Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pandigital Novel 2 - Not living up to promise

Engadget's Joanna Stern reviews the Pandigital Novel 2, and while it looks good in the picture (below), the review shows it as clearly not ready for real-world use.

Click on the picture to read, in vivid detail, why not.

Here are a few choice quotes from the article to give you an idea:
' ... after attempting to read an entire novel on it we can't help but wonder how it found its way past product development and into the stock rooms of Walgreens, Bed, Bath & Beyond and JCPenny, to name a few...

On a design note, we really do wish that the bezel wasn't made of a glossy plastic -- it should just match the rest of the matte device.

  [Reviews haven't considered this a problem with the Nook -- is it because of the obvious plastic shine when the color's darker?   I think it keeps the units lighter, which seems always a concern too.

At times we had no issue dragging a finger across the screen to turn the page, but other times the page would just not turn. Additionally, many times when we tried to turn the page we mistakenly highlighted text and a menu to add a note or highlight popped up.

We don't have much praise for the matte screen either -- it's fairly washed out and the viewing angles aren't all that good.

The browser is the typical Android variety and is just fine for visiting sites -- though we had to clear the cache to get it to load Engadget. The resistive screen does get in the way of scrolling a bit -- we found ourselves selecting links by accident -- but it's tolerable... '

A lot more at the Engadget page...

  - Andrys

Thursday, August 19, 2010

PanDigital Novel 2 - Promising, for $200

For $200, I'm interested in this PanDigital Novel 2, if it's not slow and unresponsive as the first one was, though not as an E-reader as I need something like E-Ink and the effective study tools of the Kindle.

It's more than 30% lighter than the first version of the Novel (which had a white bezel), has more memory and, as Conceivably Tech points out, still costs $200.

  Would love it as a secondary reader that would read ePub and especially DRM'd ePub, since I can already convert the non-DRM'd epubs.  It'll have direct access to Barnes & Noble's store and of course have web-browsing over WiFi.
  I really like the idea of a MATTE screen, as it's the glare and reflections from the iPad that bother me when trying to read on it.

  This could be a great subtitute -- a more portable view-all -- for the iPad (for which I have no need that would support paying $500, to *start*, for the iPad, which is missing so many things I depend on with my 10"  Samsung Netbook), but we have no idea what the functioning of the PanDigital is like at this point. The first version was not promising, per early reviews.  This one is apparently faster and more responsive.

  I'd sure watch this one.  There are many coming up and I'll eventually get back to keeping up this page a bit.  I have notes on many other ones, but this one proves more enticing than anything I've seen so far (except the *idea* of the Notion Ink Adam).

Read the full story behind the picture, at Conceivably Tech.

  - Andrys

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Concert Pianist Stephen Hough tests iPad Piano Apps

Click on the image above to get the video, in larger size.

Concert pianist and erudite blogger Stephen Hough tries out the iPad's basic piano app and then enjoys the Magic Piano app, on which he demonstrates how Lang Lang did Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee using that app during a pause during a concert and how it could be quite useful for composers, eventually.

  At his popular blog, he describes the experience and his advice and is enthusiastic about many of its delights.
  In the video itself, he says he will wait for the 2nd version though.

In the blog-comments area, his comment below caught my eye:
' Johnno – but the Kindle is the real miracle, loved especially by travelling bookworms :-) I’ll write something about it sometime. '

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Eken M003, another new e-reader, this one in color

Here's Goodereader's story on the Eken M003 e-reader, which has an 8" LCD color display with rather low image resolution and also smaller internal storage space than usual.

  As a result they'll be offering this for about $240 in the U.S. apparently.   It's already been released in China.  The device does have an SD slot with the capability to hold 32K of books on an SD card.

  I'm not at all sure people want color without good resolution and with what looks like low contrast (similar to the older Flepias) or an e-book reader without an e-bookstore, but while it doesn't have direct cellular wireless downloads as the Kindle and new Sony do, it does offer WiFi Network access capability (home, office, hotspots).

I don't know what to think of the photo as the unit looks squat but I notice the hands look flattened as well, so that may be an error in maintaining the proper aspect ratio of the photograph when re-sizing it.
'  It currently runs Google Android 1.6 and has a full color 800×480 resolution 8″ LCD display.  It has a 600MHz VIA processor, 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, 128MB RAM, and an SD card slot for up to 32 GB of extra memory.

