How the Kindle Fire Could Make 7-Inch Tablets Huge

The Amazon Kindle Fire demos an electronic version of Wired Magazine. Photo: Victor J. Blue/

Steve Jobs made it clear what he thought of 7-inch tablets in October 2010. They’re “too small,” and as good as “dead on arrival.” But the announcement of and anticipation surrounding Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet may soon have Jobs eating his words.

If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the news, Amazon debuted its $200 7-inch tablet, the Kindle Fire, this week. Make no mistake: It’s no iPad. There’s no front-facing or rear-facing camera, and it’s only got 8 GB of storage.

But it’s not meant to be an iPad. It’s a completely different kind of tablet, designed for the pure consumer. That is, it’s designed for consumptive behavior: reading, listening to music, watching video content. The lack of local storage isn’t an issue, either; it’s meant to take advantage of the cloud with services like Amazon’s $80 yearly Prime service, as well as Amazon Cloud Drive. And the smaller form factor makes it extra portable, easy to whip out on the bus or the subway (much like a Kindle).

“With a 7-inch device, you can easily take your Kindle Fire with you and hold it in one hand for gaming and movie watching,” Amazon representative Kinley Campbell said via e-mail.

UX design consultant Greg Nudelman thinks that 7-inch tablets could become just as popular as larger 9.7 and 10.1-inch tablets, “but the types of applications and the context and length of use between might be very different.”

The iPad, although portable, is more difficult to manage with a single hand due to its larger size. And while it is certainly geared towards consumptive behavior, the iPad also strives to break the mobile-PC barrier by becoming a tool for creation, with programs like iMovie for iPad and GarageBand for iPad allowing users to produce content rather than just passively take it in. Whether it actually accomplishes that or not is subjective (some scoff at GarageBand’s limited capabilities), but it’s possible, and likely that more apps of this nature are in the pipeline (third-party produced or otherwise).

Amazon’s decision to debut a smaller-sized tablet was likely influenced by the players in the current tablet market. The 7-inch space has the least resistance, DisplaySearch’s Richard Shim says. Its direct competition is more likely to be the Barnes & Noble Nook Color, which also runs Android and touts a similar form factor, than Apple’s iPad.

That’s exactly what fueled Velocity, makers of the 7-inch Android-running Cruz tablet, to choose that size. “We wanted to avoid the head-to-head comparisons to the 10-inch iPad — ours is a very different product that goes after a different target customer,” marketing manager Josh Covington said.

The smaller size also allowed Amazon to more easily make a splash with a lower price point, something other 7-inch tablet manufacturers are going to have to mimic to stay competitive. Take HTC, which just dropped the price of its 7-inch Flyer tablet from an iPad-range $499 to a more affordable $299.

Samsung also jumped in on the hype, introducing its Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus on Friday. If Samsung can manage a similar price, the Kindle Fire could have another legitimate competitor.

And just in case it crosses your mind, a 7-inch tablet would not be something Apple would likely ever debut. Apple has been tremendously successful with its 9.7-inch iPad, which flew off shelves shortly after its debut and has continued solid sales since. Unless that changes for some reason, there isn’t a need for Apple to break out a smaller iPad, economically speaking.

It’s also not in Apple’s DNA. Since Steve Jobs jumped back on board with Apple in the late ’90s, Apple’s success has hinged on innovation, rather than riding on the heels of successful consumer reaction in markets it doesn’t have a presence in. Take the netbook market for example: Rather than releasing a netbook, Apple introduced the MacBook Air, and later of course, the iPad.

Part of what’s hindered the success of the 7-inch tablet, until now, is that they are perceived to be more like an over-sized mobile phone than a tablet, “and that appears to be the Achilles’ Heel of the mini-tablets,” Nudelman says.

But the genius of the Kindle Fire is that it’s more closely identified with Amazon’s popular e-reader line than with smartphones, so it has a clearly defined place within the user’s mind. And now that Amazon has made that distinction clear, other 7-inch tablet makers can at least attempt to capitalize on that extra portable, media-consumption angle, rather than marketing them against the iPad.

The Kindle Fire’s separation from both larger iPad-sized tablets and large-screened smartphones, both in size and in function, will help secure a solid niche for other 7-inch tablets to follow.

