Barnes & Noble challenges Apple and Amazon with new Nook HD ‘tablet’

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Barnes & Noble Inc has presented on Wednesday a high definition ‘tablet’, lighter and thinner and can allow multiple users in an attempt to gain a larger share of the competitive market.

The devices are priced ranging from $199 for the Nook 7-inch HD ‘tablet’ with 8 gigabytes of memory, up to $299 for the 9-inch size similar to Apple Inc’s iPad current market leader, with 32 GB . iPad prices are nearly twice as high for similar devices.

The new Nook is the latest to join the war on ‘tablets’ sales and e-readers, and therefore all digital content, such as books, movies and magazines.

Barnes & Noble has bet its future on digital business as the company faces a general decline in industry sales of physical books.

“A key growth area is to get your existing customer base to phase over to the digital platform”, said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, arguing that the new devices are competitive with similar Amazon products in terms of features and prices.

Barnes & Noble brings over a strong fight against rival Amazon, that can use its shipping services and site to satisfy users, and also against Apple, which has sold tens of millions of iPads units.

To keep up, Barnes & Noble has added innovative features to its Nook, as each family can share the ‘tablet’ creating each user their own homepage and preferences. It is the first device of its kind that allows that. It also allows parents to control content.

The company is also launching a new video streaming service and Nook download service, reducing the gap with Amazon and Apple, which offers more content on their devices.

These are the new Kindles

The family of Kindle digital readers and tablets has three more members staring this week. The first, called Kindle Fire, is an improvement over the previous version: a 7” inch tablet with ability to surf the web, play music and movies and of course, read digital books.

The second is the HD version of Fire, a powerful tablet, for $500, becomes an interesting competitor for the iPad.

The last of the devices is a digital book reader e-ink, but also takes orders by touch. All devices will show advertising for products sold by Amazon to be blocked or at rest. According to the company, this is the reason we can sell the devices at a lower price than the competition.

The new Fire

During their press conference in Los Angeles this week, Amazon introduced the new version of its Kindle Fire tablet, with notable hardware improvements, and the not-so-pleasant surprise is that they will now implement a system of ‘compulsory advertising’ when the equipment is not in use.

In terms of technical features, the new Kindle Fire has a multitouch 7” inch screen, dual-core processor and a battery that lets you play 7 ½ hours of video. Unfortunately for readers, the battery life is only half an hour longer when the device is used to read eBooks.

The tablet, which has double the memory than its predecessor, weighs 410 grams, as opposed to 650 grams of the Apple iPad 3, and 565 grams for the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The price of the device, available in presale from Thursday, is $160, $40 less than the previous version.

Subsidized by advertising

The high-definition version of the Kindle Fire has a multitouch 8.9” inch screen, and a much higher price. Available for Pre-order this week, the device costs $500 or $600, depending on if you buy the 32 or 64 gigabytes of storage. But the value becomes attractive when compared with other high definition tablets, like the iPad 3, the cheapest version with 32 gigabytes of storage, costs $730.

Those who buy a Fire HD will find that the device also shows special offers and sponsored listings of movies, books and music on your screen when idle, or in locked mode. Amazon, however, said that advertising does not hinder the use of the device.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, says his company is different from companies like Apple trying to make money by providing services, not selling their devices. So this is how they can can offer them at a competitive price without obsessing over them for huge profits.

Indeed: the reduction of the company’s net profit during the third quarter of last year made Amazon think that they where losing money for every Kindle Fire it sells.

(Almost) no distractions

The third and final version of the Kindle that Amazon will launch in the coming weeks is called Paperwhite: a tablet that can not play videos or pictures in color, and only uses its battery when a user moves a page or access a menu.

This is possible because it has an LED screen but with digital ink, a white surface where the dots that make up the letters and pictures are magnetically ordered, and then remain in that position naturally.

Although this model has a feature missing from previous versions: lighting of its screen, you can read even with no external light sources.

Priced at $70, The Paperwhite is also the cheapest version of the Kindle, designed for those with reading as a priority to access over the Internet or buying items from Amazon.

With regard to advertising, the model also shows product announcements from online store offers, but Amazon said that in the future will give your users the option of paying for to disable advertising in the device.

Pi: a PC for $25

The Raspberry Pi is not the first computer with a price less than $100 in the market, and the first with a price below $50, but promises to be one of the most popular. This week, the makers of the PC announced that its prototype is ready to be mass produced, and that the production will take place in the UK.

