The Sony 13.3 Inch e-Reader (DPT-S1) has been well received by the reading community because of its large and lightweight screen technology. Few e-readers ever produced have garnered such buzz and people are visibly excited about a wide-spread commercial release in May of 2014 in North America. Starting December 8th it will be available in Japan for around $1200 US or 98,000 yen. The sad part is that it will not be available in a retail environment. Instead, it will only be available for business customers via Sony’s own website and obviously through the grey market, such as Rakuten.
Many people were hoping that they could pick one of these readers at the big electronic stores like Edion or Bicamera. Unfortunately Sony is making the call to sell it only to business customers, which for the most part are schools. It is not really a product designed for the casual reading audience because it can only read PDF files. So for example, the Sony Reader Store would not be bundled on it, obviously leading to confusion if a newbie reader got their hands on one.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
A few months ago ImCoSys announced a new e-reader and they demoed it off at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The ImcoV6L e-Reader is being billed as the first e-reader with an open version of Android and it will allow users to install the e-reading app of their choice. Instead of being locked into dealing with one bookseller on an e Ink based device, you can install Kindle, Nook, Kobo or an indie app like Aldiko. We have official confirmation today that the e-reader is delayed and will be shipping out in February of March of 2014.
The US government shutdown in October prevented a number of FCC applications from being processed or approved. ImCoSys was unable to procure the necessary certification to sell the e-reader in North America. This is very unfortunate as they will be missing out on the critical holiday season.
The imcoV6L features a six inch e-Ink Pearl HD display screen with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. It also has a front-lit display, to allow you to read in the dark. Underneath the hood, it is powered by a Rockchip 1 GHZ CPU processor and 256 MB of RAM. There is 4 GB of internal memory and has an SD Card slot to enhance it up to 32 GB. It will retail for around $119.99, which makes it a compelling device.
One of the most interesting aspects of this device is external speakers and 3.5mm headphone jack. This will allow you to listen to audiobooks and music right on the device. Since it is running Android, you will be able to install apps such as Audible, to buy and listen to them right on your e-reader. Another great feature is the physical page turn buttons working in conjunction with the touchscreen. You can turn the pages by gestures or with the click of a button on the left/right hand side.
At a product launch event in New York City Canadian based Kobo announced their intention of launching a digital magazine store. It took a number of months to work out the logistics and build a store interface on their new line of tablets, but it seems to have paid off. Starting today customers will have the ability to buy hundreds of magazines from major publishers and read them on their PC or via the Arc 7, Arc 7 HD or Kobo Arc 10 HD.
The new magazine store from Kobo offers titles from top publishers including American Media, Bauer Publishing Group, Condé Nast, Hearst Corporation, Time Inc., Mansueto, Rogers Publishing Limited, Reader's Digest, and Wenner Media, with more being added every day.
Instead of relying on the traditional pinch and zoom feature to read magazine articles, Kobo has developed their Guided Reading View. It has a simple tap interface that intelligently moves from one column of text to the next. Guided Reading removes the need for toolbars creating a clear interface free from distractions.
Jolla, the Finland based company that developed the Sailfish operating system has stated they wish to see the operating system being installed on Android smartphone devices now being used. The company further stated Sailfish is compliant with Android apps which should provide the impetus for individuals to port Sailfish on their devices, which again, as per the Company CEO Tomi Pienimäki is fairly easy to accomplish.
Jolla as a company came into being only in 2011 and was set up by a group of ex-Nokia employees with the aim of further developing the MeeGo mobile software that Nokia has been working on before switching over to Windows full time. It's good to see all of the efforts that has gone into the development of the MeeGo mobile platform not going to waste and has culminated into what has come to be known as the Sailfish. However, with Jolla yet to strike deals with existing smartphone makers into developing a device based on Sailfish, the best way for the operating system to be provided mass proliferation is to allow it to be ported on existing Android hardware dotting the world mobile landscape.
However, Sailfish right now is only available developed for use in a smartphone device though the company behind it has stated they wish to see the platform transcend to other areas of computing as well. This should include tablet devices though not specifically mention by Jolla; neither do we know when the platform could be seen invading the tablet scene.
Meanwhile, the company has just come up with its own hardware running the Sailfish OS. The device was handed out to 450 people who had pre-ordered the device. Zdnet's Jo Best got to spend some time with the new device running the new OS and came out with mixed feelings. The OS does seem to hold a lot of promise though there also are just too many bugs and other deficiencies out there for the OS to be deemed as half baked as of now. Understandably, app store is still in the early stages of its development while the apps too seem to be not yet ready for prime time action.
However, the platform itself comes with some inherent qualities though it can be a topic of debate if those can be termed positive or otherwise. For instance the OS requires few tabs to be operated while there isn’t a back button either. The latter can be sorely missed if someone ends up in a situation that wasn’t intended and needs to back out. Also, the home screen houses a set of icons along the top left which intimates the user of any notifications such as missed calls or unread messages. However, none of these can be reached directly from the home screen and the user will have to navigate further to attend to these. A few tabs saved in the home screen but several more needed in the end.
