Friday, July 4, 2014

Angry Birds Heads to South Hamerica


The world’s most popular physics-based puzzle game has received another update, and this time the stars of Angry Birds Seasons are headed to South Hamerica: it’s fun, festive, tropical (with a hint of Aztec), and features 24 new main levels (along with 3 additional bonus ones). If you are one of the many who can’t get enough bird-slinging, consider how enjoyable it will be to navigate high up in the mountains amidst shaky rope bridges and swinging relics.

Part of what makes Angry Birds so addictive and enjoyable is that there are a variety of scenarios and environments to play in: the jungles of South Hamerica let you take advantage of new traps that bring piggy-destruction to all that they encounter.

If you are an existing player, you can grab this update using the ‘My Apps’ section from the Play Store on your device. If you haven’t yet tried the ever-evolving Angry Birds Seasons, download it for free now.

Angry Birds Heads to South Hamerica is a post from: Good e-Reader

Get Your Kids Reading this Summer with e-Reading Apps


Kids these days have either their own smartphone or tablet, or have access to one. Summertime normally involves frolicking in the sun and goofing off with friends, but parents may want to get their child reading instead.

Children are simply reading less these days. The American Time Use Survey recently issued a report that will be quite startling for parents. It proclaims that teenagers 15 to 19 only read for around 4 minutes a day.  Most kids say the only books they read are books that are apart of the schools remedial English program.

Obviously this is all very distressing, but parents can play an active role in reading this summer.  This first app to check out is from Scholastic, which harkens back to the days of the school book fair, but in a digital version. The Scholastic Storia App for Android offers highly-curated titles, from vibrant picture eBooks for younger readers to the hottest new series for older readers, including fiction and nonfiction titles by both new and established authors. There are thousands of books on the platform and 4 free eBooks that are offered for free.

The public library is often a refuge to satiate children’s literary thirst year round. This summer why not install the Overdrive app on their device. Using your normal library card you can tap into the customized children and teens reading lists. Hundreds of libraries are participating in the program, you can check out an example from the Sarasota County library.

iStorytime is a rising force in the digital realm of eBooks. Their parent company Zukka has been winning lots of awards for enhanced kids books. There are hundreds of titles that are based on officially licensed properties, such as Shrek, Madagascar, Rise of the Guardians, Kung Fu Panda and The Smurfs. There are a bunch of titles available for free.

Reading eBooks is not the only thing that kids can read this summer but what about magazines and newspapers? Often they can carry these right on their smartphone and read it while on the bus or during commutes. Zinio offers thousands of magazines and can be purchased individually or download as many as you want per month on their Z-Pass system. Next Issue is a new service for digital magazines that is getting lots of press. It seems every day they run television commercials promoting it in the US and Canada.  They have a 30 day promotion to enjoy their entire catalog, which is basically half the summer.

I think its the parents responsibility to install the love of reading on your child. They often learn by imitation and if the parents are aren’t reading, they often won’t.

Get Your Kids Reading this Summer with e-Reading Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Onyx Boox T68 Lynx vs Kobo Aura


The Kobo Aura has been around for around six months and continues to be one of the top sellers for the Canadian based company. The Onyx Boox Lynx is .8 inches larger, but uses a little more dated e-paper. Today, we compare the two side by side to see if there is a clear cut winner.

The Lynx e-reader is very much akin to the Kobo Aura HD, in terms of specs. It features a 6.8 e-Ink capacitive Ultra HD EPD display screen and a resolution of 1440×1080 pixels. Underneath the hood is a Freescale i.MX Cortex A9 1.0GHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Books are stored on the device and has 4GB of internal storage with the option to increase it via the Microsd Card up to 64GB.

The Kobo Aura maintains the standard six-inch approach that the company made famous with their entire product line. It currently has a super high resolution e-Ink "Clarity Screen" with 212 DPI and sixteen levels of grey. Really, the resolution is the exact same on the Glo, and has not broken any barriers on using a next generation e-Ink display. This e-Reader has the exact same front-lite technology that was found on the original Kobo Aura HD. This will allow readers to adjust the brightness settings to suit their environment. Currently, Kobo has the best front-lit screen in the business and has surpassed Amazon in terms of quality. To turn the screen light on, there is a button at the very top and then a virtual slider bar to control the brightness.

