Kobo has finally released their new top of the line 10 inch tablet. In the past, the Canadian based company has always developed seven inch versions and the latest iteration is a bit of a departure. The large screen display really makes magazines and comic books really shine. It is a bit on the expensive side at $399, but the burning question is it a good investment?
The Kobo Arc 10 HD features a stunning 10-inch capacitive touchscreen with ten point multitouch. It has one of the best resolutions in the business with 2560×1600 pixels. To give you a sense of how great it is, the Apple iPad Air is only capable of displaying 2048 × 1536 pixels.
This tablet is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core 1.8 GHZ processor, which puts it faster than most of the other tablets on the market. It also packs an impressive 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space. The entire internal structure is somewhat of a milestone for Kobo, as they have never released a more polished looking device, which seeks to really give them a competitive advantage over most large screen devices on the market. What I really like about the overall design of the hardware is the angular grooves on the back. It stands out in a crowd and when you spend a lot of money on a device, you want to to look not so cookie cutter.
If you decide to just watch videos, listen to audiobooks, or play a game, this tablet really performs. It has dual speakers at the very top of the rear panel, which even when lying on its back still gives you superb sound. Side by Side the Apple iPad Air still outperforms it in the audio department. You can hook the Arc 10 HD directly up to your television with the Micro HDMI port. I like the inclusion of Micro HDMI, as more companies like Amazon are tending not to include it in their top of the line HDX tablets anymore.
The Arc 10 HD may not have a rear facing camera, but has a respectable 1.3 MP front facing camera used for video conferencing or instant messaging. When you turn on for the first time you are greeted by an empty photo frame which you can take a picture of yourself to personalize the home screen.
The hardware is really slick and outperforms most other tablets on the market. Kobo has never produced a ten inch device before and I had a bit of trepidation on whether or not it would be another Vox, or if it would be solid first time out. There are still some quirks to iron out with the software and in some cases needed full on reboots. Still, over time this may be a device to purchase.
The Kobo Arc 10 HD runs Google Android 4.2.2 and is heavily skinned. This means it is not the same stock experience as you would find on the Google Nexus 7. You can think of it as similar to the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Nook HD+, in the respect that its a tablet billing itself as an e-reader.
The home screen mainly has your widgets and apps you want to have quick access to. You can establish a live wallpaper if thats your thing or customize it anyway you see fit. 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. There is also Beyond the Book information that is synced here. This is the new social media platform that replaces Reading Life and Pulse. You can get biography info on the author and information on most of the characters inside. If you have any new content synced over from Pocket, it will also appear here too.
The last screen main screen is your collections, which is the heart and soul of the Arc 10 HD. Kobo has really taken the entire concept of collection management and turned it on its head. You can make your own collections that have videos, Pocket articles, eBooks, magazines, cookbooks and interactive content. If you use the stock Android browser, there is an option to add any website to your collection, to make it easier to access all of your info.
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. This tablet is more internationally friendly than many of its rivals, with more people able to buy into the entire Kobo ecosystem.
The large display really makes audio and video shine, but the speaker quality is not the best. Despite the fact it has stereo speakers at the top of the unit, it still doesn’t reach the type of audio capabilities as demonstrated on the Kindle Fire. Honestly, resolution at this point in the tablet game does not make a huge difference. Most of the big name companies like Netflix, Comixology, Zinio, Crunchyroll simply doesn’t deliver HD content. This is one of the downsides of Android in general, there are so many different screensizes and resolution that it makes it impossible to push out HD content properly.
The big new draw about the Arc 10 HD is the inclusion of the new Kobo Magazine section. The service has just launched and gives you hundreds of magazines to purchase on a singular issue basis or to opt into a one year subscription. There are many titles available from major publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst and myriad of others.
When it comes to reading, you can use the stock Kobo application to check out the manga, graphic novels or eBooks you purchase. There are around seven fonts you can select from and around 16 different sizes to find that sweet spot. There are plenty of options to change the background color, if pure white is not your thing. You can go with nighttime reading mode, which is a black background and white text or go with a soft milk background. The Kobo app lacks compared to the Nook App or Kindle App, but gets the job done.
