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Small tablets (Kindle Fire HD, iPad mini, Nexus 7) for content producers and consumers

Learn all the ins and outs about the new smaller tablets, both for digital content consumers and producers.

By Allan Tépper | November 05, 2012

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Back in June 2012, I published Google's new Nexus 7: a general first look for content creators and consumers. At that time, I thought I’d write a sequel with more details for audio/video and ebook distribution. However, I decided to hold off until I could properly compare it with what seemed to be coming soon thereafter: the Kindle Fire HD from Amazon and the iPad mini from Apple. Both took longer than expected (but finally arrived), so here is the roundup comparing all three for audio/video and ebook distribution, for content producers & content consumers. All of that, plus a comparison chart!

In this article




  • Comparison of the three small tablets

  • iOS tablet’s strength

  • Nexus tablet’s strength

  • The Kindle ecosystem overall advantages for content consumers

  • The worldwide Kindle market

  • Where the Kindle experience divides “first class” from “second-class” users

  • Comparison of the ecosystems (and tablets) for independent video producers

  • Comparison of the ecosystems (and tablets) for independent authors



Comparison chart



Here is a comparison chart with details that I consider important (although some of them are often overlooked by other reviewers). This chart is of interest for both content consumers and content creators.


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iOS’s tablet unique strength



In my opinion, iOS’s unique strength lies in its specialized productivity apps. A few examples are ByWord for iOS, Pinnacle Studio for iOS (previously Avid Studio for iOS), FiLMIC PRO, FiLMiC PRO 2, and several interesting audio production apps for iOS. However, I believe that these specialized productivity apps are best used on the larger tablets, i.e. the original-sized iPad 2, 3, and most recently, the iPad 4, and this article is focused upon the smaller tablets, which many people find to be more portable and comfortable to consume content on the go… or on the couch, or even to write emails. The only possible exception I see is for FiLMIC PRO 2, where it might be more comfortable to shoot video with an iPad mini than one of the original sized iPads.



Nexus tablet’s strength



Nexus tablets’ advantage (over other Android tablets) is the direct and virtually instant access to the latest version (and now quite mature) Android operating system, without the censorship and “crapware” often added by the manufacturers of non-Nexus Android tablets. However, as of the publication date of this article, Nexus tablets can’t (yet) have access to Amazon Instant Videos, and there are some other reasons you’ll see in the comparison chart to understand why Nexus tablets (and other Android tablets and iOS devices) are currently second-class citizens when it comes to reading Kindle books. Regarding the Nexus 7 hardware versus that of the Kindle Fire HD (7"), the WiFi is better with the Kindle Fire HD (7”), but if you want cellular data on a 7“ tablet, Amazon doesn’t currently offer it. For that you’ll either have to get the Nexus 7 with cellular data, use the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7”) using a MiFi type device or mobile hotspot on your mobile phone, or get a larger Kindle Fire HD, as covered in the comparison chart.



The Kindle ecosystem overall advantages for content consumers



Unlike the iOS iBooks ecosystem, where you can only consume books on iOS devices (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch), the Kindle ecosystem allows you to see (and sometimes hear) books across a nearly unlimited range of devices, including:




  • Amazon Kindle devices

  • Android phones

  • Android Tablets

  • Blackberry phones (some)

  • iOS devices (iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch)

  • Mac computers

  • Windows computers



This is all possible because Amazon offers a free Kindle application for all of the devices mentioned above (except -of course- for the Amazon Kindle devices, since they are already built with it). Not only that, the Kindle ecosystem currently includes over a 1.2 million ebooks, of which over a million cost under US$9.99 each. With WhisperSync, you can alternate among all of your devices (like the ones listed above) and always have the ebook on the same page where you left off on one of your other devices. But that’s just the first of three WhisperSync features your about to discover.



Via Audible.com (an Amazon company) there are over 100,000 audiobooks available. With Amazon’s WhisperSync for Voice, you can purchase the matching audiobook (often at a discounted price of US$3.95 or less), and have the audiobook sync with the text version. So if you are driving and get to page 88 with the audiobook and then want to continue reading with your eyes, you can be at the exact same place on the text version where you left off with the audiobook version. And that get’s even better for some people, as you’ll see ahead.



The worldwide Kindle market



Even though Amazon’s sales of music and video are segregated and limited to certain countries (details ahead), fortunately Kindle books are available in six different Kindle regional stores, and even those located in countries that don’t have a dedicated store are able to purchase Kindle books from Amazon.com. I have a friend from France who owns a Kindle, and she has told me that she sometimes purchases Kindle books from the Amazon.com and sometimes from Kindle.fr depending upon price and availability.



Where the Kindle experience divides “first class” from “second-class” users



The following extra features are only available if you have a physical Kindle device (not one of the other devices with the downloaded Kindle application):



Immersion Reading:
With a very recent Kindle device (like the Kindle Fire HD which is included in the comparison chart above), if you have the Kindle text book and the matching audiobook, you can read with your eyes while you listen to the voice, and see the word underlined as the narrator reads it. [If you use GoogleVoice’s voicemail system and receive messages, you will be familiar with this concept, since now while you listen to your voicemail in GoogleVoice (only those that are recorded in English for now) are not only transcribed, but you see the words underlined as you hear the actual caller’s voice.] I reiterate that this Immersion Reading feature is only available on a physical Kindle device and when you have purchased both the Kindle text book and the matching audiobook. (Amazon might make this available in the future on other devices where the Kindle app exists, and I believe that they should, since it is my understanding that Amazon’s main business is selling content.)



