus 7 (11.5" wide) but it'd even be fine for typing code with all the {}s and so on.

And Pogo Fuzzybutt is sure right that there are a lot of ways to use android devices in projects of your own making, even if you'll be using a traditional desktop computer as you develop them (for instance, I wrote an app that I've installed on my N7 and my android phone that controls my house's audio jukebox which is super handy)
posted by jepler at 2:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love my Google Nexus 7. Gave my original Fire away to a friend as a birthday present the day I unboxed it. When I used my mom's hotspot in the car with the Nexus to stream Breaking Bad from my home PC for her to watch on a road trip on the Nexus I FINALLY WELCOMED THE FUTURE INTO MY LIFE.

Dammit.
posted by PapaLobo at 2:25 PM on September 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The dangers of short deadlines: I just got an email from Amazon announcing the new Kindle Paperwhite, which costs as little as $XX.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:25 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


My Kindle 2--the one with the good buttons and useless teeny keyboard--will work for at least three weeks of reading on a single charge, provided that one keeps the wi-fi turned off. The wi-fi fairly drinks battery life, and I rarely, if ever, have it on.

There are few electro-gadget thingies in my life that I would care a fig about losing. My Kindle, on the other hand, is the one I would miss immensely if it were to be taken away. Although pictures and maps are all but unreadable, mine is an entire library in a small and convenient package.
posted by rdone at 2:28 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love my Nook Color. Great hardware and most importantly it allows me to use free epub files from my public library. I've bought some technical ebooks but nothing from the B&N store yet. This could be why Amazon doesn't support epub.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:29 PM on September 6, 2012


The dangers of short deadlines: I just got an email from Amazon announcing the new Kindle Paperwhite, which costs as little as $XX.

Twenty sestertii?
posted by theodolite at 2:29 PM on September 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'd die without my Kindle 3 (keyboard) and now it is falling apart and breaking. When I talked to them via chat they only offered upgrades to the new touches. I don't want a touch or to surf the net. I just want e-ink with buttons to turn. When did I become so old fashioned?
posted by kanata at 2:31 PM on September 6, 2012


FWIW, Amazon is saying the Kindle 3 with keyboard isn't going anywhere for now.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:40 PM on September 6, 2012


Amazon drives me crazy with its Kindle battery claims. 4 weeks on a single charge based on reading 30 minutes a day! I agree nobody reads 24 hours a day, but what they are really saying is 840 minutes, 16 hours. That's not far off cellular battery life

A disconnected li-ion battery will lose 8% a month at room temperature, on its own. And the one in the kindle is not disconnected - it's not using much power, but it's using some. So your calculations aren't really correct. It will provide more total reading time if you cut out 4 weeks of self-discharge and low-power sleep mode. And you certainly couldn't read it one minute a day for 2½ years.

Amazon's 30-minuites-a-day metric simply doesn't provide enough information to know how long the battery will perform in other scenarios. I wouldn't be surprised if it were around 24 hours though of continuous reading.

That said, they are comparing the (now) 8 weeks lifetime under light use to the battery life of other devices under constant use, which is absolutely bogus. My cellphone or laptop's battery lasts a lot longer than 12 hours if it's off for 23½ hours a day!
posted by aubilenon at 2:53 PM on September 6, 2012


"There are few electro-gadget thingies in my life that I would care a fig about losing. My Kindle, on the other hand, is the one I would miss immensely if it were to be taken away. Although pictures and maps are all but unreadable, mine is an entire library in a small and convenient package."

Mercy. In the two years since I've had my Kindle, other gadgets have come and gone and been replaced, all without much fuss.

My Kindle though, the slate variety with the tiny keyboard, has seen me through travel, grad school baby jail and all sorts of normal life-drama with nary a hiccup. It's the electronic equivalent of pocket knife: wickedly simple, impossibly indispensable.
posted by Tevin at 2:56 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want e-ink with buttons to turn. When did I become so old fashioned?

iRiver Story HD. Better resolution than Nooks or Kindles (but no ability to search within a book's text -- doh.)
posted by Zed at 2:57 PM on September 6, 2012


I use Calibre religiously but an eReader does need to support industry standards.

Oh come on. AZW, i.e. kindle books, are mobipocket format books with a DRM wrapper; and mobipocket is basically palmdoc files with an extra meta-data header. That format goes back to the mid 90s; it predates epub by over a decade and was hugely popular. There's a reason amazon bought the company and used it wholesale for their ebook format - epub was like a 3 month old standard at the time the first kindle came out.

OK, amazon put a custom DRM wrapper on it, but then so do most epubs - and the various versions of adobe digital editions aren't always compatible across platforms either. The DRM wrapper is required by the publisher, not amazon - quite a few kindle books don't come with any DRM at all, and you can read them in anything that can handle .mobi (which includes my kobo). And it's not like the DRM is hard to strip off, I brought the half that had DRM across to my kobo touch no problem.

Until they put back the physical next and previous buttons on both sides, I'll stick to my keyboard kindle

There's always the kindle 'basic' for $89 which seems to be sticking around, that has the usual buttons.

I jumped ship from my damaged kindle keyboard to the kobo touch (was already a replacement, but went out of warranty and wasn't worth replacing like/like); wanted a lighter ereader with a touchscreen, and the kindle's were considerably higher priced, and the kindle touch was delayed in the UK for months. (and nooks weren't available either).

I have to admit though, having been away from amazon for best part of a year, I am tempted by the kindle paperwhite - that higher-res capacitive e-ink screen looks pretty tasty; if it comes out in the UK, they're still only showing the old touch. Though at least we do get the fire's this time round; the 16GB HD 7" is showing the same price as the nexus 7 8GB here @£159, so that's gotta be attractive in the xmas run-up. (though I luv my N7).

Plus the kobo arc just got announced, that's another 7 incher at the same price, so pick your book store - google, amazon or kobo/whsmith.

Going to be even more awesome when the publisher's contracts actually get nullified and the stores can set their own prices again in the EU instead of the 'can't undercut apple' prices set by the publishers.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:57 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I talked to them via chat they only offered upgrades to the new touches. I don't want a touch or to surf the net. I just want e-ink with buttons to turn. When did I become so old fashioned?

I don't know if it's a matter of old-fashioned-ness, necessarily.

I picked up a used iPhone 3GS earlier this year. The first thing I did *not* do was put any games on it, or go on any kind of app-store spree. Knowing you're going to be carrying something around all the time is knowing the choices you make about setting it up are going to affect your habits. After thinking about what I wanted to do with it, I added a few reading apps, some third-party offline maps, and didn't add any service at all (effectively making it an iPod Touch).

Eventually I've added Words With Friends. Maybe I'll add another game or two, or a music app eventually. But generally, I don't want more ways to fritter away small bits of time on casual games or social media... I want to be able to carry around short and long-form content that's interesting/educational/edifying in my pocket, maybe find directions and do occasionally checking in with others.

I also recently picked up a Kindle DX. It's pretty good for all of those things... harder to carry in a pocket, of course, but better for reading with the e-ink, and with the free 3G and built-in primitive but serviceable web browser, it's arguably better for light on-the-go connectedness.

A color touch screen isn't a necessity for something to be useful. And in fact, sometimes what a device *doesn't* do can be useful.
posted by weston at 3:09 PM on September 6, 2012


I still read paper books and you can't make me change!
posted by Justinian at 3:13 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pogo_Fuzzybutt: "Now, this is all sort of nascent - the tools are hard to use and integration is tricky. But the potential is there for much more."

Welcome to a larger-screened version of 2004.
posted by wierdo at 3:16 PM on September 6, 2012


Better resolution than Nooks or Kindles

er, rather, the iRiver has better resolution than Nooks or previous Kindles; the Paperwhite matches it.

Oh come on. [...] That format goes back to the mid 90s; it predates epub by over a decade and was hugely popular.

