Amazon announced a series of new Kindle tablets yesterday. Some of the intriguing features of this new lineup include a faster processor, improved battery life and a slimmer, lighter profile. As for the ‘lowlight,’ these tablets are more integrated than ever into the Amazon ecosystem, and that can be both a feature and a curse. A few examples:
1) Goodreads Integration
Now that Amazon owns Goodreads, they will be integrating it into all of their software interfaces, for both the tablets and the e-ink readers. That’s great, if you like Goodreads! But what if you’d rather use a different social book site? Or none at all? I learned this lesson already with the Kobo people, who baked in the ‘discovery’ feature into their Arc tablets and didn’t give people a settings option to turn it off. I don’t need Kobo to help me find books, but it’s going to, whether I like it or not! When a rep from Kobo actually joined in the discussion at MobileRead on this, he was incredulous that this was such an issue for people. I know, I know. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. But I hope Amazon gives people the option to turn this feature off.
2) Amazon Content Integration
This is an Amazon tablet, so it’s no surprise they are touting ‘deep integration’ with their content ecosystem as a major selling point. But this can be a drawback too—if their content system is missing content that you want, how easy will it be for you to load it on from elsewhere? I remember when Netflix ended their contract with Viacom and thousands of customers lost their access to streaming children’s programs that they relied on. It’s fine to say ‘don’t buy it if you don’t like Amazon’s stuff’ but remember that Amazon’s stuff today might not be around tomorrow! If you have to jailbreak your tablet to play the content you prefer, how happy will you be?
3) Customized OS Integration
Remember, too, that Amazon uses a proprietary Android OS which is non-standard. That means you have to wait for them to apply updates and integrate new features. If they don’t do that on as regular a schedule as you might prefer, would that be an issue for you? Do you feel you must have the best and most recent OS, or are you happy letting Amazon pick and choose the features for you?
I think the new tablets sound great, from a technical standpoint. But here in Canada, the Amazon ecosystem is much more limited, so when people have asked me, I have steered them to plain-vanilla Android devices which can run any app they choose. If you are blessed with a better Amazon offering than we are here in Canada, this might be a good purchase for you. Just be aware of the potential pitfalls before you buy.