Amazon has announced a slew of measures to help drive growth in its operations in India. These include free delivery on books purchased for as low as just Rs. 100. Assured delivery on the promised shipping calendar. Amazon has also made some internal system changes, such as keeping an order active even when online transactions fail, something that is common with an unstable internet banking infrastructure. One of the most popular new initiatives is the 'cash on delivery' option that has also been included to help build up consumer confidence in a country that is just beginning to wake up to the inherent benefits of shopping online and the majority of people don’t have a credit card.
Amazon has recently set up operation in China, Brazil and India and has stated they have dug in for the long haul as business here is not expected to drive in profits overnight. Instead, Amazon is looking at at least 7-10 years for it to derive profit from its business in India. Analysts are already predicting a rosy future for online retail sales in India, a segment that could be worth $76 billion US by 2021, a substantial improvement from the just $600 million US it was worth by end of 2012. In contrast, the retail scene in China is already far bigger and was estimated at $200 billion US by end 2012. It is expected to grow at an even higher rate to a mammoth $650 billion US by 2021.
“A lot of invention is required to capture the potential of this market and our focus is to build this,” said Vice President and Country Manager at Amazon India, Amit Agarwal. “We are going through a lot of trial-and-error to fix problems on the ground.”
Amazon is up against online retailer Flipkart in India that has a considerable clout in the domestic market and is buoyed by a $360 million US funding to further expand and consolidate its operations.
Friday, November 1, 2013
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 2013 does not pack quite the punch in terms of hardware that the HDX line brings to the table, but is quite respectable all things considered. It lacks a front facing camera so you won’t be able to capitalize on Mayday to assist in troubleshooting any prospective issues, but the price is right at $139. How does this new e-reading tablet stack up against the competition and is it a solid buy with all of the new devices coming out this time of year?
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 2013 edition features a 7 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels. This is the exact same resolution as the 2012 Fire HD tablet brought to the table, but pales in comparison to the 1920×1200 that the seven inch HDX maintains. Still, compared to most entry level tablets the Kindle Fire HD 2013 model is quite respectable and most content purchased from Amazon shines. This is partly attributed to magazines, comics and graphic novels being down scaled to look just as good on this model as the more costlier versions.
Underneath the hood is a dual core 1.5 GHZ processor and 1 GB of RAM. There is only 8 GB of internal memory, but when you take it out of the box for the first time there is only 5.1 GB free. If you want more memory you can opt into the 16 GB model, but it costs $169 for the privilege.
The sound is quite respectable with the duel stereo speakers with Dolby Surround Sound. When we compared this unit with the 2013 edition of the Kindle Fire HD, it actually sounds a bit quieter. Not by a huge degree mind you, but it is noticeable.
As stated earlier in the review there is on front facing camera which helps drives the cost down. Amazon is competing with Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Google for entry level tablets and is trying very hard to offer a compelling enough product to get more people to buy it. The lack of a camera prevents users from taking advantage of Mayday, which is a heavily hyped feature that lets a dedicated Amazon rep talk to you via web-cam. This was chiefly designed to assist new tablet owners with a multitude of problems. Oh yes, you also lost the HDMI port.
The hardware overall has not really changed very much from the Kindle Fire HD tablet released last year. I put this newer model in the hands for a few random people over the course of the last week and most could not make the distinction between old and new.
In the end, the hardware may not be the most cutting edge but it blends solid performance with a great price. The vast majority of enhancements are on the software level.
Amazon has upgraded their Android OS to version 4.2.2 and their heavily skinned UI is now dubbed Mojito. The one thing you will immediately notice is the way the home screen has changed. App icons, eBook cover art is higher resolution then ever before and scrolling speed as been enhanced. If you gesture downwards you will see a tray of Android apps, that allow you to easily initiate your favorites, without having to visit the navigation bar. I like this functionality because it allows you to access your favorite apps and jumping through less sub-menus to make it happen.