Exactly. Amazon has locked itself into a format that was popular in the '90's while the industry standard has moved on. It's clear enough they've hoped to lock people into their proprietary format and devices so people would have too much invested in them to jump to another, but that's a sword that cuts both ways. Once you have an epub device (i.e., any other reader) and a bunch of epubs, the prospect of jumping to Kindle/AZW becomes less attractive. Yeah, I know I could convert... but why would I want to bother?
posted by Zed at 3:17 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just got a bluetooth keyboard for my Nexus 7 today.

I found that the HP wireless keyboard for TouchPad - which is a weirdly good keyboard for non-Apple tablets, and generally dirt cheap to buy/replace - worked well with the Nexus 7 I was road-testing. I think the main problem would be long flights - no bluetooth, and if you used the voice-to-text feature you'd be deeply unpopular. That seems to be the most compelling argument for a Transformer-style form factor...

The Fire HD is tempting, and the price is clearly intended to undercut the Nexus 7 - but then you get into wondering whether an extra 16GB of memory is worth not having Jelly Bean - you're essentially being paid to use Amazon's UI (and by extension to be kept away from the Play Store, which may or may not be a privation).
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:19 PM on September 6, 2012


Maybe I missed it, but no one seems to be commenting on this in the product description... "Includes special offers and sponsored screensavers." Is having ads pushed to your device whether you want them or not a given in the tablet space?
posted by MegoSteve at 3:27 PM on September 6, 2012


The dangers of short deadlines: I just got an email from Amazon announcing the new Kindle Paperwhite, which costs as little as $XX.

Amateurs.

The real placeholder price is "$TKTK".
posted by notyou at 3:32 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just in the super-cheap Kindle space. They do the same thing with their ultra-budget e-reader. But I didn't realize until you pointed it out that, unlike the readers, there doesn't seem to be an ad-free version at all. Strange.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:33 PM on September 6, 2012


"I still read paper books and you can't make me change!" he blurted, drawing a few sideways looks from the adults. Connie stopped speaking long enough to hear him stamp up the steps and slam the door to his room.
posted by General Tonic at 3:38 PM on September 6, 2012


Nah, more like "I still read paper books and you can't make me change!" he said. It was about all he said anymore. Connie silently left the tray with the soup on his night table, and closed the door behind her.

Disclosure: I still spend something like 98% of my reading time with paper books.
posted by Zed at 3:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since a number of people have mentioned killing their Kindles, I highly suggest getting a cover. The Amazon brand with the light is fairly inexpensive, especially if you go for a refurbished one. It adds a significant amount of weight compared to the really light Kindle, but it will save you money in the long run, if getting a replacement costs $80.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:49 PM on September 6, 2012


Some of the newer cases with solar panels seem like a great idea. (Then again, I also kinda love the idea of taking a cheapie Kindle + solar cover and making it the In Case of Emergency Reference deluxe (to supplement paper essential reference, of course).)

Sadly, while I love my Kindle DX, it is the long-forgotten uncle of the Kindle family. No firmware updates, no hardware accessories, no improved PDF reading...
posted by CrystalDave at 3:52 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I get rid of my books in favor of e-books, what am I supposed to use to furnish my living space?
posted by Nomyte at 3:54 PM on September 6, 2012


Awesome to see other folks as addicted to simple e-ink readers as I am, although in my case it's the Sony PRS-300 that I think is the bee's knees (it fits perfectly in my coat pocket, you see).

I just wanted to point out that if, like me, you aren't interested in surfing the web or having a touch screen, &c., you can easily find sturdy e-readers on ebay for thirty or forty bucks. And I can only imagine the prices will continue to fall!
posted by Squid Voltaire at 4:08 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a challenge. You go back to a new friend's apartment and all you see is an anonymous gray slab on the coffee table. Are they a reader or do they just like angry birds and cat macros? It's impossible to guess. Nor can one see that they've put Kierkegaard next to their Webster or filed their Atwood with the EE Smith. So much, lost in the rain.
posted by bonehead at 4:13 PM on September 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Awesome to see other folks as addicted to simple e-ink readers as I am, although in my case it's the Sony PRS-300 that I think is the bee's knees (it fits perfectly in my coat pocket, you see).

I have to say, I got the Sony PRS-T2 for my birthday this year, which is simple e-Ink with wifi support, and I love being able to download ebooks from my library or from other websites. The eInk screen isn't really appropriate for any heavy-duty browsing, but oh how I've tried.
posted by muddgirl at 4:35 PM on September 6, 2012


It's a challenge. You go back to a new friend's apartment and all you see is an anonymous gray slab on the coffee table. Are they a reader or do they just like angry birds and cat macros? It's impossible to guess. Nor can one see that they've put Kierkegaard next to their Webster or filed their Atwood with the EE Smith. So much, lost in the rain.

The original Fire puts a thumbnail of the last web page you visited right there on the homepage, which could potentially be too revealing if they don't lock it.
posted by Artw at 4:38 PM on September 6, 2012


In no particular order...

-I've totally run bluetooth accessories on flights. The plane doesn't kersplode. BT is short range and low power, and hell, lots of flights are ooffering in flight wifi now...

-A tablet is the bet thing ever for note taking and PDF reading and note taking from PDFs, especially if you get Notes Plus on the iPad with totally stole the Courier's thunder.

-Typing on tablet screens is great, especially if you get the hack that allows you to scroll your cursor by swiping on the touch surface. And you know that apple stole the touch tech for the iPad from an ergonomic keyboard? All you 40 year old carpal tunnel sufferers should try it, it's a zero impact experience, as long as you don't stupidly insist on bashing the glass with your fingers.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:42 PM on September 6, 2012


You want a tiny machine with an underpowered mobile processor, no keyboard, a 9 inch screen and 1GB of RAM for content creation?

Apart from the keyboard all those specs are better than the SE/30 we used to create newspapers with.

Just for giggles I got Quark running on my Nexus 7, with vMac, and opened up some of those old layouts. It worked a treat.

Saddens me a bit that the whole process was so easy I did it from my bed, while on my iPad it will *never* be possible.
posted by fightorflight at 4:42 PM on September 6, 2012


No hardware page-turning buttons means no sale. Hopefully the nook will get the updated screen and better glow and keep its buttons.
posted by Huck500 at 4:43 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


...that apple stole the touch tech...

Ummm, no. Apple bought Fingerworks and the founders are still engineers at Apple.
posted by Exad at 4:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Customers are smart. People don't want Gadgets anymore. They want services.

No Jeff wants us to want services, because then we pay him monthly instead of sporadically. The whole services mantra (including the "Cloud" that the PC world is currently enthralled with) has nothing to do with customers and everything to do with smoothing out revenue streams, which makes for much nicer quarterly numbers that are easier to predict. So when you hear the word "service" just replace it with the word "gimme". After all, why sell something once for $1000 when you can sell it for $25 a month, forever?
posted by doctor_negative at 4:48 PM on September 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm mystified by the standard comment that you can't create content on a tablet. I bought my refurb iPad (1st gen) entirely for that purpose. It's a perfect little music machine, at the core of my current live rig, and when I set it up on a little easel, with a wireless keyboard in front, it's a transportable writing powerhouse that actually displays text in portrait mode so it looks like a page and not a page floating in the middle of some widescreen icon-infested nightmare space. When I'm rereading mode, I can leave the keyboard and little easel in my knapsack and just proofread and read through my book-in-progress and make notes if I like. Charlie Stross is correct that the text navigation is a little annoying at present, but despite the oddities, the machine works for me like the original notion of what the Macintosh was meant to be, at approximately the price point it was intended to hit.

I will always have a big complicated desktop machine for heavy duty work for the same reason that I have both a Leatherman Wave on hand at all times and a workshop filled with tools—simple tools for simple jobs, and more specialized, complicated tools for complicated jobs.

For most people, though, I would suspect that they'd never need more than a tablet. Would much rather be tech support for my mom on a big tablet than having to answer the eleven billionth question about how to open an attachment.

"Ma, if the filename of the attachment includes 'exe,' it's there to give viruses to people with PCs."

"Well, I don't want a virus."

"That's why you have a Mac, Ma."

