Amazon Kindle Tablet: Android tablet or eReader on steroids?

The Kindle Tablet seems to erase the line between the traditional Kindle ereader device and full tablets

Amazon is expected to unveil its Kindle Tablet at a press event in New York on Wednesday. From what we know so far about the device, it seems like it might be the first tablet rival capable of really competing with the Apple iPad. Based on the size and use of the Kindle brand, though, it is reasonable to wonder whether the Kindle Tablet is a true tablet PC, or just a Kindle with some tablet features.

Many have suggested that the iPad might be a "Kindle killer". While the two devices serve different purposes, there has always been some overlap. I argued about ten months ago, "Comparing a Kindle and an iPad is like comparing a spoon to a Swiss Army knife. Yes, both enable someone to eat a bowl of soup, but the spoon is more or less limited to that role, while the Swiss Army knife might also include a corkscrew, can opener, wire strippers, scissors, tweezers, magnifying glass, and screwdriver. Trying to determine which one is "better" is entirely subjective, and ultimately futile."

The Kindle Tablet will change that dynamic and pit the two devices head to head. So, will the Kindle Tablet now be an "iPad killer", or will it really just be an ereader with some extra bells and whistles?

The real question is actually "what’s the difference?" It's a little like seeing a red Corvette next to a red Porsche and saying, "Well, this one is a red sports car, but that one is just a sports car that's red." There is a point where the line is so blurred, and where the capabilities of each are so similar, that the distinction loses meaning.

The Barnes & Noble ereader--the Nook Color--also runs on Android and acts like a tablet. The Nook Color is still viewed as an ereader with some bonus features, though. Despite its Android roots and ability to run Android apps, the Nook Color is rarely mentioned in tablet discussions, or considered as a direct rival to tablets like the Lenovo IdeaPad, or Acer Iconia A100.

To be fair, the Nook Color really is more of an ereader on steroids than a tablet. Hackers figured out how to root the device and access its Android core, and Barnes & Noble eventually embraced the tablet cross-over aspects of the Nook Color. Barnes & Noble even has its own Nook Color App Store, but it has a limited library of apps, and the Nook Color lacks key tablet functionality like the ability to stream audio or video.

It seems the Amazon Kindle Tablet will blur those lines even farther, though--to the point that the line itself becomes irrelevant. If current reports and speculation about the Kindle Tablet come true, it will be a color version of a Kindle just as a Nook Color is a color version of a Nook, but it will fully embrace its Android heritage and provide a complete tablet experience rather than reluctantly tagging along after the fact.

Essentially, trying to define whether it is an ereader or a tablet is an exercise in futility. Yes, it will be capable of reading Kindle ebooks just like a traditional Kindle device. But, if it runs Android, and Android apps, and streams audio and video content, then it's tablet enough to meet the needs of most users. And, the $250 price tag is very competitive--especially if it includes Amazon Prime membership.

We'll see what Amazon unveils on Wednesday.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags tablet PCconsumer electronicsamazon.comkindlesmartphoneshardware systemsAndroidtablets

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?