When you are reading a book you have a bunch of options to take notes and make annotations. There are five different colors you can use for highlights and dictionaries can be downloaded on the fly. One new thing Kobo has done is make your personal notes private. You can opt into this of course, and you can check out other peoples notes, which makes this sort of thing entirely unique.
The one great thing about Android is that you are not stuck dealing exclusively with the company you bought the device from. With Google Play you can download reading apps from Amazon, Sony, Nook, or go with indie apps such as Moon+ Reader or Aldiko.
Personally, I am not the hugest fan of the graphic novel selection found on Kobo and instead like to buy single issues on the day they are released. If this matters to you, I’d suggest to download Marvel, Comixology, Dark Horse or the app of your choice.
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 ARC 10 HD is quite pricey when it comes to buying into the Android ecosystem. It costs around $399, which anytime a device costs this much it draws obvious parallels to the Apple iPad. You can check out our Youtube Channel for a head to head comparison and see for yourself.
This tablet is really new and has some small software bugs to work out. I noticed a bunch of unresponsiveness when it came to interacting with the touchscreen while reading a book. Often when I tried to highlight a word or make a note, it took a few tries. This could be due to the software app or maybe a hardware error.
Many international markets do not have a ton of options when it comes to buying a large screen device that is geared towards reading. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo are the only three that market an e-reading-centric experience. Kobo is likely the best if you live outside of the US and UK, you get a bunch of power and no limitations on what you can buy. Amazon has a bit of a deeper ecosystem with magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and video, but limits the purchasing of it.
In the end, is this tablet worth the money you spend on it? The answer is yes. The large screen display makes e-reading an unbridled pleasure. If you are looking for a new device, you would be hard-pressed to find anything better.
High Resolution Display
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Self-publishing and distribution platform Smashwords released the news that Bowker has declared the site to be the top producer of ebooks in 2012, and the second largest producer of self-published titles following CreateSpace. The data, based on Bowker’s records of ISBN registrations, was part of its larger analysis of the year’s titles.
These numbers, according to Bowker’s data collection, are a 59% increase over the previous year and over 400% increase over 2010. As more and more writers turn to self-publishing, they’re going with a platform that can provide a wide variety of distribution channels and the opportunity for low-cost ebook gifting and promotion.
According to Mark Coker, founder and CEO of Smashwords, in a blog post on the news: “Although I’m pleased to see Smashwords come in at number one, I’m even more excited about what Bowker’s overall data says about the rise of self-publishing. Indie authors are taking publishing matters into their own hands. The three most essential requirements of professional publishing – the printing press, the access to retail distribution, and how-to knowledge of professional publishing best practices – are now freely available to all indie authors. Smashwords is committed to providing writers these tools.
“Any writer, anywhere in the world, now has the freedom to publish without a publisher, and can do so at little to no cost. As indie ebook authors, these writers can enjoy faster time to market, greater creative control, closer relationships with readers, greater price-competitiveness, better marketing and promotion tools, and royalty rates four to five times higher than they’d get from traditional publishers.
“The day will come when more writers aspire to indie publish rather than traditionally publish. Is the industry ready?”
Whether or not the industry is ready may still remain to be seen, but with publishers like Hachette reporting record ebook sales even in 2013, it’s a clear sign that readers are responding to digital publishing, regardless of where it originated.
