Welcome to the first ever Good e-Reader Drop Test! Today we put the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 through the paces to see if the screen with shatter or how badly damaged it can get before it is out of commission.
The first test we do is the common pocket drop, where you try and put it in your pocket and accidentally drop it. We do this from the three foot mark and drop it on concrete.
We continue the rest of the tests at the five foot mark, where it is most common to be holding it and dropping it, or knocking off of a shelf. We drop it on the back, sides and on the screen.
Does the Kindle Paperwhite 2 survive our tests? Check out the video below and drop a comment on your thoughts.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Kobo has just commercially released their brand new 7 inch HD tablet this week and they bill it as an e-Reader device. The company has ditched the tapestries UI that they spent a long time developing and gravitated towards a very unique way of accessing your content and adding not only eBooks to your collection, but videos and websites. There are lots of new tablets hitting the market right now to take advantage of the holiday season, how does this stack up against the competition?
The Kobo Arc HD features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels. It currently has over 323 PPI and will play back videos in pure 1080p. This is quite an upgrade in screen technology over the original Arc, which only had 1280 x 800 HD resolution and 215 PPI.
Underneath the hood is an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor that is running a very solid 1.7 GHZ. There is also 1 GB of RAM and 16/32 GB variants for storage space. There is no expandable storage with this model, so make sure you buy the one that suits your needs.
One thing Kobo has added to the Arc HD is the inclusion of a Micro HDMI port. This will allow you to hook it up to your television or projector. This is very useful, as not many e-reading focused tablets even bother with HDMI. Other ports include Micro USB, 3.5 mm headphone jack, front facing 1.3 MP camera and a rear facing speaker. The speaker is actually positioned right at the top of the device, and looks to be creeping to the top of bezel. I found the front facing stereo speakers on the original Arc tablet are actually better than the one found on this device.
On a pure hardware level the Arc 7 HD is a very solid mid-range device. The speakers are the con strike against it, as they are muffled when the tablet is laying on its back. The WIFI can also get spotty at times, if you don’t have a strong connection the UI will crash when you access your collections, because a ton of content is dependent on the internet.
The Kobo Arc 7 HD is running Google Android 4.2.2 and right out of the box a 200 MB update is waiting for you. This tablet is Google certified, which means you have Gmail, Maps, Chrome and the Play market available to get more apps.
The Kobo UI is the most compelling aspect and it certainly stands out in a crowd of cookie cutter tablets. Instead of a vanilla Android experience they have customized the home screen and your various sub-screens that are accessed by swiping from the left to the right. One thing I liked was a picture frame on the tablet that you can use the front-facing camera to snap a picture of you, and be greeted by yourself whenever you turn in on.
The home screen mainly has your widgets and apps you want to have quick access to. The second screen is a compilation of all books you have added to the tablet recently or have purchased. It will also give you customized book offers based on your past purchases. If you have any new content synced over from Pocket, it will also appear here. This screen is the most colorful and vibrant due to the sheer amount of cover art.
The last screen is your collections, which is the heart and soul of the Arc 7 HD. Most e-readers and tablets often have books that you can add, which this does quite well. The one thing that no other device does is put Pocket articles, Youtube videos and websites in your collection. Each collection can be a standalone or can have sub-collections within it. This is useful if you want one collection for videos, one for websites or another few for eBooks. For example we made a Good e-Reader collection with our website added and anytime a new article is added you get a notification and the live tile updates.
In order to add a video or website to your collection you have to use the Stock Android web browser that is on your home menu. There is a little collections ICON next to the web browser menu. If you are on a website or a specific Youtube video you click on the button and it will show you all of the different collections on your tablet. Simply pick the one you want, and it will be automatically added.
One of the drawbacks on reading on a tablet is the fact you can get distracted with notifications, app updates or people visiting your Springfield on Simpsons Tapped out. Kobo introduced a Reading Mode, which allows you to suspend the radio and all notification. This allows you to immerse yourself in whatever book you are reading and kill any unwarranted distractions.
