With Mother’s Day this Sunday, retailers are pushing tablets, and especially e-readers as gifts for dear old mom. There are ads for the Amazon Kindle, which can be found in Staples, Target and Best Buy, the Barnes and Noble Nook Color, which are at Barnes and Noble and Best Buy, as well as tablets from Apple, Dell, Motorola and Samsung. But you don’t see anything for the Sony e-Reader.
With the holidays rushing towards us (I saw Christmas trees at K-mart across from the Halloween costumes!!), retailers are pushing out their announcements for the coming shopping season.
Amazon started with the announcement that they would be adding a lending feature to the Kindle. Kindle owners will now be able to lend their books out to other Kindle owners for a two-week period. During that time, the book will not be available to the original purchaser, and the book can only be to one person at a time, one time only. Not all books will have this feature enabled as it’s up to the publisher to enable it, just like the audio feature on the Kindle. Of course, the Kindle is only playing catch-up by adding this feature. The Barnes and Noble Nook has had it from day one. But with the e-reader market getting more competitive, the Kindle will have to do everything possible to keep itself at the top.
Especially with announcements like the Nook Color. Earlier this week, Barnes and Noble announced they would be releasing a reader tablet for the holidays. It has a full color, android-based touch screen e-reader. It’s 8.1 inches tall with a 7 inch touch screen, 8GB storage with a micro SD slot expanding it to 32GB, built-in WiFi and a promised 8 hours of battery time. It will also include a full web browser, free word and chess games, Pandora music streamed over WiFi and Quick Office to create, edit, and view Microsoft Office documents. It will retail at $249.00
Barnes & Noble will also release Nook Developer, which will allow developers to create android apps for the Nook Color. They are asking for apps that are “reader-centric” and have “engaging content”. Apps will start to become available next year. The Nook Color will also feature in store exclusives, and has some kid-friendly features that includes expanding text, zooming pictures and the device can read the story out loud.
Of the two announcements, the Nook Color is definitely the more exciting. It expands the e-reader into a more versatile device without losing sight of what its primary purpose is; to read e-books. The Nook Color fills a gap people have been feeling since the iPad came out. This device could be the bridge that a lot of people are looking for, that don’t want a big, unwieldy device that comes with a lot of baggage like the iPad, but is more than just a scaled down computer like a netbook or limited like the current generation e-readers. Of course, nothing’s for sure until it’s in the wild, but, if I were to put my money on an e-reader device right now, I would go with the Nook Color. It has the greatest potential. I hope publishers, especially manga publishers will see that potential too.
The first shot in the tablet wars began with Apple’s release of the iPad, and technology companies have responded. At Computex, a computer and technology show several companies were showing off new devices, some to be available as early as this Fall.
The big announcement that everyone is touting is from the creator of the netbook, Asus. They announced three tablets. The Eee Pad will come in two versions. The EP101TC will come with a 10 in screen and the EP121TC will have a 12 in screen. Both devices will be able to playback multimedia, read e-books, browse the web, and with a keyboard can be used as a computer. Asus is promising 10 hours of battery life with these devices. Exact specs or release date haven’t been announced yet.
The Eee Tablet is the Asus e-reader. It uses a reflective LCD screen instead of e-ink, and is in grey scale instead of color. It will include a touch screen and style for note taking. It uses Wacom’s pen input technology for more precise and accurate notes. Asus is aiming this device at students. It will include a webcam, microSD slot and USB slot. It will also have a 10 hour battery life and will be available in the Fall.
MSI is determined to not be left out, and has announced its own tablet, the WindPad 110. This is a 10 in with multimedia in mind. It will have a webcam and HDMI support, as well as USB slots. MSI will have its own UI over Windows 7. No word on battery life or release date.
Also announced this week, but not at Computex is that Amazon will be releasing a slimmer version of the Kindle, with sharper images and faster page turns, supposedly in response to the iPad. But without a touch screen or color, this seems kind of pointless. The Kindle and iPad are for two different markets. Kindle is for e-reading exclusively, while the iPad is a multimedia device. Amazon is just throwing away money trying to compete with that. But they are doing something right by getting the Kindle into a retail store. Starting on Sunday, Target stores nationwide will be selling the Kindle after a trial program.