|Kobo recently announced that their new line of Kobo Arc tablets are now available in the US and Canada. The news has gone virtually unnoticed with the new iPads and Kindle Fire HDX tablets shipping at the same time. Nevertheless, the three new Kobo tablets, including the 10-inch Kobo Arc 10HD and the 7-inch Kobo […]|
|Amazon pulled opened the doors on a new Kindle Store today specifically tailored to residents of Australia. Now Australians can buy Kindle ebooks directly from Amazon.com.au instead of Amazon.com, and pay in Australian dollars instead of US dollars. Amazon is showing some 2.1 million titles available, including everything from cookbooks to comics and graphic novels. […]|
|Apple officially released their second generation iPad Mini tablet to the masses today. The first iPad Mini was hugely popular, despite the high price and low resolution screen. This year’s iPad Mini looks to be an even bigger success than the original with the super high-resolution 2048 x 1536 resolution IPS screen. That’s the same […]|
Launched in fifty libraries at the beginning of this year as part of a pilot program, OverDrive’s Media Station allows library patrons to employ the in-library ebook, audiobook, music and video sampling and checkout terminal. Today, the world’s largest distributor of digital content to academic and public libraries announced the Media Stations are widely available to their member libraries.
"The OverDrive Media Station has been really well received by our patrons. It's rarely unoccupied," said Jennifer Simon Halai, Librarian, Virtual Library Services at KCLS, in a press release. "During the day, adults are the dominant users, but after school and in the evenings, it's the kids and teens who are engaging with it, usually with a smartphone or tablet in hand."
According to OverDrive, the Media Station “enables libraries to showcase to the millions of in-library patrons their entire OverDrive digital catalog, including eBooks, audiobooks, music and video. Experienced or new users can browse, search and sample any of the media they find with the swipe of a finger. Patrons can instantly (without cables or pre-installed apps) send a link to any title from OverDrive Media Station to their favorite device for checkout using a QR code, email or text message (SMS).”
The Media Stations serve as a sampling portal that lets users try out content, as well as enhances the digital checkout process. This type of interactive interface is especially important for libraries whose patrons are still adjusting to the option to checkout ebooks and MP3 audiobooks, a concept that is still new to so many library users. OverDrive showcased the Media Station at several publishing events this year and has opened the platform to all libraries.
Clive: We like wearable computers; we like music; but most of all we like wearing Blake’s 7 style gauntlets, playing air guitar and head banging. So we were delighted when Adam Smith-Kipnis of Team Hackcouture.io, a small team of technologists and designers “passionate about wearable computing”, got in touch to tell us about their recent win at a wearable computing hackathon. We were really impressed by the short development time and the amount of tech they managed to jam in, including RFID, accelerometers and conductive fabrics.
Adam kindly says that the Raspberry Pi was “a core element of our success” and here he tells us a bit more about the hackathon and their winning entry:
This past weekend at the Seattle Interactive Conference, AT&T hosted a 'wearable computing' themed hackathon competition. On Tuesday night, team Hackcouture.io was awarded first place with our invention of a mobile, gesture detecting fabric glove, paired with our own air guitar iPhone app.
The modular prototype, conceptualized and created in just 18 hours, uses conductive fabric sensors to track gestures and relays them to a Wi-Fi enabled Raspberry Pi mini-computer, mounted to the arm. We even used a prototype headset from Plantronics, equipped with an accelerometer for "head bang detection." Additionally, the glove was outfitted with an RFID chip in the palm for access control, as well as a gesture detecting Pebble smart watch for display of QR and UPC codes. These are used to share data with mobile apps.
When we think of wearable computing, we think of weaving computing into the fabric and threads you wear. Today, there are too many seams between computers and clothing. We want those connections to be seamless. While we see value in this platform with entertainment, productivity and accessibility, what it could become is anyone's guess. We've seen that when communities come together with the right platform and the right product, some really magical stuff can happen.
CreateSpace, the print-on-demand self-publishing platform owned by Amazon, announced two exciting new features for authors today, both of which stand to give indie authors a more professional experience.
The first announcement is the introduction of matte laminate covers as an option to choose from for their books. While not typically a deal breaker for most authors, until now CreateSpace covers were only offered as a glossy, plasticized cover. The new covers will allow authors not only a choice, but a more equal footing in print sales, especially for those authors who order books for signings or who have made arrangements for their books to be sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores.