It is powered by the quintessential Freescale i.MX507 1 GHZ processor and has 1GB of RAM. There are 4GB of internal memory, which can be enhanced via the Micro SD Card. It seems that Kobo e-Readers still have expandable memory, which makes adding books to your collection fairly easy and painless. It also has over two months of battery life, which is ideal.

In the video below, we document the core e-reading experience on EPUB and PDF files on both devices. You will get a sense on how they perform with page-turns, form and function.

Onyx Boox T68 Lynx vs Kobo Aura is a post from: Good e-Reader

Indie Author Tools to Self-Publish Audiobooks

Good e-Reader published an interview with ACX, Amazon’s self-publishing platform for audiobooks, over a year ago, and the site has seen tremendous growth in the number of titles produced. Authors have the ability to self-publish audio editions of their content under a couple of different payment models, including one that requires very little upfront investment on the part of the author. From the ACX platform, the final product is distributed through Amazon right alongside the author’s Kindle and paperback editions, and royalties go directly to the author and/or the voice talent, depending on the model selected.

However, producing an audiobook, even with the tools that ACX provides, isn’t a simple process. The author essentially morphs into a producer, for all practical purposes, and even authors who have the drive to produce their audio editions can find the task is a little beyond their capabilities.

A separate option, audiobook production company Common Mode,  is now broadening its model from its early days of producing ebooks for the traditional publishing industry into serving the needs of indie authors and small presses. Common Mode’s Paul Fowlie spoke with Good e-Reader about how the audio industry is adapting almost as quickly as the publishing industry as a whole, and has grown to include indie authors.

“We’ve been in it from the beginning working with all the big publishers, and we’re looking to expand to working with independent authors to be part of the revolution of authors who’ve been taking things into their own hands. If authors can self-publish their audio, they can potentially make enough money to live on in order to support their writing careers.”

Fowlie was speaking to the fact that audiobooks continue to have a much higher price point than both ebooks and print books, and that audiobooks tend to sell well given the low volume of content available to audiobook fans. Coupled with the format adaptations that let audiobook readers enjoy their titles from mobile devices, authors who produce their own content can actually stand to benefit quit well.

“Audiobooks have been at a higher price point typically, but I don’t know if that’s going to continue as the business expands further and further, but right now I feel that’s where the most revenue is made in terms of book sales versus an ebook. And we’re looking to work with authors.”

One aspect to Amazon’s ACX that has made it so popular is the royalty share option in which the author doesn’t pay the narrator or the production costs upfront, but rather agrees to earn a significantly smaller royalty. That’s an enticing option for authors who don’t have the ability to invest the kind of expense that an audiobook requires. While Common Mode has yet to explore that structure with its clients, the company has supported two crowdfunding campaigns, one on Kickstarter and one on Pubslush, in order to help authors fund the cost of production.

“Our first preference is to be hired by the author to produce the audiobook, but we understand that most authors aren’t able to take that risk.”

Whichever route authors choose to take to create the audio format for their titles, one thing is for certain: there is a real need for content in audio format, as opposed to the so-called “glut” of content coming from self-published authors in the ebook space.

Indie Author Tools to Self-Publish Audiobooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Fire TV Review – International Edition

The Amazon Fire TV was developed to compete with Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and a myriad of other media services. The Seattle based company is trying to leverage their movie, television and apps services to appeal to customers that might not have a Fire Tablet or Amazon phone. Today, we give you a hands on review of Fire TV and if its worth it to purchase if you live outside of the USA.


The Fire TV box is running on a heavily customized version of Google Android OS and features a very solid 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU with 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, 8GB internal storage. It has the same dual-antenna wireless internet that the latest generation Kindle Fire tablets have. It connects to your television via HDMI to give you full 1080p video and Dolby digital surround sound.

I have the Apple TV as my goto streaming video device and the Fire TV blows it out of the water in terms of speed and overall robustness. Navigation, menus and loading up content takes only a few seconds.

The remove control of the Fire TV is fairly standard. The only really unique aspect of it is the voice control system. You can mention an actor or directors name and it will open up all of the movies Amazon sells or rents that they have produced or performed in. This is useful to find out movies you might not have seen.

Gaming is one aspect of the Fire TV that works internationally. If you purchase the $59 game controller you can use it to play all of the games that have been optimized for the Fire TV. It is important to note that not all apps listed in the Amazon app store have Fire TV certification and there is barely a few hundred titles available to download or install. If you have Amazon Coins in your account, you can use them to pay for apps.

