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Which Kindle Models Have Our Readers Been Ordering?

KindleFireFamilyBannerJust in case you are wondering, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at which of the new (and previously offered) Kindles our Kindle Nation Daily readers have been ordering most often during the 15 days since Amazon’s September 6 press conference. We shan’t disclose any actual numbers, and we’ll hasten to aver that this particular offering of crowd-sourced information is anecdotal rather than scientific, but just below we offer a percentage breakdown of Kindle hardware orders placed after visits to our website for anyone who is curious. And if you are more interested in comparing the actual features and specs on the various Kindle offers, just click here or on the image above right.

Kindle Keyboard 3G – $139-159        3%
Kindle Paperwhite 3G – $179-199       13%
Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi Only – $119-139       12%
Kindle Basic  – $69-89     1%

Total eInk + Paperwhite Kindle eReaders        29%

Kindle Fire 7″ – $159       5%
Kindle Fire HD 7″ – 16 GB – $199       30%
Kindle Fire HD 7″ – 32 GB – $249         5%
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 32 GB – $499    10%
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE 64 GB – $599      8%
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ – WiFi 16 GB – $299         8%
Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ – WiFi 32 GB – $369         5%

Total Kindle Fires       71%

Keeping Score on Our Checklist of Desirable Features for the Kindle Fire HD

Our Kindle Fire editor April Hamilton has been doing a splendid job of reviewing the brand new Kindle Fire HD models which are now shipping for $199 from Amazon, so there’s not all that much for me to add here to her posts which have been coming out nearly every day lately on our site. If you haven’t been keeping up April’s posts you may be missing some very thorough and helpful reporting, including:

  • Yesterday, Sept. 19 – Great News! Text-to-Speech Better than ever, now live on the Kindle Fire HD! Get the details in April Hamilton’s helpful new Video Post: 3 Ways Your Kindle Fire HD Can Read Aloud To You, Including Text To Speech! http://bit.ly/S7JquC
  • Sept. 18 – Kindle Fire HD vs. Kindle Fire: Software and Functionality – plus, Text to Speech on the Fire! http://bit.ly/PwZO5i
  • Sept. 17 – “The New Kindle Fire HD vs. the First-Generation Kindle Fire: Our First KND Hardware Review http://bit.ly/FIRE-HD-on-KND-Hardware

Present and future Fire owners can keep up with all of April’s full-court coverage if they make sure to “like” our Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily Facebook page for daily tips and great content at great prices – http://www.facebook.com/KindleFire.at.KindleNationDaily

So as April regroups today I’ll pinch-hit by focusing on the quick checklist that we posted before the launch of features that we felt might be part of a new Kindle Fire tablet that could potentially dominate the table market, and offer a quick appraisal of Amazon’s progress for those keeping score at home. Here’s what we said Amazon had to do, and in each case, here’s what they have done with the new $199 7″ Kindle Fire HD (herein called the KFHD7:

