Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
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Friday, September 07, 2012

Why I won't be getting a new Kindle

If you're a techie, or an Amazon fan, then you probably heard the news about updated basic Kindle [$69] the two new Kindle Paperwhites (available with [$119, $179] and without special offers [$139, $199) and the four new Kindle Fires (7" [$159], 7" HD [$199], 8.9" HD wi-fi [$299], and 8.9" HD 4G LTE [$499]).

They're great products, and the tablet war just got a lot more interesting. They're offering the highest-end one, the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD with 4G LTE, for $499 with a 250 MB wireless plan for $50 a year. If this had been a year ago, when I was looking at getting a tablet, I probably would have gotten this one. It's a cost savings over both mine and the 4G iPad in that the yearly data plan is quite cost-effective. I pay about $20 a month for my wireless. But, the fact of the matter is, I love my tablet, it's still more versatile, running Android Ice Cream Sandwich now and not a forked system of Android, etc., etc. Although it's a great buy for lots of people, don't get me wrong (and one co-worker is going to trade her Kindle Fire for the new $499 one, I think, rather than get an iPad), it's not for me. By the way, that's a 32GB machine. There's a 64GB one that's $599.

Here are how the specs compare with mine, from what I could glean from Amazon, T-Mobile, and my own machine in particular (the Springboard shipped with Honeycomb, but an Ice Cream Sandwich update was pushed out last weekend):

Kindle Fire HD 8.9" display with 4G

Price: $499 for 32GB, $599 for 64GB

Display - 8.9" 10 point capacitive touch high definition color display; 1920x1200 resolution at 254 ppi, video playback up to 1080p, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology, advanced polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology

Processor - Dual-core, 1.5GHz OMAP4470

Size - 9.4" x 6.4" x 0.35" (240 mm x 164 mm x 8.8 mm)

Weight - 20 ounces (575 grams)

Memory - 32 GB model, or 64 GB model, internal memory, no expansion slot

Wi-Fi Connectivity - Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks 4G Connectivity 4G LTE 10 band wireless modem with HSPA+, HSDPA, and EDGE/GPRS fallback

Ports - USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) port for connection to a PC or Macintosh computer or to connect to the Kindle PowerFast charging accessory. Micro-HDMI (micro-D connector) port for high definition video output to televisions or A/V receivers

Audio - 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated stereo speakers with exclusive Dolby audio engine. Stereo Bluetooth (A2DP) support for streaming audio to compatible headphones and speakers. Built-in microphone

Content Formats Supported - Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, PCM/WAVE, OGG, WAV, MP4, AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, HTML5, CSS3, MP4, 3GP, VP8(.webm)

Camera - Front-facing camera for video chat/Skype, not sure of the specs

Included in the Box - Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G tablet, USB 2.0 cable, and Quick Start Guide [power charger sold separately]

My T-Mobile® Springboard™

Price: I paid $179 down after a $50 rebate and pay $10 per month for 20 months (total $379); I think the actual retail price is $449: currently $249 with qualifying 2-year contract, not sure if that's a down-payment or special offer with plan.

Size - 7.48" x 5.08" x 0.41"

Weight: 14.1 oz

Display - 7-inch HD touch screen, 1280x800 TFT with IPS

Processor - 1.2 GHz dual-core mobile processor

OS: Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)

Wi-Fi Connectivity - 14.4 Mbps 4G and Wi-Fi capable, 4G HSPA +14.4 EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900, Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n

Ports - Micro 3.0 USB port, Micro-HDMI port

Audio - 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated stereo speakers. Built-in microphone. Bluetooth support.

Content Formats Supported - MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, WMA, MPEG4, WAV, MIDI, Real Audio, HTML5,CSS3, also, with applications I have, Kindle books, Nook books, ePubs, PDFs, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, TXT, unprotected MOBI, plus Adobe Flash support

Memory - 16 GB built in memory, expandable up to additional 32 GB (total 48 GB) with Micro SD card; 1 GB RAM

Battery - upports up to 7 hours of continuous use and 12 days of standby time; Li-Polymer, 3.7V, 4100mAh

Camera, Photos, and Video: 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for photos, video capture and video chat; 5-megapixel rear-facing camera for HD photos and video capture; Video codec: .3GP, MP4, MOV, MKV, ASF, WMV, H.264

Sensors - Accelerometer

Included in the Box - T-Mobile® SpringBoard™ with Google™ 7-inch tablet, Charger, Micro USB data cable, SIM Card [SD expansion card sold separately; I have a 32 GB card]

I pay $20/month for an unlimited up to 2GB with no overages plan; I use about 250 MB a month on average, so I'd be right at the edge of their $50/year plan.

But I did seriously consider upgrading my old Kindle 2 to the Paperwhite version and giving my old one to a friend. Paperwhite is basically a Kindle Touch with a new display that has a front-illuminated light in it. The display's been upgraded pixel-wise, etc., etc. and it has some nice features. What it doesn't have, like the Kindle Touch, is an audio output. This was the deal-breaker for me.

I can read Kindle books on my tablet--or Nook, or ePub, or MOBI; I just don't tend to. I prefer e-Ink screens for that experience. So that's why I was excited. But, the one feature I can't get through my Android application that I have on my old clunker of a Kindle is the text-to-speech option, which has its downsides in terms of natural voice, but sometimes I just like the machine to read to me. Unfortunately, because of the lack of audio output, there is no text-to-speech on the Kindle Paperwhite. Oh, well. End of story. (Sorry, Brandon, no old one for you just yet, I'm keeping mine for awhile it seems). So, even though I don't have wi-fi on mine (I have the 3G without it) and have to transfer my library books via USB, and even though I don't have page numbers (although those show up on my tablet), I'll keep my old Kindle. But, you might want to check out the various offers; perhaps you'll find one that you like that's right for you.

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