Tablets/Ereaders

Kobo goes big with its 7.8-inch Aura One e-reader

18 August 2016

From TechCrunch:

When Kobo briefed me on the release of its new e-reader, a company rep explained that the company “[wasn’t] sure if there was a premium price point” when they released the Aura HD back in 2013. At 6.8 inches, it was larger than the long-time industry standard six inches, and it had a high-res screen and price tag to match.

The Canadian company has never been afraid to take risks with the often-boring world of e-readers, and for that reason alone it is a welcoming presence. Without Kobo pushing the boundaries of screen size, build quality and features like waterproofing, it’s hard to imagine much innovation occurring in the Amazon-dominated space.

With the Aura One, the company is doubling down yet again, with a 7.8-inch display that utterly dwarfs the Aura HD and a $230 price point to match. Even with a handful of other welcome add-on features, that’s a pretty lofty price tag for a devoted e-reader when Amazon’s Kindle Voyage starts at $30 less (the Special Offers edition, at least).

But Kobo’s previous attempts to go all in have paid off before, and while the company will likely be the first to admit that the Aura One isn’t for everyone, it gives the sort of person willing to shell out more than $200 for such a device exactly what they’re looking for: the ultimate e-reader.

. . . .

That’s the thing about e-reader displays: All roads lead to six inches. Both Kobo and Amazon have experimented with different screen sizes, and both keep coming to the conclusion that the pull to return to a standardized size is just too great. After all, it’s large enough to replicate a full page and compact enough to slip into a pants pocket when you’re done.

So, naturally, Kobo has gone ahead and made its largest screen yet. The added real estate means fewer page turns. It’s also a bonus for readers who need large type and people who use their readers for PDFs, which can be a ginormous pain on a smaller screen with all of the pinching and scrolling.

And 7.8 inches, it turns out, is big, but not unwieldy. Stashing the reader in your pocket is suddenly out of the equation. Reading with one hand for bus and subway travelers may or may not still be in the cards, depending on how big your hands are.

. . . .

The E Ink display sports an 1872 x 1404 resolution, which works out to 300 ppi — the same as what you’ll find on the Kindle Voyage and the last-gen Glo HD — i.e. about as sharp as reading real text on a real page. You know all of the e-ink trade-offs by now. In the pro column, it’s crisp, clear and visible in sunlight, with a ridiculously low power consumption. But it’s monochrome and has a much longer refresh rate, which hasn’t seen all that much improvement in recent generations.

Of course, the device’s inability to offer a half-decent web browser experience is either a pro or a con, depending on who you ask. After all, keeping this a purely readerly experience means completely ditching all of the social notifications and other distractions — as if you don’t already have all of the info pushed to enough devices already.

The real differentiator on the screen front is the addition of the ComfortLight Pro to the device’s front lighting technology. Like the rest of the hardware world, Kobo’s getting on the sleep train, adjusting the screen’s blue light level so it doesn’t screw up circadian rhythms before bed. The device can either do it automatically using a light sensor adjusting over the course of the day, or the user can set a predetermined bedtime for the system to switch over to a far more reddish hue.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

Is an iPad still worth it for ebook lovers?

11 August 2016

From TeleRead:

When I bought my first iPad, it was $400 and changed my life.

It could go all day on a single charge. I could carry all my teaching materials—books, music, movies, everything—on one clipboard-sized device. I read on it, watched movies, played games. It truly was the ‘laptop replacement’ I always wanted—a do-it-all device that was light, beautiful and went all day on a single charge.

Now, here we are, a half-decade and change later, and…well, for the first time, I find myself wondering whether I would replace my iPad if something happened to it.

A new iPad Air 2, not even the latest model, goes for $499 CAD on Apple Canada—more, even, than the first one I bought all those years ago.

Even a new iPad Mini is almost $350. That’s a lot of money for something that, more than ever, is a want and not a need. So, what’s changed? Why is an iPad not worth it anymore? For me, there have been a few sea changes.

1) In the Cloud, you can access content everywhere. This has been the first big change. I used to carry my iPad around with me because I stored my content locally. Ten CDs worth of music, all on my one device! And now, every classroom I teach in is equipped with a laptop and SMARTboard. Teachers are not using CDs anymore. They are not using local music files ripped from a CD. All of that stuff is on YouTube now, and you can project it into the giant ‘tablet’ that’s mounted on the wall.

. . . .

