Thursday, March 7, 2013

Marvel Brings Its Unlimited Service to iOS; Android to Follow

Marvel Universe Screenshot

Last December, I noted that Marvel had quietly released a beta version of its Digital Comics Unlimited service for tablets, and today they made it a real thing with an iOS app and the promise that an Android version is on the way as well. They also rebranded the service as simply “Marvel Unlimited.”

That’s a good description: Unlike the other Marvel app (and comiXology, which runs it), Marvel Unlimited doesn’t sell you one comic at a time; it’s an all-you-can-eat service with a subscription cost of $60 per year or $10 per month (and one of the few criticisms I have of the app is that you can’t find the price anywhere on it). The library currently numbers 13,000 issues. This is a service designed for readers who want to go deep and read all the back issues, not for those who want to get the latest thing. All the comics on MU are at least six months old. But if you’re OK with that, or if you use it as a supplement to comiXology’s Marvel app, it’s a pretty good deal.

The app does away with some of the complaints that people had about the original service: You don’t have to sit in front of your computer to read the comics (the one digital comics experience that is universally loathed), and while Marvel Unlimited on your computer is streaming-only, the app allows the user to download up to six comics to read offline.

How does it work? Beautifully, at least on the iPad. It’s true that the iPad screen is smaller than a standard comics page, but the images are crisp and easy to read. The pages load quickly and navigation around the page is simple and intuitive. There is a panel-by-panel view function, called Smart Panels, but it’s not all that smart. Unlike comiXology’s Guided View, which carefully pulls the page apart into individual panels and letterboxes each one, the Smart Panels feature just chops the page into pieces, each of which may contain several panels. In every sample I looked at, the panels were poorly cropped—either a strip along the edge was chopped off or a strip of the adjacent panel was left in. You can also use the iPad’s pinch-and-zoom to enlarge the page, but you can’t turn the page without going back to the original size. (This is an annoying feature of the Kindle as well.) The good news is you probably won’t have to, as the pages are pretty easy to read. The iPhone is a different matter: The pages are too small to read, and the Panel View is just as bad.

If there’s a problem with this app, it’s findability. The problemis that many Marvel characters are featured in different comics, and there are multiple lines that get renumbered from time to time. As a result, if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for—or even if you do—it can be hard to find things. I read part of Daredevil #1, and when I went looking for it again, I couldn’t find it. There were over 20 Daredevil series listed in the browsing area, but that particular issue was nowhere to be found. I have had similar problems on the website, so I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or the comics are just poorly indexed. Even in the best of circumstances, if you’re new to the Marvel universe(s), the array of titles and characters can be daunting. ComiXology does a nice job of organizing comics into story arcs, but Marvel just throws them up there, so it’s a little hard to know where to start and where to go next. In the past, users have complained about gaps in the story arcs, but Marvel is working on fixing that.

Even when I had to read the comics on my laptop, I thought the Marvel Unlimited service was good value for the money. The iPad version puts it over the top. The comics look great, and there are plenty of them. Marvel seems to be pretty serious about putting comics onto the service once they are six months old, so if you’re willing to wait, you can read to your heart’s content at a very reasonable price.

Marvel Brings Its Unlimited Service to iOS; Android to Follow is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 vs. Google Nexus 7

kindle fire hd7 vs google nexus

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Comparison! Today we take a look at two of the hottest Android tablets on the market today, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 and Google Nexus 7. Both of these tablets use the Android operating system, but are quite different in terms of the overall user experience. In this video we will show you how each one stacks up against each other in a battery of tests.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 features a seven inch IPS display with 1,280 x 800 pixels. It offers an amazing viewing experience and the ability to watch 720p movies right on the unit. Underneath the hood is a 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 processor and 1 GB of RAM, which makes accessing media, books, and other content very fast and easy.