Mind you, I think I may need a second iPad one of these days so I can separate my home and work life and not hand my iPad around the conference table to show a page to my coworkers and realize when it comes back to me that there's a tab labeled fuckyeahzakspears that I probably ought to have closed first.
posted by sonascope at 4:49 PM on September 6, 2012


Ummm, no. Apple bought Fingerworks and the founders are still engineers at Apple.

Just a figure of speech. Man I always wanted one of those keyboards...but $300....not possible. My CS major buddy had one, after his wrists caught on fire during an iternship.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:52 PM on September 6, 2012


Dat bezel.

*shudder*
posted by symbioid at 4:55 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple can keep prices relatively low because they have a powerful grip on so much of the supply chain.

In what manner are iPads priced relatively low??!

All you 40 year old carpal tunnel sufferers should try it, it's a zero impact experience, as long as you don't stupidly insist on bashing the glass with your fingers.

No, it's a 100% impact experience. You can say you like it all you want, but actual ergonomic experts pretty much agree that control surfaces (like keyboards) that have no give to them are not good.
posted by gjc at 4:59 PM on September 6, 2012


In what manner are iPads priced relatively low??!

Oh, Apple doesn't pay much for them. If Samsung or Acer or somebody made an iPad, with the same components, same resolution, same everything, but without Apple's supply chain, they'd end up with a substantially higher cost to put the thing together. It's just that there's a 100% markup included in the retail price.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:05 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


...always wanted one of those keyboards...

I have a shattered joint in my wrist from an accident I had when I was twelve.

I bought a Fingerworks Touchstream LP to see if it could dampen the pain of long typing sessions. It did for the most part, however as a programming tool it wasn't great - you have to look down for every special character you have to type. I do miss all the special 'chords' it had built-in, copy and paste was a breeze.
posted by Exad at 5:06 PM on September 6, 2012


I've given the iPad some consideration, but the glass typing is no good for me - plus it covers too much of the screen. I'd actually rate thumb typing on the iPhone above it. That said typing on the Kindle Fire is HORRIBLE - I don't know if that's a software thing or just a factor of the 7" form factor.

The Bluetooth keyboards look interesting but have all felt a bit dinky when I've tried them, and the ASUS transformer seems like a good option but has a lag to it and feels like its going to topple over at any moment. I'm actually really interested in what the keyboard on the Surface turns out like - if it's any good that'll be my next writing machine.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on September 6, 2012


Mayor Curley writes "I guess the upside of buying mobi files from Amazon is that they're not delivering them to you by cooking temp workers in an unventilated warehouse."

Amazon is just protecting it's customers from bedbugs.
posted by Mitheral at 5:27 PM on September 6, 2012


Typing in the iPad is slowly driving me insane. I don't know if it is broken or what but it almost never underlines or corrects words even when I mangle them horribly. In fact, the worse the spelling error is, the less less likely it is to autocomplete or correct it. I think it used to be more aggressive in correcting my spelling, it may have just given up.

I end up thinking a word is spelled wrong and tapping it repeatedly, trying to get the a suggestion. Invariably, I end up cutting the word, or sometimes even navigating or closing the page, losing whatever I typed.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:34 PM on September 6, 2012


I'm mystified by the standard comment that you can't create content on a tablet. I bought my refurb iPad (1st gen) entirely for that purpose. It's a perfect little music machine, at the core of my current live rig, and when I set it up on a little easel, with a wireless keyboard in front, it's a transportable writing powerhouse that actually displays text in portrait mode so it looks like a page and not a page floating in the middle of some widescreen icon-infested nightmare space. When I'm rereading mode, I can leave the keyboard and little easel in my knapsack and just proofread and read through my book-in-progress and make notes if I like. Charlie Stross is correct that the text navigation is a little annoying at present, but despite the oddities, the machine works for me like the original notion of what the Macintosh was meant to be, at approximately the price point it was intended to hit.
I like the UI of iOS, but the iPad + keyboard setup has always seemed a little baffling to me. Wouldn't it be easier to just own a device with a keyboard built in?
No sarcasm or fightiness intended, but can someone explain why iPods/Android/whatever can't be used for content creation?
I know there are some people doing programming on iPads, but the setup is far from optimal, and seems mostly for novelty. MacOS at least gives you access to a real Unix system. Most of what I know about computers comes from simply having access to Linux when I was a teenager. As for Android, you don't get access to terminal without rooting.

(Not everybody is a programmer, of course, but this is at least one way in which mobile OS's are lacking for creative tasks.)
posted by deathpanels at 5:37 PM on September 6, 2012


I'm still waiting for any tablet to usher in a breakthrough HyperCard like programming environment.
posted by Artw at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


actual ergonomic experts pretty much agree that control surfaces (like keyboards) that have no give to them are not good.

You have to type differently...you don't "press" you just "caress" the keys with the softest of touches...no impact. But you can't bang away at the damn thing like its some kind of vintage fucking Underwood.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:42 PM on September 6, 2012


In some ways using "the softest of touches" is harder on your wrist and tendons than banging away at a keyboard. Consider; which is more stressful, moving a heavy mouse from one side of a mousepad to the other, or moving it precisely two millimeters? The second, because you have to exert a lot more control.
posted by Justinian at 5:52 PM on September 6, 2012


How about lightly tapping your fingers on the desk vs percussively drumming them?
posted by Chekhovian at 5:57 PM on September 6, 2012


speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price [$199]

We're talking about a tablet with a 10.6 inch screen, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI out, at least 32 GB of storage, apparently of a decent build quality, and that Microsoft has said will be priced comparably to what their OEM partners would charge for a similar tablet.

There is no freaking way it'll be $199. My guess is at least $400, probably more like $600.
posted by jcreigh at 6:01 PM on September 6, 2012


Wouldn't it be easier to just own a device with a keyboard built in?

I actually have a decent little netbook, but the problem for me is that the computing world has gone stupidly widescreen and I don't like writing on a screen that's like looking at a book through a mail slot. It's an admittedly minority view, but I write for pages and pages are 3:4 or thereabouts, not 16:9.

The modularity and simplicity of the setup is also appealing, though. The combination of my iPad, a wireless keyboard, and a little plastic easel weighs about half what my netbook weighs, and the iPad will run for 8-10 hours, compared to the netbook's 4-6 on a good day. On days when I know I won't be doing any writing, I can leave the keyboard and little plastic easel home, which makes everything lighter. When I'm doing a music gig, I can slot the iPad into my rig and eliminate the hundred pounds of other gear it replaces. It's an atomized sort of computing, where I string together what I need for a given task. On its own, it's a multitool—not the best at everything, but reasonably capable. I'm also carrying a few hundred bucks worth of gear instead of a thousand (similar to the netbook), which is nice.

Amusingly, or sadly, depending on your POV, I do the same thing with my iPod Touch, which is like a tiny, tiny iPad, but does almost all the same stuff, so my scalability is pretty wide.
posted by sonascope at 6:02 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


No sarcasm or fightiness intended, but can someone explain why iPods/Android/whatever can't be used for content creation?

"Content" is a really broad word, and I half suspect that a lot of people saying an iPad or some other tablet is unsuitable for "content creation" are banking on nobody asking them what, exactly, they mean by it; while another large share just have a specific application in mind and don't really think about all the other things people create that constitute "content."

Personally, I've owned an iPad 1 and 3, and I have used them for "content creation," where that has meant:

- site mockups/wireframes
- creating illustrations for articles
- photo editing
- editing and writing articles where HTML was involved (in a professional capacity)
- making and using spreadsheets
- making and showing presentations (in a professional capacity)
- running queries and extracting information from MySQL databases
- managing a remote server via ssh
- managing my household budget
- keeping a journal
- composing emails longer than a few sentences
- making over 100 Mixels (which are really neat collaborative, 'net-enabled collages, sadly soon to shut down)

Because the people saying you can only consume content on an iPad don't like to nail down their terms with any real precision, their usual rejoinder is a lazy fallback to "but can you do it as well as you can on a laptop?"

We'll ignore the shifting goal posts and respond with "That sort of depends on the task and whether I've brought my Apple wireless keyboard along." If I have, then text editing, spreadsheets, budgeting, email, journaling, ssh and MySQL queries are a lot easier. If not, then no ... a lot of that stuff is harder. Some people seem to think that using the exact same keyboard Apple ships with its desktop machines is cheating or moving the goalposts in return.

