Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘E-Reader’

Amazon’s New Kindle Lineup ➝

I remember receiving my first Kindle as a Christmas gift from my girlfriend in 2009, just a few weeks before the first iPad announcement. I used my Kindle pretty heavily until my iPad was delivered on April 30, 2010. Since then I’ve struggled to find a reason to use it.

The new Kindle lineup looks better than ever, but I don’t think they’re for me. I don’t spend too much time reading books. I’d rather read articles written for the web instead. And, the iPad is much better suited for that task.

If I had to choose a Kindle from the lineup to purchase, (in this crazy scenario) I’d buy the basic Kindle without special offers for $99. And, it would essentially serve as a dedicated Instapaper reader that causes a bit less eye strain than my other devices do.

Nook Simple Touch and the Kindle 3 ➝

Marco Arment has published a great comparison between the Nook Simple Touch and the Kindle 3. This bit near the end sums up his thoughts quite nicely:

My ideal e-reader would be the Nook hardware and interface, but backed by the Kindle’s ecosystem and services. It’s easier for Amazon to achieve Nook-like hardware design than for B&N to achieve a Kindle-like ecosystem, so it’s much more likely that the next Kindle will be a better fit than the current (or next) Nook.

I currently own a Kindle 2 and even though a lot of the features in these newer readers are nice, I don’t expect I’ll be buying one, even in the next couple of years. I openly admit that I don’t read books all that often. But, I do read more than anyone I know. Tools like Fever and Marco’s Instapaper make it super easy to read, a lot. But, I have a feeling that ebook readers aren’t the type of devices that users will upgrade very often. I think Amazon and Barnes & Noble need to assume that their customers are only going to upgrade once every three years or so.

People that read, read a lot. But, there isn’t a lot you can add to an ebook reader that will make people feel the need to upgrade.

Amazon Offers Discounted Kindle with Ads ➝

In exchange for viewing advertisements on the bottom of the Kindle’s home screen and when the Kindle is asleep, Amazon is offering the Kindle for $25 off the regular price.

It’s not a bad idea. I’m sure there are a lot of people that will be willing to deal with the ads to save the $25. But, I’d never buy one. $25 is well worth not having to see ads that will likely decrease in quality over time.

Engadget Reviews the Nook Color ➝

Joshua Topolsky in the wrap-up section of his review:

if you’re a hardcore reader with an appetite that extends beyond books to magazines and newspapers, the Color is the first viable option we’ve seen that can support your habit. […] But besides all the reading you’ll be doing with the Color, you’re also buying into a potentially much bigger proposition — namely, the idea that come Q1, this thing will be a viable Android tablet with an app store of its own.

The user-interface is a tad sluggish, but at $249 you’ll have a hard time finding a better device that’s priced this low.

Ephemera ➝

I Came across Ephemera recently and as I said on Twitter, it blew my mind.

Ephemera is one of those applications that does one thing incredibly well. Ephemera syncs your saved items in Instapaper with your e-book reader. I’ve been using it with my Kindle but it will also work with Sony’s e-readers and pretty much any other device that is capable of reading HTML, Mobipocket or EPUB files.

Set up is simple, just give Ephemera your Instapaper credentials and you’re all set. Ephemera defaults to creating HTML files for each unread item, but you can also have the option to use Mobipocket or EPUB format which will sync your most recent 20 articles in one single file.

I’m currently using the Mobipocket format but Ephemera has a really neat feature when you’re using HTML files. When using the HTML format whenever an article is deleted from your e-reader it is automatically archived in Instapaper the next time you sync your device.

The app was already good enough but the next couple of options is what really got me excited: “automatically sync after connecting” and “disconnect after syncing.” I have both of them checked, now when I plug in my Kindle Ephemera grabs the latest 20 articles from Instapaper, transfers them to my Kindle, and disconnects. Absolutely perfect.

Spring Design Partners with Borders ➝

Spring Design has partnered with Borders to sell their Alex e-book reader. Borders will be selling the device in their retail stores  and will create a digital book store and some “mobile eBook applications.” Spring Design has also announced that the device will cost $359 when it is released on February 22, 2010.

