Japan first enjoyed Secret of Mana back in 1993, at a time when this real-time, top-down view battle system was truly unique and innovative. Add to that the ring command menu system that the game introduced: allowing players to user items, change weapons and perform all of their requisite actions without the need to switch screens. With thanks to the developers at Square Enix, Android games can experience some of the same joy we felt at our Nintendo consoles all those years ago.
Don’t be fooled, this title is ported but not really upgraded (aside from accommodating 360-degree movement and a touch-screen interface, unless you decide to employ peripheral controllers). The graphics are still delightfully old-school, which is a style that is very hip and popular these days.
The story behind the game focuses on the mystical power of Mana, encouraging you to befriend the eight elementals who wield all of nature’s forces.
Nostalgia doesn’t come cheap, so the $9 price-tag won’t scare many would-be Secret of Mana gamers who remember console gaming from way back when.
Nintendo Brings Classic Secret of Mana Game to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader
Friday, October 31, 2014
A report released by J.D Power and IDC, indicates that Apple is starting to lose tablet market share again (despite remaining at the top of the list of those device manufacturers). The survey also showed that Apple has slipped into the number two slot for customer satisfaction, right behind Amazon (and their line of inexpensive Fire tablets).
Of course, if the survey is to be believed, there is no satisfying these consumers. On one hand they state that Apple isn’t innovating fast enough, but then they say that even with upgraded iPads launched this fall, users are upgrading more slowly.
It is my opinion that Apple doesn’t really care whether people are upgrading their old iPads… not really, anyway. Sure they want users to have iPads (and other iOS devices), and sure they want those users to keep them reasonably current (so they can run the latest operating system version), but hardware isn’t where they make there money. It isn’t where any of these manufacturers make their money. Profit is realized within the app ecosystem –with Apple taking a sizeable portion of the monies charged for apps and their now-famed in-app purchases.
Add to this the fact that market share does not equate to profit share. It’s easy to take a huge number of inexpensive tablets and drop them in the laps of consumers who wouldn’t be Apple customers anyway. That isn’t a loss for Apple.
With the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 shipping and the 2014 holiday season just getting started, the results from the next quarter could tell us a little more than these numbers do –which tablets are being wrapped and put under our trees? Which app store sees the most traffic in the early part of the new year?
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Flipboard describes itself as being your personal magazine, and that is about as an accurate a picture as they could paint. From the first moment you download the app, there is little question that it is refined and a joy to use –and with a complete redesign and a generous helping of updates, this is even more true now.
By choosing the categories and then the stories within them that you most enjoy, a personal magazine is crafted –from there you can flip through your news in a way that feels very visual and enjoyable. Thanks to the latest round of changes, there are over 30,000 new topics to follow.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, take a stroll through the Daily Edition, featuring articles (complete with breaking news and an accompanying audio track) hand-picked by the Flipboard team each morning by 7 AM.
Content isn’t the only one way that Flipboard has been enhanced. A complete graphic redesign is also ready to be enjoyed, the focus of which being a new top tab bar that allows you to quickly navigate around Flipboard (between those you are following, search, notifications and your profile).
If you still need to try Flipboard: Your News Magazine, download it now and see what you have been missing.
Hockey is very important (and when I say that as a Canadian, you can believe it is true). With the season having gotten underway just a few weeks ago, our appetites are whet and we want more. Fortunately, NHL 2K is now available for Android (a little behind schedule, but we can forgive the developers at 2K Games, Inc).
The game offers three styles of play: 3v3 mini rink mode, turn-based multiplayer shootouts and an immersive My Career Mode. While the 3v3 is fast-paced and challenging, there is something satisfying about My Career Mode –which allows you to invest yourself in a single player as he trains and plays throughout the league.
There are reports of issues with this game not running smoothly on a few devices, but given its origins from a reputable development house I am sure you can expect tha any that exist will be resolved quickly.
If you love hockey, and you have $7.99 USD burning a hole in your digital pocket, download NHL 2K for Android and get your season started!