3) The form factor is wrong for a book reader. When I was still doing actual work on the iPad, I liked having the full-sized screen. But now that I’m not, I’m finding the full-size tablet to be a little much for my leisure tasks. I want to read ebooks, check Facebook and look at YouTube videos while I’m lying on the couch, and that’s pretty much it. I appreciate that they have made the iPad fairly light and sleek. But I am finding, especially now that I am in the later stage of my pregnancy, that it isn’t comfortable to lie on the couch with it. It’s too cumbersome to hold it one-handed, and when I try and rest it on my lap, it slides onto my tummy and pokes. A seven-inch Android I can hold in one hand is much easier.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

World-wide Tablet Shipments Crater

3 August 2016

Infographic:  | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

The iPad is dead. Long live the iPad.

2 August 2016

From The Bookseller:

Like printed pocketbooks, smartphone reading is essentially a narrative subdivided into easily referenceable, bitesize chunks. Poetry and psalms replaced by Twitter and Facebook. The difference being that now the content is dynamic. Equally as accessible. Constantly updating. Addictive.

This is perfect for on-the-move reading. It’s entertaining, informative and interruptible. It has to be. We all know how dangerous reading on the go can be.

The stats at the FutureBook Conference 2015 conference showed that we are interacting with our smartphones up to 200 times/day, making it an immensely powerful tool. But I was disappointed with the conclusion was that the smartphone was in and the tablet was out. I know that the sales figures are high, but is it a fair comparison? We upgrade our phones all the time. Tablets are not quite as disposable.

. . . .

Centuries of publishing has evolved a natural relationship between page size and subject matter. Print or digital, we still hold and read the page in the same way, so these ratios naturally translate into screen-size. If the smartphone is lending itself to easily transportable information, then what is the future of those less accessible subjects? What is the future of books that can only be formatted for larger page sizes?

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

How Electronic Ink Was Invented

24 July 2016

From Science Friday:

When Amazon introduced its first Kindle back in 2007, it raved about the e-reader’s “crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.” The tablet did not use the LCD screens that most consumers saw on their laptops or TVs. “It reflects light like ordinary paper and uses no backlight, eliminating the eyestrain and glare associated with other electronic displays such as computer monitors or PDA screens,” Amazon boasted.

That first-generation Kindle used a technology called microencapsulated electrophoretic display, colloquially known as electronic ink, or e-ink. Amazon has since sold millions of Kindles, and the concept of e-reading has become ubiquitous. But back in the mid-1990s, creating an electronic book was a “dream,” according to Barrett Comiskey.

That was when Comiskey, then an undergraduate at MIT, and his classmate JD Albert were recruited by MIT Media Lab professor Joseph Jacobson to create a technology that mimicked pages in a book. Jacobson envisioned a screen that wouldn’t give off light, and that you could tilt while still being able to see the text. He also wanted to make something that required little power to use—just like a real book.

. . . .

In the early stages of their research, however, the team was met with doubt from experts in materials science and chemical engineering. “They told us that putting black and white oppositely charged particles inside a single microcapsule just couldn’t be done,” Comiskey wrote. But he and Albert persevered, learning the basics of microencapsulation and making microparticles to see if they could make the concept work.

. . . .

Upon graduating, Albert and Comiskey, along with Jacobson and other shareholders, formed E Ink Corporation to continue improving their technology beyond proof-of-concept and prepare it for the commercial market. The first official e-reader to use e-ink was a Japanese product from Sony in 2004, but the technology finally saw wide commercial success with the debut of the Kindle—about a decade after the team first developed the concept.

Link to the rest at Science Friday and thanks to Dave for the tip.

New Kindle Announced

22 June 2016
Comments Off on New Kindle Announced

From The Amazon Media Room:

Amazon today introduced the all-new Kindle, making its most affordable reader thinner, lighter, and with twice the memory as the previous generation for the same price, just $79.99. Kindle is offered in your choice of black or white and is available at www.amazon.com/kindle.

. . . .

KindleThinner, Lighter, Still Only $79.99

The all-new Kindle is thinner and lighter and has twice the memory compared to the previous generation Kindle. Now available in black and white color options, the new Kindle features a more rounded design, making it easy and comfortable to hold in one hand at any angle for extended reading sessions. Unlike reflective tablet and smartphone screens, the high contrast touchscreen display on Kindle eliminates glare in any setting, even in direct sunlight. Recent studies have shown that evening exposure to blue light from backlit screens like tablets and smartphones can suppress the body’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps the body fall asleep. Because the Kindle display emits no light, you can read anytime without losing sleep. Like all Kindle e-readers, the all-new Kindle has a battery life that lasts for weeks and not hours.