Last year, a team of British engineers discovered that they could buy the parts needed to build a incredibly small PC for just over $20.

After joining the team and prove they could run a modern version of Ubuntu, an operating system completely free, the team calculated that the system could hit the market at a price of $25, with a version a bit more powerful for $35 dollars.

While the Raspberry Pi became popular on the Internet, its creators discovered that the only way to maintain the desired selling price, the equipment was to be manufactured in China. But this week the team announced it will begin manufacturing the computer in England, keeping its cost unchanged.

Unfortunately, managing to make the Raspberry Pi in the West delayed the release of the computer almost a year. The team, which could become a favorite among governments and educational institutions, faces competition from models such as the Cubieboard, which for $50 gives four times more RAM, and a faster processor.

Gigabyte Show Off A New Range Of Motherboards At Computex 2012

Computex 2012: As we have seen around Computex, Thunderbolt is one of the buzz words of the show with many manufacturers to show their offerings featuring the new interface on the PC platform. Gigabyte naturally wants to show their hand to the table and have a large spectrum of boards on show, a number of which include Thunderbolt.

Starting with the AMD side of the catalogue, the F2A85X-UP4 is not one of the Thunderbolt hosts but it still is key in the shape of things to come. Supporting the new FM2 A-series APUs from AMD, the board also features AMD Radeon 7000 series integrated into the CPU, support for dual-channel 2400MHz DDR3, 6+2 phase digital VRM, Gigabytes patent pending 3D BIOS, Lucid Virtu technology, eight SATA 3 headers and six USB 3.0 ports.

Moving over to the Intel side of the wall and where we see many more boards on display, we start by taking a look at the X79 based offerings. When looking at the model numbers the first thing you will notice os the key letter change to the end of each model. Previously, all board have be labelled with UD*, but now we find that Gigabyte has introduced the UP (Ultra Performance) range of boards. The X79-UP4 supports socket LGA 2011 core i7 processors and features All digital power with Gigabyte’s patent pending 3D power, 3D BIOS (Dual UEFI) with Ultra Durable 5 technology.

One up from the UD4 we also find on show the Z79S-UD5 WIFI. Over the UD4 the UD5 WIFI features Gigabyte Bluetooth v4.0 and Wi-Fi, 8 SAS connectors, and high quality 110dB SNR HD Audio.

Moving on from the X79 chipset we come onto the recent Z77 chipset. We’ve seen at eTeknix a few of the UD titled boards, but likewise with the X79 boards, we see the new board here with the UP title in their name. The Z77 boards below all support the latest 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge CPUs with Gigabyte’s patent pending 3D Power & 3D BIOS, built on their latest Ultra Durable 5 boards. Other features on the UP4 TH include Thunderbolt support, onboard mSATA, Lucid Virtu MVP support, Gigabyte ON/OFF charge with 3x power technology and 108dB SNR HD Audio.

Over the UP4 TH, the UP5 TH sees an 8 phase VRM, Gigabyte’s Bluetooth v4.0 and Wi-Fi card and Realtek ALC898 High Quality 110dB SNR HD audio.

Topping off the lineup is the always impressive UP7. Over the over two boards, we do primarily not the lack of Thunderbolt support, but what we do find instead is an innovative 32 phase VRM design and also a lack of heatsinks over the VRM area. Other spec increases include 4 way SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU support and Dual LAN (Intel and Atheros gigabit controllers).

After looking at all of these new offerings, Gigabyte really do seem to have a strong hand with the latest in motherboard design and innovation, and we at eTeknix look forward to taking a closer look at these boards when they become available for review hopefully in the near future to see how they perform.

Samsung rumored to release ‘S-Cloud’

According to a report by South Korean newspaper Maeil Business, Samsung may release a cloud service alongside the next Galaxy device, on May 3rd.

Since the Samsung Galaxy devices run on Google’s Android, they already have access to the media and application store “Google Play”. However, the cloud service will apparently be coming with a VOD-store, to sell music and video content.

The cloud service, being called “S-Cloud” is suggested to launch with five gigabytes of storage. It is also rumored, however, that there will be unlimited storage for the content purchased through the cloud service. This is similar to how Amazon treats media purchased through their online store, and may potentially make the service more appealing than Apple’s iCloud service.

Right now, Samsung is Apple’s biggest rival in the smartphone business. But the South Korean electronics company may have a harder time getting a foothold in the cloud industry, due to the sheer number of cloud services which already exist.

Source: PCMag