The Kindle Voyage is the latest generation flagship e-reader from Amazon. Many people find themselves exclusively relying on the online bookstore and are aware they can load in their own PDF files or eBooks from the internet. Today, you will learn how to load in your own books.
First of all, Amazon Kindle e-readers read AZW and MOBI as a primary format that are easily found online. Many European bookstores actually sell eBooks in MOBI format and embed them with digital watermarks to curb piracy. There are also many bookstores and websites all over the internet that sell or allow people to download them. Sure you can buy or download, but whats the step steps?
Amazon has feature many people are unaware of. It allows you to send attachments via Email to your Amazon Kindle. If you have have registered an Amazon account and attached your Kindle to do, during the setup, you are half-way done. You need to visit your Account Management Page and then visit Settings. Near the bottom you will see a few email address and the associated devices. It should give your first name and a few random numbers, mine is email@example.com. You can then enter that email has the destination email address and attach any MOBI books you have downloaded from the internet and in a few minutes they will be on your Kindle Basic!
I really like a program called CALIBRE. It does some powerful stuff, like allowing you to add coverart to an eBook you have downloaded that may not have one, or to change the authors name. The feature I dig the most is being able to convert eBooks from one format to another. EPUB is one of the most common book formats out there, and is 100% incompatible with the Kindle. In the video below, I will show you how to convert an EPUB book to a MOBI one and also how to use this program on a very general level.
Finally, many people simply copy books to their Kindle Documents directory via a file manager or Windows Explorer. You can get a sense of the internal directory structure of your e-Reader and where you should be copying books manually.
LG is quietly refining their flexible e-paper technology and has actually seen some commercial success along the way. New innovations will pave the way for super large screen displays that will transcend into the television arena.
In 2012 LG first entered the flexible e-paper arena and developed a screen that was crafted from a flexible plastic substrate, the display measuring 0.03 inches (0.7 millimeters) thick and weighs 0.5 ounces (13 grams), making it one-third slimmer and half the weight of currently available glass EPD devices. LG also has made it fairly durable with it being able to easily withstand dropping it from up to six feet. The battery life is also fairly amazing with two or three months of usage. Russian based e-reader company Wexler was the only company to adopt the LG technology into their Flex One.
LG has just announced a massive, 18-inch OLED display that can be rolled up into a tight cylinder with a radius of just 3 centimeters (1.2 inches). In addition, LG has mentioned they developed a version that was highly transparent.
The flexible 18-inch OLED display has a fairly paltry resolution that clocks in at 1280×810. The main breakthrough seems to be the use of polyimide for the display's backplane. Polyimides are strong, flexible plastics that are already used extensively in the electronics industry — for example in the ribbon that attaches a laptop's display to the motherboard, which is put through huge stresses during thousands of open/close cycles. LG says it achieved "maximum curvature radius" because polyimide allowed for a much thinner and flexible backplane than "conventional plastic."
Truly flexible e-paper technology that can be rolled up, able to be read and folded up again is the holy grail. It not only can be used in the e-reader sector, but also smartwatches and advertising. The one hindrance in mass adoption is the fact the motherboards, battery, processor, RAM and most other internal components are not designed to be flexible and this will require a monumental effort by the entire supply chain to make a future of flexible e-paper a reality.
One of the big benefits of e-Ink technology is that it draws no power when a simple static image is being displayed or when you are reading a page in an eBook. The only time power is being drawn is when a full page refresh occurs or if you are interacting with the screen. A new LCD initiative is underway at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They have developed a new type of LCD screen that works in a similar fashion to e-Ink. It can hold a static image for years, with no power.
The University has developed Optical Rewritable liquid crystal technology that carries no electrodes and uses polarizer’s as a substitute. It will show images in full color, but not draw any power as the image is shown. This would be tremendously beneficial to luggage tags, grocery price-tags or even in the next generation of color e-reader.
