Saturday, July 12, 2014

Into the Dead for Amazon Fire TV Review


The Amazon Fire TV has been out for a few months and there are not very many solid Zombie style games. Into the Dead is likely the best of the bunch and today Peter of Good e-Reader takes a look on how the experience plays out and using the Amazon Gamepad.

Into the Dead throws you into the gruesome world of the zombie apocalypse where there are no second chances. Do what you have to in order to stay alive, keep moving as fast as you can, and protect yourself by any means necessary. When the Dead are rising, run!

The whole point of this game is to run into an ever increasing horde of zombies. You can either dodge them or kill them to get by, but you never stop running and never run away from them.

You can find weapons in supply crates. Or you can start with a gun, but it’s gonna cost you. You can buy a head start that starts you at 1500 meters. You can have a dog with you, he will kill zombies for you, and cries when you die. You can buy extra ammunition, and more supply crates. There are 3 modes,, Classic, Hardcore, massacre. In classic you run for your life, in hardcore it’s hardcore. In massacre you kill as many zombies as you can. You can compare your score with friends, overall a great game, with temple run aspects, and you change your weapons and zombie looks!

Into the Dead for Amazon Fire TV Review is a post from: Good e-Reader

Hands on Review of the Onyx InkPhone


Onyx has released the first single screen smartphone that uses the same type of e-Ink technology found on your Kindle or Kobo. This would allow for a glare free experience while using it in direct sunlight and provides longer battery life than the iPhone.

The overall design of the phone is small and lightweight, primarily due to the Mobius screen technology that both Sony and e-Ink co-developed. This gives you higher resolution and a thinner display panel.  Is the Onyx InkPhone merely a gimmick or does it offer us a glimpse of the future of smartphones?



The Onyx InkPhone features a 4.3 inch screen that uses e-Ink instead of the standard LCD, LED or AMOLED found in most mainstream devices.  The core display technology is e-Ink Mobius, which was co-developed by Sony. The essence of this screen is to provide a more lightweight panel, higher resolution and faster page turns.

Unlike most e-readers the InkPhone has a capacitive touchscreen and the display panel is flush with the bezel. If you have ever used a Tolino Vision or Kobo Aura you would know it is much easier to interact with the screen in this manner.

This phone allows you to read in the dark via the front-lit display. The main difference between this and your iPhone is the light emits from the bottom of the bezel and splashes evenly across the screen.  The iPhone and all other phones on the market have light that is emitting from behind the screen, into your eyes.

The hardware specs are fairly woeful which provide an abysmally slow experience in navigation, menus and anything that involves typing. It has a single core Mediatek MT6515M Cortex A9 1.0 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 512MB of storage space.  I installed Google Maps, Kindle, Viz Manga, Digg, Facebook and Twitter and already maxed out on available memory. This resulted in the unit being placed in a standby mode and would not boot up until I pulled the battery and put it back in.

There is a built in mono speaker and a 3.55 headphone jack built into the phone. The audio is fairly woeful and does not give you a wide array of peaks. When you plug in a set of headphones the sound is equally terrible. I think it comes down to the built in audio system being very dated.

People who dig taking selfies will be irked by the fact there is no camera. This will obviously prevent most apps that take advantage of camera being unable to work.  One of the redeeming factors is that you should garner 2 weeks of battery life with ultra light use.

An e-Ink phone on paper sounds like the natural evolution of the technology that originated from dedicated e-readers. In execution however the 512 MB of RAM and 512MB of storage is not enough to give users a robust experience. However, you can put a MicroSD card to enhance it, but most apps do not give the option to install to the SD.



The InkPhone is running Android 2.3 and has a customized homescreen aimed at readers. It shows the last few books you have opened up or loaded on the device via the Mini USB cable. When you hit the home button you hit the vanilla Android experience with all of the preinstalled icons and all the apps you install.

An older version of the Google Play store is loaded on the phone, giving users the option to install content that is compatible with an older version of Android. Sadly, many of the apps we installed simply won’t work.