And it seems publishers aren’t too thrilled with the Apple/Amazon battle. Both companies want to hold a monopoly on e-books by making them available in formats that only their readers can read. Publishers are coming out and saying they don’t want proprietary formats for their e-books. They want one standard across all platforms. I’m happy to hear this from publishers. Books have always been open and available to everyone. They should remain this way in the digital age as well, not trapped in Apple and Amazon’s walled worlds. Though I do wish they would stop worrying about DRM. Pirates will get around it no matter what they do. Just worry about getting them to people in an easy and legal way, and the pirates won’t be an issue.
With Mother’s Day this Sunday, all the ads lately have been about what to get Mom. One common element I’ve seen (beyond the usual of appliances, jewelry, and gardening) is e-readers. Amazon.com has the Kindle on their front page again, touting how it’s the perfect gift for Mom. It’s $259 for the 6″ screen, and includes a wireless connection to Amazon for instant downloading (and gratification).
Sony, maker of the e-Reader, has been pushing it’s low end reader, the Pocket Edition, which has the least number of features. You can find this device at Office Depot, Staples and Best Buy going for $149 through Mother’s Day. You have to connect it to a computer to get the e-books on it, but it also now comes in a “special” pink edition. Ooooo…. Yeah, I’m not impressed by that either. I’ve looked over the Pocket Edition, and wasn’t really impressed with it compared to it’s price. But it’s the least expensive e-ink device out right now.
Then, I found out about a new device. The Aluratek Libre e-Reader. It’s a low tech e-reader, that’s also low priced. Online it can be found for around $150, but K-Mart will have it for only $120 through this weekend. It has all the basic function of an e-reader, but the big difference on this device is that it doesn’t use e-ink. It’s actually a black & white LCD screen they call e-paper. The plus about this is that there isn’t the flash that e-ink devices have on page turns, and it’s still fairly quick. It also can view images and play mp3s, even while you’re reading, something the other don’t do. It comes with a 2Gig SD card with 100 public domain books on it to start. It’s rather stripped down like the Sony Pocket Edition. What makes this a better device (to me) is the SD card slot, and lower price. With the Libre, you can have different SD cards for different reading material. One for e-books, one for images (or comics), and one for audio books (or mp3 if you perfer. That makes this a more versatile device, even if it can’t go online.
For someone that just wants to read ebooks and doesn’t need a backlit screen, dictionary, make annotations, or go online, you know like the experience a paper book gives you, this actually looks like a pretty good deal. It’s not difficult to use, so non-tech savvy moms that want to get in on the e-book revolution can with little work. Aluratek also has a step-by-step guide to getting books from ebooks.com, and comments on product reviews of this device suggest that it will read ebooks borrowed through libraries. Here’s a fairly thorough review of the device:
Think carefully about what your Mother would want and/or could handle. Don’t buy what you think she would want. An e-Reader is a personal device, much like a book. It needs to be tailored to the reader’s needs. Don’t go for all the bells and whistles just because that’s what YOU would want. You want what you give Mom to be used and appreciated, and not left in the box, stuffed in a corner of the closet because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings by returning it or giving it away. It’s Mother’s Day for a reason. Make sure it’s something she wants.
Here in the US, we’re all excited about getting more devices to carry around to read books on. In Japan, they’re taking existing devices that people are already carrying and adapting them to not just read books but to also enhance that reading experience. They are letting the content take advantage of the platform instead of making devices to conform to the content.
I’ve decided that Fridays at Manga Xanadu will for now on be Tech Friday! I’ll post all my tech/gadget type stories on this day from now on. To inaugurate this, let’s take a look at the newest story about the Kindle; it’s getting apps.
That’s right. You can’t have a device that connects to the net anymore without having some sort of app store to go with it. And the Kindle is apparently no different. With CES just recently past, and the Apple iMyth–err iSlate to be announced next week, Amazon has to do something to keep to not only stay competitive, but keep their e-Reader on top, with a wave of new devices threatening to wash them away. And apps is the new, hip thing.
This year is being touted as the year of the slate computer. CES was filled with announcements of new computers that are like over-glorified e-book readers. Of course, e-book readers are also being announced right and left. This Christmas was Amazon’s biggest year for the Kindle so far, and claimed that on Christmas day sold more e-books than print. But the worth of e-readers like the Kindle and Sony’s E-Reader are being questioned. Well, more specifically, the E-Ink technology they use is being questioned. E-Ink techonogy is one of the main reasons prices for e-readers remain high. So, is E-Ink worth the price?
Getting to Know You
Manga Views, the website that brings manga reviews all together in one place has started a feature about the people putting up the reviews. They will be posting profiles of manga bloggers. Just answer a few questions and the whole world will know about you! The first has already gone up. It’s Ed Sizemore of the Manga Worth Reading Blog. Check it out and all the other great things going on there!
