Category Archives: Android

Nexus 7 Hands On: Pros, Cons, Tips and Apps

My Nexus 7 screenLast updated August 28, 2012

I come to this device as a knowledge professional, a relative newbie to Android though I have a Kindle Fire and as a major Apple fan with Mac, iPhone and iPad. If some of these bases resonate, you may find this post interesting. Hopefully, you’ll find a few useful pieces of information in here.

Yes, this screen to the left is my Nexus 7 as currently configured. Notice there are quite a few good apps here. You get apps plus  widgets! Mix and match. Widgets let you do many things like turn wi-fi on or off or adjust screen brightness more conveniently.

Without getting all jiggly, you can drag things around where you want them.

Nexus 7 Pros

  1. Smaller. Great size for portability and ease of use. Fits in my back jeans pocket.
  2. Shapely. Grippy back side and gently curving edges make it comfy to hold.
  3. Jelly Bean. Sporting the best Google has to offer: Android Jelly Bean. Google Now is pretty cool with its speech recognition even offline and quick information cards.
  4. Upgradeable. Will be easy to update to keep it current as Android versions release.
  5. Cheap. An excellent value at $249 for the 16 gb model.
  6. Responsive. Fast and smooth – very close to the snappy responsiveness of iPad 2, 3.
  7. Google. Good fit for Google fans who use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Earth and/or Chrome.
  8. Android. Good integration if you already have an Android smartphone. Android apps will generally work on both devices.
  9. Screen. Crisp screen with fast graphics chip.
  10. Portable. Less fiddly to hold and carry than an iPad due to it being lighter, smaller in the hand, grippy back and its lesser expense makes you worry less about its safety.
  11. Reader. Its 7″ size is ideal for reading comfortably.
  12. Future. The improvements in Jelly Bean and the release of this quality device at this price point make me optimistic about the future of Android devices.

Nexus 7 Cons

  1. Apps. Less choice and quality of apps than iPhone or iPad. This is an issue for apps in many knowledge categories like outlining, writing and mind mapping and will also be an issue in more obscure areas that may not have Android coverage – yet.
  2. Portrait-Oriented. Designed to be used like a large smartphone in portrait orientation. That is fine except apps tend to be enlarged smartphone apps that don’t take full advantage of the 7″ screen.
  3. Very Good not Great. Not quite as nice as the excellence of iPad in design or feel.
  4. Integration. Doesn’t integrate easily into an Apple-dominated setup. If you already have an iPhone and/or iPad or Mac and these are your home base. You’ll need to do some work to integrate.
  5. Learning Curve. Not as simple as Kindle Fire, so you’ll need to learn more to operate smoothly on Nexus 7 unless you’ve already learned another Android device previously. If you are comfortable with Mac and iOS, you’ll stumble to become familiar in this Android world (at least you will have lots of company, though).
  6. Limited On-device Storage. Other Android devices typically have an SD-card slot which allows for expansion by adding, say a 32gb card and storing movies and other large items there. Since the maximum storage offered is 16 gb, this is a limitation which perhaps Google hopes will tilt people towards cloud usage.
  7. iPad mini. A 7.85″ iPad seems likely to be released some time in the Fall. If thought of a smaller iPad turns you on, you may want to save yourself some trouble with some of the above issues and see if the iPad itself is available in a smaller form factor at a lower price.
  8. Kindle Fire 2. Nexus 7 out classes Kindle Fire v1, but v2 will most likely be competitive, simpler to operate and rotate itself around the Amazon ecosystem. If you read books and want some of this, you should wait a little longer to see what Amazon has up its sleeve in its next release before jumping to Nexus 7.
  9. Smaller Screen. It is harder to do anything and everything in a smaller space. Onscreen typing is less flexible and crowds out content viewing and user controls.   Any kind of onscreen manipulation, drawing, content creation is limited by the small screen. The 7″ screen on Nexus 7 is only half the size of the 10″ iPad.