There are many benefits to what this technology is capable of, in regards to previous screens made by Pixel QI or Plastic Logic. First of all, the lack of electrodes means the ORWLCD panel can be much thinner than a conventional LCD. It also uses much less power, requires no plastic substrate, is simpler to construct, and therefore cheaper to manufacturer for mass production.
The technology as a whole is going one step further, by incorporating 3D elements. The report states “The whole panel has been divided into three parts with different image appearance. One for the left eye, a second for the right eye, and a third for the background and front of the image. The complete 3D image with a good light printer can be updated on the ORWLCD panel in one step and thereafter could be permanently stored without consuming any power. With the feasibility of one-step 3D image writing, wide-viewing angles, high contrast and low power consumption, this technology is suitable for many applications.”
I would kill for an e-reader for full color LCD that had the battery life of e-Ink. The one problem I have with reading on an Android tablet or iPad is that I have to charge it on a daily basis. This ORWLCD does have promise, but whether it gets out of the research and development phase is another matter entirely.
New LCD Technology Draws No Power with Static Images is a post from: Good e-Reader
Amazon and Kobo have been battling all over the world to attain new readers and promote their own distinctive ecosystem. Amazon especially has been building out their media empire by key acquisitions of GoodReads and Comixology, and boosting up their catalog of audiobooks via Audible. When it comes to dedicated e-ink based devices, they tend to do one thing really well, which is to read eBooks. Today, we look at both companies flagship models going into the holiday season and to check out how they perform.
The Kobo Aura H2O is the first waterproof e-reader issued by a mainstream company. The main benefit is that you can bring it in your backyard, bathtub, beach, or bus and not have to worry about it getting destroyed. It is truly the first e-reader that you can take with you anywhere.
The Voyage is being billed as an e-reader packed with innovation. It has Page Press technology that incorporates haptic feedback to turn the pages of whatever you are reading. It also has an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the illumination levels on the front-lit display.
Our comparison video outlines the hardware specs of both devices and what makes them both entirely unique. In addition, you can get a sense on how the DPI and resolution factor in when placing the same eBook and PDF file on each unit. Basically, if you are thinking of upgrading to either of these devices or buying your very first digital reader, you don’t want to miss this.
Amazon has released a totally new product line for their Fire tablets, which is getting most of the mainstream media attention. Flying under the radar is the Kindle Basic and Kindle Voyage, two e-ink based readers. Today, we take a look at both devices to give you a sense on what they are capable of and the main differences.
|Kobo has recently started to rollout a new feature on their website that lets anyone preview an ebook using a web browser directly from the ebook description page. You don’t have to be logged in or even have a Kobo account to view the previews. All you have to do is click the “Preview Now” […]|
The good people at Adafruit pointed us at this video. Besides the fact that the costume is driven by a Raspberry Pi, we don’t know much about the build (or the guy who made it – he goes by MikeHandidate on YouTube, but we suspect that’s not actually his name) – good though, isn’t it?
More Halloween goodies to come tomorrow. Are you using a Pi in your costume or house decorations this year?
Amazon has just signed a deal to purchase Comedy service Rooftop Media. The ten person company will be joining Audible in an effort to boost the catalog with new content. Audible founder and Chief Executive Donald Katz said in a statement on Monday the company had been attracted by Rooftop’s content as well as its pool of comic talent.
Rooftop does something very unique in the recording industry. They setup shop in comedy clubs all over the US and record the sets of established names and up and coming talent. They attain the full licenses and own the digital rights to thousands of hours of comedy, which is broadcast either live or later on demand. The company’s media partners include Apple and Yahoo, and they stream it out via Sirius, Rdio, Hulu, Spotify and Pandora.
Audible has been struggling with the Comedy category of their audiobook store and currently has 3,300 titles. With the addition of content from Rooftop, it should easily double what they have now.
Audible was acquired by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million. Bringing Rooftop under the e-commerce giant’s umbrella also boosts the company’s growing digital media business, which includes video and music services through Amazon Prime and original television production via Amazon Studios. Amazon also recently acquired live gaming streamer Twitch.