  • Slim it down – the KFHD is about 11% thinner than the old KF, slimming down from 0.45″ to 0.4″
  • Lighten it up – the KFHD is about 4% lighter than the old KF, 13.9 ounces compared to 14.6 ounces
  • Improve screen resolution – the KFHD display boasts 1280×800, up to 720p HD compared to 1024 x 600 pixel resolution for the old KF
  • Speed up the processor – the KFHD has a Dual-core, 1.2GHz OMAP4460 processor, much faster than the old KF dual-core processor
  • Improve web functionality with less reliance on truncated “mobile” representations – Early usage indicates much improved web functionality for the KFHD, including the capacity to set desktop rather than mobile mode under settings
  • Allow an SD Card – Not yet, probably decreasing in importance with improved onboard and cloud storage plus faster streaming
  • Offer 3G/4G wireless connectivity, possibly free with Amazon Prime – Coming in a very exciting package with the 4G LTE 8.9″ Kindle Fire that will ship Nov. 20 for $499 to $599 with a $50 first-year cost for the data plan
  • Keep the $199 price point for the new 7” Fire and offer a larger Fire for under $250 – 2 out of 3 with KFHD7 at $199, new KF7 at $159, and 8.9″ KFHD at $299
  • Allow greater user control of font sizes on the web and in apps – Vast improvement
  • Allow full input/output functionality for apps such as Google Docs/Google Drive documents – Limited improvement
  • Enhance curb appeal so that the Fire looks and feels as good as the Nexus 7 – Mission accomplished
  • Add external volume controls – Mission accomplished, although we’d prefer the volume control and power buttons to be just a tiny bit more discoverable to touch
  • Provide camera functionality similar to that on the iPhone – Front-facing HD camera only
  • Provide Siri/Iris Capability that hits the sweet spot both for information and for commerce – Not yet
  • Add a microphone – Built in microphone, which I will admit I have not used or tested yet
  • Add Text-to-Speech – Mission accomplished in an amazing array of improved TTS plus Whispersync with Audible.com
  • Place the power switch (and an external volume control) on the upper right edge – Upper middle edge, could be just a tiny bit more discoverable to touch
  • Allow greater user personalization and customization – We’ll get back to you on this
  • Add full-featured GPS for a 3G or 4G model – We’ll get back to you on this
  • Add maximum Android platform compatibility – Not yet
  • Add access to Google’s Android Market – Not yet
  • Seize every available opportunity to make the Fire a replacement for netbooks and notebook computers – Definitely some progress here, but the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD will be the real test.

All in all? It’s not just a home run. It’s a grand slam.

And the good news is that, of course, Amazon added all kinds of things that were not even on our checklist, like Bluetooth for audio and a keyboard (yes! but it’s just sitting dormant on the device for now, without a keyboard offering that we know of … yet), Dolby audio; dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (and 10-band wifi coming on the 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD); anti-glare technology; Kindle FreeTime personalization for kids (and other family members!) and much more!


Video Post: Whispersync for Voice, Immersive Reading and Text to Speech on the Kindle Fire HD!

Here’s a video post from Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily, another in our family of KND sites.

There are some features of the new Kindle Fire HD that simply must be seen to be fully understood and appreciated, so we’re kicking off a series of video posts demonstrating those features today with one on the topic of all the ways your Kindle Fire HD can read your Kindle books aloud to you.

In the video, our Editor in Chief April Hamilton demonstrates these three options.

Whispersync for Voice – This new feature allows you to switch between the Audible audiobook and Kindle book editions whenever you like, and each format “remembers” where you left off in the other!

Immersive Reading Technology – this is similar to Text to Speech, but instead of having a computerized voice read the Kindle book to you, when you own the Audible edition you will hear that version of narration instead, and the Kindle book text will be highlighted as the narration progresses.

These first two features require that you own both the Kindle and Audible formats of a given book, so Amazon has begun offering special bundling discounts on Kindle books with an Audible audiobook edition available. After purchasing the Kindle edition, you’ll be given the option to purchase the Audible format at a discount.

You can test-drive these two features on a selection of free, public-domain classic Kindle books. Click here to see the included Kindle titles, and be sure to also get the free Audible audiobook editions when the prompt comes up after you’ve “bought” the free Kindle edition—the Audible editions are free for a limited time only, so get these right away!

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR AUDIBLE MEMBERS: when you go to the Audible product page to ‘buy’ the free audiobook, by default, the box to “apply listener credit” may be checked off. If so, click the box to un-check it; you’ll still get the audiobook for free, and your Audible Listener Credit will remain unused.

Text to Speech

Last but not least, it’s that feature so many of you have been wanting on the Kindle Fire: Text to Speech is here on the Kindle Fire HD.

If you have any difficulty viewing the video embedded below, click here to view it on the YouTube site.

Fire owners, be sure to “like” our “Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily” Facebook page for daily tips and great content at great prices – http://www.facebook.com/KindleFire.at.KindleNationDaily

Kindle Fire HD vs. Kindle Fire: Software and Functionality

Here’s a post from another of the Kindle Nation Daily family of sites, Kindle Fire on Kindle Nation Daily, where you can find all things Kindle Fire, every day!