Nexus 7 Tips

  1. Rearrange your Screen. When you first use your Nexus 7, it has a great big widget on the front screen holding your content library and featuring new items. You can delete or move that big widget to screen 2-5 so you have room for your favorite apps, folders and smaller widgets. Touch and hold an item to move it or drag up to delete it.
  2. Seeing Applications. The center of your dock has a circle with 6 square dots in it. Tap it to see your apps. There is a second tab at the top left that will show you all the widgets that come preinstalled. You can drag the apps to your front page. Apps arrange 6 across with 6 rows.
  3. Where is the Home button? Right down there at the bottom of the screen but not below the screen this time. Its a line-drawn little house in the middle. Left is a back arrow that can be handy. It just may behave a bit differently in different situations. On the right is a nice recent apps button.
  4. Widgets. Consider putting the Display Setting widget on your front screen. I put a 5 item widget on my front screen that lets me turn wi-fi and bluetooth on and off among other tricks.
  5. Optimize your Dock. The dock is available on any of the five screens so you will want your most used items there. I kept the Google apps folder on the left, but eliminated some of the Play stores and put Chrome, Zite and Instapaper on there.
  6. Taking Screenshots. Hold down the power and lower volume button for a moment to take a screenshot.
  7. Face Recognition is Fun but Erratic. Not as secure as assigning a password, but face recognition is pretty nifty. So I’m using it. It does require that you look at the screen exactly the same way to recognize you. If it can’t recognize you which will probably happen often, you then can drag through some dots on the screen in your own special way to get in.
  8. Swiftkey 3 Tablet Keyboard. This is an app but will improve the on-screen typing experience nicely. There are many hardcore Swiftkey fans. I just broke down and spent $4 of my $25 credit at the Play store today and really like it so far. Very well-regarded and phonedog.com assures us it is a lot better than the not too shabby smarts of the built-in Jelly Bean keyboard. I seem to be able to just type nonsense and Swiftkey corrects me.
  9. Launch the Front-facing CameraModaco Camera Launcher. Just in case you want to launch it and play with it. Otherwise, it is launched by specific apps.

Nexus 7 Apps for Knowledge Professionals

This is a handy, inexpensive mobile computer you have here. Part of the plan is to be able to do useful things when you aren’t using a more prodigious (and bulky) machine, so what can you do? I’m still learning and hunting around to find good apps, but there are quite a few good ones. A popular device like the Nexus 7 and the slick Jelly Bean version of Android is going to help things along in the coming months.

News & RSS Reading. Nexus 7 is almost perfect for reading and the best apps I’ve found so far for this are: Zite, Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, Feedly and Pulse. I love Zite so am glad it is here it is not quite as good as the iPhone version. I do look for it to improve, however.

Social. Flipboard is quite good and is another news reader along with its social attributes. Plume doesn’t hold a candle to Tweetbot but is useable (for Twitter), Google+, Currents, Facebook for Android. Skype – not great but works fine.

eReading. Kindle. Nook. Kobo. This is a great category. No iBooks, but you can’t have everything. The Google Play reader needs elaboration. Also, it seems Google Play purchased eBooks aren’t ePub or at least you can’t just drag them to your iOS device and use in iBooks. A silver lining here is that you can move these eBooks and use on other devices if you register an Adobe ID and get permission that way. Seems convoluted and I haven’t tried to jump through these hoops. I am not a big Adobe fan.

Chrome. There are other browsers on Android but this is where to start. If you like Chrome you will like this. And Chrome is a really good browser. Enjoy!

Utility & File Management. Dropbox, Google Drive, ES File Explorer, Airdroid, Wifi File Explorer, Wi-fi Finder.

Writing, Notes. I’m looking far and wide but coming up short. The best I can do so far is Evernote, which is good on Android but not as enjoyable to use for writing. I am toying with Catch which is #2 to Simplenote. I did buy and like Notational Acceleration which syncs with Simplenote and is free with ads or $2 without. What I’m lacking with any depth are plain text, dropbox text editors. I haven’t found one that I trust or like so far. Trying to use Evernote in the meantime. Very disappointed with my results. I will update this post the minute I find a decent note, writing app.

Outlining and Mindmapping. There seem to be several choices for mind mapping and not much at all for outlining. Looks like the still in beta: Outliner for Android is most promising for the latter. Mindjet for Android seems to be free. Still shopping here. I doubt you will be as happy as you are now with iThoughts HD, Carbon fin Outliner or Omni Outliner on iOS.

I’m still learning and will update this post to include more links, apps and tips as I find good stuff. This Nexus 7 is quite nice. I think I’ll keep it around and use it in lieu of Kindles of all stripes and as a lighter and more manageable iPad when I’m not craving an app like Thinkbook or iA Writer that just isn’t available on Android — yet! Now, when that iPad mini shows up assuming it does, I will likely abandon my Android adventure. The iPad mini will surely be a stunner! Apple won’t make one otherwise.

