The Hills Are Greener: Size Matters

The Hills Are Greener: Size Matters

Sep 10, 2012

Size matters. This past week, we saw Amazon try to take on the iPad with a tablet size that's still a bit smaller than the flagship iPad, but definitely something more for the tablet customer who wants a bigger device, without paying the iPad premium. This will likely be competing for dollars with the Nexus 7 this holiday season as well, and Amazon's hooks in traditional along with online retail make it a force to be reckoned with, especially if the device is as powerful as it could be.

Meanwhile, with Apple holding an event this week, reportedly for the iPhone 5 as hinted by the big "5" shadow in the invitation, it will be all about getting bigger as well. Reportedly, the iPhone 5 is going to grow taller to 16:9 resoultion, while remaining 640 pixels wide for the comfort of developers used to the screen width.

Expect iPhone apps to go through some hurdles. With no time to prepare for the new aspect ratio like with the iPad being announced months ahead of time, and with developers not used to designing around aspect ratio neutrality, there could be a slew of awkwardly-designed apps. Android developers, used to bajillions of hardware and resolution permutations, were born ready for every resolution on the face of the earth, or at least ready for when resolutions change. iPhone developers may need to learn quickly, though the horizontal resolution remaining the same will make it simpler.

But the very fact that even Apple is recognizant of the idea of different screen sizes after staying static for so long shows that there is a shift in the market. Consumers like being able to have big phones, and occasionally smaller tablets. That may be part of the reason why Android has gotten to take off: it's provided a choice that Apple has not. And though Apple is now starting to expand into this area, it may not be in time to really slow down Android to a significant degree, though it could win them back customers who liked Apple, but not enough to prefer Android's options.

As well, if NFC is not in the iPhone 5 as rumored, then it's another blow to mobile payments, and one that could be hurting the entire movement due to Apple's largesse. It's a catch-22: they won't take off until iOS uses them, but Apple may be hesitant to put them in because of their non-ubiquity. What a confusing web being woven.

Of course, what this is really leading to is the singularity 6" size, something big enough to fit in our pockets without sticking out (even if it's uncomfortable), but something that we can all enjoy. The one size to rule them all! Of course then no one except me, who wants a huge phone anyay, would be truly happy.

It's silly. These device sizes are really only nominally bigger than each other, and yet they're such a big deal. In the world of mobile technology, size does matter. What a first world problem. And yet, as a mobile technology addict, I know how the subtle differences do matter.

Amazon Announces New 7″ and 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Announces New 7″ and 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD

Sep 7, 2012

While rumors of a new iPad mini spread, and the Nexus 7 enjoys its sales numbers, Amazon has laid dormant until now with the announcement of new Kindle Fire devices.

The flagship is the Kindle Fire HD. This will come in both an 8.9" variety and a 7" variety; the specs on the 7" are supposed to be the same as the 8.9", but Amazon was more keen to show off this version. It's got a 1920×1200 screen (true HD!) which is 254 ppi (compared to the iPad retina display's 264 ppi), to go along with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 processor, which Amazon claims can do 50% more floating point operations as compared to the Tegra 3 processor in the Nexus 7.

The touch screen has a laminated touch sensor, which Amazon claims will offer a better display with less glare. It has 2 wifi antennas, offering faster dual-band wifi performance. It also boasts a front-facing camera, an HDMI port, and Bluetooth. The 7" model with 16 GB of storage will go for $199. The 8.9" model with 16 GB of storage will cost $299. Even the original Kindle Fire has been given a minor update with 1GB of RAM, an upgraded processor, and a new $159 cost.

While the rest of the lineup is still wifi-only, there's one option for those who want network connectivity. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 will be available with 4G LTE (powered by AT&T) for $499, and for $50 per year, it will come with 250 MB of data and 20 GB cloud storage access. Options to upgrade to 3GB and 5GB data plans will be available directly from the device for AT&T. The device also has 10 bands of cell access, so it can fall back to 3G/4G networks.

Amazon appears to be trying to regain any market space lost to the Nexus 7, and with the 8.9" size, may be getting in to competing with the iPad, thanks to their expansion of app content to go with their media library. It shall be an interesting holiday season for those competing in the tablet market. The 7" devices ship on September 14th. The 8.9" devices ship on November 20th.