Wednesday, July 3, 2013

HP Slate 7 Android Tablet Review

hp slate 7

The HP Slate 7 is the company’s first tablet offering since the ill-fated HP TouchPad. This is a mid-range device that has hit the market for $180.00 in the US and Canada. The hyping factors about this tablet include the fact it comes with Beats Audio, though it is largely average with most of its specs. How does it stack up against the competition and is it a worthy investment?



The HP Slate 7 features a gunmetal aluminum body on the sides and back of the tablet. The front is done all in black, which certainly doesn’t make it stand out in the crowd. It features a 7 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×600. It certainly won’t win any awards with the quality of the screen, but average users probably won’t mind.

Underneath the hood is a ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz, paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. You can enhance the memory further via the Micro SD card, up to 32 GB.

There are only a few physical buttons, such as a volume and power button. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack on the top that is used for your Beats Audio. HP is really marketing this device as an official Beats device, but it is relegated to headphones via the internal audio. It does not give you the same type of Beats experience as you would find on the HTC One. This warrants you purchasing $300-$400 headphones to get the most out of your tablet. One of the redeeming factors is the side facing stereo speakers, which give you fairly good sound quality. We tested it side by side with the Kindle Fire HD 7 with Dolby Surround Sound and the iPad Mini, and the Slate 7 fell by the wayside.



The HP Slate 7 ships with Android 4.1.1 and there is no word if it will receive any further upgrades as time goes on. Google has given HP its blessing, so this device is fully certified and comes bundled with Chrome, Gmail, Google+, and all of your other apps. Currently there are a few hundred thousand apps in the Google Play market place, so you should have no shortage of content.

This is about as vanilla as you can get with an Android tablet. The only bloatware that ships on it is an HP E-Print app. Everything else is an official Google app or stock Android. This will appeal to people who love to mess with their device or don’t want to deal with proprietary user-interfaces, such as Samsung.

Most of your common apps and games should load fairly quickly with the 1.6 GHZ dual-core processor, but the resolution is punishing. Over the course of this review we put the Nook HD+, Kindle Fire HD 7, and iPad Mini alongside it to see if we can spot any differences. Apps tended to load the slowest on the Slate 7 and the graphics quality also lacked.

Reading Experience


The HP Slate 7 is priced fairly reasonably, which makes it a Good e-Reader! During our review we loaded in Marvel Comics, PressReader, Zinio, and the Amazon Kindle app. The overall reading experience was fairly lackluster when it came to image heavy content, such as magazines. Colors tended to be more washed out and there was a bunch of negative space on the top and bottom of the screen. Most Android tablets have ceased making physical navigation buttons and decided to go with software driven experience. When you are within most reading applications you still have a blank space where the Back, Home, and Settings buttons would be, even though there is nothing there. There is also blank space at the top of the screen, where it meets the bezel. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you put this side by side with most other 7 inch tablets, it becomes one.

The HP Slate 7 is best suited for newspapers, comic books, and normal ebooks. Most comic books are suited for print and their digital editions look perfectly fine. I loaded in a few Marvel Comics and one of the downsides is the lack of effective screen real-estate. It has the same issues with negative space as everything else does. You won’t really get an awesome comic book reading experience unless you have a Retina iPad, where special HD editions are made available.

eBooks tend to shine the most on the HP Slate 7! We had a few apps we loaded in our labs and found the overall experience to be average. You can make notes, annotations, and look words up in the dictionary. It certainly won’t give you the same type of e-reading experience as you would find in a dedicated tablet that is geared towards it. Devices such as the Kindle Fire, Nook, and Kobo Arc all have discovery features built right into it, which makes finding new books quick and simple.

Wrap Up


In the end, this is a woefully average tablet with nothing of note to write home about. Most people might say, Beats Audio, sign me up! Unfortunately, it is relegated to only being available for super expensive headphones, which defeats the purchase of buying a cheap tablet.

I would not recommend this device, as it lacks any compelling factors to make it stand out in a crowded marketplace.  Sure, it has a vanilla Android experience, but so does half of them currently available. The only people that might be satisfied with the Slate 7 are first time tablet owners, who don’t know any better.


Beats Audio
Vanilla Android Experience
Gunmetal Body

5 Hour Battery Life
Need Very Expensive Beats Headphones
Buggy UI
Very Average

Rating 4/10
hp slate 7 back

HP Slate 7 Android Tablet Review is a post from: E-Reader News

Zinio Will Soon Offer Back Issues of Magazines to Libraries


Zinio is one of the leading digital magazine resellers in the entire world. It has dedicated apps for Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows 8. The company currently offers 6,000 magazines in thirty-three languages and twenty-nine currencies. One of the its least promoted services is hooking libraries up with digital magazines as an alternative to print. The company will soon be launching a back issue feature, allowing libraries to collect and offer previous digital editions.