One of the new features I like is the way photographs are sorted. Everything is done via the Amazon Cloud and it connects to Facebook and your smartphone. You simply have to enter your phones number and then click on a verification text. All photos on your phone will then be synced to your Amazon account and it works the same way with your Facebook pics. This is a innovative new way that buckles the trend of manually loading in your own via the USB cable.
You are chiefly buying the Kindle Fire HD 2013 version to tap into a mighty Amazon ecosystem. There is a copious amount of videos and television shows available via Instant Video and free content awaits with a Prime Membership. The one downside is you need to live in the USA. If you live outside that country you can buy and download content, but not actually watch it.
Amazon has over one million titles in their online bookstore and has a ton of stuff not available anywhere else. They have the most vibrant indie publishing community and there is always a new author to discover. If you feel like a short read, you can buy a Kindle Single. If you are a big fan of Wool, you can read about the expanded universe with Kindle Worlds. There is simply a ton of content that really shines like magazines, newspapers, graphic novels, manga, comics and a ton more.
This tablet is being filled as very kid friendly with the inclusion of Kindle Freetime. Amazon has just announced a promotion where you can get one month free, which basically gives you unlimited kids books and apps to download. After that, a small monthly fee of $9.99 is warranted, but it keeps you kid reading and learning and its worth it. Freetime also allows mom or dad to establish permissions and the time in which the kid can use specific content. For example, you can say your kid can read unlimited books, but only watch 2 hours of video and 1 hour of playing games. Once the time has expired it disables the functionality. I like this because it avoids the whole “Just Five More Minutes!”
If you have ever read on a tablet before you know that you can get easily distracted. Game notifications, emails, Facebook Status Updates, Tweets and everything else can detract you from the reading experience. Amazon implemented a new feature called Quiet Time which will suspend all data notifications and help immerse you more in reading.
When it comes to reading digital books, you would be hard pressed to find a bookstore other then Amazon that can offer solid prices and a multitude of content. There are thousands of magazines, manga and graphic novels available. There is over 1.2 million eBooks available for purchase and the store is all designed to be very intuitive.
Amazon has bundled their stock reading app on the Kindle Fire when you are reading a specific eBook. You can dynamically update the size of the font to allow you to increase or decrease the size. If the publish default is not up to snuff, you can choose between eight mainstream fonts like Times New Roman, Georgia and many more. Sometimes your eyes can be strained with reading for a few hours on a tablet with a glaring white background. You can change the background to a softer radiant or just change the background to black and text to white.
The Amazon advantage is not just these eBook augmentation options but features like X-Ray, which allow you to dive into the people, places and things in a book. You can get a sense on who the main characters are, major locations and physical objects. You can click on a specific name and see a summary of each page where they are mentioned or directly talking. One feature I really dig is WhisperSync for Voice and Immersion Reading. You can buy a bundled eBook and audiobook and have the text highlight as you are reading. If you read the book at night and end on page 94, you can pick up exactly where you left off on the audiobook during your morning commute.
One new feature is translations which might assist people learning a new language. You can highlight a specific word or body of text and have Bing translate it in 12 different languages. There is also an audio option where a very robotic voice says the word or phrase in whatever language you select.
Magazines for the most part are down scaled and this one of the greatest flaws in the ecosystem. When we put the new HDX and Kindle HD side by side, everything looked exactly the same. There are no compelling reason to buy the more expensive tablet if you are just straight buying magazines from Amazon. Still, you can subscribe to singular issues or yearly. There is enough major publishers on-board that most publications are available.
Amazon sells graphic novels but not single issue comic books. If you want a more varied selection you will have to install Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse or Comixology. These apps are not available in the Amazon App Store, as they tend not to stock apps that directly compete against their interests. This forces users to learn how to side load in their apps using 3rd party app markets, such as the recommended Good e-Reader App Store!