There seems to be a problem with GPS which makes turn by turn apps unviable. Even things like Google Maps or Street View fail to work. Also, any apps that rely on animations will not work effectively either.

Most apps are designed for smartphones and tablets that have solid specs. Developers often add in animated page turns, peaking what’s on the next page or use visual enhancements to flair up the overall design.  They are also designed to show off color, since modern tablets can easily handle millions of them.

By default the InkPhone does not allow you to move icons from the apps category to  your home page. You cannot hold your finger down on an app and have any options to make a shortcut or move it around. Everything is mostly locked into position. You can install a 3rd party Launcher, but most of them do not support an older version of Android because of integration of Google Now and cameras.

Scrolling to your various menus, accessing settings or opening apps is an exercise in patience. It took me over 30 seconds to type in your standard 10 digit phone number, because you cannot quickly type. You have to enter a digit, pause, enter it again and so on. This makes text messaging via Whatsapp or entering a WIFI password as a tedious endeavor. Primary any kind of data entry is hindered by the e-Ink screen, which simply isn’t as responsive as any smartphone made in the last ten years.

You can increase the speed in which you can enter data, open apps or access your menu by a feature called A2. By default it is turned on and gives you high resolution. If you turn it off, all of the graphics are scaled down by 90% which makes everything pixelated and off-putting. Things tend to be more responsive in this manner, but it is a absolutely huge trade off.

Reading Experience


The Onyx phone simply does not really allow you to run any type of apps that take advantage of GPS or involved in animations. Kindle, Kobo, Digg, Wattpad, Marvel Comics, Manga Box and all others provide a lackluster experience. Once you turn a page you have wait over seven seconds for it to occur. During this time it the page slowly turns, each frame being visible and severely discombobulating.

If you are buying this phone to act as an e-reader you can install certain apps that allow you disable animations or do not have any to begin with. Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and Cool-er are three examples of apps that work really well.

The InkPhone has a stock reader app that allows you to turn  pages by hitting the volume up and down button and also swipe via the touchscreen. It gives you many cool options to change the font type, line spacing , margins and font size. This app is really responsive and recommended to read PDF files and EPUBS.

The one drawback of the built in e-reading app is the Text to Speech function. It simply does not work and is in a broken state. When you initialize it it highlights random bodies of text from page to page, not going in any particular order. It might scan the 1st and last paragraph of page one and do something completely different in subsequent ones.  It also goes without saying that despite the fact it looks like it is working there is no audio.

Finally, there are dictionaries and translations you can download, but most of them are 150 to 240MB in size which almost takes up the 512MB of internal storage it has.

Wrap Up


Onyx first  unveiled this phone at SID Display Week 2013 in Vancouver BC. The first demo model had a very touch friendly UI and everything was super quick and responsive. I absolutely could not wait until they had a commcerially viable model and when news broke that it was to have Google Play, I  was going to abandon by Blackberry and iPhone and just go with e-Ink.

Sadly, this phone is woefully inept in its current form and provides too many barriers for wide customer adoption. People want a responsive phone with lots of customization options and very high hardware specs. People want to shoot video, take  pictures, install apps and have good audio. The Onyx provides none of this and should be avoided at all costs, unless you are an early adopter or have a penichet for pain.


Two week Battery Life
Great Front-Lit Display
Excellent stock e-reading app
Google Play for everything you need


Will not play Video or Games
GPS is Broken
Text to Speech Broken
Abysmal one-dimensional Sound
Responsive and Slow
Most apps simply do not work
No Camera
WIFI automatically shuts off when it goes in standby mode
512MB of internal storage, kill me now.
512 MB of RAM, who thought this was a good idea

Hands on Review of the Onyx InkPhone is a post from: Good e-Reader

MTV Buys 10 Episodes of Terry Brooks Shannara


Terry Brooks has written over 17 novels in his wildly popular Shannara  series. It bean with  The Sword of Shannara in 1977 and has continued through Witch Wraith which was released in July 2013. Due to the success of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings MTV has purchased 10 episodes of Shannara.