. . . .

  • Export Notes—It’s now easy to export notes and highlights from a book to your e-mail, so you can always have them on-hand for reference. Receive your notes both as an easily printable PDF that’s ready to bring to your book club, and as a simple file you can open in your favorite spreadsheet app. This feature will be available as part of a free, over-the-air software update in the coming weeks.
  • Built-in Bluetooth audio for accessibility—The first Kindle with built-in Bluetooth audio support, Kindle makes it possible for visually impaired users to use the VoiceView screen reader on Kindle to read the content of the screen—including reading books and other Kindle content—without the need for an adaptor. This is enabled through a new out-of-box experience specifically for visually-impaired customers that allows them to pair their Kindle with Bluetooth headphones or a speaker. For other recent updates in accessibility, visit our Amazon blog.
  • Chinese Word Wise Hints—Choose between English and Simplified Chinese Word Wise hints by changing the language in Word Wise settings.

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

Amazon seems to be willing to invest in additional Kindle ereader sales via new features and aggressive pricing to keep its ebook ecosystem healthy.

If ebook sales were really flattening or declining as articles focused on the traditional publishing world have suggested, PG wonders if the company would be putting more money into ereaders. This is the second new ereader Amazon has introduced in the last three months.

Fire Tablet – $39.99

17 June 2016

Amazon has a sale today on their Fire Tablet – $39.99 (at least in the US).

If you’re a late adopter/skeptic, this is probably the least expensive way you can see if you would use a tablet or not. PG doesn’t think a Craigslist used iPad could beat this price.

E-book tablet to be launched to popularise Mahatma’s books

15 June 2016

From The New Indian Express:

To popularise books on Mahatma Gandhi and cater to the ever-changing reading habits, a city-based trust has decided to come up with their own tablet, lending people the facility to read Gujarati and Hindi e-books published by them on the Father of the Nation.

Kindle-like e-book tablet, which the Navjivan Trust is planning to bring, will have 170 books mostly on Mahatma Gandhi allowing people to read those in Hindi and Gujarati.

. . . .

Till now, the trust, established in 1919 by Gandhiji himself, has sold around 10,500 online versions of around 170 of their books, converted into e-books, which according to Desai, is the key motivating factor for the trust to venture into the territory of an exclusive tablet parallel to online conglomerate Amazon’s “Kindle” e-book reader.

. . . .

“At present, Kindle does not support Gujarati or Hindi language. Thus, we have decided to create a new platform to reach out to people wanting to read Mahatma’s books in those languages. We are in process to make a tablet equivalent to Kindle. This device will allow readers to type and search in Gujarati or Hindi,” said Ashar.

Link to the rest at The New Indian Express

Amazon says its $50 Fire is top-selling tablet in the US

3 June 2016

From CNET:

Move over, iPad, Amazon now has the best selling tablet in the US.

According to Amazon, the company’s dirt-cheap Fire tablet ($50, £50) is not only the top-selling tabletin the US for the first quarter of 2016, but it just became Amazon’s best-selling tablet of all time.

As always, Amazon declined to share specific sales numbers, but Senior Manager of Product Management, Amazon Devices Aaron Bromberg said those milestones were “based on internal data as well as external data.”

In April, market research firm IDC reported that worldwide tablet shipments declined 14.7 percentduring the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16). Sales of slate tablets were down overall, IDC noted, but the low-end of the market was where all the action was.

“While this may bode well for vendors like Amazon that rely on hardware sales to increase their ecosystem size,” IDC reported, “it has not helped vendors who rely solely on greater margins for hardware sales.”

Link to the rest at CNET

Kindle Oasis review: The perfect e-reader for the 1 percent

4 May 2016

From engadget:

Amazon’s Kindle Oasis is like a feast with the world’s finest caviar. It’s an all-you-can-eat Wagyu steak dinner. It’s an $80 cup of coffee. Simply put, the Oasis is a $290 extravagance meant only for the few who can afford it. For the rest of us, it’s just something to lust after. We called the $200 Kindle Voyage the “Rolls Royce of e-readers” two years ago, but instead of going cheaper (the standard Kindle is currently $60, and the backlit Paperwhite model is $100), Amazon pushed even further into luxury status. For $290 you get an e-reader so light it almost feels like you’re holding nothing at all. Unfortunately, Amazon still hasn’t made a strong argument for why anyone actually needs a high-end reading device.

. . . .