The other way to shift the goalposts in that discussion is to suggest that the level of content being produced must be amateurish. To that I can only say "I'm a paid professional who does productive work on my iPad to standards that suit my employer, who pays me pretty well to do that work."

To get back to the external keyboard issue, which some people think is a weird tradeoff when you could just use a regular laptop:

I love taking my iPad with me on weekends out of town where something *might* come up. If I'm out on the coast in a cottage, I can sit by the fire and read or make Mixels or catch up on my RSS feeds or whatever. If the phone rings and omg why is the server not responding or wtf is the deal with those commits because something's borked, I can get into my suitcase, get out my wireless keyboard (same as the one as I use on my Mac at home), prop up my iPad and get to work. I don't even have to worry about the cottage having Wi-Fi, because the 4G connection on my iPad works pretty well in the town where I rent cottages most of the time. When I'm done working, the keyboard gets powered down and goes back in the suitcase and I can get back to my book. For me, it's the best of both worlds.

It's a pretty capable device. It's not without its tradeoffs, and no, I wouldn't throw my "real" desktop away or get rid of my laptop in favor of using the iPad full-time, but it can accomplish a lot. With refurbed iPad 2's showing up at around $350, you can get a wireless Mac keyboard and keep your total cost to well under $500, or around $500 if you need cellular data.

All that said, here are some things where an iPad is no fun:

- doing much with text if you aren't a proficient, keyboard-oriented user and aren't using an external keyboard. One nice thing about all Apple stuff is that the keyboard commands include not only the traditional Apple command-c, command-v, command-x CUA-like commands, but the much older (and more ubiquitous in the Unix/Linux world) Emacs/readline-style navigation commands. Having to edit using touch is a pain in the butt. I'm glad I've been an Emacs user since 1991, because it makes getting around text editors on my iPad much easier. If you're not keyboard oriented, the iPad text manipulation UI is pretty horrible

- consuming video content that isn't mp4

- writing code locally. You can't sit down and decide to write some Ruby on an iPad then see how it runs. There are programming editors with syntax highlighting, and there are workarounds to get your code onto a server somewhere that's able to run it (e.g. Dropbox), but nothing to compare to the ease of sending an Emacs buffer to inf-ruby or hitting cmd-R in TextMate. You'll be changing between a few apps and fiddling around to get that Ruby to run where you can see it. If you're proficient with a traditional, meant-to-run-in-a-terminal sort of text editor (e.g. vi or Emacs), then you can work via ssh, but that's not for everybody, including some perfectly respectable "real" hackers who just didn't come up in that environment.

- The big one: Barring you deciding to jailbreak it, Apple gets to decide what can run on it. That hasn't affected me, personally, because I'm very happy with all the apps available to me to do all the stuff I need to do. It's not acceptable for many and I wouldn't ever try to convince them they're wrong to view Apple's control of the platform as a problem. I think smart Apple users have an eye on the door, because the company has shown little inclination to walk away from the sort of control it has thus far exerted over the iPad/iPhone and is setting itself up to exert (by hard or soft power) over its traditional computing platforms. That's why I try pretty hard to keep all my personal data portable against the day Apple goes a bit too far and I decide it's time to go back to Linux.
posted by mph at 6:04 PM on September 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


I love my Nexus 7 and have much less faith in Amazon, especially considering I hate the locked down ecosystem model. That and it looks like the new fire's ALL HAVE ADVERTISING ON THE LOCK SCREEN.
posted by aspo at 6:41 PM on September 6, 2012


Tablets are no good for 'creating content' for me because the touch interface does not allow for the same level of precision that a mouse does. It's a step backwards.

I work in music production. No audio software that I have seen so far on a tablet exposes as many controls to the user as my PC does, because if they did it would be too crowded for the touch interface.

So yes, FL Studio Mobile exists, but why should I use a cut-down toy when I can use the real thing? I do see a future in tablets as accessories to workstations. TouchOSC is wonderful for controlling Ableton, for example.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:18 PM on September 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I get rid of my books in favor of e-books, what am I supposed to use to furnish my living space?

Outdated Kindles and iPads.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:50 PM on September 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I must be missing something, can someone explain to me the hardon some people seem to get over ePub format? I've been reading ebooks for about a decade now and I'm pretty sure that in that time I've read 1 ePub file, everything else was Mobi/PRC. Hell that's why I got the Kindle I could read all my existing ebooks on it, even the DRMed ones, tho I did need a Python script to convert the PRC to AMZ which is just a wrapper for Mobi.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:51 PM on September 6, 2012


At the (BC provincial) public library, availability of epub vs mobi is about 10:1.
posted by Lorin at 8:12 PM on September 6, 2012


Here's an epub vs. Mobi discussion
ePub allows for "richer" formatting. You can, for example, have things like "drop caps", pictures with text that "flows" around them, or embedded fonts, none of which Mobi supports.

The primary benefit though is simply that ePub is an open standard, while Mobipocket is "owned" by Amazon. That means that there's a much wider range of tools available to create ePub books, and stores from which to buy them.
posted by drezdn at 8:42 PM on September 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Malor: "I still love and use my Kindle DX all the time, though I avoid DRMed content. I think this will be one of the gadgets I keep and use until it physically doesn't work anymore."

I'm the same way. Sadly, Amazon has said 'We are pretty much done' with the Kindle DX. From what I can make out, they don't sell many books to DX owners and publishers don't make many books for it. It's perplexing since the DX isn't "big", it's a normal size page, the "normal" Kindle is actually abnormally small and extremely tiresome on the eyes. The good news is you can replace the battery in the DX so it won't brick like certain Apple products.
posted by stbalbach at 8:49 PM on September 6, 2012


> Since a number of people have mentioned killing their Kindles, I highly suggest getting a cover

I've been having odd problems with my Kindle lately. During a discombobulating chat with customer support, the person on the other end told me not to use a cover any more -- and we're talking about one made by Amazon -- as that might be causing the problems.

I raised an eyebrow in disbelief, but I took the cover off and the problems stopped happening. I put it back on, and they started up again.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:51 PM on September 6, 2012


Amazon won't stop until they have a world lit only by (Kindle) fire.
posted by tilde at 9:00 PM on September 6, 2012


Oh, that's good news, stbalbach. I totally agree with you about the regular Kindle being too small, and the DX being just right. It's a little on the heavy side, but I can live with that.

Having Bolero as the soundtrack for the video was a little weird, though.... makes it sound like sex with electronic gadgets. :)
posted by Malor at 9:08 PM on September 6, 2012


Despite my kvetching about mobi, I'm crushed that I missed Staples selling Kindle DX's at $130 in February. For that price I'd have gotten one -- PDFs might actually not suck on that screen.
posted by Zed at 9:45 PM on September 6, 2012


Amazon won't stop until they have a world lit only by (Kindle) fire.

And all the instruments agree that her temperature is rising
posted by homunculus at 11:29 PM on September 6, 2012


Surprised this thread got this far without mentioning Duokan, an alternative ROM for e-ink kindles that supports e-pub (and chinese).
I have yet to try it, as I find getting books into my kindle no hardship (you can email a txt file or mobi to your kindle, which is pretty convenient).
I think I have bought one book from Amazon in half a year.
posted by bystander at 2:01 AM on September 7, 2012


mph nails it.

Who are these people who can't create on an iPad?

Mine is useful for 100 things I do every day, mostly meaning reading and annotating PDFs with a stylus (the reason I bought one was mostly this, replacing my need to carry dissertations and book manuscripts I'm editing in paper form because, dammit, I edit with a pen.). But with my Tascam audio interface and a good mic it's a fine field recorder. Photo editing on the fly? Check. I use it to copy documents all the time. I use it to edit class presentations as well as to present them. My kid has made really cool movies with it. I Skype from it. And it's perfect for answering quick emails, and keeping my own succinct unless I've got my keyboard case... It's been a huge productivity booster for me on subway trains, airplane flights, and surreptitiously at boring talks and conference events. The battery lasts all day under heavy use. And the retina display looks better than my laptop's for reading. It's FilesConnect and Filemaker and SSH I have full and useful mobile access to my servers and databases. And in my Belkin military- grade case it is indestructible even when I am g outdoors in the Arctic under pretty rigorous conditions where I would never risk my laptop.

