Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Second Look at the Sony 13.3 Inch e-Reader

Sony 13.3 inch e-Reader

The Sony 13.3 inch e-Reader is going to usher in a brand new era of high quality e-Paper that allows for a true PDF experience. Sony has exclusivity over this brand new technology they created and worked on, in conjunction with e INK. On the first day of SID Display Week, we were walked through some of the core features, but was that really enough? We received hundreds of emails, comments and messages asking us to look deeper into what this has to offer, we have heard your pleas, and will show you mercy. I won’t rehash the specs of the hardware, you can read all about it HERE. There are some very exciting elements to this device, that no one but us has managed to capture.

The PDF experience is the main attraction of the 13.3 inch e-Reader and gives you a true, full page experience. Obviously you can take notes and make annotations by either writing with the stylus or the full virtual keyboard. If you make a note, you can save that page as an independent file. If you have a big PDF document and make all sorts of edits, you can save it as a “Workspace” into its own PDF document. This insures you have your virgin file, with no edits and then your changed document with all of your notes.

If you have a large document with many notes, you can actually initiate a new feature that will allow you to look up all of the notes or changes you made on the document. A search feature will bring up a list on the right hand side, listing every single change you have ever made. If you tap on any of them, the page will open.

There was some confusion over the Stylus or Digitizer that came bundled with the Sony 13.3 inch e-Reader. Some people were saying the screen would not work without it and there was an air of uncertainty. I found out that you can do everything via touch. The stylus is useful for drawing notes or making changes. You can turn the pages and interact with every single menu with your hand. There is a small button on on the stylus, that acts as an eraser. Click on a body of text or notes, and you can delete it.

There is a nice fully featured internet browser, that is accessible via a WIFI connection. Browsing the internet does not cause a massive amount of page-refresh issues, that normally plague lower-end devices. This might be perfect for people who check news websites, such as Good e-Reader!

e Ink was very clear that the firmware and overall design might change on the commercial release. I noticed it did not currently have EPUB support, which means you will not be able to load in your own books. Likely, we will see Sony’s own eBook store loaded on the device, and will allow users to purchase eBooks directly from their regions store. Currently Sony has been opening a number of new online stores in Europe, UK, Australia and many other markets. It would make sense for them to incorporate this into their technologies.

Currently, the prototype is at many different events during the next few months. Sony is listening to peoples opinions and incorporating changes into the firmware and hardware. My suggestions were to hot-key the stylus eraser button to do different things. As an example, it would be nice to turn to the next page with a click. I also suggested the ability to pinch and zoom. It seems that you cant make the fonts any larger or increase your zoom levels. This would be essential, as some people prefer bigger fonts or like to focus on specific bits of information.

A Second Look at the Sony 13.3 Inch e-Reader is a post from: E-Reader News

Wayland preview

If you’re familiar with the Raspberry Pi desktop experience, you’ll have noticed that windows on the desktop can be a bit slower to move around than you’re used to on your PC or laptop. This is because X, the windowing software (or composition protocol) that we use, is not optimised to use the graphics core of the BCM2835, the chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi. All the work is done by the ARM processor instead, which slows things down and leaves the graphics core twiddling its thumbs. That graphics core is extremely powerful, so we’re working on putting it to good use to fix the issue.

We’ve made the decision to bypass X completely. Over the past few months we’ve been working with our friends at Collabora to implement the open-source Wayland composition protocol on top of the BCM2835 hardware video scaler (HVS). The HVS is a very powerful piece of hardware, with a scaling throughput of 500 megapixels per second and blending throughput of 1 gigapixel per second. It runs independently of the OpenGL ES hardware, so we can continue to render 3d graphics at the full, very fast rate, even while compositing.

Wayland composited desktop with XWayland and native applications.

In comparison to our current X11 desktop environment, Wayland frees the ARM from the burden of stitching together the top level of the composition hierarchy, and allows us to provide some neat features, including non-rectangular windows, fades for windows which don’t have input focus and an Exposé-like scaled window browser (the sort of thing that Mac users will be familiar with). Legacy X applications can still be supported using XWayland. Check out this video from Collabora to see these features in action, and to compare the current state of affairs with the Wayland future. Those non-rectangular shapes? They’re also windows.

We’re still working to improve performance and memory consumption, and don’t expect to be able to replace X11 as our default desktop environment until later in the year, but we will be including a technology preview in our next Raspbian release. Until then, this post on Collabora’s website gives some more background.

As with PyPy, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has funded this work on Wayland; it’s one of the ways we are trying to give back to the open-source community. Obviously, much of the work on this particular project is Raspberry Pi specific, but there’s a large portion of what’s being done, particularly around X-Wayland and some of the generic effects in Weston, that can be reused on many other platforms.

We’re looking forward to being able to push out the full release in the next few months. We hope you like the look of it!