Recommended Link: gottabemobile: Top Nexus 7 Apps & Widgets

Related post: Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini

Nexus 7 vs. Kindle Fire 2 vs. iPad mini

Updated Oct 23. My 16gb Nexus 7 is gathering dust. The Nexus specs are nice. The Kindle Fire HD 7 is a decent competitor to Nexus 7 for those who want content and simple not a full-function tablet. I have the old Kindle Fire but wanted a pure Android device so got the Nexus 7. Fire 2 didn’t and does not interest me because I don’t like the limitations but I’m a geek. Today’s new iPad mini with bigger 7.85 inch screen is the one to consider now.

The table above shows specs for the Nexus 7 and approximate specs for the Kindle Fire HD 7 and the iPad mini. As expected iPad mini is a narrow and light version of the iPad 2. The iPad mini wins on lightness, apps and hardware virtuosity. But the price starting at $329 is a lot higher than the comparably specced Nexus 7 16 gb at $249. I am fine paying $70 more to get better apps but I’m not sure you are. Knowledge professionals who like the Mac and iOS who are in the market for a smaller iPad that would replace a Kindle and a full-sized iPad should pay close attention to the Mini.

The Devices

TABLET MARKET TO DATE. Competitors to iPad have not had success with 10″ tablets. I attribute this most to their having to play catch up with their software. The three main iOS competitors Web OS, RIM Playbook and Android were rushed out the door with numerous bugs and interface issues. Any new device platform starts behind in apps. There were few apps available for these other tablets when released last year. RIM is on the rocks. Google-based Android is far from crying wolf. Kindle Fire’s Android variant has had moderate success.

NEXUS 7. I have an iPad 3 and a Kindle Fire and I still ordered one. It looks good and has killer specs and a great price point. The 8 gb version at $199 is the best deal if you can get by on the smaller storage. Most who expect to have the device for a length of time and want convenience will prefer the $249 16 gb version since there is no cellular connectivity allowing you to stream when outside a wifi network. Besides being fast, it runs the latest version of Android Jelly Bean and has some nice bells and whistles like bluetooth. The instant response and new Google Now in Jelly Bean add to the appeal of this device.

KINDLE FIRE HD 7. The Kindle Fire released last November was a break thru Android tablet due primarily to its price at $199. It is a 7″ device that does a creditable job as a tablet due to decent specs and a simplified Amazon user interface. Kindle Fire had good sales last Christmas probably helped by Amazon’s track record and fan base with their eInk Kindles and their excellent Amazon store. Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is a geek which is a good thing. He plays big and Kindle Fire HD comes close to matching features with the Nexus 7. Your choice between the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD comes down to whether you want an all-purpose tablet like the Nexus 7 or a more focused tablet optimized around Amazon’s content offerings. The three negatives for me on the current Kindle Fire are the limited availability of apps and the dumbed down version of Android (4). As a geek, I want the latest Android OS more than I want a simplified interface. You may feel differently. One last point, right now you get twice the storage with the Fire HD vs. Nexus 7 for $200. But the Fire includes ads and requires $220 for the ad-free version.

IPAD MINI. From the beginning, many including myself, thought a smaller tablet would be appealing. Apple adamantly refused to build a smaller iPad and (Steve) said you would have to file your finger tips down to operate the buttons. It’s here now. The weight and size is going to be very appealing to anyone who compares it to an iPad 3 or 4. The price at $329 is too high to compete on price against the $249 similarly specced Nexus 7. However, anyone who trusts Apple and likes what they see in an iPad and its amazing app ecosystem might be smart to pay the premium to get the clear winner in the tablet space to date.

Comparisons

THICKNESS. iPad mini is 7.2 mm thick. The Nexus is 10.45 mm thick – 45% thicker. And the Fire HD is similar.

DIMENSIONS. The iPad mini is wider than the Nexus but actually slightly less wide than Fire HD. The iPad mini with a 7.85″ diagonal screen is 5.3″ wide and about 7.7″ tall. The Nexus is 4.7″ wide and 7.8″ tall. I could grab this iPad around the back at the waist and hold it with my moderately long woman’s fingers. But it would be close. I could certainly prop it up at the corner with one hand at the lighter weight and smaller size. But I would say, the Nexus wins the one hand holding contest. The iPad is a lot lighter due to its thinness (see above). All 3 will be easy to manuever relative to a full-sized iPad.