Jonathan Liebesman has signed on to direct the first two hours of the series, to be shepherded by showrunners Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. Liebesman gives some credibility with his recently work on "Battle Los Angeles," "Wrath of the Titans" and the upcoming reboot of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

The books — originally set up as a feature film at Warner Bros — are set in our world, thousands of years after the destruction of our civilization. The story centers on the Shannara family, whose descendants are empowered with ancient magic and whose adventures continuously reshape the future of the world.

Producers plan to base the show's first season on The Elfstones Of Shannara, the second title in the series and credited with setting the series' place in the fantasy world. It is interesting they are starting on the second book first. It might prove to be the best call as the first season will feature an intense plot about the elves’ magic failing and the evil Dagda Mor trying to return to the world.

Terry Brooks said in a statement “I've been dreaming about seeing these books adapted properly for thirty-five years, and now its really happening. So let's all celebrate dreams coming true. I will continue to keep you all posted as things progress.”

MTV Buys 10 Episodes of Terry Brooks Shannara is a post from: Good e-Reader

Blinkbox Books Gives Free eBook Copies of To Kill a Mockingbird


Supermarket chain Tesco has been one of the breakouts in the eBook arena with their Blinkbox Books platform. The company has perfectly leveraged their points cards, scanned during checkout, to give big discounts on popular books. To Kill a Mockingbird has finally been converted into an eBook and Blinkbox is giving away 1,000 copies of it for free.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is getting prime placement on the web version of the Blinkbox Books website and also within the app. The supermarket is also running a small internal campaign to promote the bookstore and free eBook to their shoppers.

Harper Lee and her publisher are getting compensated at the normal rate for each free digital sale. When all 1,000 copies of the book are downloaded, the title will revert back to the normal price of £4.99.

Blinkbox said in a statement “It's easy for people to resent books they’ve been 'forced' to study at school, but equally it can be where we first discover our favourite novels, authors and characters. So with teachers telling you to read it, then politicians telling you not to, we say never mind all that: read it for you, and for the love of a good book,”

Blinkbox Books Gives Free eBook Copies of To Kill a Mockingbird is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sony Adds 3rd US Partner to Distribute Sony DPT-S1 PDF Reader

Yesterday Sony announced a new partnership with William S. Hein & Company to bring the Sony DPT-S1 PDF Reader to the law community in the academic, government, and enterprise sectors. This new partnership is a natural fit for Sony’s Digital Paper Reader. The Hein Company specializes in publishing digital legal materials such as legal dictionaries, […]

UK Society of Authors: Traditional Publishing No Longer in Authors’ Best Interests

Thanks largely to Hugh Howey’s recent post about the need for organizations that truly work on behalf of authors rather than their own self-interests, serious discussion has opened up about the need for a better structure that works to speak up for writers and their work. Organizations like the Author’s Guild have recently been questioned as their interests lie in furthering the traditional publishing industry, rather than the acceptance of all writers.

But one organization in the UK, the Society of Authors, has stated in an interview with its head Nicola Solomon that the validity of the traditional publishers is questionable and goes so far as to state the traditional publishing as a whole is no longer the most viable option for authors. As Solomon said in an article in The Guardian, current contract terms are often unfair and it is no longer the most sustainable model.

The UK has long experienced a greater level of transparency in terms of actual sales figures than the US market, and several authors have come forward to outline exactly what they’ve earned from the sales of their books. In the US, authors are contractually barred from discussing their sales, and even indie authors can violate the terms of service for ebook retailers’ platforms if they speak out about their earnings.

As UK authors aren’t legally bound to stay quiet, several authors told The Guardian how small their actual book earnings were under the traditional publishing model, which led Solomon to make the point that the traditional industry is not working in authors’ best interests. Authors’ income is actually decreasing, while publishers continue to post high revenues.