Other features include support for MSN, Google Talk, an audio input and output, two stereo speakers, and comes pre-installed with the Google Chrome lite browser. '
The photo shows the Chrome Lite web browser running on it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kobo Reader or Kindle/Nook/Sony - A follow-up as Kobo reaches Australia

About two weeks ago, I wrote a blog article on the press treatment of the new barebones Kobo reader vs the more capable and more expensive Kindle because the vast majority of the articles don't mention the many reading features that the Kobo doesn't have while saying that the Amazon needs to compete on its price, going lower to match the Kobo.

  Actually, Amazon has needed to have a no-features reader for some time, like the Sony Pocket, because some people really don't want or need anything more than the text from the books, at a doable price for them.  And the Kobo pricing is attractive.

  But that means reports comparing readers should mention the various reading features that are on one but not on the other.  For some reason, that's rare in articles on the Kobo vs Kindle.  They do point out that one doesn't have wireless downloads of e-books (it IS an expensive feature if via cellular wireless).

  Reading-features like the more basic study tools are important to some.
1. an in-line dictionary
2. searching of book for words, a character in a book, or an event
3. the ability to highlight and take notes and refer to them

The Nook and other e-readers all include these features.

See more feature-set differences described earlier.

  Those added features won't be important to others, which means the features do need to be discussed so that buyers know what they're getting (or not)  for the price asked if deciding between readers.

  Many want readers for their children, but for older students they may want the added study tools while not realizing that one reader doesn't have them.

  The ability to access, while reading a book, Wikipedia for more information at no added cost, globally, is not a small consideration for students.  As we've seen, the cost of 3G cellular wireless on an iPad is an extra $130 (on top of the $500 model)  for the capability plus $15-$30 per month.  So this is somewhat valuable for the extra $100 between the Kobo and the Kindle.

  Where the Kobo is very good for students or anyone is its ability, in the U.S.  to enable borrowing of e-books from public libraries which the Kindle does not do.   The Kobo also has an SD slot for expansion to allow more books to be stored, as its internal storage holds about 33% less than the Kindle.

  While I consider being able to listen, via the Kindle, to mp3's nice enough and feel that the text-to-speech for books, newspapers and personal docs can be useful for brief periods, I wouldn't look for them in an e-reader or consider them important.

 The latest articles do mention the worth of wireless access to books.
  In the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong and Mexico, Kindle users can also use google and look up text info from almost anywhere they are, though this is useful mainly at mobile-device optimized websites, as larger images are slow to load.  Amazon says it hopes to enable web-browsing internationally eventually, depending on regional telecommunication pricing arrangements they can get.

  Kindle owners who are U.S. residents, or are in the mentioned regions where the web browser is enabled, have access to the text of the full New York Times and several other newspapers, in mobile-device optimized format.
  Granted - it's not pretty at all, and gadget press have tended to call it "dowdy"-looking, but some actually don't mind reading mainly-words when wanting information and when there's no added charge for it and you can access it while sitting on a bus. 

  See the mobiweb entry for how that's done and for a file that provides the links in book-form.  This file works only with the Kindle though.

  There is a flood of Kobo vs Kindle reports especially from Australia, where the Kobo was recently released and I've been asked a few times for my take on the Kobo.    Here are two longer reports that are informative and balanced.

1.    Techlogg

      The report is from Australia where they have more limited wireless,
      so they can access only the Amazon store and Wikipedia.
' ...the jewel in the crown for the Kindle is its built-in worldwide 3G connectivity that allows users to buy books directly from the website without having to touch a computer or browser. What’s more, the 3G service is free. You don’t need to sign up for any contracts – you just activate it and away you go.

  The Kobo requires ebooks to be purchased via its webstore through a computer.
The Kindle 2 is more technically advanced than the Kobo but for those wanting to dip a toe into the ebook waters without having to deal with overseas purchases, the Kobo is going to be very hard to beat at its $199 [Aus., equiv $149 US] price tag.'