The Kindle Fire HD 2013 edition has sacrificed the built in camera and HDMI port to lower the cost. Most people tend never to take photos with their tablet or ever hook it up to their television, so its not a big deal. There is the HDX line if you those hardware features are very important to you.
The hardware overall is fairly ho-hum and the most compelling reason to buy this tablet is due to the extensive Amazon ecosystem. Some content is unavailable if you live outside the USA, but you can bypass this by purchasing a USA Credit Card and VPN from Shop e-Readers.
In the end, the Fire HD 2013 model is a solid entry level device that is not worth to upgrade if you have the 2012 model. If you have a two year old or older device this might be for you. I think the people who will benefit it the most are students on a budget, a Christmas gift, or for your mom.
Expansive Amazon Ecosystem
No camera or HDMI cable
Hey everyone, welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Comparison! Today we look at the two latest generation Amazon Kindle Tablets, the Fire HDX 7 and NEW Kindle Fire HD. We put these two devices head to head to see how video, audio, eBooks, magazines, newspapers and comic books look. If you are thinking of upgrading to, or buying one for the first time and torn between what to buy, this review is for you.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 features a seven inch capacitive multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels. The resolution is a huge upgrade from the previous generation which only had 1280 x 800. HD videos on Netflix and HD comics from Comixology are the most noticeable improvements. Magazines actually don't see any improvements as the ones purchased from Amazon seem to be scaled down to be functional on their entire line of devices. In a direct comparison to the 3rd generation Kindle Fire, they looked exactly the same. Underneath the hood is a quad-core 2.2 GHZ processor and 2 GB of RAM. You have different models for storage and the entry level model has 16 GB of internal memory. When you take it out of the box for the first time there is only 8.8 GB of memory to play with and there is no expandable memory via SD.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 2013 edition features a 7 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×800. The resolution is not as great as the HDX tablet, but is still fairly respectable compared to most of the competition out there. Underneath the hood is a dual-core 1.5 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. The Fire HD does not have a web-cam so it is unable to take advantage of the new Amazon Mayday feature, which gives you on-demand assistance from tech support staff 24/7.
In our heads to head comparison we show you everything these guys can do or can’t do. We put the same magazine, eBook, newspaper, comic book and videos side by side so you can get a sense on any differences and gauge what device might be best suited to you.
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News
The 5th generation Apple iPad was released today in over 72 different countries and if you could take waiting in line for an hour, many happy customers were able to get their hands on one. The iPad Air is the companies finest device to date and packs a new 64 bit architecture to run the next generation of apps. It has more power than previous iterations and devices graphical heavy content with ease. How does this tablet perform in real world conditions with a emphasis on e-Reading? We dive into the new iPad Air with our official hands on review.
The iPad Air features the quintessential 9.7 inch display that has been a fixture for all of their large screen devices. While other companies consistently mix it up with different sized screens, Apple has found a formula that works. The resolution is 2048 x 1536, which is the exact same Retina screen as found on the iPad 3 and 4. One of the most notable design changes borrowed elements from the iPad Mini. The bezel is more then half the size smaller then the iPad 4. This gives you more screen real estate to play games, watch movies or to simply read magazines.
Underneath the hood is a duel core A7 1.3 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM, quad-core GPU and a new 64 bit architecture. The Air has varying degrees of internal storage and you can opt for a 16, 32, 64 or 128 GB models, depending on your needs. It is important to note that HD content tends to fill up your device very quickly. The average HD comic by Comixology has increased to over 100 MB per issue, and magazines are sometimes much larger. I found that my 16 GB model would constantly run out of space with 50 comics loaded on it. So if you do a ton of online streaming for music and video, you should be OK with a smaller model, but if you download a bunch, consider the 64 GB edition.
There is a front facing 1.2 MP camera that Apple is billing as HD, but I did not really see a huge difference between the last few generations. The rear facing one is 5 MP, which is quasi-alright for snapping the odd picture. One thing I liked was the duel microphones at the top, which assist in video conferencing or Skype sessions.