Zinio, in conjunction with Recorded Books, will soon offer libraries a chance to allow readers to read previous magazine issues. This will provide libraries with the incentive they need to migrate their magazine collection over to digital. Normally, old magazines have a fairly short shelf life, with normal wear and tear. In the past, if you bought magazines from Zinio as a library, you could not access old content. This will soon change in the next few months and any magazine you buy will stay in your permanent collection.

Recorded Books is Zinio’s main library distributor, and it works on Zinio’s behalf to market the digital magazine service. This company has been around since 1979 and has a storied history in dealing with libraries. You might say, Recorded Books has a lot of connections.

Zinio Will Soon Offer Back Issues of Magazines to Libraries is a post from: E-Reader News

B&N Slashes Nook Tablet Prices in the UK to Promote Reading Festival


Barnes & Noble has further slashed the prices of its NOOK tablet range, just weeks after announcing the company is departing from the tablet business. The latest round of price cuts are only relevant in the UK, however, and are promoted in celebration of the Reading Festival to encourage literacy in the UK.

The NOOK range starts at £99, which will fetch you the 7 inch Nook HD with 8 GB of storage. The same with 16 GB will now cost £129. Similarly, the bigger NOOK HD+ offering a 9 inch display will now cost £149, and £179 for the 16 and 32 GB versions of the tablet.

“To celebrate the free Get Reading festival and to help make digital reading more affordable across the UK, we have reduced prices on our award-winning NOOK HD and NOOK HD+ tablets for a limited time,” said Jim Hilt, Managing Director, Barnes & Noble in a company press release before also adding, “We are committed to promoting the cause of literacy and we hope that families from all over the UK come to the Get Reading festival on 13th of July for a fantastic day of events featuring some top authors and celebrities.”

The Get Reading campaign is the result of a partnership between London Evening Standard and NOOK to ensure readers get all the opportunities they need to get along with their reading. Towards this, B&N is also doling out a thousand of its NOOK Simple Touch e-Readers to the Beanstalk literacy charity. The latter in turn trains reading helpers who go to schools to help kids take up reading. The current offer is open only until the 13th July, which is when the Get Reading festival comes to an end, marked by a reading festival to be held at the Trafalgar Square in London.

However, while B&N’s commitment at promoting reading remains commendable, what also can be stated is that the company is using the above event as means to clear existing stocks. It’s a fire sale all right and reminds us of the $99 TouchPad. It remains to be seen if the NOOK tablet can match the TouchPad with the response they get.

B&N Slashes Nook Tablet Prices in the UK to Promote Reading Festival is a post from: E-Reader News

Born on the 4th of July

The creation of anything unique and beautiful is never simple. Each year, on the 4th of July Americans celebrate the flawed perfection that is our country. On this national holiday, our minds are filled with visions of battle victories, flags flying, and young soldiers coming home, but we must also acknowledge the toil, strife and sadness that often accompany the creation of a nation. So when you join family, friends and neighbors on this 4th of July, imagine those

who came before you who united in the cause for country, a place of their own and believed in something revolutionary.


American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph J. Ellis was a national bestseller and the 1997 National Book Award Winner. "In American Sphinx, Ellis sifts the facts shrewdly from the legends and the rumors, treading a path between vilification and hero worship in order to formulate a plausible portrait of the man who still today hovers over the political scene today.”- Publisher Summary


The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel is a current bestseller and has been in the spotlight for six weeks. "The Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support, friendship, and entertainment while their husbands raced to the moon."- Publisher Summary


The Greatest Generation Speaks: Letters and Reflections by Tom Brokaw is a follow up to his bestseller, The Greatest Generation. Brokaw shares the letters, stories and positive responses he received after the publication of his book by the same name. "I first began to appreciate fully all we owed the World War II generation while I was covering the fortieth and fiftieth anniversaries of D-Day for NBC News. When I wrote in The Greatest Generation about the men and women who came out of the Depression, who won great victories and made lasting sacrifices in World War II and then returned home to begin building the world we have today–the people I called the Greatest Generation–it was my way of saying thank you. I felt that this tribute was long overdue, but I was not prepared for the avalanche of letters and responses touched off by that book."- Tom Brokaw, news anchor


Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic is a personal memoir of his experience in the Vietnam War and his role as an anti-Vietnam War advocate in the years that followed. Kovic's story inspired the 1989 film adaptation by the same name. The film was directed by Oliver Stone, a Vietnam Veteran himself, and starred Tom Cruise as the wheelchair bound soldier. "As relevant as ever, this book is an education. Ron is a true American, and his great heart and hard-won wisdom shine through these pages." —Oliver Stone, filmmaker


Renee Lienhard is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive

Digital Magazines From Zinio Now Available for Free Through Public Libraries

I’ve got some good news for anyone who enjoys reading digital magazines. Borrowing ebooks for free from public libraries using OverDrive has always been a great way to legally read ebooks for free, and now thanks to a new partnership between Zinio and Recorded Books you can get digital copies of dozens of magazines for [...]