In the end, on a hardware level the remote, box and game controller are very elegant and solid. Amazon preety well as the best media box in terms of performance.



If you live outside of the US, you won’t have access to 80% of all the content available on the Fire TV. You would figure that Netflix would work, because in Canada we can signup, pay and view the service on our computers, or alternative streaming boxes such as Apple TV. The Fire TV runs the US version of Netflix, so you can login, but can’t actually watch anything.

Most of the apps listed in the Amazon Store for Fire TV simply won’t work. WWE Network, iHeartradio, HULU+ and many other free apps are incompatible outside the US. Normally people would say, you can simply install a VPN or DNS Service, but there is no way to sideload in your own apps or configure it to read a different DNS.

The only way you will be able to stream content or use apps, such as Netflix on the Fire TV is if you use the Second Screen feature on your Amazon Kindle HDX. The current generation of Kindle tablets allow you to load in your own apps and this would allow you to sideload in VPN or DNS services from websites other than Amazon. This would allow you to use Netflix or WWE network, but still won’t allow you to buy or rent movies from Amazon. In the past, we have tried to get this to work, but B&N and Amazon both use geolocation in their products for their core-services.

The Fire TV has a fairly intuitive menu system to find your apps, games, videos, movies and pictures. They are really putting a priority on app discovery with bright and bubbly icons and featured images. This is one of the few media boxes that allow you to install apps, something their competitors don’t.

Wrap Up


The Average user will simply find the Fire TV totally unviable outside the US. Even if you purchased content from Amazon in the past, they won’t even allow you to stream stuff you own. It is a shame that even Netflix, which works with everything, won’t work.

A streaming box with only Watch ESPN, Flixor and TuneIN radio working is a kick in the pants. I would avoid this at all costs, unless you simply want an Android gaming console with a great controller.

One of the saddest things about Fire TV is the inability to tap into any of the reading content that has made Kindle so popular. There are no newspaper, magazine or eBook apps available for you to read to entertain your kids with.

To be honest, we normally write super comprehensive reviews on any e-reader, phone or tablet we do. What can I possibly say about the Fire TV from a Canadian point of view? The UI looks really nice, its responsive as hell but the only thing you can do is play games. DUDD.

Amazon Fire TV Review – International Edition is a post from: Good e-Reader

Onyx Boox T68 Lynx PDF Review (Video)

PDF is a popular format, and there’s always a number of people that want to know how well E Ink ebook readers handle PDFs. Tablets like the iPad are among the best options for PDFs, but there are some E Ink ebook readers that do a fair job. And since most people don’t have $1200 […]

Reading Rainbow Funded with $6M Kickstarter Campaign


Because we love reading, we watched the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign very closely –so the news that the campaign surpassed their original goal of $1 million, rounded their revised aim of $5 million, and then grabbed the full $1 million in matching funding from Seth MacFarlane is especially exciting for us!

Plans for the considerable funding include bringing Reading Rainbow to the web, Android, consoles and OTT boxes; plus over 7500 subscriptions for classrooms in need so they might access the considerable literacy resources included in the program.

Were you meaning to donate (cleverly described by LeVar Burton as ‘engaging your compassion subroutine’), but didn’t get in before the deadline? It isn’t too late to pledge your financial support to this project and grab some of the great rewards they still have available.

Reading Rainbow Funded with $6M Kickstarter Campaign is a post from: Good e-Reader


Adafruit’s 3D Thursday series is getting us terribly excited every time they roll out a new project with a Pi in it. Yesterday’s was a doozy: so much so that the engineering team stood around my desk and made puppy-dog eyes and sighing sounds at me until I agreed to email LadyAda and beg a demo sample of the project from them. (She says she’s sending the pink one, Gordon, just to punish you for being so demanding.)

Meet the extraordinary PiGrrl, a home-baked Raspberry Pi clone of the Game Boy.

If you don’t think that’s the best thing ever, you’re dead inside.

As always with Adafruit projects, the PiGrrl is documented minutely; you can find a complete tutorial on their website, along with files for the 3d printer at Thingiverse. This is one of the more complicated builds we’ve featured, but we think the results speak for themselves;.

LadyAda says: “Woohoo!” After careful consideration, so do we.