The narrow form of the Nexus is good for reading a single column of text like in Instapaper or a single column eBook. The wider iPad mini & Fire HD screens will be better for notebook like productivity kinds of things and a bit better for the web due to its width. The skinny form will be better for wide screen movies.

CONTENT. Amazon wins books easily over iBooks and devastates Nexus for now. The iPad wins easily in Music and with its Apple TV and ability to put the contents of the iPad up on your HD TV, it probably wins there too. Amazon comes in second easily in Movies, TV and Music with Nexus lagging pretty far behind. Amazon has their store together, there’s no doubt about that and they have this thing called Prime which is a nice mini-version of Netflix streaming.

APPs. This is your toolbox. And, iPad wins easily far and away with the quality and quantity of apps. This is a big deal for those who want some creativity, productivity and utility in their tablet, not just entertainment. Because developers have so far chosen the iOS platform by a great margin, you have to wait longer for the best apps to appear. Since your device can languish while you wait, it is an obsolescence issue too. Amazon’s first Fire didn’t really get that many creativity/productivity apps compared to the full Android Marketplace but I expect the Fire HD to do better. It’s just now there’s a fast, cheap full Android device running Jelly Bean to lure developers away from the Fire HD. But that’s why Amazon had to be competitive with this offering.

USER EXPERIENCE. The iPad has a large lead here against even the latest version of Android 4.1, Jelly Bean but the gap is closing somewhat. The Nexus 7 and its visionary designer, Matias Duarte, are emulating Jony Ive and Steve Jobs here and they are narrowing the gap. Recent reports suggest that Jelly Bean is considerably better this way than Ice Cream Sandwich. Fire hd will runs Ice Cream Sandwich with a makeover. Their simplified Amazon store-books-media experience which is OK if you are looking mostly for content.

WIFI – CELLULAR. Only iPad mini offers a cellular option. I like the wifi only options on all 3 devices. That means I can buy one. There’s no way I can have 3 cell phone plans. However, I am now on a Everything Verizon plan for my iPad 3 and iPhone 5 so adding the iPad mini will only cost $10/mo. If this is your first tablet, you may want that extra always on connectivity. It is a little ironic to use a web-oriented device like Android without cellular but it sure is cheaper and some folks like college students are often surrounded by wi-fi. Rumors have it that a cellular option for Nexus 7 is coming maybe to be announced on Oct 29 at the big Android event coming next week.

PRICE. Amazon Fire HD 7 has a slight lead here with a $199 16gb version but it does come with ads which cost an extra $20 to eliminate. The Nexus 7 $199 model is only 8gb which is slim pickins for a non-cellular device that is good at video. The much higher priced 16gb iPad mini is not closing the gap tight enough to appeal to the price sensitive. Apple is leaving quite a bit of room for Google and Amazon to grow their 7″ tablets into something more competitive with iPad.

RETINA NOT. I haven’t seen the iPad mini yet but apparently it does have an awesome screen that is not up to the retina in iPad 3 and 4 but probably easily matches the quality in the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. Also, the screen is better than the iPad 2 which is pretty nice in itself.

MY PLAN. Since I use a Macbook Air, iPad 3 and iPhone 5, I don’t need an iPad mini. However, the synergy is awesome and this iPad mini would eliminate the need to carry the Kindle Touch or Nexus 7. I will probably decide in the next couple of days what to do. If the iPad mini was $299, I would be all over it and keep my iPad 3 around. I would probably start carrying the mini everywhere and leave the iPad 3 at home.

Related Post. My Nexus 7 has been road tested. See my July 23 post for details: Nexus 7 Hands On: Pros, Cons, Tips and Apps.

Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch: Best of Both Worlds?

I am fortunate enough to own both a Kindle Fire and a Kindle Touch. In fact, I also currently own a Kindle 4 and a Kindle Keyboard (K3). I expect to shed two of them in the near future, but before I do, I thought I would write up my thoughts.

Reading is one of the essential knowledge functions that every knowledge professional takes seriously. The Kindle Fire is more than a reading device — reading may be a secondary function here, but I doubt it. Does it make sense to carry both a Kindle Fire and a Kindle Touch? Where is each at its best? I’ll talk about e-ink vs lcd screens for long-form reading – what are the trade offs?

iPad vs Kindle Fire

Does it make sense to get a Kindle Fire when you already have an iPad? I have both for the time being. The reasons I went for the Kindle Fire were (1) I thought I would like the 7″ form factor for holding while reading and also for its portability, (2) I’m an Amazon fan and had heard the Fire’s integration with the Amazon store was superior to iTunes,  (3) I was curious about how the other half lived – the Android side of things and (4) it was cheap ($200) to find out. Here’s what I found out.

