Tablets/Ereaders

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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China develops graphene electronic paper

3 May 2016

From Xinhua:

China has developed a new electronic paper, a huge breakthrough that will catapult the material to a new level.

The new material has been heralded as “the world’s first graphene electronic paper,” by Chen Yu, general manager of Guangzhou OED Technologies, which developed it in partnership with a company in Chongqing.

Graphene is the world’s strongest and lightest known material; a single layer of graphene is only 0.335 nanometers thick, and it can conduct heat and electricity.

The material can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays, used in electronic products such as e-readers and wearable smart devices.

Compared with traditional e-papers, graphene e-paper is more pliable and has more intensity and its high-light transmittance means optical displays will be much brighter.

. . . .

Compared with liquid crystal displays, e-papers are thinner, bendable and energy efficient, meaning products are more portable.

Link to the rest at Xinhua and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Mirage at the Kindle Oasis? Some users report issues with lighting, finish

1 May 2016

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

Although many users are happy with their new Kindle Oasis readers, it seems a good many of them aren’t. A ten-page-and-growing thread has sprung up on MobileRead’s Kindle forum complaining about uneven lighting issues that make it annoying to try to read. Some say that they see “shadow cones” on their screen, while others note the color temperature of the lighting seems to change from one side of the screen to the other.

. . . .

Forum reader Kolja reports:

I received my Oasis today also and have been trying to convince myself that the screen is fine as the device is great in all other ways. I’m one of those who sees the color shifts and the one I got has it. Overall the screen is much warmer than my Voyage and the color gets darker, almost yellow on the left. I can see slight brightness where the LEDs are on the thicker side and while minor I find it more distracting in the margin than it was on the bottom. I’m going to try reading with it for awhile to see if it bothers me enough to return it. Mine came from Best Buy and will be easy to return if necessary.

Other readers report fit and finish issues (as did some of the negative Amazon.com reviewers I mentioned the other day)—a crevice along the border of the screen where dust gets trapped, and jagged edges in places. However, others (including David Rothman and Len Edgerly) don’t report experiencing any of these issues at all.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Amazon tablet shipments surge 5,000 percent YoY

29 April 2016

From ZDNet:

Tablet shipments declined more than 14 percent worldwide during the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest stats from IDC.

The research firm said the decline was due to general seasonality combined with an overall disinterested customer base.

. . . .

As for the vendors, the most dramatic year-over-year change comes from Amazon, which increased tablet shipments by an astronomical 5421.7 percent to claim the No. 3 spot on the list. The tech giant wasn’t even included in the top five tablet vendors in the first quarter of 2015.

Amazon’s growth is due primarily to its range of slate tablets, such as the $49.99 version of Amazon’s Fire tablet, which have become synonymous with the low-end of the market.

For Amazon, the low price is part of a strategy that CEO Jeff Bezos has referred to as “the Amazon Doctrine.” In a nutshell, Amazon cares less about tablets as end products and more as direct commerce channels for users to buy products from Amazon.

. . . .

Apple and Samsung still claim the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, however Apple’s tablet shipments declined 18.8 percent, while Samsung’s dropped just over 28 percent annually.

Link to the rest at ZDNet

Amazon.com, Inc. Kindle Oasis Will be a Disappointment

16 April 2016

From The Country Caller:

Regardless of what Amazon claims the Kindle Oasis to be, it fails to impress let alone meet expectations, and here are a couple of reasons why.

. . . .

For starters, the Kindle Oasis costs a staggering $290. Seeing how the sales from the market have already dropped in the last three years, it makes absolutely no sense for Amazon to introduce an e-book reader this expensive. Additionally, the presence of affordable tablets is already hurting the sales of e-book readers. By introducing the Kindle Oasis, Amazon has done more harm than good.

Since there are cheaper alternatives available, there is no reason for individuals to invest in a premium e-book reader, when they can get more functions from a tablet that is cheaper than the Kindle Oasis. To put things into perspective, an individual could instead invest in an iPad Mini Pro 2, which costs $269 rather than pay $290 for an e-book reader with limited functionality.

. . . .

That being said, the Kindle Oasis may boast amazing specs and new features which were not present in the Paperwhite or Voyage, but the new device overall fails to deliver and does not offer true value for money.

Link to the rest at The Country Caller

For PG, a tablet is not a substitute for an ereader. He uses both every day.

The tablet is for web browsing, email, etc., when he’s in a place where it’s not easier to use his smartphone. The bigger tablet screen works better for some purposes than the smartphone.

PG’s ereader – a Paperwhite – is for reading books. For this purpose, he much prefers the e-ink screen over the tablet screen. He also prefers the lighter weight. The technology fades into the background and all that remains is the story. That doesn’t happen for him to the same extent with the tablet. Since he reads from a book every day, it’s worth it to PG to have a device designed specifically for an optimum book-reading experience.

PG sees the Oasis as a top-end ereader for people who want to spend the money for the best possible ereading experience. PG hasn’t decided if the price is worth it to him or not, but the Oasis looks good and he does like the idea of dedicated buttons as a page-turning alternative. Since PG sometimes accidentally turns pages on his Paperwhite when he’s holding it in one hand, the larger handgrip on the Oasis is also attractive.

The bigger battery on the Oasis means he’s good if he’s away from electricity or forgot to bring the correct charging cord on a trip. Although he charges his smartphone every day, in a perfect world, all of PG’s devices would operate without recharging for at least several weeks. Longer would be even better. PG would love to set a reminder on New Year’s Day to recharge all his cordless devices for the coming year.