Kimmie Easley, author of Souls Set Free and the upcoming title Gutter Princess (February, 2014), explained to Good e-Reader about the importance of a professional touch when it comes to covers. “I think a professional cover is extremely important to both the author and the reader. It sets a book apart, and I know it’s what I look for. A bad cover can completely turn me off from reading a book. As a reader, I love to go through bookstores and feel the covers. It’s not just the image or artwork, which is still important, but it’s also the tactile experience of the book. I’m drawn to books that feel different, and I will jump at the chance to have a cover like that as an author.”
There is no additional charge for choosing the matte cover, and authors whose books are already available through CreateSpace can switch to matte without repeating the upload process or having their books become temporarily unavailable.
Also, CreateSpace announced at the same time that its Expanded Distribution offer, which typically costs $25.00, is now free. This option helps authors make their books available to physical bookstores and libraries by being included in the catalog. While not a guarantee that these locations will stock an author’s titles, it does make the process far easier for those physical stores.
Some industry watchers have noted the recent tapering off of digital sales figures and come to the conclusion that ebooks have finally found their place with readers, meaning they are no longer the enticement they once were when they posted unbelievable sales. But while publisher Hachette UK’s overall sales dropped a couple of percentage points for the third quarter of the year, its digital sales increased an astounding 80% over the previous August, and 32% over the previous July.
Part of the reasons for the increase could be the slate of new e-readers that were launched this year, as well as news of pending device launches that were scheduled for October as consumers filled their virtual bookshelves in expectation of a new device purchase from the same company. But more likely it came down to old-fashioned content: Hachette had a number of significant releases over the summer and carrying on into September. The July news of Robert Gilbraith’s true identity (JK Rowling) created a mad rush to purchase the April publication A Cuckoo’s Calling, while highly topical and timely books like I Am Malala were instant bestsellers. Additionally, titles that have been out for quite some time but still have a strong market presence–such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane–contributed to those figures.
Hachette UK CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson told The Bookseller, “The summer months were exceptional for us, with a number of standout achievements including holding all the number one slots on the Sunday Times bestseller lists for five weeks and a record-breaking month of e-book sales in August. We are now looking at a very strong last quarter from every division in the group."
The creative genius behind books such as The 4 Hour Work Week, The 4 Hour Body, and The 4 Hour Chef is now embarking on a new direction in the publishing industry: audiobooks. What was once a tired format with very few titles actually being recorded is now growing in popularity, due largely in part to the abundance of mobile devices to listen to them.
Tim Ferris, who has launched Tim Ferris Publishing, will be taking a stab at the audiobook market by focusing on books whose audio rights have not be realized. More importantly, he’ll be leveraging the traffic and online presence of his own blog to do the marketing and selling for him, not an outrageous idea considering that his own blog receives about one million visitors per month.
In an interesting twist to how viable and successful publishing typically function, Ferris’ company will only release audio titles that he himself has read and enjoyed, beginning with a title that he declared to be “life changing,” Vagabonding by Rolf Potts.
In an interview with Tech Crunch’s Anthony Ha, Ferris described the fact that there’s always room for a new model in publishing: "There's also a place for a business model that capitalizes on audience and process. That just hasn't been done really well."
This shift into audiobooks wouldn’t be Ferris’ first experiment with the format. He released a BitTorrent Bundle in which readers could have a free audiobook version of his bestselling The 4 Hour Chef when purchasing the hard cover, an experiment that led to a significant increase in sales. He will be creating a similar experiment for the release of Vagabonding.
|Check out GCF Labs, a place for the experimental projects that make us love our jobs.|
Ilan Stavans Set’s Up Publishing Firm Restless Books, Aiming For a Cosmopolitan Makeover of US Publishing Scene
Writer Ilan Stavans is now set to don the publisher cap as well with the launch of an ebook imprint, Restless Books. Among his initial offerings will be Between Clay and Dust, a novel by the Pakistani author Musharraf Ali Farooqi along with three books on poetry and memoir by the Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca. These apart, Restless Books also have other literary works lined up for publishing, which include those from Mexico, Argentina, Russia and Cuba. Ilan Stavans stated one of his goals behind setting up his own publishing unit is to see the US be seen more cosmopolitan with its publishing efforts by coming up with more translated book or publishing original works of American authors.