It doesn’t make sense to buy a Kindle Fire if you have an iPad and like it (unless you share devices in a household). Unless you don’t use all of the features of the iPad and aren’t depending on iPad apps that aren’t available on the Fire (yet). Keep the following in mind in making this decision. One option is to replace your iPad with a Kindle Fire and sell it to those who gladly consider a used iPad.

  • Yes, the integration with Amazon is better than iTunes so it’s easier to browse and access books, music, TV shows and movies. If you love Amazon like I do, that may be enough.
  • However, the Amazon App Store has only 1% of what’s on Apple’s App Store. Lots of really good stuff (Instapaper, Index Card, Flipboard, Zite…) is missing. The selection is thin. This will likely change over time but, as an early adopter, I know it isn’t much fun to wait for something to get popular (developers take time to write apps and currently make more money going the iOS route).
  • The Fire lacks cameras. The 2 iPad cameras don’t add much except video chat.
  • The Fire lacks Bluetooth. This means you can’t use an external keyboard with the Fire which could be a big negative for some. With some driver software, a wired USB keyboard could work.
  • The Fire lacks GPS. This will make map apps less valuable and other local apps such as travel guides and restaurant recommendations.
  • The Fire lacks cellular. Amazon’s promising cloud support remains merely a promise when wi-fi is not available.

The deal breaker for me, though, is that the Kindle Fire isn’t much easier to hold than the iPad. It is easier to hold in one hand. But it is twice the weight and thickness of an e-ink Kindle. It’s a brick, actually. Keep reading, though, there is more to this story.

The Kindle Fire is a great deal for what you get compared to the iPad. The iPad is an excellent, no-compromise tablet and worth $500. But, the Kindle Fire is a better value. It’s a great starter device that you can experiment with, learn on, consume Amazon content from and get basic app functionality out of like taking notes with Evernote. It’s quite a bit smaller, though thicker than I prefer. It also has a few quirks because it was a rush job and Amazon got a deal from the makers of the RIM playbook which allowed them to hit the bargain $199 price point. Other apps that are on the Fire and help make it a reasonable app-using device are: Dropbox, Pulse, AP Mobile, The Weather Channel, Goodreads and the Kindle app itself. Of course there are lots of games if you want to go there. The screen is really good. The operation is simple and while a bit slower to respond to touch than the iPad, you get used to it.

E-Ink vs High-end LCD Screens

Lots has been written about e-ink and its virtues. To sum it up, you get an easy on the eye screen that works really nicely as long as you have good lighting. Outdoors tends to be wonderful. By a window is awesome. The e-ink screen doesn’t refresh all the time. Instead it refreshes when you turn the page. Because of that, the eye enjoys the rest and battery life is much better. This means a great big battery doesn’t need to be put into the e-ink Kindles but does need to be in the Kindle Fire and the iPad and iPhone, et al.. E-ink devices are light and thin and that is a really nice thing when you are reading. Some people buy a case or clip on lamp for their Kindles to get light when they need it since there is no backlight.

The heavier LCD-screen devices need to be set on a table, on your lap. They can’t simply be held up for extended periods unless you are a really strong and large person. So, for long-form reading — books that is — an e-ink device is nice. Except that backlight can be a godsend when the light in the room isn’t good. Second, you get color — really nice color. Your screen can respond really rapidly and be more interactive. When you read books that include lots of pictures like children’s books and textbooks, the LCD-screen devices win.

What if you already have an E-Ink Kindle should you consider the Fire? If you don’t have an iPad and think you might take some advantage of apps, the Kindle Fire has a lot to offer as a compliment to an e-ink Kindle. You are already covered on music with your existing Kindle. But you have more room for music on the Fire and then you have TV, movies, email and web browsing too. When conditions aren’t great for the regular Kindle, the Fire can be used to read in low light and allow you to view books and publications in color.