The sound quality on the iPad Air is very solid and the clarity of audio dwarfs the iPad Mini. This is because for the first time on a 9.7 inch iPad, Apple included stereo speakers on the bottom of the bezel. They are positioned exactly the same as the iPad Mini, but are larger. In a head to head test we concluded that the audio levels were 30% louder and clearer than the Mini. If you are a fan of listening to audiobooks or podcasts in your downtime, you will appreciate the enhanced hardware.
The iPad Air is very light! We weighed it and it came in at 442 grams, while the iPad 3 weighed over 660. For the first time you can easily hold it in one hand for extended reading sessions on the bus or tube. We also found that it does not get as hot as previous models. If you have an earlier version of the iPad it starts to sizzle very quickly, the Air tended to stay cool.
Hardware is all very fine and well on paper, but it is all about real world performance. We compared the Air against the Kindle Fire HDX, the iPad Mini, the iPad 3rd generation and a myriad of devices. In almost all cases it was quicker opening apps, had better audio and battery lasted longer. The real differences are found in our reading tests.
The Apple iPad Air comes with the latest version of iOS 7.03. Most tablets when you take them out of the box often have very large firmware updates on day one. This can increase the time that you wait to actually use the device, as most updates are mandatory.
If you have had a prior model of the iPad and have an iCloud device you are in for a treat. You can restore your new iPad Air with all of your email accounts, settings, apps, user accounts and all of your music, videos and paid content. This is super useful during the initial setup mode and makes you feel right at home with everything down to the same wallpaper. Many other companies offer a similar restore option, but make you jump through a multitude of hoops to actually get it to work, Apple makes it easy.
Until iOS 7 came out, the entire OS experience did not really change since the very first iPad, when it came to overall aesthetics. There is a bit of a learning curve with all of the new features, but here are our favorites. There is a 3D view, when you tilt the iPad, where the app icons are displayed and where the background starts. There is pseudo live wallpapers which add subtle animations to your experience. I dig swiping up and having shortcuts to my music, calculator and to put it in night mode. I also like if I am listening to a podcast and I put the tablet in sleep mode, i can hit the sleep button and on the lock screen i can pause it or skip ahead.
Apple boasts 475,000 apps optimized for tablet use—far more than any other tablet platform. The iPad also can run all of the million or so apps available for the iPhone. By contrast, the vast majority of apps available for rival Android tablets are just stretched versions of phone apps.
There are little software differences between the Air and the previous generation iPads running iOS 7. You will feel right at home, but there is nothing groundbreaking with the UI or other graphical elements. The one thing that might change within the next year is 64 bit apps. Since this device has the same processor as the iPhone 5S, app developers will be soon creating a number of apps that have a higher degree of performance then its predecessors. You likely won’t notice any differences right away, but in buying this device you are more prepared for the future.
Magazines, newspapers, manga, graphic novels, comics, and most graphic heavy content really shines on the iPad Air. In head to head tests with the iPad 3 and 4, it blew them all away with the clarity of the screen, even though they all have the same resolution. This goes to prove that specs on paper do not carry a lot of weight when it comes to real world performance.
Magazines are most noticeable in looking exceptionally fine on this new device. The smaller bezel on the left and right hand side provide you with more screen real estate to let your content shine. More text appears on the page and pictures are a bit clearer. Comparing one of the most recent issues of Rolling Stone Magazine with Miley Cyrus on the cover, her skin tones were more natural looking and hues more radiant than prior iPads. This might seem like a very small distinction but these differences are an indication on how all of the content tends to look a little bit more vibrant.