If you already own a regular, non-HD Kindle Fire, then you know it’s a pretty nifty little multi-purpose device, sort of a step between a dedicated e-reader and a full-featured tablet computer. The new Kindle Fire HD, on the other hand, IS a full-featured tablet computer. [TIP: be sure to read all the way through this post for information about using Text to Speech on the KFHD – yes, it’s available now!]

What Are Its Functions?

We’ve been seeing a lot of questions on our Facebook fan page from folks who aren’t quite sure what functionality is offered by the KFHD, or how it delivers content.

The KFHD is a Kindle ereader, video player, audio player (books, music and podcasts), digital camera, photo viewer, video phone (via Skype), digital magazine viewer, game and app player, internet access device, Amazon store portal and email device, all in one sleek package.

How Does It Connect, and Deliver Content?

Many people seem to think that in order to access any of the web-connected features of the KFHD (like streaming audio or video, accessing the internet and email, viewing YouTube videos and downloading content), you must have and pay for a monthly data plan, such as the type people with smart phones have. This is not true for the entry-level, 7″ KFHD, nor for the larger, 8.9″ KFHD. For those devices, you access the internet via your own home wifi network, or through free, public wifi hotspots. You are not being charged extra for using these devices across your home network or through free, public wifi hotspots.

It’s only the KFHD 4G LTE model that offers an optional AT&T data plan, which can give you the same kind of connectivity as you’d have for a cell phone that runs on the AT&T network. With this model and the optional data plan, anywhere your cell phone can pick up the AT&T signal, so can your KFHD 4G LTE.

Using the KFHD – What’s New?

While the KFHD has essentially the same, carousel-style home page and menu ribbon as the regular Kindle Fire, it also has numerous subtle but important improvements in usability.

First, the original Kindle Fire main menu is accessed via a downward swipe from the top of the screen and context-sensitive (or function-specific) menus are accessed by swiping upward from the bottom of the screen. You still access the main device menu with a downward swipe from the top of the screen on the KFHD, but the context-sensitive menus within each function may be located at the bottom, top or right of the screen on the KFHD, depending on the function you’re using (e.g., Books, Videos, Music) and are either displayed at all times or, in the case of when you’re watching videos or running certain apps, auto-hidden and accessed by tapping a small “tab” in the appropriate menu location. This new, function-specific menu location, as well as function menus that stay open at all times where appropriate, are an improvement because sometimes you need to have the menu open but don’t want it to obstruct the content beneath it.

Second, you’ll find an expanded menu ribbon on the KFHD, which now includes menu items for Shop (instant access to Amazon), Photos, Games, Audiobooks and Newsstand. All of these functions are available on the first-generation Kindle Fire too, but they have to be accessed within various sub-menus or through specific apps.

Third, where Favorites on the first-generation Kindle Fire were right there on the home screen, beneath the carousel, on the KFHD there’s a small star icon on every menu that you can tap to access a dedicated Favorites screen. Adding an item (ANY item, from a web page to an MP3 album) to Favorites on the KFHD works just the same as for the regular Kindle Fire: tap the item’s icon and hold, then select Add to Favorites from the pop-up menu.

Again, these may seem like fairly minor tweaks, but they really do make it easier and more convenient to operate your Fire device.

Amazon Instant Videos on the KFHD – What’s X-Ray For Movies?

Aside from the bright, sharp HD display, speedier wifi connection that ensures smooth streaming, and Dual Dolby Stereo speakers, the KFHD has another big trick up its sleeve that movie fanatics will soon find indispensible: X-Ray For Movies.

How often have you been watching a movie and thought, “I wonder what else that actor’s been in?”, or, “I know I’ve seen that actress before, but I can’t remember where,” or, “I wonder when this movie was made?” or, “I really like that actor, I should look up some more of the movies he’s been in.”? X-Ray for Movies is here to answer all of those questions on the spot.