The Kindle Fire as your only eReader. Is that a good option? This might be an individual decision. First, if it is your only eReader, you don’t have to decide which device to bring with you. That’s nice. With my plethora of mobile devices, it’s difficult… Second, some folks such as Eolake Stobblehouse of eReader Joy prefers LCD to e-ink because of its better contrast and other virtues. I have a preference for e-ink in good lighting conditions and I love the light weight and slender profile of these devices for reading. However, I have a pretty good time reading on the Kindle Fire too. It is nice also, you just have to prop it up on your lap or something after a while.

What about the Kindle Touch vs. Kindle 4 and Kindle Keyboard?

I am going to keep my Kindle Touch and use it when the light is good as a superior dedicated eBook reading device. Reading is important to me. I need to keep up with a lot of reading and a chunk of that is book reading. I also like me a murder mystery from time to time and an occasional classic. Also, you can take the 7 ounce Kindle Touch with you without a strain even if you already have an iPad or Fire in tow.

Is the Kindle Touch better than the Kindle 4? For me I had a good reason to favor the Kindle Touch ($99 wi-fi only). I wanted 3G cellular ($149). I had purchased a Kindle 3 (now the Kindle Keyboard) with wi-fi only after having had a Kindle 2 which is a 3G-only device. I missed the always connected nature of the Kindle 2 so when buying the Kindle Touch I opted to pay a one-time charge of $50 to have lifetime 3G even though the 3G on the Touch doesn’t work for web browsing. I can use my iPhone for web browsing if wi-fi is not an option. I know the screen is small but it is a Retina display and I shuttle things over to Instapaper if I need a better reading experience. The prices for e-ink Kindles are with special offers. You pay $30-40 more to eliminate the ads which you can always do later if they bother you. I don’t mind them.

If you don’t like to highlight and don’t take notes, don’t use text to speech and aren’t all that curious about the new x-ray feature only available on the Kindle Touch, you should get the Kindle 4 for $79. Less is more if you don’t need this extra stuff. The Kindle 4 is lighter (1.5 oz.), smaller (a little bit) and generally delightful. I like all that extra stuff enough to tear myself away from the Kindle 4 which was my main Kindle between September and November when the Touch came out. And, even though the touch experience on the Touch is a bit laggy compared to the iPhone or iPad or even the Kindle Fire, it is touch and I like using my finger, to go straight to the words I want to highlight or selection I want to make.

I am hoping the software for the Touch will improve over the next few months — there are a couple missing features right now actually. You can’t turn the touch sideways to view pages in landscape, for example.

What about the Kindle 3 (aka Kindle Keyboard)? This is a darned good device and is full-featured minus the new touch capability, x-ray only available on some titles and the faster page turns in the Kindle 4 and Fire. You don’t need to upgrade. I did but I’m a technology consultant and have an excuse. The faster page turns feature of the K4 and Kindle Touch comes at the expense of a slight degradation on the screen as you go for a total of 5 page turns without a refresh. The Touch is still a little half-baked and if you are used to using the 5-way controller, it’s not a sure thing you’ll like the touch experience better (yet – maybe with software updates the touch will be the clear winner compared to navigating with the 5-way). Also, the touch doesn’t have page turn buttons. I wish it did (but I haven’t found touching the screen for page turns difficult or problematic in terms of fingerprints).

All of the E-Ink Kindles are Great and the Kindle Fire could stand alone as an eReader. Take your pick. I am not ready to give up e-ink, so I go with both. Also, since I have an iPad, I have a hard time keeping the Fire. I will keep it for now since I’m a technology consultant and like learning a bit more about Android.

7″ iPad

A cheaper 7″ iPad could be amazing. There’s a gap in the 5-7″ space that has invited competition from Samsung, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A 5-7″ iPad would likely be just as fast as the iPad 2 and easier to hold. I imagine it to be an exact copy of the iPad 2, but smaller. It would cost at least $299, I’ll bet. I prefer the traditional form factor of the iPad over the wide-screen Fire which is great for movies but a little awkward for writing since a horizontal keyboard fills the screen leaving little room to see your text.

Kindle Fire 2

The second version of the Kindle Fire will improve markedly. Although there is a rumor of a 10″ Fire, the 7″ size is the one I will follow. The 10″ is already dominated by iPad and I like the 7″ size which will get lighter and thinner gradually. Amazon will be able to hone it like they’ve honed the e-ink Kindles over the generations. Amazon has shown they care about design. And they’ve learned that price matters so Amazon will stay well ahead of Apple in the value department and will likely continue to build out their iTunes-beating cloud-based media services.

That’s it for this year of 2011. See you in the new year! All good tidings.