Kobo did a really good job by eliminating the Tapestries UI, which was prone to crashing on the original Arc. This new UI is more intuitive and provides more customization than the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or the Nook HD. Collections are the one standout feature and you can easily add new keyboard, live wallpapers and all that other Android jazz.
The one new aspect of the Kobo store is their Magazine section. The company has made deals with Conde Nast, Hearst and myriad of others. Sadly on the day of the launch in Canada this section is not available yet and users are simply redirected to the main eBook store. The entire magazine UI is just placeholder content right now and it should be up and operational at the end of October. When it does, we will update this aspect of the review and let you know more.
The majority of your e-reading experience will be via the Kobo app for Android. All of your eBooks will be in the eBook section and you can also load in your own, but they have to be in EPUB format.
The Kobo Android app got an update recently that will allow you to access their new Beyond the Book program, that gives you a run down of popular terminology, biography on the author and people, places and things within the book.
In the past, whenever you added notes to any of your text, it was exclusively contained within your device. Kobo has launched Public Notes, which allows you to share them with the world. This is a neat little feature that I have not seen before and is fairly cool in conjunction with their social media sharing platform.
It is quit easy to change the text size, change the font from 4 different ones or margins. If you screw up at all you can reestablish the publisher defaults. I find the Font selection on their Android app to be the weakest link. All of their e-readers come with 12 and you can load in your own. If you are a really serious reader, I would likely go with a problem like Moon+ Reader or Aldiko for deep customization.
One of the drawbacks is the lack of PDF support. You cannot import PDF files into the Kobo Reading app and instead need a third party program. The Arc HD 7 does not ship with a built in PDF reader of note.
Finally, Kobo as added new kids section to the store, which allows you to get plenty of stories, picture books and eBooks like My Little Pony. The link to purchase from all are right on the front navigation bar. The one thing I don’t like about the Android store is the lack of clearly defined categories to find Fiction, SCI-FI, Graphic Novels and Manga. You really have to dig deep to find it.
The Kobo Arc 7 on a hardware level is very solid. It gives you tremendous resolution and a quad-core processor. It is the best 7 inch tablet they have ever done and you can see lots of polish.
The weak points is the lack of a magazine store, even though it says it has access to one right out of the box. I also don’t like their Android store experience, it feels clunky and unwieldy. It is hard to find categories and browse their selection. If you type “Free” in the search bar to find books, no free eBooks actually appear. We found ourselves using the store on the website to buy books and sync them to the tablet.
The entire collections concept was well executed and I dig the ability to add videos and websites into them. This makes this tablet very family friendly, as everyone can have their own collection with content that is entirely unique to them.
UI is Amazing
No Magazines yet
While crowdfunding sites likes Kickstarter have helped launched a large number of diverse projects through user-generated donations, this fundraising model has been slow to work in the publishing industry. One of the first sites that operates through user-interest dollars was Unglue.it, who as early as 2011 was working to solicit donations to take existing books and basically “unglue” the copyright status; for enough donations, the rights’ holder–either the publisher, the author, or the author’s estate–would be compensated to release the book into public domain.
The two somewhat similar companies, PubSlush and LeanPub, began offering a platform solely based on the idea that authors could reach out to potential readers while the book is still in the process of being written and accept funding to help cover the costs associated with publishing the book; around this same time, Wattpad rolled out a limited pilot program that worked with six authors to fund their titles through reader donations.
Now, one of the largest platforms, UK-based Unbound, has announced that it has received about one million pounds in reader donations to fund the development of books. The most recent title, Letters of Note by Shaun Usher, has received over 125,000 pounds from donors.
In an article for TechCrunch, Unbound’s CEO and founder Dan Kieran said, "Unbound was founded on a very simple ethos: to bring authors and readers together and to give them all a better, more engaged experience of the publishing process. With this funding in place, we are ready to enter the second phase of our plans."