I love it. I'm not broke and to me something being 100 or 200 bucks cheaper or even just a little less power and elegant functionality would be no bargain at all. Already feel sure the iPad was a total bargain for the productivity gains it has given me, plus of course I can read MeFi in bed....

Commenting now on it.. .Is this not content creation?

Apple haters gonna hate Apple. But I love my iPad as much as I loved my first computer, a Mac 128k way back in the 80s. It has had nearly the same revelatory effect. Best $700 I ever spent on a device.
posted by spitbull at 4:48 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apple haters gonna hate Apple.

The question mph was answering was:

No sarcasm or fightiness intended, but can someone explain why iPods/Android/whatever can't be used for content creation?

mph gave an answer from his/her experience of the mobile OS and tablet form factor, which was an experience of using an iPad.

With the single exception, I think, of someone saying they could run Quark on their Nexus 7 and not on an iPad (and that was a hobby project - I doubt the Nexus 7 would be a great device for someone needing a DTP workhorse), the content creation question has been framed entirely in the context of a mobile OS and tablet form factor, not the context of an Apple product versus non-Apple products.

Noting this because it's handy to recall that one's feelings (of being surrounded by $myfavoritebrand haters and their vocal attacks) may not map to the actual discussion (of the relative utility of tablet and laptop/desktop form factors for content creation). I was actually really enjoying the thread not being hijacked by Apple vs Everyone, and I'd like that to carry on.

(Personally, the things I can't do easily on a tablet are split screen and drag and drop, which mean a lot of the content I generate using those tools is done on a laptop. But research, note-taking, drafting and editing I do on a tablet all the time... and, like mph, I find a wireless keyboard - little longer and much lighter than the tablet itself - a must for a lot of the content I create.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:33 AM on September 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Personally, I'm looking forward to the day that LaTeX can run on a tablet (without using a remote server to do the actual compiling). Once that happens, and Valve makes whatever hardware they are hiring people for, I will never need a desktop/laptop again.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:37 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sadly, Amazon has said 'We are pretty much done' with the Kindle DX. From what I can make out, they don't sell many books to DX owners and publishers don't make many books for it. It's perplexing since the DX isn't "big", it's a normal size page, the "normal" Kindle is actually abnormally small and extremely tiresome on the eyes.

Why couldn't the Kindle DX ever experience the price drops of the smaller form factor? I always thought I'd get one eventually, precisely for pdfs. But not only is Amazon now dropping it, but several other e-readers planned in that form factor were dropped before they ever came to the market. I really wanted an e-paper dispay that was paper-sized.

Are pdfs really such a small niche? Or did the iPad/Samsung tablet make Kindle DX obsolete by offering pdf reading-and-editing?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:48 AM on September 7, 2012


mph nails it.

Who are these people who can't create on an iPad?


mph and others have shown that it's POSSIBLE, and with an additional keyboard maybe the equivalent, but the case isn't yet made that creating on an iPad is superior to other methods.

For portability, I've gone the netbook route. As light and totable as a tablet, but with a decent keyboard, and more flexible OSes (I'm dual-booting Win7 starter and Ubuntu 12.04). Has LAN and USB connectors, 10" screen. And cost about $225 on sale. Beat that, iPad.

I do agree that tablets will eventually dominate and a tablet + wireless keyboard will displace the netbook, but not until the tablet price falls below the novelty range and the OSes open up more.

I won a Kobo Touch in the spring, and I'm reasonably happy with it. Size, readability, battery life and touch - all are reasonable IMHO. Unbeatable for reading material when camping or on a small boat. I'm currently reading my way through a stack of free classics (eg Thoreau). I've bought two recent books for it, but I'm still waiting for prices to become reasonable. I estimate that it will take 3 ebook copies to have the same readership as one average paperback, so the right price for an ebook should be 1/3 the paperback price.
posted by Artful Codger at 5:50 AM on September 7, 2012


So, guess what? The new Kindle's are ad supported.
posted by oddman at 6:02 AM on September 7, 2012


Yeah, that was mentioned upthread. Along with not getting stock Android, that feels like something you are basically being paid to deal with (in comparative pricing with, e.g. the Nexus 7 - an arguably better spec for the same money, but with ads on the lock screen/a UI funnel to the Amazon store).

(Although at least one person has said that the Fire's UI is ideal for them for what they do with it - consume media - so different strokes.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:35 AM on September 7, 2012


Aw, man, I did a text search for ad and for supported, sorry about the double.
posted by oddman at 6:41 AM on September 7, 2012


Who are these people who can't create on an iPad?

As mph says, the real problem for me is that these things (and I include the Android ones here as well) are just plain lousy for writing any more than a paragraph of text. There are systemic problems that are going to need a rethink from a UI perspective to be a comfortable environment to do a big chunk of work. Even with a keyboard and even with a mouse (you can plug a mouse into some of the Android tablets), text editing, for example, is a distinctly slower and more clumsy experience than using a desktop os, by virtue of the UI choices made for touch operating systems: long presses for selection menus, the dragable selection bars, etc...

I've tried. It's a real pain in the ass to write even a magazine-length piece (say 2000-3000 words) with little fancy formatting on a tablet. It's even more of a pain to edit it, move text blocks around, delete fragments, and so on. Doing tables and inserting figures is just barely possible. Common academic tools like in place reference managers, diagram, equation or plot editors, forget it. Spreadsheet or presentation creation is similarly primitive.

Document reading is fabulous, and limited annotation is ok on these devices. However, right now, in the present day, writing a freelance piece for sale, a novel chapter or an academic paper is more frustrating, takes longer and more complicated formatting and content inclusions are not be possible at all.

I have no doubt that this will improve with time, and I have no doubt that MS, in particular, sees this as one of their strengths of their up-coming Windows tablet. It's quite likely a function of the fact that both major producers of tablet oses at the moment are phone companies. Neither have ever had significant document creation offerings, only sawn-off ones more like MS Works than Office.

But, right now, in the present day, even with additional hardware, these devices are not adequate for more than producing a first draft of unstyled text. Furthermore, the experience of that writing is second-class in ease and time compared to using a desktop OS to do the same job.

Tablets do some things better than anything else, but I think we need to keep perspective here. That tablets can be used to write is akin to a talking horse, a wonder that they can do it at all. That doesn't mean the horse is ready (yet) to be a colour commentator for Hockey Night in Canada.
posted by bonehead at 6:45 AM on September 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


So long as the horse carries on the tradition of fine tailoring.
posted by arcticseal at 7:16 AM on September 7, 2012


A $199 surface microsoft pad? It's the only way they could tempt me back into their ecosystem. If it was a great product (i.e. as good as the ipad 1 was when launched) it might work.
Would MS give away $1b in hardware subsidies to kickstart an ecosystem because they were 2 to 3 revisions behind. Sure, I think they would.
posted by bystander at 7:42 AM on September 7, 2012


Why not? They did that with the X-box IIRC.
posted by arcticseal at 7:48 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


MS with the X-box (like Sony with with PS3) are more than willing to offer up a loss leader in terms of costs if it can result in a major new revenue stream. Microsoft is having only limited success in returning to the smartphone market due to the iPhone and the ubiquitous Android platform (even though they make a good amount off of Android) but I think they are unwilling to give up on the tablet market long term especially if the predictions that tablet computing will be the default computing interface in the future.