So, Spring Design sues Barnes & and Noble for stealing their design and then partners with their biggest competitor for the Alex. Wise decision.

I couldn’t find the press release on Spring Design’s website but Engadget is hosting it on theirs.

Spring Design Announces ‘Alex’

Barnes & Noble Sending $100 Gift Certificates to nook Pre-Orderers ➝

Laura Northrup reports for The Consumerist that those who have pre-ordered the Barnes & Noble nook have received emails from informing them that if their nook is not delivered by December 24 they will receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

For those that do not receive their nook by December 24, Barnes & Noble plans to ship it overnight on December 29.

Barnes & Noble has really botched the launch of this device, after missing ship dates left and right and their overall inability to fulfill orders, this is obviously their way of trying to cool tempers. I’m not sure if it’s going to work though, those who ordered the nook as a gift would surely rather have the nook on time. But, at least their trying.

On a lighter note, the nook is slow, and it’s differentiating features come with some major caveats, but it’s incredibly hackable. Engadget’s Thomas Ricker reports that clever nook owners have managed to get a web browser, Twitter, and Facebook app on the device.

Then again, how useful are these hacks if Barnes & Noble can’t actually ship units in any reasonable capacity.

Barnes & Noble nook Reviews Start Pouring In
10/22/09: Barnes & Noble ‘nook’
10/17/09: Barnes and Noble E-Book Reader

Barnes & Noble nook Reviews Start Pouring In

Reviews of the Barnes & Noble nook have started appearing from all the usual suspects. The general opinion is that although it is a decent device, it is slow and all of the differentiating features come with major caveats.

Barnes & Noble will be updating the nook’s software soon but for now here’s what the reviewers have to say.

David Pogue regarding the nook’s screens:

Worse, the touch screen is balky and nonresponsive, even for the Nook product manager who demonstrated it for me. The only thing slower than the color strip is the main screen above it. Even though it’s exactly the same E Ink technology that the Kindle and Sony Readers use, the Nook’s screen is achingly slower than the Kindle’s. It takes nearly three seconds to turn a page — three times longer than the Kindle — which is really disruptive if you’re in midsentence.

Wilson Rothman mentions a huge caveat to one of the nook’s biggest features:

Lending is another non-Kindle function rolling out this week that I’ll be following up on. You select a book from your collection, lend it to someone listed in your Nook contacts, and they receive a message via email and on their Nook’s “Daily” screen, where periodicals, offers and other notices show up. When they accept, they can read the book for two weeks. During that time, you can’t read it, and when it reverts back to you, they get a notice to buy. You can’t lend the same book to the same person twice.

Walt Mossberg regarding the size of the nook’s catalog compared to the Amazon Kindle’s:

Nook claims a catalog of just over one million digital books, versus 389,000 for the Kindle. But this is somewhat misleading, because over half of the Nook catalog is made up of free out-of-copyright titles published before 1923, the vast majority of which are likely to be of little interest to average readers. Barnes & Noble refuses to say how many modern commercial titles it offers, or even whether it has more or fewer of these than Amazon (AMZN).

Joshua Topolsky has this to say about the nook’s user interface:

At first blush, the Nook’s user interface and navigation is a bit overwhelming. If you’re coming off of any traditional reader, even one as complex as the Kindle, what Barnes & Noble offers seems far more daunting. Aside from having to learn a completely new way of getting around, adding that dual screen interaction to the mix is rather confusing when you first flip the switch. The foundations of the UI aren’t hard to understand, but if you walk into the device without knowing your way around, you’ll end up feeling pretty lost at first.

I was excited about the use of two screens to interact with an e-book reader. Using a touchscreen LCD to navigate menus and an e-ink display to show text sounds like the best of both worlds, but unless Barnes & Noble can find a better way to implement this it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a hit with consumers.

But, the biggest downfall of the nook to me is the lack of web browser. The Kindle’s browser isn’t perfect but since my main use for such a device would be to read text from the web, having a web browser is a huge win.

Barnes & Noble ‘nook’
10/17/09: Barnes and Noble E-Book Reader

Update 12/20/09: Barnes & Noble Sending $100 Gift Certificates to nook Pre-Orderers