While the model itself sounds innovative on the surface, it is actually a re-invention of how many famous works were developed and read. A number of classics were actually published in serial form in periodicals in their day, with dedicated readers eager to purchase the next installment as the author wrote it.
Part of the terms of the Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit against Apple and several major publishers included the establishment of an external watchdog to monitor Apple’s actions, especially where business deals with publishers are concerned. Today, the attorney who will serve in that capacity was named, one of two choices proposed for the role by the DoJ.
Michael Bromwich, an attorney with the Washington, DC-based Goodwin Proctor law firm, is a former inspector general of the US Justice Department and specializes in compliance and internal oversight; he also founded and runs the Bromwich Group, a consulting firm for these types of issues. Bromwich received a fair amount of attention for his role as the oversight attorney in charge of the US offshore drilling practices in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a position he was appointed to by President Obama, and before that for being part of the legal team against Lt. Col. Oliver North in the 1980s.
According to a statement on his appointment, Bromwich said, “I am deeply honored to have been selected by the court to serve as the monitor in this matter.”
While Apple is appealing the September 6th ruling of Judge Denise Cote, which outlined the types of agreements Apple can enter into now as a result of the ebook price fixing allegations and subsequent ruling, the tech giant had no comment on the appointment of Bromwich to oversee their business deals.
I had an email on Monday morning from someone whose job title is “Witch Doctor/Marketing Specialist” from wedü, a US marketing agency. He introduced a talking skull called Yorick in the first line. It perked me up like no amount of Monday morning coffee was ever going to – thanks Marc!
Marc says: “Exhuming Yorick took a bit of doing. We tried bat wings and eye of newt, but ended up using an Arduino Nano and Raspberry Pi.”
You’ll find Yorick on Twitter at @wedurick. He’s a haunted, narrating skull: if you send him a tweet (by mentioning him) he’ll read your elegant wordsmithery aloud, live (or undead) on Livestream. Here’s a spooky sample, prerecorded for your shuddering pleasure:
The Pi is running a Python script that connects to Twitter’s API and feeds tweets from the live stream up to Google Translate’s Text to Speech, then plays the files back. If the Twitter content is too long for Google's TTS, the tweet is split into multiple parts first.
To make him a bit more at home on Twitter, we've replaced RT with 'retweet,' # with 'hashtag' and some other ways to make him a bit less like grandma getting on the interwebs for the first time.
The audio is amplified through a USB speakers stuck in poor Yorick’s skull, and sent to an input pin on the Arduino. The Arduino polls the pin for analog value every 20ms, mapping the average value of the past 4 readings to a servo position for smooth and responsive jaw movement.
He's an (ironically) headless system, and so the GPIO was used for a few handy status LED's to let us know at a glance that he's still functioning during his occasional quiet moments.
To play with Yorick, you just need to mention him (@wedurick) in a tweet. You can then watch him narrate on Livestream in real time. You can read more about how Marc and the team put Yorick together at wedü’s blog: and if you do visit their blog, you might want to scroll down right to the bottom for some
Got a Halloween project you think we might like to feature here? Email me!
It may be hard to believe that we're already in the end of October. It feels like school just started, but before we know it, the holidays will be upon us. Even if you didn't get a chance to market your OverDrive services to your students when they returned to class, there's still time!
It's important to remember that even if you've had your service for a few years, new students come every year and many students may not have taken advantage of your digital collection previously. With the new design and capabilities of your OverDrive-powered website, there has never been a better time to try these unique marketing ideas:
Thanks to the enhancements to OverDrive's school digital library, the new additions to our collection and the ease of use created by OverDrive Read, if you teach your students about your OverDrive services now, you can expect record circulation numbers even over the holiday break!
If you have any questions or would like additional ideas, do not hesitate to contact your OverDrive Account Specialist.
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Specialist with OverDrive