I could definitely see MS being willing to eat losses if it means undercutting Apple and Google and Amazon because doing so helps them secure their long term revenue stream from the OS and Office lines. Offering a low cost tablet that can integrate into a business Virtual Desktop Infrastructure would be a massive sell to all sorts of business that currently have to invest large sums of money in supporting laptops for mobile users. That way you can offset the hardware costs with all sorts of per device licensing fees.
posted by vuron at 8:20 AM on September 7, 2012


Arcticseal, that's a great point, but I refer here to a whole horse, not just the rear end.
posted by bonehead at 9:00 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Full Amazon press event on YouTube.
posted by Artw at 9:20 AM on September 7, 2012


...and I preordered the Paperwhite. My days with competing with family members playing Where's my Water and Angry Birds to get reading time are coming to an end.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google is already doing the loss-leader thing with the Nexus 7. At the very least, they're not making money on it.
posted by bonehead at 9:23 AM on September 7, 2012


I ordered mine last night too, ArtW. *taps foot impatiently*
posted by rtha at 9:34 AM on September 7, 2012


Bezos on Android: We Like It!
posted by Artw at 9:46 AM on September 7, 2012


Oh very nice...
Amazon Publishing's covers for the James Bond books
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on September 7, 2012


Hey those aren't completely terrible.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would MS give away $1b in hardware subsidies to kickstart an ecosystem because they were 2 to 3 revisions behind. Sure, I think they would.

Yeah, I agree it's not impossible, but they've said in the past that "OEMs will have cost and feature parity on Windows 8 and Windows RT", which I read as saying that they're not going to try to undercut their OEM partners.

Maybe that's just a lie, or they have a generous definition of "parity", but that's why I expect they won't sell it as a loss leader.
posted by jcreigh at 3:57 PM on September 7, 2012


Amazon confirms there's no way to opt out of Kindle Fire ads

Since Amazon announced its new line of Kindle Fire tablets, there's been confusion over whether the company would allow users to avoid seeing "Special Offer" promotions on their lock screens. According to CNET, an Amazon spokesperson has now confirmed that there is no system for disabling ads on new models of the Kindle Fire.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:59 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kindle Fire has Bing as the default search engine. Eww...
posted by aspo at 4:10 PM on September 7, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "According to CNET, an Amazon spokesperson has now confirmed that there is no system for disabling ads on new models of the Kindle Fire. "

Not like one should have to root one's device, but it was really easy to install ICS on my HP Touchpad.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:50 PM on September 7, 2012



Kindle Fire has Bing as the default search engine. Eww...

Well, since Amazon forked Android they're not using Google's apps, so why would they use Google's search engine.
Bing is pretty good, although I don't use it since I'm trapped in google's ecosystem.
posted by Harpocrates at 7:09 PM on September 7, 2012


Perhaps "content creation" is dogwhistle for ultra mobile portable computers like the Sony UX(490N) series?

It's probably nostalgia - I still think UMPCs are cool, but mostly just as a fetish. I doubt that they'll be mainstream again anytime soon without some definitions changing.
posted by porpoise at 9:18 PM on September 7, 2012


Perhaps "content creation" is dogwhistle for ultra mobile portable computers like the Sony UX(490N) series

No, I think its code for this (a baby crying). Remember all those editorials that came out about how the iPad would be a failure because it didn't have feature X? Where X was front and back cameras or whatever?

A tablet should excel at doing tablet things. You shouldn't expect it to toast your bread too. Though all those microcomputers could warm bread passably, when you tried to make them do something hard and the CPUs would go in hyperdrive. Generally they just cooked your balls though, not your bread.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:36 PM on September 7, 2012


I`m sorry but I think we are just having a misunderstanding.

A modern UMPC would have eSATA3, USB3, HDMI, and bluetooth (and wifi and possibly data through a cell company - and adaptors for everything like firewire).

And enough of them so one can plug in legacy serial devices with adaptors.

Like I inferred, the UMPC nostalgia has a lot to do with the romance of having such a device.

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these things! Wirelessly!

/1994
posted by porpoise at 10:31 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


No.

I like and use tablets. I think they are nifty for browsing and watching stuff. But I also want a tiny device that I can use to create content on the go - I want to be able to sit down and write a longer document with a device that I don't really have to think much about before I bring it along with me. The newest device I can find that does that is the Fujitsu LOOX UH900, and that was discontinued almost 2 years ago. Netbooks filled some of this gap, but they went almost immediately from diminutive machines (remember the original EEE PC 701?) to 10.1" screens, defeating their entire purpose for existing in my book. And now the netbook category is basically dead too, and the "ultrabooks" which are replacing them on the "mostly a real computer" front are, to me, huge. I want to throw it in a bag and forget it until I need it. Nothing out today lets me do that.
posted by 1adam12 at 2:22 AM on September 8, 2012


By what standard is a macbook air huge?

This is just the usual nerd fussiness. If all we used were these tiny UMPC's people seem to be slavering over, then there'd just be the usual complaints about screens that are too small, keyboards that are awkward to use, and OS's that aren't optimized for said interactions.

UMPC's died for a reason. They didn't do anything well, their battery life was shite, and they were mucho grande $$$ to boot. I guess they're still alive in Japan, because Japan nurtures eccentricity.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:45 AM on September 8, 2012


I don't think we really know what tablets are capable of yet. As a product, they are about 3 years old. Desktops at three years old were Apple][ and cpm machines. We haven't even scratched the surface of their potential yet, imo. There has not yet been a killer app, a 123 or a Google Navigate or a Siri specifically for tablets yet.
Drawing a line around an iPad and saying that's all tablets can be denies the future, in my view.

And the problem with the macbook is that it's, what, eight hundred percent more expensive than the Fire. Of course it's more capable, but it's price keeps it (and other slender laptops) exclusive to the top end of the market. Not something to buy as a gift or to give to a kid.
posted by bonehead at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2012


So this ultimate device of yours has to be perfect for content creation, fit in a pocket (unlike the MBA), and be cheap/disposable....

Lol
posted by Chekhovian at 12:16 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey I found the perfect device for you guys!
posted by Chekhovian at 12:45 PM on September 8, 2012


Nothing out today lets me do that.

Then it might be more of a niche need than you think (or maybe you don't think that and I'm misreading/projecting).

I don't know. I see plenty of people in coffeeshops "creating content" on laptops and notebooks And some actually use real notebooks - the paper kind. I've never quite understood the cries of "but but but content CREATION! is being destroyed by [whatever]". If there's not one true device that fits exactly all of your needs, then all those needs of yours might be specialer snowflakes than most other peoples', since most other people seem to limp along fine with lightweight laptops/notebooks, and apparently found the smaller devices you mentioned inadequate for various reasons and didn't buy them.
posted by rtha at 1:10 PM on September 8, 2012


1adam12: Netbooks filled some of this gap, but they went almost immediately from diminutive machines (remember the original EEE PC 701?) to 10.1" screens, defeating their entire purpose for existing in my book. And now the netbook category is basically dead too, and the "ultrabooks" which are replacing them on the "mostly a real computer" front are, to me, huge. I want to throw it in a bag and forget it until I need it. Nothing out today lets me do that.

I've never wanted a laptop, but I snapped up an eee 701 in early 2008 for the reasons you note - something small enough to go to Europe with us in a backpack, but enough under the hood for serious emailing, photo uploading and blogging our trip. It was perfect for this, and I still use it. Linux makes this thing rock. I did find some screen-scrolling utility that made the 7" screen less of a pain. The 4GB SSD limitation can be managed through occasional use of SD and USB memory, which you can boot from if desired.

Last month I bought an ASUS eee 1001P on sale - 10" screen, 1GB RAM, 250GB harddrive. In terms of size, its length and width are maybe 10% bigger than the 701, and the weight is almost identical. (I'm comparing them right now). I've set it up to dual boot Windows 7 starter and Ubuntu 12.04. If you liked the 701 form-factor, the 10" netbooks hit just about the same sweetspot, and are an order of magnitude more capable than the 701.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:42 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


So this ultimate device of yours has to be perfect for content creation, fit in a pocket (unlike the MBA), and be cheap/disposable

Sure, yeah. A device that can replace a paper notepad for ease of writing and drawing, the size of a moleskine notebook (but make it thinner), with all the advantages of a viewable display. Make it cheap enough that it isn't going to kill a student if they lose it. More importantly, make it useful for clipping and collecting information, writing notes with sketches or less standard things like musical notation or floorplans or clothing designs. Make it as good as the paper notebooks that everyone still caries around to meetings, but give it all of the benefits of being connected to the net and having a live display.