Comixology is one of the most notable success stories when it comes to downloading and accessing digital comic books in the cloud. They pioneered HD editions when the iPad 3 came out, to take advantage of the Retina Display. This has increased the size of your average issue from 60 MB in SD to over 150 MB per single issue in HD. When looking at the latest issue of “The Hunger” we again noticed subtle differences in shadows, hues, skin tones and fine lines. The Air surpassed previous models by a noticeable degree. This app is useful for reading comics in both landscape and portrait mode and have advanced settings to give you a solid experience. The one downside is the size of each comic and especially the graphic novels. You want to make sure you buy a higher tier storage edition so you don’t have to keep deleting them off your device.
When it comes to your standard eBook the iPad Air does a very good job, but you don’t really notice the enhanced hardware specs like you did with comics and magazines. One of the downfalls about iOS in general is the inability to buy books directly within the apps. Two years ago Apple mandated that all in-app purchases by done through iTunes or the App Store and demanded royalties on each transaction. Almost by night, Amazon, Kobo, Sony and Barnes and Noble pulled the ability to buy content in their apps. Android users have no problem buying anything directly from Amazon, but iOS users have to use their PC or Safari browser to access the websites and then sync the purchases to the app. It makes people jump through too many hoops to make purchasing digital books intuitive. Apple is the only company to sell eBooks directly through their app, but they tend to be more 20% more expensive than their rivals.
Newspapers are the one content anomaly when it comes to keeping informed. You can think of each paper as its own singular app, with different UI and GUI for every company you deal with. The USA Today looks drastically different than the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. If you use many apps you will constantly be dealing with completely different systems that are limiting in some respects. Some don’t allow you to pinch and zoom, while others do. Some let you increase the size of the fonts or don’t. One of our favorite apps is Press Reader, which gives you digital replica editions. Most digital newspapers are just apps giving you the latest stories. Press Reader gives you the exact same copy digitally as you would buy at the newsstand. Local adverts, classified, the Sunday Funnies or TV Guide are all available. It also gives some consistency that other apps don’t.
In the end, the iPad Air is simply better than all of the other iPads that have come before it. Colors are richer, everything is more defined and there is more happening on your screen then ever before. This is going to be THE device to have if you are a fan of comics, magazines, newspapers and other e-reading material.
Apple tends to slowly evolve their product lines, instead of making sweeping and drastic changes. I have noticed a trend where users skip a generation because it seems the processor is a bit faster, hardware a bit better, but seldom a WOW factor that compels you to drop everything and buy it.
If you have an iPad 2 or 3, this is a viable investment that will take your audio, video and e-reading experiences to a noticeable new level. If you just bought the iPad 4 last year, the Air might not be the most compelling investment.
In the end, I think the Air is the best tablet Apple has never produced. It sets the stage to be completely viable for the last few years of usage and will likely continue to be relevant once the next slew of devices come out. It weighs less then any of its predecessors and can easily be held in one hand.
Halloween may be over, but the digital comics folks still have some treats on hand.
Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman’s prequel to his classic Sandman series, debuted this week; if you want to get the rest of the story, comiXology has the 115 issues of the original Sandman available for 99 cents each. Looks like Amazon has the same deal if you prefer to read them on your Kindle, and if you’re not sure, you can check out Sandman, vol. 1: Preludes for just $2.99. And Barnes and Noble is offering the 99-cent issues for the Nook. (Bonus content: Here’s a great NPR interview with Gaiman.)
If that’s not your cup of tea, how about some superhero comics from Mark Waid? ComiXology is featuring a generous helping of his comics, including Amazing Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Eisner Award-winning Daredevil, for 99 cents an issue. If you don’t read superheroes but would kind of like to start, I highly recommend Waid’s Daredevil—it’s smart, well drawn, and easy to follow, and you don’t have to know a ton of backstory to enjoy it.
And if your taste runs to sci-fi action featuring green-haired ladies, this is your lucky day, as the third comiXology sale is Cyberforce/Aphrodite IX, again for 99 cents an issue.