2. News, another Australian news site
       This is a hands-on report with photos.
' Kobo lets you browse your personal library, choose a book, turn the pages and bookmark your place before you stop reading.  That’s as complicated as it gets, precisely because that’s as simple as it should be.  Like the original netbooks, Kobo is designed around pretty much one key task. '
  They point out that the feel of the unit is good but that the rubbery navigation button will be frustrating to southpaws.  That would be true of the Kindle's navigation button as well.
' But Kobo cuts some corners to keep the price down. The display shows only eight levels of grayscale (eight shades from white to black), so while the screen has decent contrast – especially in a well-lit environment – it’s not as ‘rich’ as Kindle’s 16-shade screen.

Page turning is also noticeably laggard, with each flip of the virtual page briefly pausing to show what looks like a photographic negative before the new page appears.  It’s a bothersome and distracting trait, especially when you turn pages twice as often as on a regular book (because you’re only able to see one page at a time on the screen).

The Kindle’s page-turn response is faster, snappier and less intrusive – evidence of a faster processor, superior operating system and/or display IO.

In addition to the inbuilt 1GB of flash memory, which Borders says can hold 1,000 typical books (one hundred public domain titles are preloaded), Kobo sports an SD card slot for adding thousands more titles to your grab-and-go library.

Publications in ePub and PDF formats (both open and DRM-protected) are first downloaded to your Windows or Mac system and then sideloaded onto Kobo over a USB cable or off the SD card.
Want Wi-Fi or 3G access to the bookstore so you can browse, buy and download on the move? Then Kobo’s not for you. But that won’t bother the bulk of consumers who are already comfortable using the same PC-centric approach for loading music into their iPods.
... as a starter, the $199 [Aus., equiv $149 US] sticker on this sweet, simple and rather stylish ebook reader could make the Kobo as hard to put down as any best-seller. '

Disclaimer: I do the A Kindle World blog but am interested in reading about all the coming e-readers and tablets.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gizmodo-gate? CNet asks. Apple spurred police. Affidavit highlights

Here are the story links.  Full Story and highlights from affidavit filed by Gizmodo.

The roommate must have worried about being charged if she didn't call, and the 'finder' of the iPhone 4G prototype doesn't come off well here at all.  I don't think this is in Apple's best interests either to press the case.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another iphone 4G prototype / Google Editions / PVI & EInk

CrunchGear has a story on yet another iPhone 4G prototype in non-Apple hands and taken apart.   They link to the original story from Vietnam, in translated form, with several more pictures.

  Note that the Vietnam story gives an internal server error at first, but if you try it again it eventually produces the page.   A couple of quotes but much more at CrunchGear.
' It seems this boy is powered by a reduced version of the A4 CPU that also runs the iPad.

It’s probably safe to say the iPhone OS 4’s multitasking was coded with this platform specifically in mind and should run like a dream. '

PC World writes that Google Editions will have about 4.5 million books but they're not sure what Google Edition books are.

  They reference a story from Japan Today claiming that Google has ' "clinched the support of almost all publishers in the United States" and that the number of authors and publishers who have agreed to participate have topped 25,000.  The story claims that, between these arrangements and books with expired copyrights, Google Editions will offer over 4 million titles.  Japan Today cites "company officials" but offers no further attribution. '

  PC World is perplexed by the following passage in the Wall Street Journal
' While Mr. Palma didn't go into details, users of Google Editions would be able to read books from a web browser—meaning that the type of e-reader device wouldn't matter. The company also could build software to optimize reading on certain devices like an iPhone or iPad but hasn't announced any specific plans. '
Essentially, they feel Google's out of touch to feel that many will want to read books via their computer web browsers and that it's unlikely 4 million books are ready to go in ePub or other formats.
' Running those scans through OCR software to get a clean digital edition is another. This one is a puzzle, to be sure. '

A somewhat interesting and long story on the role of Credit Suisse in the acquisition of E Ink Corporation by Prime View's.
' It's not surprising that Credit Suisse's Asia team would be the bankers who believed in Prime View and E Ink's potential, and were willing to put their bank's cash to work. Credit Suisse has a heritage in tech -- consider that Vikram Malhotra, the co-head of the investment banking department for Asia-Pacific, used to head the technology, media and telecoms business in Asia. '