Hands on with the Onyx e Ink Android Phone

onyx eink phone

Onyx intends on releasing the first fully featured e ink phone in the 3rd quarter of 2013. We got our hands on the final hardware model of this new phone and the only thing that will change is the firmware. One of the big hyping factors behind this is the front-lit display, much akin to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and the one week battery life.

The Onyx e Ink phone takes e-Paper out of the e-Reader world and transplants it in the very competitive smartphone arena. It features a 4.2 inch screen, running on Android 2.3 operating system. The resolution is 480×800 and is powered by a 1 GHZ CPU processor. Battery life should last you around one week, the device we had was being constantly fondled for the last 36 hours and was still at 90%.

The phone itself is rather brilliant! It does not suffer from the page-refresh issues that plague most modern day e-Readers. If you are text messaging, adding a contact or typing in a phone number, its instant. I never saw any ghosting on the screen and there is a button you can press to turn on the front-lit display. This will insure that you can use the phone in low-light conditions, something you could not do with e-Paper a few years ago.

Aside from text messaging, contacts and the phone itself, it comes bundled with an e-Reader app. It does not give you much in the way of editing font sizes or highlights, but since it runs Android, it would be very easy to install your favorite. I verified that in the settings menu, you can click on enabled Unknown Sources, and sideload in your own applications. This means, you can install Kindle, Sony, Nook, Kobo, Overdrive and whatever digital reading app that tickles your fancy.

The one thing that impressed me, was the responsiveness of the phone. Every menu instantly loaded and typing was a breeze. It has a full QWERTY keyboard and pressing down on keys pops up, with little to no LAG. The long battery life should also be an endearing factor, if you are on your phone lots, you should get a full week out of it, which is quite amazing. It also has a microphone that allows you to search the internet by voice, or even type notes and text messages by voice.

It remains to be seen if e Ink phones will truly catch on. You will not be able to watch videos, but you can listen to music via the 3.5mm headphone jack or the rear facing speaker. You can load your own content on it via the Micro USB cable and also use it to charge the device. The battery is swappable, as we took the rear casing off and found out you can.

Honestly, I was super impressed we managed to get our hands on this phone, with no one walking us though it. When Peter and myself were at SID Display Week on Monday, it was locked in a glass case. Obviously, cases do not scare me, and I see it as a personal challenge to flex all of Good e-Readers muscles to make it happen. After a few emails and phone calls, we had our hands all over this new e Ink phone. Lastly, when will it come out and how much will it cost? We heard Q2-Q3 2013 it will be out, the pricing is more of an unknown. Basically, ONYX is shopping this around to various carriers all over the world. If a few buy into it and place some large orders, it will cost less to make, due to the large volume. There are many factors that will influence the price, but right now it is totally unknown. Worldwide availability is also an unknown. All we do know, is that it is only 3G, and should be compatible with most major phone networks, but even e Ink did not know the bands that it is using.

Hands on with the Onyx e Ink Android Phone is a post from: E-Reader News

Raspberry Pi car computer

Raspbian running in the dash of a Ford Focus

Last century I spent weeks researching car computers. I wanted mp3s, videos and access to Notepad on the road. I wanted my car to respect and love me, just like KITT loved David. I wanted it to shout, “Right on tiger!” when I achieved an optimum MPG and to flash up encouraging messages like, “Hello Clive, might I say that you are driving very handsomely today” on a heads-up display.

Sadly it was never to happen. The reality was that you needed a PC the size of a coypu in the boot; an industrial 12/240v inverter; a 15″ CRT monitor strapped to your dash; and hawseholes in your bulkheads. And after a week of constant rebooting halfway through Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk, your hard drive failed because of the vibration and your battery discharged for good.  (I gave up and bought a 32Mb Diamond Rio and a hi-tech cassette adapter instead.)

Back in the 21st century, Derek Knaggs at Flamelily I.T has made the thing of my dreams: a low cost, low maintenance, general purpose car computer. There are other Pi-based car computers about but we especially liked this one because it’s simple, cheap and it looks like a factory fit. Very smart.

A quick swap of SDs and Raspbmc meets all of your multimedia needs

The Raspberry Pi is stored in the centre console and all wires routed underneath. Audio is fed through the aux socket of the car’s radio so no additional hardware is needed for this. A wifi dongle provides internet connectivity on the move via a mobile phone hotspot.

Neatly tucked away in the console — note the wifi dongle for internet on the move.

Full details including a shopping list are on Derek’s blog. I’m off to make one.

Join the Hall of Fame: Become a Digital Library Champion!


It's springtime and love is in the air! As you know, all of us here at OverDrive love digital media and we absolutely love our library partners. Large or small, public or educational – no matter the size or type of library, we love you all.


The Digital Library Champions contest is just another way for us to show you some love, in the form of content credit, a new tablet or eReader, a shiny plaque and adoration from your peers.


What does it take to become a Digital Library Champion? You have to share our passion for eBooks and audiobooks. We want to find the cheerleaders, the innovators and the success stories. We're looking for digital media marketing mavens! There are many chances to win with categories honoring the most creative and effective marketing campaigns: Inside the Library, Outside the Library, Online, through the Test Drive program and for our schools and colleges, in the classroom. We'll also select a grand prize winner to win the OverDrive Allstar Award for exceling in multiple categories.


