Posts Tagged ‘Google Android’

Amazon’s Kindle Fire and the e-Reader Wars

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Amazon.com has been building a huge presence on Google’s Android OS in recent years. You can find an app for the Kindle reader, Amazon.com store, and Amazon mp3 player. There is even an Amazon-based Android market that offers a paid app for free every day. Given Amazon’s large e-reader footprint, and the amount of effort Amazon has put into its Android apps, it was only a matter of time before a tablet was launched. Rumor has it that the tablet will be announced tomorrow under the label Kindle Fire. Everyone is talking about this being the iPad killer. Is it though? Probably not, at least not yet.

For years there has been an ongoing debate about tablets vs e-Readers. I wrote about a few of the competitors a while back in a series called the e-Reader Wars. People were comparing the Kindle, Nook, and Sony Reader against the iPad, even though they are in completely different markets. Some devices tried to bridge the gap between e-reader and tablet, like the Adam from Notion Ink and the ill-fated Edge from Entourage. The e-reader market continued to thrive, even as more and more tablets emerged. There is a reason for this. e-Ink is a better medium for reading books. Back-lit displays are hard on the eyes, tablets tend to be heavier than e-readers, and sometimes people want a gadget that does just one thing really well. The Kindle was never really in competition with the iPad.

With the launch of the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble crossed over into tablet territory. The Kindle and Sony Reader stayed true to e-Ink, among some other competitors including the Nook touch. When it comes down to it, a 7 inch Kindle Fire is better able to compete with the Nook Color than it is the iPad. It is not necessarily the device though that is causing the stir. Amazon’s Prime membership, Android apps, cloud services, media services, and Android market have positioned it to change the tablet industry. Amazon provides hardware to sell software, and there is a lot of software to choose from with Amazon’s label. This will certainly make things interesting in the near future, but until the 10 inch model comes out, it sounds like the Kindle Fire is geared to enhance the e-reader space over the tablet space.

Is the Kindle Fire going to excite a lot of people? Of course. This should be a pretty cool device, full of Amazon innovation. The rumored low price point will make this a hit in time for the holidays. Is Apple concerned about this new market entrant? Probably, but there is plenty of time for this to considered a threat. Apple will likely have some time to respond. Hopefully Amazon will continue to carry its e-Ink Kindle readers. Though Apple is a tempting target in the tablet industry, there is still plenty of life left in e-Readers. I carry my Sony Reader Daily Edition to work right along my Tablet S. I like what my tablet has to offer, and I like what the Reader has to offer. They are complimentary, or at least not in direct competition. We may soon see if the market agrees. I expect Amazon to sell a lot of tablets in the coming months.

Even though I don’t think this first run of Kindle Fire will be a huge threat to Apple, I am looking forward to seeing what Amazon comes up with. We should know a lot more about the Kindle Fire tomorrow morning. Let’s hope it can live up to the hype. I have a feeling it will.

Video Unlimited on Sony Tablet S Partially Live

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Video Unlimited

Update:The full version of Video Unlimited is now available. See Video Unlimited Arrives on Sony Tablet S for more details.

When the Sony Tablet S launched last week, two things stood out. Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited were not yet available, though they were featured on the home screen. Over this last weekend at least one of them received an update. Video Unlimited now offers 5 older movie titles. With a caption stating that the full store is coming soon, you can choose from the following 99 cent rentals:

  • 13 Going on 30
  • Joe Dirt
  • The New Guy
  • The Wedding Planner
  • White Chicks

Quite the eclectic selection. When you click on the image thumbnails you are taken to an information page with all the pertinent details like price, running time, MPAA rating, and plot. You can rate the movie and watch a preview as well. While the selection is not that great currently, it is a nice preview for things to come. It would have been nice to have the full program out of the box, but it is better to delay the software temporarily rather than the hardware, especially considering the fierce competition the Tablet S faces.

Video Unlimited - The New Guy

Xperia Play 4G Available at AT&T

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play 4G

The Xperia Play 4G is officially available at AT&T. Previously only available on Verizon, the Play 4G comes with some new features, both in the phone and in the box. Here are the specs:

  • Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread)
  • 4″ (FWVGA 480×854) 16 million color touch screen
  • 1GHz CPU and Adreno 205 graphics processor (GPU)
  • PlayStation Controller pad
  • 1GB internal memory, expandable to 32GB with microSD card
  • 8GB microSD card included
  • 5MP rear camera with LED Flash
  • Font-facing VGA camera
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 A2DP
  • 3G – UMTS/HSDPA (850/1900/2100 MHz)
  • 4G – HSPA+
  • GSM/GPRS/Edge – 850/900/1800/1900 MHz

Both Verizon and AT&T offer the phone for $49, with 2 year contract. Verizon recently lowered its price to compete with AT&T. AT&T throws in a couple extras, too. It is the only 4G version available, and includes the Sony Ericsson Multimedia Dock (DK300) and music cable (MC100) in the box. The media dock converts the phone into a smart alarm clock, and the music cable can connect to external speakers.

Included Games
Verizon AT&T
  • Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior
  • The Sims 3
  • Star Battalion
  • Asphalt 6: Adrenaline
  • Madden NFL 11
  • Crash Bandicoot

  • Dungeon Defenders Second Wave
  • Tower Bloxx My City
  • The Sims 3
  • Star Batatalion
  • Asphalt 6: Adrenaline
  • Madden NFL 11
  • Crash Bandicoot
Additional Games:
VCAST Apps
Additional Games:
“Get Games” recommendation screen
www.sonyericsson.com/games

Both Verizon and AT&T have app stores in addition to the Android Market, so finding games shouldn’t be a problem on either carrier. I played a couple games on the Xperia Play at E3, and found some of the controls a little awkward, with a combination of on-screen and physical button controls being used together. I’m sure it would just take some time to get used to. Subsequent playing on the phone felt a little more natural, with the controls where one might expect them. I recently played Crash Bandicoot to contrast against the Sony Tablet S version, and found that I progressed further in the game on the tablet. The game played well on both the Play and Tablet S though. I am looking forward to seeing more games in the next few months.

With a recent upgrade adding 720p video recording capabilities, my biggest concern with the Play is the 5MP camera. With other Xperia phones sporting 8.1MP, it seems the camera was overlooked. Given that this is a gaming phone, it is understandable, but I consider Sony’s camera capabilities to be one of the distinguishing factors, and it didn’t differentiate this time.

All in all, you get quite a bit out of this phone. The bonuses in the box make the $49 price tag really attractive. If you have been waiting for the GSM version of the Xperia Play, go ahead and pick it up. It is a pretty solid phone, and will keep getting better as new games are released.

Learn more at AT&T Wireless.

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