Report: The Kindle Tablet Exists, And It’s a Big Deal

Amazon’s third generation Kindle will reportedly be joined by a new 7-inch tablet later this fall.

That rumored Amazon tablet we’ve been hearing about for months and months? It’s real, and at least one non-Amazon employee has gotten a firsthand look at it.

“Not only have I heard about the device,” TechCrunch’s MG Siegler says. “I’ve seen it and used it. And I’m happy to report that it’s going to be a big deal. Huge, potentially.”

The tablet Siegler saw has a 7-inch full-color back-lit LCD touchscreen. From the outside, it looks a bit PlayBook-like: black, no buttons and a rubberized back.

According to Siegler’s source, Amazon will sell it at $250 (the same price point as the Nook Color) beginning in mid-to-late November; if the smaller tablet does well, the company may release a 10-inch version next year.

The operating system is based on Android, as was previously surmised. But Amazon has completely overhauled and customized the interface.

The custom build “looks nothing like the Android you’re used to seeing,” Siegler says. The color scheme is decidedly Amazon, with theme colors of black, dark blue and orange. The OS supports gestures, but appears to use two-finger multi-touch, as opposed to the iPad’s 10-finger multi-touch. Without a physical home button, you access a navigation menu to return to the home screen by tapping the lower left-hand corner of the display.

Finally, Amazon’s services, from Kindle, Instant Video and Cloud Player to its Android Appstore, are completely integrated and immediately accessible within the OS. It has a Kindle-skinned, tabbed web browser with Google set as the default search engine, but otherwise there’s no Google branding anywhere, which is highly unusual for a device said to be running Android.

Amazon has long been pegged as the most credible threat to Apple’s position at the top of the tablet market. Amazon makes the hugely successful Kindle e-reader, but for the past year or so, rumors have repeatedly sprung up that the company would be branching out into the growing tablet space, whether with Android or some other OS.

After the introduction of its Appstore, it was clear that Amazon wasn’t afraid to embrace Android. An anonymous source tipped off the world that Amazon was prepping both dual and quad-core tablets, and additional reports pegged their official release for this fall.

The version Siegler got to check out was a Design Verification Testing (DVT) unit that’s begun to float around Amazon headquarters for final testing. He believes it’s a single-core device, with just 6 GB of internal storage. (The assumption is that it doesn’t need tons of on-board storage; that’s what Amazon’s Cloud services are for.) The ten-inch version, if released, will have a dual-core processor. There’s no camera built-in to the tablet. It’ll start out as a Wi-Fi only device, but Amazon is working with carriers on developing a 3G model.

What about the current E Ink Kindle? Aren’t tablets and e-readers mortal enemies? Recent studies say absolutely not; many customers own both. Amazon’s plan, according to Siegler’s source, is to continue to make and sell E Ink Kindles as an inexpensive reading device, with no current plans for adding a touchscreen. The new Kindle tablet or tablets will be the premium, touch-driven, multimedia versions.

Oh, and another bonus: An Amazon Prime subscription, normally $79 annually, will reportedly be bundled in with the purchase price. Drool.

Finally, a new tablet I can’t wait to get my hands on.

Time Inc. aims to please advertisers and your eyes, making all mags tablet-friendly by year’s end you love reading Time magazine on your tablet, but wish you had the same luxury with all of its related offerings? Oh boy, do we have fantastic news for you. As it stands, select Time Inc. publications are supported on the iPad, Android Marketplace, TouchPad, and Next Issue Media’s store, but now the company has announced plans to make all 21 of its mags available on tablets by the year’s end. Furthermore, support for the Nook Color will be added by the end of August with digital versions of Time, Sports Illustrated, People, and Fortune. Current subscribers to the print editions won’t be left out either when it all rolls out, as they’ll be able to opt-in for free upgrades with digital access. The decision is apparently tied to increasing “digital reach” for advertisers, but hey, ad-support isn’t totally lame. Right? Full PR just past the break.