One of the best aspects of this model is the fact that it has twin stereo speakers with Dolby Surround Sound technology. It is seriously the loudest tablet I have ever used! The speakers themselves are on the back of the unit, but creep up the left and right sides. Even if the Kindle Fire HD is lying flat on its back, you still get amazing sound.

he Google Nexus 7 features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280×800. The resolution overall is fairly solid and videos looked a little bit better than the Apple iPad Mini and Kindle Fire HD. One of the strongest elements this tablet has going for it is the processor. It crushes all other e-readers on the market with a Nvidia Tegra 3, quad-core 1.3 GHZ processor. In conjunction with 1 GB of RAM, you can multitask to your heart's content and not experience stuttering while watching videos or turning the pages in ebooks.

Over the course of this video comparison we will show you how music, video, eBooks, newspapers, magazines, comic books and the stores work. If you are thinking of buying these tablets as an e-reader, you won’t want to miss this.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 vs. Google Nexus 7 is a post from: E-Reader News

Linebaugh March Computer Class Schedule

A $2 smartphone

Don't want to shell out big bucks for an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S III? One British company has an answer for you. It's a phone that only costs 1 pound (about $1.50)!

 Alt Text

Pottermore Gives Back with eBooks for Red Nose Day

Some reports have shown that author JK Rowling is the first billionaire to actually lose the privilege being called a billionaire for donating so much money to charity that she lost that title. It probably doesn’t bother her that much, especially if today’s announcement is any indication.

Pottermore, the interactive site created by Rowling’s company of the same name, will release two titles that were previously only available in print, with a large portion of the proceeds going to charity Comic Relief. When Rowling initially wrote the two titles, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the were created with the charity in mind. Now the Comic Relief is hosting its Red Nose Day, and the titles will be available digitally through with 40% of the purchase price going to the organization.

"J.K. Rowling has long been associated with Comic Relief,” said Alex King, head of marketing at Pottermore, “so we were really keen to highlight to givers and supporters of the charity that the eBooks of Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are now available – with at least £1.15 from every sale going to Comic Relief.  The new generation of Red Nose Day participants will now be able to discover the eBooks for the first time, via social media channels – and we are enlisting the support of the loyal Pottermore community to help get the Red Nose Day message out too."

The entire digital catalog of available Harry Potter titles, along with the two new digital titles that benefit Comic Relief, are available for sale at

Pottermore Gives Back with eBooks for Red Nose Day is a post from: E-Reader News

Official Amazon App Coming to BB10 This Month


The Amazon Kindle e-Reading app has been one of the most asked for apps for the Blackberry Playbook, since it first came out. Amazon has never developed an official app for the platform, but is thought to release their seminal reading app and bookstore this March on BB10.

Rumors are swirling that Amazon is actively developing a native version of their app to be released sometime in March. This will give customers the ability to both buy and read books on their Z10 phone. Currently, the only way to get Kindle working is to sideload in the converted Android file and the main downside is that you always need to maintain a WIFI connection.

This potential app, might be good news for everyone in the Blackberry sphere who is really looking for a mainstream reading app to hit their platform. Currently no big name company has a dedicated reading app for BB10.

Official Amazon App Coming to BB10 This Month is a post from: E-Reader News

Wexler Flex One Discontinued

wexler flex one

Russian based Wexler has confirmed with us today that they have discontinued their Wexler Flex One e-Reader. This device had the distinction of being the only company in the world to use LG’s new flexible e-paper technology and garnered tons of media attention due to its lightweight and innovative design.

The Wexler Flex One was a six inch e-reader and whose claim to fame was LG's Electronic Paper Display (EPD) technology. The resolution on this device was on par with the big boys with 1024 x 768 pixels. There are 8 GB of internal storage, which beats the Kindle and Nook in the sheer amount of memory you have to store your books, comics, and PDF files. This reader was actually the lightest in the world.

Wexler has confirmed they are announcing a new e-reader in April, but did not mention if they will be releasing a second generation Flex One e-Reader or if they are moving into another direction. Towards the end of the readers life-span, the company suffered from supply chain issues and couldn’t meet the demand of customers.

