Kindle Fire Tablet Review – E Books are here to stay

The leader in eReading technology is Amazon as they are the innovative company that invented this category with the first Kindle eReader 5 years ago using e-ink technology. Today e-books are mainstream and are available at your local library. Amazon reported in May of 2011 that digital book sales have now surpassed print sales. What is surprising is that women are driving the sales of e-books, not geeks, this seems like a logical extension since women are heavy book readers.

You can still enter in my Kindle Fire contest as I will be giving one away every 3 months this year. ENTER HERE

The e-book format is based on Adobe’s e-pub format which is basically a pdf with a few added extras. While this technology seems excellent for books that are black and white it may not be appropriate for magazines as it lacks the interactivity that may be required in the future as video, photo slide shows and pop-up ads are added to the mix. Also the file size of a colour magazine takes to long to download in a pdf format. The launch of the Kindle Fire Tablet has changed all of this as this 7 inch Android tablet enables you to download both Android ( now called Google Play) and Kindle Apps to the device for magazines in addition to books. The apps still need approval from Amazon to be included in their App store for this device.

The Kindle Fire tablet is not available in Canada at this moment, but it has been estimated that Amazon has sold over 6 million devices in the 4th quarter of 2011 at price point of $199 versus 13 million iPads. While Apple dominates Amazon is a  formidable competitor that must be reckon with and 6 million users is another market magazine publishers will want to target their content to that skews women.

Kindle Fire Tablet Scorecard

The Kindle Fire comes with a dual core 1 Ghz processor and uses Android 2.3.4 (Gingerbread) and is customized for the everyday user ie: you do not need to be a geek to understand it. It is a basic tablet with a easy to use interface.

Download Speeds
It has a 1 GHz dual core that provides decent download speeds, it is not ultra fast as there was a 1-5 second delay when I was surfing on the web. But what you can download on the device is pretty impressive, Amazon boasts you can download 20 million movies, TV shows, apps, games, songs, newspapers, audio books, magazine and docs. I could not download any apps in their app store as it is not supported in Canada yet. You will also get storage of all your purchases on the Amazon servers as a backup ie the Amazon cloud service at no extra charge.

This is a 7 inch touch screen , so content will have to optimized to read on this device. Most websites I visited reverted to the mobile version which made it easier to read. Our experience at Texterity to deal with this issue was to adapt our smartphone app for the Kindle magazine app . The 7 inch form factor is a very convenient size and when I used it to read my email it was no problem at all, buy typing without mistakes required me to go to landscape mode due to my big fingers. As I mentioned in earlier blog posting this is my favourite size for a mobile device, it was big enough to read on and I can hold it in one hand.

The Kit, owned by the Toronto Star is the first Canadian magazine to have a Kindle App (in addition to an Apple and Android) and is one of the the market leaders in the digital magazine space in North America.

The home screen has been customized to provide a uniquely simple user interface. The menu bar has a Newsstand, Books, Music, Video, Doc, Apps and Web as the navigation bar commands. There is easy entry into the Amazon store when you are in the Newsstand, Books, Music or Video section. As with all devices there is a new learning curve with each new device, but Amazon is making this very user friendly.

Price Feature
The price of $199 is what the market wants right now and the rumour is that Amazon is using this as a loss leader ($18 loss per device) to generate sales for their products. The tablet does not come with features like two camera lenses that raise the cost to the consumer so this is a single purpose device. It has a USB port and the battery life is excellent lasting 2-3 days when I was just checking email and web surfing. The sales were so successful that Apple started saying in the press that they are coming with a 7 inch model themselves. Note: Technology companies usually revert to FUD (Fear, uncertainly, doubt) a ruthless tactic to prevent sales of competitor products.

Rating –  4 out of 5
This is Amazon’s 4th generation reading device, it was not over engineered with features I will never use and it was well priced at $199. There are rumours of a 10 inch device in the works. But as with all devices the first generation ones always has bugs and I discovered one when I was traveling to Calgary for the Alberta Magazines Conference this March as it did not work with the Toronto’s airport wifi system and kept on crashing the device. Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds for Hire also said that it needs volume controls as part of the hardware design, there is however volume controls in the video player software. So Amazon has still not created a perfect device in the eyes of this reviewer, but is pretty darn close.

Lastly, I invite you to attend the Canadian Association of Journalists conference this April 27-29 at the Fairmount Royal York Hotel in Toronto, where I will be moderating a session called  “State of the Magazine Industry – What Journalists need to know to succeed”. The panel will include Brandon Kirk , Vice-President of Corporate Sales, Rogers Publishing Limited; Brenda Bookbinder, VP of Media Investments, Novus Canada; Lynn Chambers, Group Publisher, TC Media; and Martin White, Consultant – Online Magazine Marketing.

State of the Magazine Industry – What Journalists need to know to succeed.
This session will provide journalists info on the market forces that are shaping the  fast changing magazine industry. They will require new skills in the future for social networks, websites, digital magazines and video in addition to print. We have gathered 4 industry experts to help journalists see the big picture from a variety of perspectives: the needs of a small magazine, the challenges of a successful print franchise in the women’s service category, what the ad sales people are doing to generate revenue and lastly what the advertisers want .

Register online here

PS: Don’t forget to enter my Kindle Fire Contest. ENTER HERE

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