Choice of reading books with Serif or Sans Sarif fonts:
As of the publication time of this article, this feature is also exclusive to physical Kindle devices. In other words, it’s not available on any of the other devices where you can download the free Kindle application. Currently, if you use the free downloadable Kindle application on any of the other devices, you have only one available font, and it is Serif. If you prefer reading in Sans Serif (as I do), that’s another reason to consider a physical Kindle device. Only recently did author’s get the capability of embedding specific fonts into their books with a new format called KF8 (Kindle Format 8), so most older Kindle books (including the Kindle books that I have available for sale) currently don’t have embedded fonts. I plan to update my authored Kindle books to include an embedded font, and to make my future Kindle books that way. However, many old (but good) Kindle books may not have embedded fonts, and even if they do, it may not be the one you’d prefer to see while you read the book. I hope that Amazon will eventually add the capability of choosing the font in the free downloadable Kindle applications, but in the meantime, it’s yet another unique advantage to a physical Kindle device. There is a hack for Android to change it to Sans Serif, but it requires rooting and then substituting a particular San Serif font but with the same name as the Serif font that Kindle application normally uses, in order to fool the Kindle app into thinking its using its default Serif font while it uses a Sans Serif font that’s disguised as the default font. That’s a very complicated workaround and Amazon should simply offer that option in its Kindle apps.



SIDEBAR: What is Amazon Prime (called Amazon Premium in some countries)?


I became an Amazon Prime member several years ago, when (at least in the USA) the only benefit was to get free 2-day shipping on most items regardless of the item's weight, with the option to get overnight shipping for US$3.99 regardless of the item's weight. Shortly after I joined, Amazon began adding extra benefits, like included unlimited Prime Instant Video streaming of thousands of popular movies and TV shows on certain devices (including the Roku box, the Kindle Fire HD, and several HDTV sets and other devices), and free lent Kindle books from the Prime Kindle Owners' Lending Library, although only on physical Kindle devices. Due to licensing issues, you can only stream video or borrow books when connected from an IP address matching the country where you have your Prime (or Premium) account. That's why some people who live in a "non-Amazon lending/streaming country" go to the extreme of purchasing a VPN service to simulate being in a certain country with an appropriate IP address.

Thanks to my Amazon Prime membership (which costs less per year than what some people pay per month for Cable TV) and my Roku box, I have been able to "cut the cord", which is an expression (at least in the USA) which means no longer subscribe to Cable TV.

At least in the USA, the purchase of a Kindle Fire HD includes a month trial of Prime membership so you can try it.


For Amazon Prime members (in the USA) who have a physical Kindle device, they also get access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which currently contains over 180,000 ebooks to borrow, with no due dates. Two of my titles are currently in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (this number excludes my published print books, which are outside of the scope of this article). In the next section I’ll explain how authors like me get royalties even when Prime members borrow my books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I am not sure whether the lending feature applies to Amazon Prime (Amazon Premium) members in other countries, but at least I know that my books are available for sale in other countries, if they are not available to borrow.



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Comments

Rob: | November, 06, 2012

Until Amazon explains it’s actions in the case of the wiped Kindle and closed account with no recourse, I’m not buying any more e-books from Amazon nore the new Fire HD.

Well, let’s face it it, you don’t own Kindle books, you just get to keep them as long as Amazon is okay with that. DRM is not for customers.

From now on, if I buy an e-book it will have to be DRM-free. That’s the only way I can be sure I really own it.

Allan T: | November, 06, 2012

Hello Rob,
Thanks for reading and for commenting. If you read my 2011 article To DRM or not to DRM? That is the question for today’s digital content producers (please do!) you’ll discover that all of my Kindle books are DRM free.
In fact, I created a special DRM-free because we trust you graphic which is on the covers of all of my Kindle books. When an author first registers a new title with Amazon for it to be sold as a Kindle book, we are asked on the very first page of the process whether or not we want the title to have DRM or not, and we are told that the decision is irrevocable per title. I am still glad for my decision to sell my Kindle books as DRM-free.

That said, even though my Kindle books are sold as DRM-free because we trust you does not legally mean that you own them after you “buy” them. This is a complex legal issue that is not limited to Amazon Kindle. It applies to practically all digital media from any source, including digital content you may purchase from Apple’s iBooks and iTunes, Barnes & Noble, etc. Unless you purchase digital content as “royalty-free”, then you have only purchased a license to use it under certain circumstances. Keep in mind that if you have 1000 books and 1000 songs in your library and you decide to move your residence or office to another location, it’s much easier and cost-effective if they are electronic than if they are physical. Printed books are also often a source of allergens. However, some of my titles are also available as print, and some will continue to be so. It depends upon the particular title.

Allan T

Rob: | November, 06, 2012

Hi Allan,
Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I was not aware that your ebooks are DRM free. I applaud your decision and I appreciate your trust.

When I buy a book I can then do anything I like with that one physical book; give it away, write in the margins, loan it to a friend. What I can’t do (legally) is make new copies of it and sell or give them away. Sounds just like what you said about digital media, just without all the complex legal jargon in TOS, EULA and licences.

What I object to most is Amazon reaching into my home and taking back things I bought and giving me no reasonable recourse.

I value my freedom above many other considerations and will vote with my dollars to preserve them to the best of my capability. Right now that means no more DRM books from Amazon and I’m selling my Kindle Fire and getting a Nexus 7.

I’m not saying anything against you or your review I’m just pointing out that my personal priorities lower my opinion of the Amazon offerings.

Thank you so much for providing a place where I can share my opinion freely. This is one aspect of this web site that keeps me coming back.

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