Wexler Flex One Discontinued is a post from: E-Reader News

Barnes and Noble Nook Video gets an Influx of New Content


Barnes and Noble has announced today that they have signed new agreements with Lionsgate, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Relativity Media, National Geographic, Little Pim, and Film Buff. This will add hundreds of new movies and television shows to their Nook Video system for the Nook HD and HD+.

One of the big hyping factors about these new deals is that any customer that buys the Ultraviolet version will be able to incorporate the digital edition into the Nook account. Barnes and Noble is one of only tablet companies to really integrate cloud delivery of movies and television shows onto your tablet. Although B&N has many tablets in their portfolio, Nook Video currently only works with their latest generation Nook HD and HD+ tablets.

"NOOK is one of a growing spectrum of new digital buyers for our film and TV content and illustrates the breadth and depth of opportunities for monetizing our content across a broad array of platforms," said Thomas Hughes, Lionsgate Senior VP Digital/On Demand. "We look forward to an exciting and productive partnership with NOOK."

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have been working very hard the last year securing new partnerships with major studios. The two companies both deliver television shows and movies with their established ecosystem and offer various incentives to their base of customers to make them more appealing. Currently both Nook Video and Amazon Instant Video only work in the USA and fail to appeal to international users.

Barnes and Noble Nook Video gets an Influx of New Content is a post from: E-Reader News

March 7, 1897: First Morning of the Cornflake

Dr. John Kellogg, believing that a strict diet (along with vigorous exercise, fresh air and plenty of rest) benefits the patients at his sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, serves up the world's first cornflakes.

Asus Transformer Book Now on Sale in Japan


The Windows 8 based 13 inch Transformer Book that Asus had launched long back (at the June 2012 Computex to be precise) is now finally ready to make it to the store shelves. However, that is a Japan only phenomenon as of now and Asus hasn’t revealed when it is going to be extended to the rest of the world.

About the tablet, the Transformer Book lives up to what the Transformer range from Asus is known for. The tablet comprised of a 13 inch display that can be attached to a keypad unit, turning the entire thing into a notebook device. The tablet offers a 1920 x 1080 pixel display, weighs a shade less than a kilo, and is built around an Intel Core i5 chip, 4 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of internal storage. The keypad unit houses a separate hard drive of 500 GB capacity, as well as a separate battery unit, two USB 3.0 ports, and a full sized SD card slot, while adding another kilo to the overall weight. Unfortunately, the combined battery backup times add up to just about 6 hours, a far cry from the lofty figures that the Transformers are usually identified with. The tablet part alone is said to deliver five hours. In any case, six hours of run time is decent enough to be identified in the ultrabook space. In this state, the Transformer Book commands a price tag of around $1280.

A higher speced version is also in the works. One that will have Core i7 chip and maybe a batter battery unit, and (of course!) a bigger price tag.

Asus Transformer Book Now on Sale in Japan is a post from: E-Reader News

Galaxy Tab 3 Plus LTE Seen at Bluetooth SIG

Galaxy Tab 3

The Galaxy Note 8.0 is heralded as Samsung’s next move in the tablet space, though that does not mean the oldies (the original Galaxy Tab range) have been shoved to cold storage. Instead, the 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab 3 as well as the Galaxy Tab 3 Plus are both alive and well. In fact, the Galaxy Tab 3 Plus in its 4G LTE avatar has already made it to Bluetooth SIG, where it is known by the model number GT- P8220. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group also mentions the Galaxy Tab 3 Plus is meant for release in the European market, though the tablet will undoubtedly be made available in other regions of the world soon thereafter.

Meanwhile, while details about the tablet duo are scarce at the moment, we rely a lot on rumors. With that, what we know of the device is that the 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab 3 will offer a range topping 2560 x 1600 pixels. This will put the tablet in the same league as the Google Nexus 10. Android Jelly Bean as the operating system is a given, as is perhaps a quad core processor.