Continue reading Time Inc. aims to please advertisers and your eyes, making all mags tablet-friendly by year’s end

Time Inc. aims to please advertisers and your eyes, making all mags tablet-friendly by year’s end originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 04 Aug 2011 12:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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PSA: Got a Nook Color? Then you can get dual-booting Nook2Android

Here comes a public service announcement: Eat slower and you’ll feel fuller. Oh sorry, wrong one. We meant: Nook Color owners, you can now dual-boot your slate using the specially-created Nook2Android SD card. The card makes installing Android 2.3 a snap and it’s now shipping with a dual-boot file courtesy of XDA developers, which means you can choose to boot into the original Nook OS without having to remove the card. You’re looking at $35 for an 8GB card, rising to $90 for 32GB. Alternatively, if you’re happy to get a bit of oil on your hands, you can try the manual approach. Mmmm, Gingerbread, chew every mouthful.

PSA: Got a Nook Color? Then you can get dual-booting Nook2Android originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 10:53:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Web browser found hiding in latest Nook, no root required (video)

We’re expecting to see plenty of new features crop up for folks that have rooted their new Nook WiFi, but it looks like those not willing to go that far can still expand their options a little bit. As it happens, the new Nook has an experimental web browser of its own, which you can access simply by typing a URL into the search bar. Of course, Barnes & Noble has likely kept this feature under wraps for a reason, as actually browsing the web using it seems to be somewhat hit and miss — see for yourself in the video after the break courtesy of The eBook Reader.

Continue reading Web browser found hiding in latest Nook, no root required (video)

Web browser found hiding in latest Nook, no root required (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 09 Jun 2011 13:55:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Hack Attack: Angry Birds Running on a Nook Touch

Nook Touch Rooting. These three words are more suggestive of dubious sexual practices than hardware hacking. Add in two more words — Angry Birds — and things get a lot more exciting.

YouTuber and Android hacker JFreke has rooted (the Android version of jailbreaking) Barnes & Noble’s new touchscreen e-reader and installed Angry Birds. It is almost impossible to play, thanks to limits of processing power and the slow-updating e-ink screen, but it is amazing nonetheless. Check out the video:

Most surprising is that the touchscreen is actually sensitive enough to allow a controlled bird launch. The display stutters into confusion for a few seconds, but when things slow down again, we see that the angry bird has toppled at least one evil green piggy.

Practical? No. Impressive? Sure — it’s Angry Birds on a frikkin’ e-reader!

Angry Birds on Rooted Nook Touch [YouTube via Talk Android]

Nook Touch Rooting [Nookdevs Wiki]

See Also:

Barnes & Noble clarifies battery life on new Nook, calls out Kindle

Barnes & Noble clarifies battery life on new Nook, calls out Kindle

Wondering which electronic reader reigns supreme when it comes to extreme battery life? If you ask Amazon, it’s the Kindle, but Barnes & Noble begs to differ — and it has some numbers to back that up. Earlier today we received a statement from the company explaining just how thrifty the new Nook is when it comes to sipping from cells. With WiFi disabled on both devices, B&N says it managed 150 hours on the new Nook when turning a page every minute. The current-gen Kindle, meanwhile, petered out after 56. That’s almost three times as long and maybe, just maybe, enough to finally get you through Anna Karenina on one charge — or at least through the Cliffs Notes version. More details on the testing overview below, which we promise can be rather more rapidly ingested.

Continue reading Barnes & Noble clarifies battery life on new Nook, calls out Kindle

Barnes & Noble clarifies battery life on new Nook, calls out Kindle originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 25 May 2011 23:32:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Barnes & Noble Slims, Simplifies Nook E-Book Reader

Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Simple Touch has a touchscreen and promises better battery life. Photo: Lena Groeger/

Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled a simplified touchscreen e-reader: the Simple Touch Reader. Designed for a “pure and simple” reading experience without buttons, keyboards or complexity, the new compact Nook will be available around June 10th in stores or online.

It’s got a 6-inch Pearl E Ink display and weighs in at just under 7.5 ounces, 35% lighter than the original Nook. It’s selling for $140, the same price as the Kindle 3, but not as cheap at the $114 Kindle with ads.

The first-generation Nook is available for a discount price of $120 (for WiFi only) and $170 (for WiFi/3G) until supplies run out.

CEO William Lynch announced at a New York press event that the Simple Touch would be the “easiest to use, most portable e-book reader ever.” He outlined several advantages to the new Nook over its Amazon rival.

The most impressive feature for avid readers is the device’s super long battery life: a whole two months at half an hour a day, or twice as long as the Kindle.

There is also 80% less flashing, or that annoying “ghosting” effect between pages, Lynch claimed.