When you launch or pause an Amazon Instant Video, the X-Ray for Movies menu pops up along with all the usual video playback controls. At the start of an Instant Video, the menu has some standard selections you can tap to view a full cast list with photos (tap any photo to view a bio and filmography for the actor), and information about the film itself. But when accessing X-Ray for Movies by pausing a video, you’ll find something even cooler: the menu becomes specific to the actors in the scene you’re currently viewing—even actors who don’t actually appear in the scene, but are only heard over a phone, intercom, etc.! This amazing and handy trove of movie and actor information is delivered via The Internet Movie Database (IMDB), which is now owned by Amazon.

Was it John Malkovich in Con Air and Mel Gibson in Air America, or vice-versa? Wonder no more, and settle any number of bets on the spot, thanks to X-Ray for Movies.

Making Kindle Books and Audible Audiobooks “Talk” to Each Other

Whispersync for Voice and Immersive Reading are two new KFHD features that enable Kindle books and Audible audiobooks to interact with one another and build on one another’s functionality. Going forward, when you buy a Kindle book for which an Audible edition is also available, you’ll be prompted at checkout to optionally purchase the Audible audiobook edition at a discounted price. If you do so, you can use the new Whispersync for Voice and Immersive Reading features.

You can test-drive these features on a selection of free, public-domain classic Kindle books. Click here to see the included Kindle titles, and be sure to also get the free Audible audiobook editions by clicking on the Whispersync for Voice link on the product detail page—the Audible editions are free for a limited time only, so get these right away!

IMPORTANT NOTE FOR AUDIBLE MEMBERS: when you go to the Audible product page to ‘buy’ the free audiobook, by default, the box to “apply listener credit” will be checked off. Click the box to un-check it; you’ll still get the audiobook for free, and your Audible Listener Credit will remain unused.

Whispersync for Voice keeps your Kindle edition and Audible edition synchronized, so each copy “remembers” where you left off. Start listening to an audiobook during your morning commute, then pick up where the audiobook left off at lunch time in the Kindle book. For the drive home, resume the audiobook from the location where you left off in the Kindle book.

Immersive Reading works much like Text to Speech on monochrome, e-Ink Kindles, but with two important improvements. First, instead of hearing the book read by a computer-generated voice, you will hear it read by the narrator of the Audible audiobook edition—plus, you’ll have the same playback features available within the Kindle book as you’d have while listening to the Audible audiobook on its own, such as pausing playback, setting bookmarks and adjusting the narration speed. Second, as the narrator reads, the corresponding line in the Kindle book will be temporarily highlighted. This is a terrific feature to speed learning and retention during study of nonfiction or reference books, and can really help beginning readers, too.

Text to Speech – Here For the Kindle Fire At Last!

At the press conference where the new KFHD was unveiled, Jeff Bezos left Text to Speech off the long list of features. I asked a Kindle Vice President specifically about TTS during the post-press-conference demo sessions, and was told this functionality was being addressed in the KFHD through Whispersync for Voice and Immersive Reading, both of which require ownership of both the Kindle and Audible format for a given book.

But then, I noticed TTS is mentioned as part of the KFHD’s feature set on its Amazon product page. I tested this by opening a Kindle book where TTS is enabled (The Princess Bride), then tapped the Settings menu (where TTS is accessed on my monochrome Kindle) and, to what should my wondering eyes appear, but the same TTS option that’s there on my monochrome Kindle! I tapped “On”, and a playback bar appeared at the bottom of my Kindle book. I tapped the Play button and, presto! Text to Speech!

What’s FreeTime?

FreeTime is the new suite of parental controls for the KFHD, but it won’t be released till next month. We’ll be checking it out and writing it up then.

Anything Else?

Oh yes, there’s still a lot more to share about the Kindle Fire HD, far too much to cram into one post. Stay tuned, more coverage is coming!

Fire owners, be sure to “like” our “Kindle Fire at Kindle Nation Daily” Facebook page for daily tips and great content at great prices – http://www.facebook.com/KindleFire.at.KindleNationDaily