More details are awaited. Pity the two tablets didn’t get to show up during the just concluded MWC event.

Galaxy Tab 3 Plus LTE Seen at Bluetooth SIG is a post from: E-Reader News

Hacking the Minecraft world

If you’re a Minecraft fan and a Pi owner, you’ve probably already downloaded a copy of Minecraft: Pi Edition. But are you getting the most out of the fact that you can modify the world with code in-game?

If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’re looking for ideas (sometimes being given a blank canvas can be lousy for getting the brain sparking), Martin O’Hanlon at the marvellous <Stuff about=”code” /> has several tutorials on Minecraft: Pi Edition, from installing the game to using the Minecraft API to build wonderful things, like magical bridges that appear where’er you walk, games of hide and seek, and in-game analogue clocks.

The hide and seek hack is easy and rewarding: with a little coding you’ll be able to get the game to hide a diamond somewhere in the world for you to find, and to give you hints of the warmer/colder variety.

You can find code and an explanation of what’s going on over at Stuff About…

And we’re all agreed that the clock is just brilliant (it’s also big enough that you can go and stand on the hands). Again, the project has its own page with code and a spot of discussion.

We’d love to see what you’ve been doing in Minecraft – take some video, or write something about your experiments on your own website, and let us know about it!

What is with the Obsession with ePub Format?

Over the years I’ve come across dozens and dozens of articles and emails and forum posts about how great the ePub ebook format is and how much better it is than other formats, especially Amazon’s proprietary Kindle format. People think that Amazon should switch to using ePub format because it is more “open” and everyone [...]

Enter OverDrive’s Library eBook Tournament


March Madness is upon us, and regardless of whether you follow the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, here's your chance to experience the thrill of bracketology. This month, we're hosting the first-ever OverDrive Library eBook Tournament.


Like the Final Four, the eBook tourney will follow a single-elimination model, starting with a large, regional field of competitors and culminating in a championship match-up. In this case, the competitors are library eBooks and audiobooks. We've selected the entrants based on the most popular eBooks and audiobooks by region, based on OverDrive digital library statistics.  Now it's up to you to decide which titles advance to the next round! Simply vote for your favorite regional title using our Survey Monkey page. After each week-long round, we'll tally the votes to determine which titles advance to the next round.


Here's the best part: we'll award a Google Nexus 7 tablet to the library that fields the most participants!


Enter Round 1 of the OverDrive Library eBook Tournament to help determine which books advance to Round 2!


Round 1



"Barefoot Season" by Susan Mallery vs. "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis

"Calico Joe" by John Grisham vs. "Chomp" by Carl Hiaasen



"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer vs. "My Beloved World" by Sonia Sotomayor

"Cover of Snow" by Jenny Milchman vs. "One Fifth Avenue" by Candace Bushnell



"The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson vs. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

"The Year We Left Home" by Jean Thompson vs. "Burned" by Sara Shepard



"Notorious Nineteen" by Janet Evanovich vs. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

"Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer vs. "Big Sky Mountain" by Linda Lael Miller


Michael Lovett is Public Relations and Social Media Specialist at OverDrive.


Apple’s Tim Cook in Discussion with Beats Audio Over Music Streaming


Apple is already reported to be keen on delivering a music streaming service, something that got a fresh impetus over reports of its CEO Tim Cook along with chief of media Eddy Cue meeting with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine. The trio discussed Beat’s yet to be launched streaming music service codenamed Project Daisy. However, the discussion is said to have revolved around the service itself with no deal having being signed. Apple has been speculated to launch its own music streaming service sometime in Q1 that will put it in direct competition with the likes of Spotify and such.

Meanwhile, Project Daisy has secured a major funding from Russian billionaire Blavatnik to the tune of $60 million and is set for a end 2013 launch.

Apple’s Tim Cook in Discussion with Beats Audio Over Music Streaming is a post from: E-Reader News