Dark Horse Digital, meanwhile, is putting its art books on sale, including art from a number of video games (Mass Effect, DragonAge, BioShock Infinite) and comics, both original (Hellboy, Usagi Yojimbo) and licensed (Star Wars).
Besides their Sandman deals, Amazon is offering a decent markdown on graphic novels from Dark Horse, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, Eerie Archives, and Creepy. Or, if you’re as done with Halloween as I am, try out some superhero titles: Ultimate Comics Wolverine vs. Hulk for $1.99 or, for younger readers, a Batman picture book, Batman Classic: Fowl Play, for 99 cents.
Digital Comics Bargains for the Weekend of November 1 is a post from: E-Reader News
Amazon customers just got a whole new incentive to read, and Prime members just got an additional perk for joining. Today, Amazon’s traditional publishing arm Amazon Publishing announced a new program called Kindle First, a read-it-before-it’s-released opportunity for customers to purchase unreleased titles at a steep discount a full month before they are launched.
Open to all consumers, Kindle First will make select Amazon Publishing titles available early for as little as $1.99. Customers can pick one of the editor-selected titles each month at that price point, which then becomes part of the users’ permanent libraries; Prime members can have one Kindle First title each month for free.
"Prime just keeps getting better for our members, and any customer will find something interesting in our Kindle First picks," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content, in a press release. "We also love that these amazing books by Amazon Publishing authors will get a chance to reach a much wider audience."
The Kindle First program will kick off with Things We Set on Fire, by best-selling author Deborah Reed; No Place for a Dame, by best-selling romance author Connie Brockway; Silent Echo, by best-selling mystery author J.R. Rain; and We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration, and the Power of Song, by Grammy-award winning recording artist Gloria Gaynor. All books are due out in December but are available to Kindle First members starting today. Membership is free and open to all consumers, and the titles are compatible with Amazon’s line of Kindles or via the Kindle reading app.
eBook lending for libraries is still an issue for many reading consumers, and frustration on both sides of this issue still plagues both libraries and publishers. While libraries are concerned with meeting their budgets and offering relevant content in a way that keeps patrons looking to their libraries for material, publishers have to ensure that their authors are compensated and that they continue to earn enough of a profit to keep their doors open. To this end, the industry has seen everything from 300% price increases for libraries to purchase ebooks to artificial limits on the number of times an ebook can be borrowed.
A new model, though, may provide enough of a solution that libraries and publishers alike can feel confident in the transaction. Gale Virtual Reference Library, part of Cengage Learning, has launched its Usage-Driven Acquisition model, or UDA, which will allow libraries to purchase digital books based on how often and how much they are actually used, as opposed to licensing the ability to offer the titles. Gale’s customers will pay a deposit to access the entire database of titles for six months, and then at the end of the six month period, further pricing structures will be based on how much content was actually accessed by the libraries’ patrons. Under this model, libraries can enjoy unlimited simultaneous checkouts of each of the more than 2,000 titles in the imprint, because pricing is based on usage, not on ownership.
"The nature of e-book acquisition has changed considerably over the years and we have explored a number of models with customers in the past which have led us to today's announcement," said Nader Qaimari, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Gale, in a press release. "We want to expose more customers to the great learning and research opportunities offered by GVRL, and introducing this unique purchase model allows our customers to experience the platform with little risk and also enables them to make smart purchasing decisions that they can feel comfortable are meeting the direct needs of their user base."
And the public has spoken. In 2012, GVRL was voted “Best Overall Database” by Library Journal‘s readers, thanks to features like support for thirty languages, read-aloud text features in nineteen different languages, the ability to translate an article, and more. While Gale is predominantly an academic content provider, it will be interesting to see if publishers and libraries are willing to adopt an unheard of model for typical library content by basing compensation on how much is actually accessed.
Ever since the advent of e-readers and tablets, those devices have been forbidden during certain times in air travel, notably during take-off and landing, due to long-held fears that the devices would somehow interfere with guidance systems, plane control, and the sending and receiving of messages between the flight crew and the tower.