As with previous models, readers will be able to browse entire e-books in the Barnes & Noble physical stores over Wi-Fi, and share recommendations with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

The display offers 50% more contrast than the first edition Nook, and has a “soft touch,” contoured back, presumably to make it comfier to hold. The Android-based device has 2 GB of memory (with an expandable memory slot that could boost it to 32GB).

While the touchscreen turns the new e-reader into more of a tablet than its predecessor, the new Nook does not offer apps or 3G. Those additions would interrupt the “straightforward reading experience,” said Lynch. The Simple Touch Reader will cater to a particular segment of the population: people who don’t salivate over newest generation apps and just want the basics, please.

For those who do itch for a little more, the company’s popular Nook Color recently got a software update, which includes new apps, support for Flash and built-in email. As it’s meant to be the “reader’s tablet for all forms of digital content and rich web browsing,” the Nook Color is second only to the iPad in tablet sales. More than a million apps have been downloaded since they became available in April.

With these two devices, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar bookseller is in a good position to vie with Apple and Amazon for the tablet and e-reading market. Barnes & Noble has already had surprising success since it launched its first Nook in 2009, and now accounts for 25 percent of the digital book market. No doubt this caught the eye of media billionaire John Malone of Liberty Media, who just offered $1billion for a 70% stake in the company.

The e-book market is growing rapidly: Amazon recently announced it is now selling more e-books than print books. Now it’s just a race for the best price.

Barnes & Noble announces new touch-enabled Nook for $139 (video)

Nook Event

Not to be outdone by Kobo, which just unleashed its latest E Ink reader yesterday, the folks at Barnes & Noble are back with the latest update to their line of Nook devices. The “all new” Nook has the same Zeforce infrared touch layer as the aforementioned Kobo, and lasts up to two months on a single charge. The Pearl E Ink screen boasts “80-percent less flashing” during page turns, something that many fans of the devices have resigned themselves to having their eyes assaulted by. B&N is also quite proud of its streamlined interface which it brags has 37 less buttons than the Kindle 3. Around the back is a soft-touch rubber surface that should feel great in the hand while reading, though, we’ll have to wait to manhandle one ourselves to be sure.

The new Nook has a redesigned home screen with your current reading list and suggested titles. It also adds a few new features like FastPage Zoom forward, which lets you jump to any page in a title, and (finally) displays the number of pages left to go. Inside is Android 2.1, 2GB of storage, which can be expanded using the microSD slot, and a WiFi radio — but sadly no 3G. You’ll also be able to share quotes, lend books, and update your status on social networks using Nook Friends, which debuted last year with the Nook Color.

You can pre-order online and in stores now and the updated Nook should start shipping to customers June 10th. You’ll also be able to pick one up at BestBuy, Walmart, Books-A-Million, and Staples for $139 at the same time.

Update: We just got a brief hands-on with B&N’s svelte new Nook, and it’s a sexy piece of hardware. It’s incredibly light and thin (quite a bit thinner than its predecessor) and the rubbery back feels pleasant in the hand. We were only able to poke around the software for a short while, but it’s certainly more responsive than the original Nook (as you’ll see in the video below). While there is less screen flashing during refreshes there is still some, and it actually might be more jarring now that you’re not seeing it every page turn.

Continue reading Barnes & Noble announces new touch-enabled Nook for $139 (video)

Barnes & Noble announces new touch-enabled Nook for $139 (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 24 May 2011 10:13:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Stream Hulu on your Nook Color, ditch Fitzgerald for Family Guy

In case you need still more distraction from using your Nook Color to, you know, read, now you can have Hulu‘s extensive video library at your fingertips, thanks to a simple 19-step process. Replacing the standard Adobe Flash Player with a modified version seems to work for the Nook and some other devices; users at Android Central have reported success on the Epic 4G, Thunderbolt, and Droid Incredible. When you’re ready to trade One Hundred Years of Solitude for 1000 Ways To Die or 16 and Pregnant, hit the source link for detailed instructions, and see the tutorial video after the break.

[Thanks, Alex]

Continue reading Stream Hulu on your Nook Color, ditch Fitzgerald for Family Guy

Stream Hulu on your Nook Color, ditch Fitzgerald for Family Guy originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 20 May 2011 06:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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