Bend Gordon’s ear

Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, is saddened that I called him out for being camera-shy the other day. So he’s offered to star in a new feature, which we’ll make a regular happening here if readers (that’s you!) like the idea.

If you have a question about the Pi you’d like Gordon and his whiteboard to answer (we’ve hung it up properly and bought in pens of many colours just for the occasion), please leave a comment below. We’ll select a few of the most interesting ones and film Gordon’s responses next week.

Sites That Save You Money

Need to tighten the belt a little? Here are a few sites that may help you meet your monthly budget

Smashwords, Publisher’s Weekly Team Up on Monthly Bestseller List


As ebook discovery draws more focus and more readers and authors speak out about the need for guidance in finding new great reads, several companies are making a concerted effort to highlight some books that are doing well in terms of sales and overall traffic. Ebook distribution platform Smashwords and publishing industry news mainstay Publisher’s Weekly have collaborated on a new bestseller list project that will spread the word about titles on a monthly basis.

Today, Publisher’s Weekly printed the first monthly bestseller list aggregated from sales that were distributed by Smashwords, and will continue to publish the list in an on-going format. Today’s list highlights the books who were top sellers through Smashwords in May 2013. The list includes titles by authors J. S. Scott, Abbi Glines, Kirsty Moseley, Katy Evans, J.M. Stone, Melody Grace, Shayne Parkinson, Pamela Ann, Mia Dymond, Katie Ashley, Quinn Loftis, Madeline Sheehan, Meek Mill, Colleen Hoover, Jon Acuff, and Chanda Hahn.

According to a post by Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker, “This will be an ongoing feature.  I’m excited by where we and PW can take this list in the future, and how it will help shine a bright and deserving light on the 60,000+ amazingly talented writers who publish and distribute with Smashwords.  Stay tuned for the our bestseller lists for June, July and beyond!”

While the monthly Smashwords bestseller list will include the top twenty-five ranked books from across its distribution network, Publisher’s Weekly will print the top ten titles in its publication. The post this morning went on to include some helpful hints for authors whose work may not be enjoying the discovery that they had originally hoped.

Smashwords, Publisher’s Weekly Team Up on Monthly Bestseller List is a post from: E-Reader News

Podcast: New and Featured Content for July

Did you know that we're constantly expanding the OverDrive Marketplace catalog by adding high-quality publishers to our ranks? You can keep on top of these new additions by following our collection highlights podcasts on OverDrive's Learning Center. Tune in monthly to hear all about content from newly added publishers, as well as some hidden gems you may have missed—it's the perfect way to window-shop for your collection and stay on top of Marketplace developments, all in 15 minutes or less.


Our July podcast is chock-full of this summer's new and featured publishers, with content that includes graphic novels, test prep aids, exquisite picture books, teen fantasy reads, comedy videos, and popular eBooks about spirituality and religion. Access July's podcast from our Learning Center to see what's new in OverDrive Marketplace, and to get a sneak peek at what's coming soon.


Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.

Chess. Bare metal assembly language chess.

Pootling around the Raspberry Pi forums late last night, I found something that rightfully shouldn’t exist. It’s a two-player chess game for the Pi – nothing so unusual there – written in assembly language, with no OS. Which is highly unusual.

Xu Ji, one of the three Imperial College students who wrote this piece of…bravura showing-off, had this to say in the forums:

My two friends and myself have successfully written a chess game for the Pi. It’s a graphical game with a colourful chess board, so we interface with the GPU and whatnot, and we do it all in assembly without an OS running on it.

We actually wrote the assembler too (in fact this was the actual assignment for the project), but it was based on the ARM7 assembler so it’s probably compatible with official assemblers (although we have not tested this).

It is due to the fact that we ourselves wrote the assembler (in C) and we only had 2 weeks for this that we only support a limited number of instructions in (our version of) assembly language. For example we are forced to use labels for variable names.

The game is written to replace kernel.img inside the OS and is about 15 thousand lines.

We thought some people may find the chess game interesting as a project, and it may inspire others to try writing games in assembly, so we are posting the link to the repo here:

Given our restrictive language we didn’t think we’d make it, but somehow it actually works…


It really does, too. Here are Xu Ji, Bora Mollamustafaoglu and Gun Pinyo, giving a storming demo. We hope you got top marks for this, guys: you totally deserve it.

If you’d like to learn more about assembly language, we highly recommend that you get your Pi out and start working through Baking Pi, a course developed last year by Alex Chadwick at the University of Cambridge, which will take you from knowing nothing at all to being able to build a simple operating system on the Pi. You can read more about Baking Pi here.