Sadly, the initial fears that led to Federal Aviation Administration standards barring the use of the devices were never based on studies or factual information, but rather on concerns over what could happen. As such, one member of the US Congress has been at work trying to either find concrete evidence of the dangers, or stop telling travelers that they’re dangerous.
Today, thanks to the efforts of Senator Clair McCaskill, the FAA has issued new standards for the use of tablets, e-readers, and smartphones during air travel. In light of the lack of any kind of evidence that there is a hazard, these devices will no longer need to be turned off, as current airline regulations state.
"This is great news for the traveling public—and frankly, a win for common sense," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, in a press release. "I applaud the FAA for taking the necessary steps to change these outdated regulations and I look forward to the airlines turning around quick plans for implementation.
"I held the FAA's feet to the fire to move quickly and responsibly and it has now delivered," McCaskill said. "I expect the airlines, as key partner stakeholders who helped produce the recommendations to relax current restrictions, to move quickly so that Americans flying for the holidays no longer face restrictions that make no sense."
For those passengers who worry about now being wedged in a tiny airline seat for an eight-hour flight next to someone having a loud and rude conversation on his cell phone, not to worry. The use of cell phones for talking during a flight will still be banned.
FAA’s New Standards for In-Flight Electronic Devices is a post from: E-Reader News
For those who have been eagerly awaiting the chance to lay their hands on the brand new iPad Air, the day is finally here. Apple has started shipping the new 9.7 inch tablet in 42 countries worldwide with the process to begin first in Australia, while Americans will get to place their orders about 10 hours later. Also, unlike its smaller sibling, there is word of Apple having enough stock of the tablet to help it tide over the holiday shopping boom. Prices start at $499, which will fetch one the base 16 GB Wi-Fi only version of iPad Air. Similarly, the cellular version starts at $629 with 16 GB of internal memory. The top of the line model will cost $929 for the LTE 128 GB version. Deliveries start on Nov 4.
Also, Apple launched the new iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 last week. The iPad Air marks the first time it has been provided with a through design makeover. The side bezels are narrower like the iPad Mini, while the overall size of the device itself has shrunk a bit. Apple also managed to stave off quite a bit of heft off the device so that it now weighs under a pound. Likewise, performance has gone up several notches thanks to the new 64 bit A7 chip inducted at its core. Apple is claiming a two-fold improvement in both CPU and graphic performance over its predecessor powered by the A6X chip. There is also a bigger battery incorporated inside the device which Apple claims will allow for 10 hours of usage. As for the choice of colors, there are the 'silver and white' and 'black and gray' combinations to choose from.
Unfortunately, while things seem to be well sorted out with the iPad Air, that is not the case with the new iPad Mini 2. Apple is yet to officially announce a firm release date, though unconfirmed sources maintain it to be around end November.
The China based smartphone maker Xiaomi has come up with an ebook store on its MIUI app store. The company is already rumored to be developing a tablet of its own and the setting up of an ebook store does add credence to Xiaomi's tablet ambitions. However, unlike others in the business, the Xiaomi ebook store (dubbed Xiaomi Xiaoshou) won’t be stocked with the company's own proprietary ebook offerings. Instead, it will contain titles sourced from more than 30 other content providers. In such a manner, it will act much like an umbrella organization, providing a single sales point for the other book sellers.
The other most unique aspect of the Xiaomi book store is that users won’t be charged on a per book basis. Instead, the cost of an ebook will depend on the number of characters it contains. The rate that has been fixed is RMB 0.03, or $0.005, for every thousand characters. If a novel contains 50,000 characters, and taking into account that each word in the Chinese language is comprised of about two characters on average, the price of the entire book will come to less than a dollar. This is in line with the average cost of a Chinese book being priced about 50 cents.