That's one reason people were so keen on the MS Courier project, because it looked like, for the first time we were going to see a notebook/tablet that was ground-up thought about that way rather than just as a portal to an on-line store, like the Fire or the iPad.

The iPad and the Nexus are great for replacing the paperback in your purse or to let you watch a movie on your next flight, but they don't even approach the possibilities of the Courier video. It may not have been a perfect design or even a terribly practical one, but it hinted that tablets could be amazing devices. We're no where close to that yet.
posted by bonehead at 7:55 PM on September 8, 2012


Bonehead, I use "notes plus" on my iPad. For version 3.0 the dev's totally stole the courier IP, what with the dual pane capture stuff...and web snipping and markup...its fantastic.
posted by Chekhovian at 8:45 PM on September 8, 2012


And I use Evernote the same way. Still not good enough, the same way WinCE and Palm smartphones weren't good enough.
posted by bonehead at 8:53 PM on September 8, 2012


Notes Plus 3.0 demo video (or how they totally pillaged and stole all the MS Courier ideas). I haven't used evernote in a long time, but I thought it didn't integrate Ink in any particular way...

So now what are we arguing about? That what's available right now could be better? Well Duh. That there could be systems optimized for the "creative class" notetaker? Well Duh. But I doubt that the economic incentive really exists for a special purpose "courier tablet". I doubt that the number of possible customers x plausible price would work out. Its only because of the vast number of ignorant mouth breathers who buy pads for porn and for cat videos that a few people can use it for real stuff.

But anyway, this is all totally distinct from the magical super-UMPC the nerdlingers in this thread are talking about...it seems like they want to thumb type emacs shortcuts on a microkeyboard or some other form of insanity.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:06 PM on September 8, 2012


Oh and two other comments:

I browsed Best Buy for a bit tonight. There was some EEPC thing for $199. A small cheap netbook with basic stats. Isn't that what supposedly didn't exist anymore? Is that model too big for you? Or what?

Also the Galaxy Note could be interesting. I like that Samsung is trying to ram the active digitizer down the publics' throat again. But the special samsung software was basic and buggy. It crashed 45 seconds into my playing. Hopefully Apple will eventually add Wacom stuff to the iPad X. I figure feature creep will demand it, and Jobs is dead....
posted by Chekhovian at 10:15 PM on September 8, 2012


Offtopic, but could we maybe try to do this without calling people with different use cases nerds, or saying "lol" or "well, duh", or generally behaving like a Bieberholic confronted with someone who does not see the true virtues of Justin Bieber?

Form factors aren't like Justin Bieber, who is objectively the best singer and the most beautiful soul in the world, with the best hair ever. People can disagree on their personal utility without it being a personal affront.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:04 AM on September 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd love to see the iPad have improved stylus recognition, for note-taking/annotating/whatever.. I've tried a few and while the stylii themselves are fine, the limitations of the iPad's screen means that any registered point is still to "thick" to properly write with.

The touchscreen input is great, but not for all use cases.
posted by modernnomad at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2012


I don't think think that you're going to find many Bieberites using 90's slang. The sad thing is that that Simpsons episode probably aired before most of them were born. In fact, I suspect that the Simpsons has in fact never been funny during the entirety of their lives, the new episodes that have aired that is...
posted by Chekhovian at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2012


Apparently you will be able to opt out of ads on the new kindles for $15: http://gizmodo.com/5941653/amazon-decides-to-let-users-opt+out-of-ads-on-the-kindle-fires-after-all
posted by modernnomad at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2012


People can disagree on their personal utility without it being a personal affront.

What I find amusing about the {"content creation" personal utility quest} is that it seems to be inherently self contradictory. The only definition of "content creation" that's been put forth in this thread seems to be writing/coding/html/unix whatever...okay fair enough.

But somehow this jesusputer is supposed to be perfect for writing/coding/html isn't supposed to have a full sized keyboard or screen? Bonehead was right that the tablet form factor is still evolving, but the keyboard is NOT evolving. We're in some very deep local minimum here and its going to be real hard to leave it, because everyone knows qwerty. Path dependence has stuck us here, and its going to real damn hard to go somewhere else...

So I just don't understand what you want exactly...and I don't think you do either.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the disconnect is over the difference between the pure mechanism 'writing' or 'html' and the process behind it. "HTML" may also include graphic design (which includes collecting inspiration, sketching, etc). "Writing" may include collecting inspiration, doodling, drawing mind maps, etc.

These sorts of things are currently easy to do in a paper notebook, but hard to archive, sort, and search. I don't think it's unreasonable to dream of a system where, as a programmer, I could on the same device sketch out a flow diagram by hand, then step by step convert that flow diagram into functions. Or as a writer to sketch a mind map and then turn each bubble on the map into a paragraph or chapter that's linked back to the original map.

That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about when I talk about content creation, and for awhile it seemed like tablets were going to marry the function of sketching and typing (with those screens that could be turned around), but they were too bulky and too expensive.
posted by muddgirl at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I'd really like is some sort of super-portable collapsible frame that would let me mount the tablet with its top edge at eye level. Then, with an external keyboard, I have pretty much all the comforts of a desktop when and where I want it.
posted by Zed at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


and for awhile it seemed like tablets were going to marry the function of sketching and typing (with those screens that could be turned around), but they were too bulky and too expensive.

I am typing this response on my 3rd tablet PC, whose tablet functions I use about 3 times a year. It was the same way with the previous two tablet PCs...but I keep buying them...or at least I did until I got my iPad. The iPad is nominally much worse for Pen Computing. Its passive digitizer sucks and it can't automatically distinguish wrist/hand from pen tip. But I use the iPad Ink stuff all the damn time. part of it is form and weight, its thin enough to rest on a surface and be written on easily, its light enough to lug around without problem all day long, and the battery lasts all day, so no charger lugging + looking for an outlet.

And the software isn't windows + a couple slight accommodations to "pen input", its something geared for touch interaction.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2012


What I'd really like is some sort of super-portable collapsible frame that would let me mount the tablet with its top edge at eye level.

I know what you mean - there are desktop stands for tablets, but most of them seem to major on being solid chunks of milled metal that will stay in one place and look good next to your MacBook Pro or iMac - things like the Stabile.

There are some fairly portable telescoping stands - the GorillaMobile Ori and the Vue Stand both raise the tablet in much the same way, and the Ori doubles as a case. For something more luggable than super-portable, there's the 3lb o-Stand, which has more adjustability... I tend to like the convenience of a multi-purpose case, though...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2012


Cool -- thanks -- I didn't know anything like that actually existed!
posted by Zed at 1:48 PM on September 9, 2012


Every body's idea of content creation is going to be different. For me I need a pressure sensitive stylus and the ability to run desktop applications is a big plus but I know I'm in a fairly small niche. For the past couple years I've been using a ASUS Eee Slate and it lets me use Sketchbook Pro, Maya, Zbrush and Photoshop on the go. The battery life could be better but it'll pretty much do anything I want.
posted by the_artificer at 2:50 PM on September 9, 2012


Does anyone else find it annoying the prime library only lets you borrow one book a month? Who reads one book a month?
posted by sidewinder at 10:47 PM on September 9, 2012


Kindle Fire HD 7" - "Software is a bit laggy."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:14 AM on September 10, 2012


Does anyone else find it annoying the prime library only lets you borrow one book a month?

Not really; Amazon is a store, not a library - their purpose is to make money off me. If your (public) library is set up to lend ebooks, you can borrow more than one a month (though still only one at a time, I believe, though I could be wrong about that).
posted by rtha at 6:44 AM on September 10, 2012


If your (public) library is set up to lend ebooks, you can borrow more than one a month (though still only one at a time, I believe, though I could be wrong about that).

The Seattle Public Library lets me check out 25 items for up to three weeks. The Kindle Owners' Lending Library lets me check out one item indefinitely, but only once a month. The thing about the KOLL is the collection is not very good. Here's an AskMe on finding books from the KOLL.
posted by grouse at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2012


Isn't the Galaxy Note aimed at bridging the divide between content-creating paper notebook and content-consuming tablet?