Audible Attains Thousands of New Comedy Audiobooks is a post from: Good e-Reader
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
The Kindle Voyage builds upon the software and design principles of the Paperwhite line of e-readers. Today, we evaluate if it makes enough sense to upgrade from the second generation Kindle Paperwhite over to the Voyage.
The Voyage has superior resolution and DPI compared to the Kindle Paperwhite, but how does this play out in real world conditions? We show off the eBook and PDF experience to give you a sense on how the same content looks, side by side.
If you like games that are equal parts book, movie, and game… The Longest Journey is something to be excited about. Described as being an interactive and beautifully created universe, The Longest Journey is told from the perspective of a young art student named April Ryan who possesses the power to pass between worlds (like others are able to pass between being awake and asleep).
Feel free to get yourself addicted to this franchise. Developed by Ragnar Tornquist and his team at development house, Red Thread Games, The Longest Journey: Dreamfall Chapters sequel was recently brought to computer and console gaming platforms by way of a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign (they set out to raise $850,000, and ended up with over $1.5 million) –so chances are good that mobile games won’t have seen the last of these characters!
The Longest Journey Remastered has already been available for iOS users in New Zealand with an $8.99 price-tag, but there are plans for a North American release very soon. If you are ready for a real iOS gaming adventure, prepare to purchase and download The Longest Journey Remastered from the Apple App Store.
The developers of Deep Loot describe the game as being about “swimming, digging and fighting your way through an infinitely explorable ocean to discover lost ruins, plunder hidden treasures and earn some chunky paychecks!” In reality, for those of us who used to spend their quarters in old-school arcades, Deep Loot is a trip down memory lane (even though it didn’t technically exist back then).
On the surface, the app is pretty simple: your friends push your pixelated self off of the boat, and you start searching for treasure. As you collect unique artifacts and complete challenges, you can upgrade your equipment and stay under-water longer.
Adding to the game is the unique musical score (comprised of 8 original tracks) that play in the background as you reminisce about how video games used to look (in a completely enchanting and charming way).
If you’d like to do a little deep sea diving on your Android device, download Deep Loot and give your luck a try.
Deep Loot Brings Old-School Gaming Charm to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader
You may remember our Education team attended PyConUK in Coventry last month. We ran the Education Track, which involved giving workshops to teachers and running a Raspberry Jam day for kids at the weekend. We also gave talks on the main developer track of the conference.
Carrie Anne gave a fantastic keynote entitled Miss Adventures in Raspberry Pi wherein she spoke of her journey through teaching the new computing curriculum with Raspberry Pi, attending PyConUK the last two years, being hired by the Foundation, and everything she’s done in her role as Education Pioneer.
I also gave my talk PyPi (not that one) – Python on the Raspberry Pi showing interesting Pi projects that use Python and demonstrating what you can do with a Pi that you can’t on other computers.
Alex gave his talk Teaching children to program Python with the Pyland game - a project Alex led over the summer with a group of interns at the Computer Lab.
If you missed it last week, we posted Annabel’s Goblin Detector, a Father-daughter project the 8 year old demonstrated at PyConUK while enjoying the Raspberry Jam day.
|I’ve got some bad news for those of you that use Kindle Active Content, the games and apps designed specially for E Ink Kindle ebook readers. Amazon has decided to drop support for Kindle Active Content on newer Kindle models. In fact neither the Kindle Voyage or the new touchscreen Kindle support Active Content at […]|
Apple has dispatched an email to authors who publish through iBooks, informing them on a number of new policy changes. The first, is to decrease the amount of time that the editorial staff approves for new titles for inclusion into the Apple Bookstore, it went from ten days to one business change. The second should really help authors in giving out free copies of their digital book for review, with 250 promo codes.
Apple has revised the iBooks experience with the advent of iOS 8 and the new line of iPhone 6 smartphones. It is far easier to purchase and discover new content with the UI changes on the bottom of the screen. In the past, the store itself, was buried in sub-menus at the top of the screen, now it is more intuitive.
