Books & Review
Updated: Nov 23, 2012 02:37 PM EST

kindle fire hd event

Amazon's Kindle Fire HD looks like one of the few devices to successfully blend tablets and e-readers. (Photo : Reuters)

As the tablet market only continues to grow, consumers have more choices than ever this holiday shopping season. While it's easy enough to compare new 7-inch tablets like Apple's iPad mini and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD based on specs and price alone, which offers a better reading experience?

Follow along for a review of some of the features each tablet packs in to enhance the user reading experience.

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Amazon Kindle Fire HD

"The Kindle Fire 8.9 is very inexpensive given its specs, and the question here isn't really if this is the best large tablet. The question is if the Kindle Fire 8.9 is worth the price. And there, the answer is absolutely yes. Ultimately that's where the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 triumphs. If you're counting your dollars, the Kindle Fire offers the most bang per buck so far," said PC Mag in its review.

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Amazon's Kindle Fire HD looks like one of the few devices to successfully blend tablets and e-readers.

The Kindle Fire HD's Whispersync feature automatically syncs not only your content, but also where you were in a particular book or movie, across devices. If you've downloaded a book that has an Audible audiobook, you can switch between reading and listening seamlessly. While reading a book, you can tap on a name, place or passage to get more detailed information about that item from Wikipedia and Shelfari, Amazon's own user-supported encyclopedia. "It's like having Cliffs Notes built into everything you read," said CNET.

When you're watching a movie that has X-Ray content, a little window appears at the upper left corner that shows the names of the actors currently on screen. Click on a name, and that person's IMDB profile fills the whole of the display.

Amazon says "thousands" of books and movies are X-Ray-enabled; though it couldn't give us a more accurate number, the company says it started with the most popular titles, and is working its way down.

Another cool reading feature, Immersion Reading, uses the audio and Kindle versions of a single book and combines them to create an experience currently not reproducible on any other tablet. "As the text is read by the original audiobook reader, each word is highlighted on the Kindle book version, allowing you to follow along bouncing-ball-style with the story," said CNET.

The "Time to Read" feature uses your reading speed to tell you when you will finish a chapter in a book on the Paperwhite.

"Kindle FreeTime" lets parents create profiles for their children and choose what books, games, apps or videos they can access.

The new Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch models start at $299, with the most expensive models selling for $500 or more.

iPad Mini

Despite its higher-than-expected price point for the 7-inch e-reader/tablet market, reviews for the mini have been generally positive, with many loving its innovative e-reader features, and overall family friendliness.

The selection of educational book apps on iTunes has positioned the iPad mini to become the eReader of choice for kids, according to Carisa Kluver, founder of Digital Storytime, a children's book app review site.

"While the iPad mini's price point and portability make it an attractive holiday option for families," Kluver said, "it's the explosive growth on iTunes of quality book apps -- a hybrid of an eBook and a game - that make it irresistible in the educational technology world," says Kluver.

"Book apps often have narration, animation, music or text highlighting, all interactive elements that help kids stay with the reading material," Kluver said.

You can get an iPad Mini Wi-Fi model in three memory configurations: $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. On Nov. 16, we'll see Wi-Fi + 4G models hit the shelves at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB, and $659 for 64GB.

"There's no tablet in this size range that's as beautifully constructed, works as flawlessly, or has such an incredible software selection. Would I prefer a higher-res display? Certainly. Would I trade it for the app selection or hardware design? For the consistency and smoothness of its software, or reliability of its battery? Absolutely not. And as someone who's been living with (and loving) Google's Nexus 7 tablet for a few months, I don't say that lightly," said The Verge in its review.

The site continued: "The iPad mini hasn't wrapped up the "cheapest tablet" market by any stretch of the imagination. But the "best small tablet" market? Consider it captured."

The 1,024x768-pixel resolution matches that of the iPad 2, but on a 7.9-inch display. "This definitely isn't Retina Display, but it's better-than-iPad-2 display. Videos look excellent, and the IPS screen has great wide-viewing angles," said CNET.

Includes a front-facing 720p-capable FaceTime camera, and a 5-megapixel back camera, and also supports 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi at 5.2Ghz, Bluetooth 4.0, and will use Apple's Lightning connector, first seen on the iPhone 5.

Apple claims that the Mini has a 10-hour battery life.

Study says Kindle Fire will torch Apple iPad mini in holiday sales

Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD tablet/e-reader will trounce Apple's iPad mini in sales in a 2 to1 ratio during holiday shopping, according to a report from CouponCodes4u.com.

According to the Los Angeles Times, CouponCodes4U compared search reports for the two devices within the first week after their launches were announced. They say Kindle Fire HD had more searches in that week after its announcement than iPad mini did in its first week after being announced. Additionally, the site says they have been showing twice as many searches for "Kindle Fire HD" compared to the search phrase "iPad mini" in the past three weeks on its website.

Not necessarily the final word in the Kindle Fire HD vs. iPad mini game, but an interesting research finding, in any case.

The debate over what matters most to tech consumers when decision-making is far from over. The most obvious deciding factor for many shoppers considering the Kindle Fire vs. iPad mini tablet will be the price tag alone. The Kindle Fire HD starts at $199 for the 7-inch device with 16 gigabytes of storage capacity. The new 8.9-inch models start at $299, with the most expensive models selling for $500 or more. These high-end Kindle Fire HD's have the 4g LTE connectivity with an AT&T monthly data plan. Mark Pearson, who is the chairman of CouponCodes4U said of the cost comparisons:

"It's no surprise that although some families would probably love to purchase an iPad mini device for every member of their family, they simply cannot afford the higher cost and would rather purchase a Kindle device instead."

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