Or is it another crossover that does neither thing well?
posted by notyou at 9:10 AM on September 10, 2012


The Note is apparently selling quite well, and is one of Samsung's hit for this year, though it faced a lot of scoffing from the usual partisans when it first came out. It's interesting that it seems to attract more attention from women
who aren't as put off by the larger size as men apparently are. Is the size of an iPhone or a Galaxy Nexus a gendered decision?

I think it is absolutely an exploratory device. Its relative success is a little harder to interpret: is it the size or the stylus or both that makes it popular? I think we need more data points. People do seem to respond to it though.
posted by bonehead at 10:44 AM on September 10, 2012


I think women might be more likely to have a place to put a bigger device. For an everyday piece of equipment like a phone, you have to be able to carry it with you whenever you go out. Purses/handbags are standard-issue female dress, while men by and large can't count on having anything more capacious than a pants pocket.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:54 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now I see that's basically what the linked article says. Still, it seems quite practical to me.

(says the guy who owns only pants whose pockets comfortably fit a Nexus 7)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:55 AM on September 10, 2012


Dammit, HZSF, you beat me to it. I played with the Samsung Galaxy Tab recently, which is the tablet version. It was pretty cool. Active Digitizer was great. The software tried...but at least in 10 minutes of tooling around I wasn't impressed with its range/stability. Honestly it reminds me of the old Sony VAIO computers that would have a lot of Sony special software grafted on to try and fix problems with windows, but the Sony software would of course have its own problems and limitations.

On a side note, I started wearing Carpenter's Jeans because the tool pockets work really well for phones...and I can carry a hammer should the need ever arise.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2012


I played with the Samsung Galaxy Tab recently, which is the tablet version.

There's actually also a tablet version of the Note now - the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Which would normally have one running for the hills, screaming "stop competing against your own hero brand, you fools!", but given the circumstances it might make sense for them to have a couple of irons in the tablet fire, and presumably a tablet with a built-in pen-holder scores points for novelty...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:41 PM on September 10, 2012


Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Ah, okay, that's the I played with, not the galaxy tab. Jesus, their naming is stupid. It had some, cool features, OS wide drop down box things for writing notes, some kind of multiple pane view, etc. They seemed rudimentary though, without fine levels of refinement, at least in the little it of time I spent toying with it.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:37 PM on September 10, 2012


rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event)

Or possibly not...

iPad Mini Debate: Is iPad Mini a Myth or Real?
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on September 24, 2012


The bit about the iPod Touch is the most convincing part of the argument to me:
Apple has decided to price the new iPod touch starting at $299, and no matter how you massage the prices, this doesn't leave much room for the iPad Mini. Would the market support a price of $350 when a full-sized iPad 2 costs $399, and the latest model only another $100?
Apple definitely doubled down on the iPod Touch with the new redesign, and the $100 window between it and an entry-level iPad doesn't leave much room for a Mini. But that ignores one possibility – Apple could simply retire the iPad 2. Use the entry-level tablet price for a “more portable,” Retina-tastic model and stop producing the old version entirely.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:35 AM on September 24, 2012


The iPod touch has never really been the star of Apple's line up, but it's a damn good product. I'd actually have been very surprised to see them ditch it - though perhaps having it sit at a size between iPhone and iPad would have made sense.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on September 24, 2012


Apple could simply retire the iPad 2. Use the entry-level tablet price for a “more portable,” Retina-tastic model and stop producing the old version entirely.

That makes a lot of sense. Just to give us something to laugh about in a few weeks, my guess is $399 for a 16 GB, wifi-only iPad mini, with the same specs as the iPad 2. (ie, front and back facing cameras, 1024x768 display.)
posted by jcreigh at 3:57 PM on September 24, 2012




I don't like reading on a phone screen but will if pressed. I'm a Nook favourer, but don't have any of the tablets. I do wish, though, that the little "loop" form was on on all Nooks; I'd cable it to my kids' backpacks and send them off with them constantly.
posted by tilde at 4:16 PM on September 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


WIRED reviews the Paperwhite.
posted by Artw at 9:27 PM on September 30, 2012


My iPad 2 is asking me to upgrade to iOS 6. At first I lol'd, but then I realized I rarely (but sometimes) use Google Maps on the iPad anyway. I have an Android Galaxy Nexus for that. Are there any reasons to actually upgrade to iOS 6?
posted by grouse at 8:26 AM on October 1, 2012


I think minus the maps debacle, iOS6 is perfectly fine as an upgrade, so I wouldn't have an issue sticking it on an iPad not used for mapping. The improved app store I think is worth it alone (you no longer have to type in your password every time just download an update to an existing app).
posted by modernnomad at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2012


As soon as I read the title of that Wired review, I knew someone would correct it in the comments to "well-lit".

People are awful.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:40 PM on October 1, 2012


When one sets out to pursue the great fish, as the punster responsible for that Wired headline clearly has, one must possess both the wit to capture the prize and the strength to endure the sharkbites that follow.
posted by notyou at 9:25 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The pun also rises.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:12 AM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]




I got my new paperwhite yesterday and stayed up much too late loading books and organizing things, and of course, testing the read-in-the-dark-ability.

It's smaller than the old touch, and heavier, but not unpleasantly so. It feels solid in the way a well-made regular book does. I also ordered the new case (with the magnetic closure and auto sleep/wake); it lacks the very awesome hand strap I have on my old case, but I can live without it or just make my own.

And the front light is pretty great. It does do that thing that I guess the Nook also does, in that at the bottom of the screen the light is kind of....bumpy, if that makes sense. But it's smooth and even over the vast majority of the screen, and it's very easy to change the brightness level. There are a couple new fonts and I'm still test-driving them in combination with size and lighting level.

In conclusion, I love it. I'll never give up actual books, but the kindle is really one of those "I'm living in the future!" pieces of tech.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on October 4, 2012 [3 favorites]




And we're on again... Apple reportedly has an 'iPad Mini' in production
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on October 4, 2012


rtha - if you check back to this thread - just curious how does the font compare? I need to read on a slightly larger text size to read comfortably and I've heard that the PW fonts aren't as dark and readable as the previous versions.

Also, dumb question: It is still e-ink right? I can't read on back lit devices for very long. And my poor lamented Kindle Keyboard has half a broken back now held together by hockey tape.
posted by kanata at 4:42 PM on October 4, 2012


Still e-ink, yep. And there are (I think) 2 new fonts, for a total of six, both serif and sans, and the range of sizes goes from tiny to REALLY QUITE LARGE. During last night's read-in-the-dark test, I found that turning the brightness down to just below the halfway mark and increasing the font size by one was pretty perfect. The screen and fonts are noticeably more crisp than on my old Touch. (The paperwhite I have is the ad-supported wifi-only one, since 98% of my life is lived in wifi zones.) hope this helps; happy to answer anything else.
posted by rtha at 5:47 PM on October 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tsk. Mine is beautifully showing me a "it is taking longer than expected to register your Kindle" message - I suspect a lot of people got home drone work and opened boxes.
posted by Artw at 6:44 PM on October 4, 2012


Display is great BTW - a tiny bit of bloom at the bottom but if people hadn't mentioned it I doubt I'd notice. Better than the Nook I'd say.
posted by Artw at 6:45 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best thing about the front-lit thing I've just discovered: reading in low light. Not total dark, like when your sweetie is asleep next to you; but in a dim room, or outside at dusk. Brilliant, crisp, utterly readable.
posted by rtha at 6:51 PM on October 4, 2012


Registered, and basically everything rtha was saying. This thing is great.
posted by Artw at 8:11 PM on October 4, 2012


Apparently the lighting issue (uneven at the bottom of the screen) is a known "issue" for which Amazon is offering replacements, though they can't guarantee that the replacements will be "issue"-free. Discussion and pix on reddit.

I'm keeping mine because I barely notice it.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on October 5, 2012


Interesting. I thought it was pretty common for this approach.

It's kind of interesting going into and out of the light with the backlight down low... That's probably the way I'm most likely to use it.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on October 5, 2012


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