“Only 3% of books published annually in the United States are translations,” something that Stavans claims is “embarrassing.” “This country has become an island. We forget the rest of the world is out there. And great literature (fiction, poetry, journalism) is released on a daily basis in Turkey, Poland, Argentina, China.”
“Readers today access literature in multiple languages,” Stavans further added. “So instead of the old model of bringing a translation into the U.S. audience, in digital form we want to bring the translation and the original together and let the reader choose. Price and weight don't matter here because we're talking digital books.”
Among the titles that Restless Books will have on offer from next month include The Underground by the Russian writer Hamid Ismailov, Journey to the Land of Israel, 125th: Time in Harlem, among others.
If you are reading this then I can probably safely assume you enjoy reading. You probably have a favorite book, a favorite author, a favorite literary quote even. Maybe it's tattooed on your ankle or written above your doorway or maybe you are like me, the words are so engrained in who you are they've written themselves across your heart. For me it's always been "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." Jack Kerouac, the first boy I ever loved.
The truth is, though, we start young. Yes, I love Kerouac, but before him it was Cummings and Rowling. Before them, Louis Lowry had me reading by flashlight (Man, kids today have it easy! What I wouldn’t have given for a back-lit eReader back in the day!). I'm not sure who started it; maybe it was E.B. White and Wilbur and Charlotte. I didn’t know it was possible to cry that hard; luckily for me, Charlotte was the first friend I ever lost. Reading changes you. Books are sometimes the only maps we have to navigate growing up and we need books now, more than ever. Books strengthen your heart. Books allow you to confront hardship, love and adolescence all from the safety of your bedroom (hopefully under the covers, warmed by the light of your eReader or smartphone). We need them!
Yes, the world is different now, but the way in which we fall in love with reading is still the same. We start young which brings me to today. Today is Young Reader's Day. Celebrate the young readers in your life and library by browsing our YA and Children's content in Marketplace; we have a wide variety to choose from, including classics and popular chart-toppers.
Help them start young and help them grow. White said it best, "Children almost always hang onto things tighter than [we] think they will."
Christina Samek is a School Account Specialist for OverDrive.
Apple's new iPad Mini has now joined its full sized sibling in making it to the company's online stores throughout the world. Both the new gen iPad variants were announced towards the last week of October. With the iPad Mini 2 now on sale, this marks the end of iPad Air's dominion in the market which it had to itself for more than two weeks. Shipping times mentioned is 1 – 3 business days for the 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi only variant for the tablet, which goes up to 5 – 10 days for the 64 and 128 GB versions as well as LTE versions of the tablet.
Pricing starts at $399 which goes up by $100 each time the memory size is doubled so that the highest specced 128 GB LTE version of the same can be yours for a cool $829. Also, the biggest change with the new iPad Mini, apart from the incorporation of the much touted Retina display, is largely centered around its internals. This includes the new 64 bit A7 chip as well as the M7 “motion coprocessor” both of which made its debut in the new iPhone 5s. There have also been a few issues reported with the functioning of the M7 chip which led to the iPhone 5s returning erroneous results. Apple has been attending the fault and a number of iOS upgrades too have been released.
Meanwhile, the new iPad Mini continues with the same form factor as its predecessor, except that the tablet in its present form is a bit thicker and heavier. This can be attributed to the tablet now coming with a Retina display though on the whole the new iPad Mini still can be counted among the lightest and slimmest around. However, with the new iPad Mini finally entering the retail scene, how much of an impact it makes on the newly redesigned iPad Air will be keenly watched. The first gen iPad Mini had outstripped sales of its stable mate, the iPad 4, though with the iPad Air now sporting looks similar to the mini variant, it will a good contest to watch.