I’ve held plenty of e-readers, tablets, smartphones and other gadgets over the years, and few were as remarkable as the Oasis. When you look at it head-on, it’s unmistakably a Kindle, even though its 6-inch E Ink display is pushed to the side to make room for two physical page-changing buttons (answering the prayers of Engadget’s Chris Velazco). But tilt it slightly and you’ll notice that it’s, well … sort of funky. Most of the device is insanely thin — a mere 3.4 mm — while the rest is a slightly thicker hump meant for gripping one-handed.

Its asymmetric design looks weird at first, but it only takes a few seconds to get used to it. That’s mostly because it’s light — crazy light, at just 4.6 ounces. To compare, the Voyage weighs 6.3 ounces, and the Paperwhite clocks in at 7.2 ounces. Those don’t sound like huge differences, but they’re noticeable when you’re holding something for hours on end. The Voyage and the Paperwhite are close to the weight of a typical paperback. The Oasis, on the other hand, is so featherweight it almost feels alien as a reading device.

. . . .

Once again, Amazon used micro-etched glass for the Oasis’ screen, which should make it even more resistant to glare (it’s also stronger than the Voyage’s). The new model’s screen still packs in a sharp 300 pixels per inch, which looks about as good as printed text on paper. That’s the same resolution you get with the Voyage and the Paperwhite, though you do get 60 percent more LED lights here than on the Voyage. That’s nothing big, but it makes for a more uniform lighting presentation overall. I know plenty of Kindle fans who were irked by the Voyage’s slightly uneven lighting, which was particularly annoying given the price.

. . . .

There’s also a leather case included with the Oasis (available in black, walnut or merlot), which doubles as an extra battery pack to make up for the Kindle’s reduced battery size. (Amazon had to give something up to make the Oasis so thin, after all.) The case snaps right onto the angled portion of the Oasis’ back and adds another 3.8 ounces to the Kindle’s weight when connected. Thankfully, you can charge the Kindle and the case together.

. . . .

It’s no surprise that books and black-and-white comics look great on the Kindle Oasis: Amazon pretty much mastered that with the Voyage’s 300-ppi E Ink screen. For lack of a better word, there’s an “inkiness” to the display that makes text and line art appealing to your eyes. It’s completely different from a backlit smartphone or tablet, which can be just as sharp but can also feel like it’s attacking your eyes with light. Reading on the Kindle Oasis (along with the Voyage and the Paperwhite) is more like settling in with a book right next to a gentle lamp. There’s something soothing about it.

. . . .

The most noticeable improvement with the Kindle Oasis is the way it feels while you’re reading. Its lightweight, asymmetric design makes it ideal for holding with one hand and lounging on the couch or in bed. In my first few days with the Oasis, I easily dove into several titles that were gathering digital dust in my Kindle library.

. . . .

It may have just been the shininess of a new gadget compelling me, but I noticed that my reading sessions with the Oasis were much longer than with the Voyage.

. . . .

I was so enamored with the Oasis’ design that I used its included leather case only for traveling. It’s not exactly heavy when the case is connected — I had no problem keeping it on during crowded subway rides — but the Oasis feels so good on its own that there’s no reason to have any extra burden unless you really need it. The case itself feels like a high-quality piece of leather, and does a good job protecting the Kindle’s precious screen.

It’s also a great travel companion, since it has its own battery and extends the Oasis’s runtime to around eight weeks on standby.

. . . .

With the Kindle Paperwhite, which also packs in a sharp screen and backlight, available for $100, there’s simply no reason for most people to even consider the Oasis. It would have made more sense for Amazon to nix the Voyage and price the Oasis at $200 (or even slightly more). Asking $290 ($20 more than an iPad Mini 2) is simply madness.

Link to the rest at engadget

PG says serious readers spend many, many hours with their ereaders and may want the best reading experience possible.

During a typical waking day and evening, PG spends more minutes on his Kindle than he does on his tablet which cost more than the Kindle. During a typical week when he’s not on vacation, he spends more minutes with his Kindle than he does with his photographic equipment and related software, which cost way, way more than his current and past Kindles and all the remaining Kindles he will purchase during his lifetime.

If he were to calculate his cost per pleasure-hour, Kindles and ebooks would easily provide PG with the most pleasure for the least money of any leisure activity he can think of other than time he spends with his family.

Everyone has a quality vs. price tradeoff they mentally calculate for a wide variety of goods. PG suspects a reasonable number of readers are willing to pay $289 for the finest reading experience available. He also suspects Amazon will lower prices over time or roll Oasis features into lower-cost ereaders.

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