Vegans Protest the Mandatory Leather Cover on the Kindle Oasis

15 April 2016

From The Digital Reader:

Here’s a story which could either grow to be a major faux pas for Amazon or simply fizzle out (it’s too early to tell). TNW reports on a new petition on Change.org:

That didn’t take long – just a little over 24 hours after the Amazon Kindle Oasis officially dropped, the company is already receiving backlash about its charging cover, which comes in exclusively in leather.

A petition on Change.org is asking Amazon to add a vegan leather option for readers who are uncomfortable with genuine leather. The Kindle Oasis comes with the charging cover included, which leaves little choice for animal rights supporters to get a new, tiny Kindle with “months” of charge sans-cover.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Where have all the tablets gone?

11 April 2016

From CNET:

Tablets are like vinyl records and Tupac, people either think they’re dead or alive.

Despite the drought in new models, tablets aren’t dead. However, the same can’t be said about the hype around them. Even the latest iPad — one of the most popular tablets — barely turned any heads when it was released earlier this year.

The lukewarm feeling for tablets is evident in consistently declining sales. This has resulted in manufacturers significantly slowing down their production; in 2014 and 2015 Samsung released a new Android tablet every couple of months, and we’ve yet to see one in 2016. Similarly, we haven’t seen Asus release an Android-based Transformer Pad since 2013.

Remember when everyone thought the tablet was going to replace the laptop? So far they’ve failed to live up to that expectation.

. . . .

Tablets aren’t like phones; they’re not fetishized by shoppers. A phone is an everyday part of life you take with you everywhere (yes, sadly, even in the bathroom), and upgrading every other year usually results in improved performance or design that makes an incremental difference in your life — whether that’s a waterproof build or removable parts.

It’s not the same with tablets. They’re usually used as a leisure device at home for reading up on Kanye’s latest Twitter rant, binge-watching House of Card in bed, or checking Facebook, and most people’s needs are fulfilled by the model they already own. Getting a new tablet every year (or every other year) is almost like throwing away a toothbrush after using it for a week.

Tablets have more in common with TVs, PCs or gaming consoles than phones. They’re an investment you make once every few years, and, ideally, when you upgrade you’ll be getting something significantly better than what you had before. (Or you could pick up an affordable Amazon tablet that’s good enough for most casual use.) It’s up to you when that upgrade happens.

Link to the rest at CNET

Amazon to Release New Kindle With Rechargeable Protective Case

6 April 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Amazon.com Inc. is betting on batteries to drum up more sales of its popular line of Kindle e-readers.

In a first for the Seattle online retailer, Amazon will soon sell a higher-end Kindle with a rechargeable protective case for extended battery life, according to a person familiar with the matter. This removable cover will allow the Kindle to be thinner than earlier devices.

Also under development is a separate Kindle case with a battery that can be charged using solar power. It is unlikely this case will be released in the immediate future, another person familiar with the matter said.

. . . .

The latest devices would help to solidify Amazon’s dominance in e-readers. Rivals likeRakuten Inc.’s Kobo and Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook have failed to gain significant traction, in part because of Mr. Bezos’s stated commitment to selling devices at or near cost to keep prices low.

. . . .

Because the devices are durable, one challenge has been compelling readers to buy upgraded versions, according to people familiar with the matter, though Amazon says it is content to make money off e-book sales even for older model Kindles. The company has never released details about Kindle sales.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Pam and others for the tip.

Do more British kids really own a tablet than a teddy bear?

28 March 2016

From TeleRead:

The UK tabloid press has jumped all over a survey from British Military Fitness whichpurports to prove that “Britain’s tech savvy toddlers are more likely to own a tablet than a teddy.” This comes as part of the company’s #Springintoaction campaign to encourage British kids to get out and exercise, rather than spending time indoors in unhealthy pursuits like … reading?

According to the company, “in today’s digital age, children’s time is being invested in technology: two thirds (67%) of children can confidently use an iPhone, more than half (58%) own an iPad yet 41% of children don’t own a football, and 39% own a PlayStation to be able to play FIFA online!” And “58% of kids prefer to play on iPads and games rather than play outside.”

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Amazon Tablet Market Share Surges, Thanks To Its Low-Cost Slates

15 March 2016

From Investors Business Daily:

Amazon.com jumped to No. 3 in the global tablet market during the fourth quarter, thanks to its lineup of low-cost slates, led by the $50 Fire tablet.

In Q4, Amazon shipped 5 million tablets, accounting for 11.5% of the total market. In the year-earlier quarter, Amazon shipped just 1.5 million tablets, accounting for 2.9% of the market, ABI Research reported Monday. Amazon’s tablet shipments soared 233% in Q4 vs. Q4 2014.

“Unlike other tablet manufacturers, Amazon views hardware as a commodity and emphasizes focus on its recurring digital content revenue stream, generated from selling digital books, music, TV and video programming to owners of its devices,” ABI analyst Jeff Orr said in a statement. “The incredibly low pricing of the Fire Tablet is a smart and strategic move, as few others can afford to accept a lower margin on their tablet devices in favor of driving a surplus of content-related revenues.”

. . . .

So far, the leading tablet vendors haven’t followed Amazon by drastically lowering their tablet prices.

“Most tablet vendors continue to take a wait-and-see approach to Amazon’s Fire Tablet release,” Orr said. “It’s a path only few can follow, as vendors without content distribution rights and value-added services can only rely on the transaction price of their hardware to stay in business.

“For instance, LeEco, formerly LeTV, in China is attempting a similar model. Conversely, content owners may find value in broadening their ecosystems by striking relationships with tablet vendors to get their programming in front of more users.”

Link to the rest at Investors Business Daily

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