One of the big new initiatives on the iBooks app is the curation and editorial content. There is now more seasonal and topical lists that abide by cool themes. Oh, and one of the biggest cleanups was removing Breakout Books, which was sourced by Smashwords. Indie authors have been booted off from the platform, in order to help readers find more quality content. In the future, you will soon be able to get book recommendations before and after purchases with technology leveraged by Booklamp, a company Apple bought a few months ago.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Amazon has been making e-readers since 2007 and over the years they have refined their hardware technology constantly. The new Kindle Voyage might very well be the best e-reader currently on the market, due to the innovative new tech and expansive eBook ecosystem.
The Voyage is nothing but innovative and it has enhancements that are not found on any other e-readers on the market. One is the inclusion of Page Press technology, and the other is an ambient light sensor.
Today, we take a look at the Kindle Voyage, from the prospective of looking at its core technology and what makes it entirely unique.
The Amazon Kindle Voyage features a six inch e-ink Carta display with a resolution of 1430 x 1080. It has 300 PPI, which is the highest we have ever seen. In contrast, the Paperwhite 2, which this model replaces only has a resolution of 1024 X 768 and 212 PPI.
Lets look at what the competition is doing, the Kobo Aura H20, which came out a month ago has a 6.8 inch screen with the same resolution as the Voyage, but has 265 DPI. The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight has been on the market for most of the year, but its 1024 x 758 and 212 PPI is somewhat depressing.
One of the big design changes with the Voyage is the screen is completely flush with the bezel. All prior Kindle e-readers had a sunken screen and employed infrared touchscreen technology. The new capacitive screen is much easier to interact with and allows for more pin-point procession.
The Voyage has really refined their front-lit technology, which allows you to read in the dark. It has five LED lights on the bottom of the bezel, which projects light evenly across the screen. This is ideal for reading compared to smartphones and tablets which has the light emitting from behind the screen. The lighting system is a marginal improvement over the Paperwhite 2, but completely blows away anything that Kobo has ever done.
Amazon has really hyped the new ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts in the brightness of the screen. On paper, this sounds really cool, but it misses the mark. When reading in complete darkness, it makes the screen too dark to read properly. I often had to find myself relying on the manual settings.
Many older e-readers had physical page turn keys that protruded from the bezel and had a audible mechanical click when turning a page forward or backward. Page Press technology actually has the page turn keys flush completely with the bezel. You can turn a page and there is a small vibration that is courtesy of haptic feedback. Within the settings menu there are a number of options to tweak how hard you have to press in order to turn a page, or you can remove it completely. If you are not a fan of turning pages by clicking on the bezel, you can disable Page Press completely and rely on the touchscreen to swipe pages.
In the past, all prior Kindle e-readers had a power button on the bottom of the chassis, right next to the MicroUSB and status indicator light. Amazon has borrowed design elements from the Kindle Fire line of tablets and implemented a sweet rounded button that is easily accessible when holding the e-reader normally. When I first noticed it and turned it onto standby mode, it was one of the those moments when I said to myself “man this is so intuitive, why din’t they do this all along?”
The back of the Kindle Voyage is not 100% plastic or rubber anymore, but uses a new hybrid magnesium alloy. This not only makes the e-reader lighter than previous iterations, but prevents scuffs and fingerprints when taking it in and out of your bag on a daily basis. I really like the angular aspects of the design, which again, is much akin to the Kindle Fire.
Underneath the hood of the Voyage is a 1 GHZ single core processor, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. Battery life should last around a month, and if you don’t use it much, standby should easily last you six months.
On paper, the Voyage has super high DPI and crazy resolution, but how does it play out in real world conditions? During the last few days we have been putting the Voyage head to head against the Kindle Basic Touch, Kobo Aura H2O and Paperwhite 2. We tested the Glowlight, eBooks, and PDF files. The new Voyage really stands out in the crowd by having more clarity on the screen and the fonts really do look better.