Need some inspiration? Check out our winners from the past on our new Pinterest board, Hall of Fame: Digital Library Champions. Many librarians and even Library Journal have already been repinning and sharing promotional ideas from our past winners!


Your library could be the next to enter the Hall of Fame and win fabulous prizes – all you have to do is enter. The contest ends Tuesday June 11th so make sure to submit your entry form soon! Find all the details in the Digital Library Champions contest launch blog post. Send us entries, comments and questions to


Don't miss your chance to become a Digital Library Champion!


Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.


Google Play Magazine App Updated, Gets a New UI

Play Magazine

Google has introduced some new changes to its Play Magazine app, which now has been bumped up to version 2.0. The change comes on the back of a similar effort towards Google Play Music and its Play Store, both of which received their respective updates recently. As part of the enhancements brought about at the Play Magazine, the app now sports a cleaner and organized look and the interface looks brighter. A new slide out bar has been introduced to switch views from Read Now, Library, and Shopping mode. Purple has emerged as the theme color for the Play Magazine, though it still lacks features such as bookmarking, copy and paste, or highlighting.

Google Play Magazine App Updated, Gets a New UI is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Appstore and Kindle Fire HD Tablets Now Available Globally

Amazon announced today that they have opened the doors of their Android appstore to nearly 200 countries worldwide. Previously it had only been accessible to those in the United States since launching in early 2011, and Japan and parts of Europe since fall 2012. This is good news for international tablet users because Amazon’s appstore [...]

Barnes and Noble Kicks Off Summer Program for Young Readers


Public libraries and bookstores around the country are rolling out their summer reading programs in an effort to help students retain the progress they’ve made throughout the school year. While educators are all too familiar with the so-called “summer slide,” programs that encourage reading comprehension and exploration can have a valuable impact on students’ ability levels when they return to school in the fall.

This summer, Barnes and Noble is once again encouraging participation in its summer reading program by offering prizes and free books to students who participate. Aimed at students in grades one through six, the program, Imagination’s Destination, runs from May 21st through September 3rd and offers unique incentives throughout the summer weeks.

"Our Summer Reading Program encourages children to read for pleasure, inspiring a lifelong love of reading. It's so much fun to see a child's face light up when they turn in their completed journal sheet and get to choose a free book from the store display," said Sarah DiFrancesco, Director of Business Development for Barnes & Noble, in a statement unveiling the program. "Our stores partner with their local schools and libraries to get the word out in the community. Educators and librarians love the program, too, because they also want to encourage children to read during the summer months. Add our special promotions with Roald Dahl and Dan Gutman books and the best lineup of summer skills workbooks, and Barnes & Noble is truly the best destination for summer reading fun, learning and savings."

Educators also have special promotional tools and items that can be shared with their students during these last few days of the current school year in the Summer Reading Activity Kit. More than just announcements for the program, these tools help students engage in active reading by asking them to transfer the words on the page to higher order thinking and characterization, and can actually serve classroom purpose throughout the school year.

Information for both parents and teachers can be found in a special educators’ section at

Barnes and Noble Kicks Off Summer Program for Young Readers is a post from: E-Reader News

Kindle Fire HD and Amazon App Store Expands to Hundreds of Markets


Amazon has just announced that they are now making its Kindle Fire HD 7 and 8.9 tablets available in over 170 different countries. The company also mentioned that its Android App Market will be available in over 200 countries.

The Kindle Fire HD WIFI tablets will be available to pre-order starting today. The first shipment will be dispatched on June 13th and the international crowd will find a lot more viability in accessing content with the entire app store now available. To celebrate this move, Amazon is giving a few apps away for free on May 23-24. Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope Experiments could be incentive for people to gravitate towards these devices.

App Developers will have the ability in hundreds of new markets to submit Android apps into the Amazon store. Amazon curates it fairly vigorously, and not everything is accepted, like Google Play. Recently, Amazon announced its virtual currency, Amazon Coins. This allows for micro transactions within the apps and can even be used to buy a paid version of an app.

"Kindle Fire HD is the #1 best-selling item in the world for Amazon since its launch, and we’re thrilled to make it available to even more customers around the globe today," said Dave Limp, Vice President, Amazon Kindle. "Not only does Kindle Fire feature advanced hardware, it's also a service. When combined with our content ecosystem, great email and browsing and top-rated customer service, we hope people around the world will agree that Kindle Fire HD is the best tablet for an incredible price."

Amazon is in the business of severely discounting the hardware to make up for digital sales. Over a million ebooks are currently in the system and in the last year Amazon has started to offer exclusives. Amazon Prime members get a free ebook every month for buying into the $79.99 package, which also gives free movies and free shipping.

Kindle Fire HD and Amazon App Store Expands to Hundreds of Markets is a post from: E-Reader News