However, a positive aspect of the OS is the ‘peek’ functionality that it provides which allows the user to swipe up from the bottom to keep themselves abreast of any recent notifications. This can be invoked even while working on any app while lifting the thumb will let go of the notification zone.
Also, another interesting aspect of the smartphone Jolla has come up with is the interchangeable ‘other half’ casing that can be snapped on to the set. However, it’s far from being of just cosmetic value to the user even though it’s going to be available in several exciting color options. Instead, they can also be used to add specific or distinct functionality to the device using NFC. Jolla believes the concept can be picked up by third party players such as an 'other half' inspired by a football team or a particular company for their employees and so on. These in turn will add the desired ‘look and feel’ to the device.
However, what can be said in the end is that both the hardware as well as the platform still needs some serious polishing efforts to make them shine in the already crowded smartphone segment. The hardware costs a quite high $399 while fielding mid-range specs and a below average camera while the Sailfish still needs more work to make it look and feel sophisticated.
Regular users will have noticed some big changes to search.overdrive.com last week. Search has tens of thousands of visitors every day but the old site was getting a bit out of date. The new design is just the start of a big effort to modernize and improve the utility of one of our most important destinations. To begin with, we've focused on two key things: speed and usability on mobile devices. We've also retired 'classic' search and replaced it with a more intuitive and familiar faceted search interface – you can start with general searches and use the filters on the left nav. bar to narrow them down quickly and accurately.
As with all such initiatives, we appreciate that change can be disruptive – if there's something you can't find, or are having trouble with, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're listening and happy to help!
Over the coming months we'll be rolling out new features – alongside the inevitable bug-fixes – that will make it even easier to find your nearest library, or your next favorite book.
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive
|Our latest set of videos clears up common grammatical mistakes|
Amazon has relaunched its reader-centric promotion from last year’s holiday season, Twelve Days of Deals. Each day, different titles will be steeply discounted in both ebook and print editions. The promotion kicks off each day at 12:01 PST, and runs for twenty-four hours.
Today’s deals are titles that were selected from Amazon’s Best Books of 2013, so features the following titles:
• Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch—$2.99 (80% off the list price)
• Philipp Meyer's The Son—$2.99 (82% off the list price)
• Hannah Kent's Burial Rites—$2.99 (77% off the list price)
Print book deals will be discounted throughout the day (8 am PST – 8 pm PST) in four hour increments. Today's deals in print books are:
• Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch—$8.99 (70% off the list price)
• Philipp Meyer's The Son—$12.99 (53% off the list price)
• Robert Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling—$11.99 (54% off the list price)
"We're so excited to include our pick for the best book of the year, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, in 12 Days of Deals, and we have many great books lined up for every day of this promotion," said Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Books & Kindle at Amazon, in a press release today. "We think giving the gift of reading is always thoughtful, whether you're wrapping a book for under the tree or gifting a Kindle book."
For more information on the specials, click HERE.
Certainly, booksellers in any region–an Amazon host or not–should have reason for concern. Amazon has the size to undersell, the ability to provide incentives like free shipping, and now drones for immediate delivery, if the reports can ever come to fruition.
So what can the next Amazon market do to prepare, instead of waiting for customers to support the retailer and sitting idly in shock at the lost revenue and lost power over the publishing industry?
First, independent booksellers can begin now with a push to digitize and encourage web-based sales from their existing customers. Too many booksellers wait until the rest of the business has gone to e-commerce, then scramble to create a blog and a website; by the time they have adapted, consumers have already grown accustomed to clicking on their Amazon apps.
Also, one feature that is driving traffic to Amazon in nearly every market is self-publishing. When authors who cannot find support from local or chain bookstores are able to sell their content through Amazon, of course they’re going to drive traffic to the retailer. Independent and chain bookstores alike have got to do more to embrace self-published authors if they want to keep these consumers.
Finally, if the industry would stop taking an Amazon-against-the-world stance to book publishing and selling, more cooperative efforts could happen, which will benefit everyone from the publishers down to the average reader. Instead of dividing into two camps, if small retailers would seek out ways to benefit from Amazon’s global advancement, more book awareness could happen, resulting in more book sales.
I had mail yesterday from Andrew Gregory, a Linux journalist we’ve really enjoyed working with over the last few years. Andrew was already writing about Raspberry Pi before we had even started selling them, and it was good luck for us and for him that on the day we announced our launch, he already had a life-sized image of the Raspberry Pi squarely positioned on the front cover of Linux Format Magazine in shops across the UK. We like Andrew. He’s good people.
Andrew and much of the rest of the editorial team has since departed Linux Format, and they’re working on setting up a new magazine – one with a business model which we think will resonate incredibly well with the FOSS community; it’s a business model which is completely new in the magazine sector. Linux Voice, which is currently raising money via IndieGogo for its launch, has got us all aquiver.