The Amazon Kindle Voyage borrows heavy design elements on the software front from the Kindle Basic Touch and second generation Kindle Paperwhite. You have the main navigation bar which allows you to quickly access the Kindle Store, search for books or access social media website GoodReads.
Amazon has promised new features such as Kindle Family Sharing, which allows you to share the same purchased content accross all other Amazon tablets and reading apps in a few months. They also will be introducing another new feature upon opening a new book will tell you who the author is and other books they have written. You also will be able to establish the book as “currently being read” on GoodReads. Ironically, the new Kindle HD6, HD7 and HDX 8.9 all have “currently reading” out of the box.
What I can say about the software that it is really polished. Its easier to interact with all of the menu and settings features due to the screen being flush with the bezel. It basically feels like you are interacting with a smartphone in terms of performance. This fact is really evident when you are typing notes or entering your WIFI password with the keyboard. In the past, many e-readers had a noticeable delay between when you hit a key, to when it actually projected the character on the display. e-Ink Carta really addresses this shortcoming and doing anything touchscreen related on the Voyage is pure bliss.
Amazon has really simplified the entire reading experience on the Kindle. It is really easy to adjust the font type and font size by clicking on the top half of the e-reader. There are six options, and the rare book will have a seventh, which is the publisher default. Changing the margins and line spaces is also a walk in the park, I like the fact Amazon does not make the adjusting of the core e-reading experience complicated or advanced. It provides enough customization options to appeal to the average user, but isn’t a barrier to the non-tech-savvy.
The high PPI and resolution are really evident when you are reading a standard eBook or anything that involves heavy imagery, such as Manga or digital newspapers. The text just pops, its hard to quantify exactly how, but there is no pixelation, even when you crank up the font size to maximum. Its times like this, that I wish I knew someone with a quantum microscope to really dive deep into the matter. All I can say, is its a step up from the Paperwhite 2.
Amazon has really refined their entire PDF rendering engine in 2014. I remember when the Paperwhite 2 first came out, the page turn rates would be really slow and files over 100 MB would simply crash. Engineers released a series of firmware updates that solved this problem.
When you read a PDF file, you get a small preview pane on the upper left hand corner, which helps orient you on where exactly in the document you are. If you have zoomed in to a very high degree and feel lost, this feature lends the assist.
Pinching and zooming PDF files has never felt as robust as it does now. The capacitive touchscreen makes this possible and images look great. One feature many people aren’t aware of, is when you click on the top center to access the settings menu. Normally when reading an eBook, this brings you to the font option screen. On the Kindle Voyage you can increase or decrease the level of darkness or brightness in a document. So if you notice things become very dark or shady in an image, and it becomes hard to discern exactly what it is, like things getting lost in the shadows, you can adjust this. Kindle is the only e-reader to include this type of tech, which makes it stand out in a crowd.
The Kindle Voyage is a priemium e-reader with a high cost. It retails for $199 right out of the gates, but is comparable to the Kobo Aura H2O which hit the market at $179.99. I remember a time when basic e-readers cost $349 for a six inch model, so the price tag is not really a barrier.
If you have an older model Kindle should you upgrade to the Voyage? Well, it depends. If you have the an older model with a physical keyboard or a Kindle Basic 2013, the answer is yes. If you bought the Paperwhite 2 in the last year, the Voyage on a fundamental level is an incremental update, with a few new bells and whistles.
Screen is Flush with Bezel, much like the Kobo Aura
Page Press feels like a gimmick
Rating – 9.5/10
Unfortunately for all of you that had weekend plans to strip down before broadcasting videos of your gaming exploits, Twitch has updated their Rules of Conduct. Inspired by their new owners at family-friendly Amazon, this adjustment likely shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It doesn’t matter how good you look naked (or nearly naked), Twitch’s new rules are very clear:
While some people may feel this is unnecessary censorship, some of us are wondering if it was a really big problem to begin with? It seems the change was kept fairly quiet by Twitch, but that is likely moreso because they didn’t want to make it seem like they used to be all about the nudity.