Not sure you want a dedicated e-reader? Can’t wait for the Asus E-reader? Want more options in your e-book selection? Like to tinker with computers and install your own software? Well, there may be a way to do all these things and more!
Amazon, proving they’re in the e-book reader game more for the books that the hardware, has released the beta version of software Kindle for PC. Reviews have been mixed about it’s usefulness, and granted, it is still in beta, so there may be more changes in store for it. But, for now, it allows you to sync with your kindle, view your kindle library (only the books you’ve bought though), and buy and read e-books from the Kindle store.
So, what’s the big deal? The whole point of the Kindle and other e-readers is to NOT be tied to a computer. It’s to be light and portable. But the Kindle device is very limited beyond reading the books they offer. What if I want to surf the web, read RSS feeds and blogs for free, and have access to more than just what Amazon offers? That’s where this article comes in! Make your own E-reader. You’re not really building anything, as it uses a PC tablet, a device that never really caught on as a PC, but as a portable web and e-book reader? Yeah, I could go for that. PC Tablets are plentiful on places like eBay, and there is a lot of open source software now that allows for reading practically any type of e-book format. And with the addition of the Amazon Kindle for PC software, another door has been opened. Tablets are lighter and easier to carry than a netbook, and have touch screens. The screens are color too, so comics will look just as good as black and white manga. It’s like they were made to be e-readers!
It’s hard to believe that just 2 years ago, the e-reader was a novelty, something only hard core techies would be interested in. Now, the field is wide open with so many options, and more being announced every day. While I don’t see e-readers as being the savior of newspapers or magazines, they certainly can’t hurt. Especially as e-readers (and other similar devices) get more widespead acceptance. And my shelf space would be grateful for the break. All we need now are more publishers to make their books available digitally, so we can fill SD cards and hard drives with books just we do with music and movies.
We knew it was in the works, and now Sony has unveiled it. The third e-Reader in their hardware line, the Reader Daily Edition. Sony announced the new device on Tuesday at a press conference. The Daily Edition is different from it’s older brothers in 2 important ways. One, it has a larger touch screen, coming in at 7 in. And two, it has built-in wireless capabilities, provided by AT&T. Finally, Sony has a device that can truly compete with the Kindle! ….Maybe.
Recently, Amazon quietly announced a price drop for it’s Kindle 2 e-reader. Slashing $60 from the price to $299, the Kindle is now coming closer to the price of other ebook readers. If Amazon wants the Kindle to be competitive in any way, it had too. Sony, not to be out done, not only slashed prices, but also came out with two new devices. The E-Reader Pocket for $199 and the E-Reader Touch for $299 and will be out by the end of August. The older Sony E-Reader 505 is $279, and can be found at Staples stores now. Bebook, another competitor is also $279. Cooler Books has it’s own e-reader now, the Cool Reader, which looks a lot like an iPod and comes in different colors, and is only $249.
Sony, in an attempt to be competitive with the Amazon and it’s Kindle, announced this week it would be releasing two new versions of it e-reader and a price drop on it’s books. The Reader Pocket edition is slightly smaller than the original e-Reader, with a 5 in diagonal screen, and a price point of $199, $100 lower than the Kindle 2. The Touch Edition will have the standard 6in diagonal screen and has a touch screen with virtual keyboard. The touch screen will give the reader a more book like experience with page turns and the ability to highlight and add notes with a finger or stylus. And Sony will now match Amazon’s price on new, bestsellers of $9.99.
While the drop in prices are nice, and may attract more people to Sony, it still doesn’t have a wireless connection. Users of the Sony E-Reader have to download their books to their computers and then upload them to the E-Reader. After Amazon’s “1984” fiasco, is that really a bad thing? Sure, it might be convenient to be able to download a book anytime (in the US only), but Amazon has shown it can and will take back books from the Kindle. Even though they’ve said they won’t do that again, can they really be trusted?
I think Sony marketing should grab up this ball and run with it! Turn the lack of Whispernet into an advantage, instead of the disadvantage everyone keeps making it. “The Sony e-Reader: No Takebacks.” Push that the user has control over the device and what goes on, AND comes off it. I personally prefer to have control over the content I buy and put on the hardware I buy. I’m enough of an adult to take responsibility for what I download and install, and don’t need a “big brother” looking over my shoulder. If Amazon wants to be another Apple, then Sony should try to be a Google.