What makes Linux Voice unusual? It’s that business model. Fifty percent of profits will go straight back to FOSS and Linux communities, with readers given the ability to nominate which projects, devs and events are sponsored. And after each issue of the magazine has been out for nine months, all of its content will be made available for free under a CC BY-SA licence. This is not something I’m aware of any other paid-for magazine doing, and it has enormous implications for teachers, after-school groups – and for the rest of us.
We’re very excited about this project. We know the team, and they’ve got some great writers and editors on board with a huge breadth and depth of domain knowledge and experience. These are the people who first put an article about Raspberry Pi on newsstands. I asked Andrew if he had a few words for readers of this website, and this is what he sent me:
Under traditional licensing systems, the copyright owner can print and reprint content as often as they see fit, often charging several times for the same old copy.
We don’t want to exploit our readers by charging them several times for the same old content, but we also don’t want our old content mouldering away on some server somewhere. Instead, we’d rather it were put to use. Things move on so quickly in free software that a lot of our old content will be worthless to us commercially, but it will have value to teachers, students, maker groups and code clubs.
Releasing Linux Voice’s material under the CC-BY-SA licence means that anyone will be able to take what we’ve done and update it, so it doesn’t go stale; incorporate it into larger works, such as school or university worksheets; or just download it and use it as it is.
What this means is that once we’ve created something, it will (we hope) be out there, and be useful to somebody, for ever. Learning is about sharing knowledge, and we want to help make our contribution to the shift in computer science teaching that’s been kicked off by the Raspberry Pi.
We’re proud to support Linux Voice, and we’re watching their IndieGogo like a hawk. Please head along and sign up to support them by buying a print or digital subscription. We’ll be signing up alongside you.
Microsoft announced free access to its Student Advantage program for all school and educational institutes that already have subscribed to Office 365. This makes the program to be available in over 35,000 schools which will now be eligible to use Office Professional Plus for free. Microsoft explained the move as a means to enhance the student's prospect of landing up a job, claiming those having proficiency with MS Office tools stand a greater chance in the job market. Microsoft also took the opportunity to take a dig at Google claiming in its blog: "Microsoft Office skills were sought after five times more than any other productivity tools. Even Google’s own job postings require competency with Microsoft Office tools."
Of course there are other reasons for Microsoft to make special mention of Google as the latter's free productivity services such as Google Drive has proved to be a cause of worry for Microsoft. Under the circumstances, its best for Microsoft to offer its Office Pro Plus software tool for free which in turn will help it retain their contracts with the schools.
The MS 365 Office Pro Plus suite comprises of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, and Lync.
HP is quietly building up its tablet strength that has been recently reinforced with the launch of 4 new models. After having launched the rudimentary Slate that failed to make much of a mark, the company has now come up with 4 new offerings that will help it field a contender across a wider spectrum of the tablet market. Interestingly, all the four tablets run Android Jelly Bean, version 4.2 with the company yet to come up with a tablet running Windows 8.1. Several manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo and so on have come up with affordable 8 inch tablets based on the new Intel Bay Trail chips and running Windows 8.1. However, the one big positive aspect with the new HP tablets is that that all of them include quad core chips, which means performance is not compromised even with the cheapest tablet.
Coming back to the latest HP tablets, the range starts with the HP Slate7 Plus which is the cheapest of the lot at $149.99. The 7 inch display is lit up by 1280 x 800 pixels and includes a 1.3 and 5 megapixel front and rear camera and a 4000 mAh battery pack. Powering the device is a 1.3 GHz quad core Tegra 4 chip that works in association with a gig of RAM and 8 GB of storage.
Next in line is the Slate7 Extreme which though belies its naming with just a slight increment in specs over the base Slate 7 Plus. The Extreme shares the same display as the Plus but gets a slightly uprated 1.8 Ghz quad core Tegra 4 chip, 1 GB of RAM and a higher 16 GB of storage. The Extreme also shares the same 0.3 and 5 megapixel front and rear comera setup as the Plus but is powered by a bigger 4100 mAh battery.
Next up is the 8 inch HP Slate8 Pro which also is the most expensive of the lot at $329.99. However, the higher price tag notwithstanding, the Slate8 Pro shares several of its internal make-up with the Slate7 Extreme though there are enhancements elsewhere to justify the higher price tag. Among the similarities include the same 1.8 Ghz Nvidia Tegra 4 quad core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. The Pro however benefits from a better 8 megapixel shooter at the rear and a front facing 720p HD enabled camera at the front. Up front, it is a 1600 × 1200 pixel 8 inch display.
Thereafter, it is the Slate10 HD which is the biggest of the lot while being priced $299.99. Specs read a 10 inch 1280 × 800 pixel display, 1.2 GHz dual core Marvell PXA968 chip, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage and 2 and 5 megapixel front and rear webcams. The tablet also hosts the biggest battery rated at 7000mAh.
All the four tablets are now listed at the HP online site though the Slate7 Extreme is currently listed at out of stock.