What remains to be seen is how authors and publishers are going to benefit from such a price model. The proceeds from the sale of books are to be evenly split by Xiaomi and the other content providers; meanwhile, readers will benefit from the free reading time that will remain in place until Nov 2 and extends from six in the evening until midnight.
Alex Eames runs RasPi.TV, which we think is probably the best of all the Pi YouTube tutorial channels out there; if you haven’t subscribed already, you should. He dropped by the office last week (it was deeply, deeply weird hearing his voice coming out of an actual human being) to say hi, and to show us this nice little display unit in its homemade case. My first reaction, as with everything, was to tweet a picture of it:
What you see above is the rough prototype of an affordable, mobile HDMI display (complete with homemade case) that Alex is creating with help from Cyntech and Paul Beech from Pimoroni. (Paul designed the Raspberry Pi logo, and wonderful stuff like the Pibow: his job is to make sure that nobody has to suffer through one of Alex’s homemade cases.) Here’s their Kickstarter video:
We think this is a brilliant little project: a portable, affordable HDMI screen for the Pi just isn’t available at the moment, and we know the demand is out there from what you’ve been saying on our forums. Head over to Kickstarter to let Alex and the team know you’re interested. We wish them the very best of luck with getting things rolling!
Since last month's announcement of the release of OverDrive's Circulation APIs, libraries have experienced great success with the singular search experience that the APIs offer. With the previously-released Discovery APIs and now the Circulation APIs, user accounts are authenticated, and they can discover digital titles, check their availability and check out, place holds on, or return titles all through the library's own OPAC.
On October 24th, Polaris Library Systems and OverDrive announced a new partnership to offer libraries another integrated e-content solution within the library catalog. Polaris is using OverDrive's Discovery and Circulation APIs to create a more desirable, seamless patron experience for libraries with an OverDrive e-content subscription.
"Libraries continually evolve to meet the needs of patrons in the digital age, so having integrated e-content solutions is important as Polaris looks to the future," said Jim Mieczkowski, vice president of product development, Polaris Library Systems. "Many of our customers already have an e-content subscription from OverDrive, so we are very pleased to offer this integration for both the library catalog and mobile PAC."
The circulation API joins the list of OverDrive offered APIs available through the Developer's Portal and is being accessed by Marmot Library Network currently with other library systems expected to go live soon with ILS vendors including SirsiDynix, Innovative Interfaces, and TLC, who are working to integrate them into their services.
The full complement of OverDrive APIs simplifies the user experience and promotes the discovery of digital media content on library and school websites, meeting the ReadersFirst guidelines. OverDrive APIs are used by developers and ILS companies to provide a streamlined experience for patrons looking to access libraries' full catalogs in one location. To add this functionality to your OPAC, contact your ILS provider today.
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 has just been released and obvious comparisons to the Apple iPad have to be made. Today, we check out both of these tablets and put them head to head in a series of e-reading tests. You can get a sense on how newspapers, magazines, comic books and eBooks function on both devices.
The Apple iPad Mini may give you a bit more screen real estate with its 7.9 inch screen than the 7 inch one on the HDX. The resolution and processing power are fairly mighty with Amazon’s new product and it really shows with heavy graphical content such as Comics and Magazines. The one advantage the iPad Mini has is when you read magazines, you get a boarder to boarder view of each issue, which you are reading it. Amazon has a large black rectangle at the bottom of the screen where the soft buttons are, this gives you less screen real estate.
In our video review we pit iBooks against the stock Amazon Reader to look at how they both handle eBooks. The advantage really swings to Amazon with their deep ecosystem and a slew of extra features. X-Ray, WhisperSync for Voice, Immersion Reading, Quiet Time and extended reading augmentation tools put it firmly in the lead.
We next check out USA Today on the iPad Mini and Kindle HDX. Both apps are very different in appearance and we give you the scoop on what to expect. Marvel Comics is up next, as we show the same comic on both devices head to head. Finally, we look at the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine and see how both devices handle large files with tons of color and images.