But the most telling point in the article is this one:

“Self-publishing, meanwhile, is becoming an increasingly attractive option for writers, according to the [ALCS] survey, which found that just over 25% of writers had published something themselves. Writers were investing a mean of £2,470 in publishing their own work, with the median investment at £500, and typically recouping their investment plus 40%. Eighty-six per cent of those who had self-published said they would do so again.”

Unfortunately, there are still a number of organizations who loudly further the belief that self-publishing is neither accepted nor viable, and therefore caution authors away from the income potential of indie authorship. Data from the reports and the ALCS survey will hopefully help authors understand that there are many options open to them, and that all of them have their merits.

UK Society of Authors: Traditional Publishing No Longer in Authors’ Best Interests is a post from: Good e-Reader

Netronix E Ink Smartwatch Works with Android and iOS (Video)

Netronix has a new smartwatch in the works that features a flexible 1.73-inch E Ink display, with a resolution of 320 x 240 (that’s 231 pixels per inch). Generally I don’t follow smartwatches because I don’t see ebook reading devolving to that state any time soon—let’s face it, it wouldn’t be very much fun to […]

Advice to Indie Authors: Don’t Overlook Kobo

When Amazon introduced KDP Select, the exclusive program that offered indie authors extra benefits for only selling the ebook through their platform, critics argued that Amazon was encouraging authors to forfeit the ability to sell their books in other locations, thus hurting their overall careers. In exchange for incentives such as paid royalties when Kindle owners borrowed the books, authors were not allowed to list their ebooks for sale anywhere else, including their own websites, and were not able to use platforms like Wattpad where users could interact with the book.

While KDP Select is right for some books and not suited for others, one of the unfortunate truths about self-publishing is that many authors make it as far as uploading to KDP, then don’t go any further. In some cases, their ebooks are even available only through Amazon, and yet are not enrolled in the exclusive program and therefore not receiving those incentives. Mostly through a lack of awareness of other opportunities and difficulties authors faced in trying to create accounts on other sites, many indie ebooks simply languish alone on KDP.

While sites like Barnes and Noble’s NookPress and ebook distributor Smashwords make headlines through their blogs and travel by word of mouth, too many authors are overlooking the opportunities that Kobo’s Writing Life platform has to offer. While perhaps not the household name that Amazon is, the two-year-old platform lets indie authors take advantage of the many benefits that any book on the Kobo platform can have.

Kobo recently released some quasi-specific data on its catalog of self-published titles, showing the 250,000 or so ebooks were currently listed through the KWL platform, uploaded by more than 30,000 authors from 157 countries. These books, which encompass a spectrum of nearly 70 languages, run the gamut of genres, although data showed that romance/erotica, thriller, and fantasy were the top-selling categories.

One of the chief areas that authors are missing out on by skipping over Kobo is the international reach the company has. Despite all the attention given to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, even the “empire” and the “mainstay” don’t have the global reach that Kobo has, with a market presence in nearly 200 countries, as well as an agreement with the American Booksellers Association to allow independent booksellers sell e-reader devices and ebooks.

Advice to Indie Authors: Don’t Overlook Kobo is a post from: Good e-Reader

Tinder Updated For Wearables


The great news is that you can now cross ‘finding a date’ off the list of tasks you wished you could complete from the comfort and convenience of your wrist. Tinder has released an update that optimizes their addictive dating app for use on wearable devices –so you can now find the next love of your life (anonymously) from nearly any device you choose.

With Tinder loaded up on your wearable device, picture after picture will be displayed as you green-light or red-light each one –tapping to read brief bios for each potential choice. Initial feedback indicates that the app works well, if not a little slow.

Wearable apps are the new pink these days, with development houses big and small rushing to be the first-to-market with their ideas. This effort was stifled by Google up until this week (when a workaround was released) for paid wearable apps –users could see them in Google Play, but they couldn’t actually install them. No matter for Tinder as it comes with a $0 price-tag, so if you haven’t yet swiped left and right in an effort to find your next perfect match, download Tinder now!

Tinder Updated For Wearables is a post from: Good e-Reader