Friday, October 29, 2010

Cruz Reader

Thanks to TCGirl for pointing to the Cruz Reader, shipping now and seems to be a very interesting alternative to the Nook Color. It's even a full Android tablet, which should mean that unlike the Nook, it should be able to run the Kindle app, letting you read Kindle books on a slightly bigger screen with color and higher contrast. (You can already do that on iPad, but it's heavier and more expensive, though it has a near-ten-inch screen.)
Update: wait... it has access to the "Cruz Market", not the regular Android free Market. Ten bucks says you can't get the Kindle reader there. Durnit! 
Nope, confirmed here. Per the video lower on the page, it seems the processor and touch screen (a "resistive" type) is not so bad for the price. 

The Cruz Reader has a 7-inch screen and weighs 450 grams like the Nook Color.  And it's only two hunnert bucks, well cheaper than the much smaller 5-inch Dell Streak, which is seriously over-priced at $549(!).
The Cruz handles email, which it seems the Nook can't do. Apparently you can't produce/create anything *into* a Nook Color.
(BTW, I sure hope that the ultra-delayed Android Market (app store) downloads I've seen on the Streak (up to days!) is not universal.)

I found a video.
It seems a little slow, like on page turning. That's not so cool, considering it does not have to wait for e-paper to change.

It seems like every reaction takes the better part of a second, surely way slower than an iPad (or the Dell Streak).
It also seems that he has to be careful to press very distinctly on the screen to get a reaction. The iPad is great that way, you literally barely have to touch it for it to react. You just dance over the screen rather than slog through tasks.

The Cruz Tablet seems more responsive, but it has less pixels and is $100 more.  Velocity says on YouTube, about this, in a comment/answer: "The Tablet has a faster processor, more storage, and a capacitive touch screen." It's a pity about the smaller screen though.

Wow, I can tell we will see many, many cheap Android tablets, look at this "Fujian Sanxi" 7-incher, might sell for only $150, it's Asian it seems. YouTube review. Producer's site (a bit confusing). It's only 250 grams like the Kindle 3! Kewl.
One thing is for sure, during the next year, the small-tablet market is going to take off like gangbusters. Right now there is also the Augen Reader and Augen Tablet, respectively for $99 and $149 through K-Mart. They are not getting great reviews, though, and neither is the Pandigital Novel.
I might add that if Apple were to make an iPad at 400 grams (either 7 or 9 inches), I would probably not bother to look at any other brands, that is such a great product apart from weight for hand-held reading.

Beachmere Inn

Here's an excellent idea: the Beachmere Inn in Maine is loaning out Kindles to their guests for free.
Thanks to the Kindle Chronicles for their interview with the owner.

Very smart idea to get a logo sticker made for the nice leather case. 


Post on my other blog: Shelfari, book community.

When is paper gone?

I just stumbled over this photo, and the thought struck me: when and who will be the first generation growing up for whom paper and paper-books are unusual and foreign objects? Those born in ten years? Twenty? Thirty? I'm putting a hunnert bucks on twenty, though I wouldn't be terribly surprised if even ten is a good bet.

It's funny how it's a scary thought to us that something which is so intimately familiar to us might one day no longer be around very much. Quite irrational, but very real. The reality combined with the irrationality makes many people substitute anger for fear and attack with angry claims that of course that is impossible, can never happen!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A new Nook in color (updated)

How about a Kindle with color screen? Yes please!!
Well, sorry, not yet anyway. But the color Nook just came out! (Nook Color home page.)

I like this from the article: "Looking more like a tablet, but focused specifically on reading..." 
I am sure there must be many people like me, who loves their iPad, and it's main function is as an eReader, although I should say that I include web articles in this, something the Kindle is weak at.
The Nook Color will read to you, which on the other hand is something the iPad is weak at, at least yet (you can get it to do it, but it changes the whole user interface experience for the worse, because it's part of the interface for the sight disabled). 

The color Nook has a 7-inch screen (the Kindle's is 6") and weighs about 450 grams (one pound) (that's about 200 grams less than iPad, and about 200 grams more than Kindle 3*). It's also half the price of an iPad (though not in the same class I'm sure) at $250.  I really want one, but I strongly suspect that I can't even buy books for it, since B&N refuse to sell me books on the web because I'm an "alien" (not American). They are so keen on this policy that even using an American name and credit card, they detected I was abroad and refused my money!

I am frankly a bit surprised that B&N beat Amazon to it when it came to a color screen reader. Amazon can't be so naƮve that they don't realize how much color means to many people. Just try and go out and buy a black-and-white TV or computer monitor today!

*Yes, the Kindle 3 is really only 250 grams (8.8oz), this is delightful and an outstanding accomplishment, I don't think any other reader so far comes close [Update: I was wrong, the new version of Sony Reader is actually even smaller and lighter].  I have heard that many elderly people greatly appreciates this, since many of today's books are quite heavy tomes and get heavy to hold. Heck, this is true even for healthy young people, I have cut up many a paperback in two or three parts (along the back of course!) just so it would be easy to hold when reading in bed. Bibliofiles shudder at this, but I say: "love the content, not the form" (hey that's good, that should be this blog's motto... done). And you can always buy a second copy for your shelf, I'm sure the author won't mind...

This article has an interesting point:
"If B&N allowed its customers to actually use the devices they'd purchased the way they wanted to use them, some of them would immediately download Amazon's Kindle application for Android devices. And then, duh, they'd buy e-books from Amazon instead of B&N.
This policy won't last in the real world even if Barnes & Noble sticks by its decision. The gadget hacker community that has jailbroken Apple's locked-down iPhone has done something similar with Android phones that mobile carriers have brazenly crippled for their commercial advantage. So I give it a few weeks after the scheduled mid-November Nook Color release before our friends in the gadget-jailbreaking world give us a way to unlock that device, too."

Hmm, hmmm... if this happens so, it might actually be the solution to B&N refusing to sell ebooks to us forriners... we could read our Kindle library on it instead. It might even be good to not get one's library spread over too many proprietary systems.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Kindle Singles

Amazon had a great idea, Kindle Singles (link goes to an article, oddly, there does not seem to be any Amazon page for this) (honestly I think this is a strange way to do things), which takes advantage of the fact that ebooks are freed from the traditions of length which came with the paper format.
They are even taking submissions. The "singles" will be books with a length between long articles and short books (something like 10,000 to 30,000 words), and will of course be cheaper than ordinary books.

"'Ideas and the words to deliver them should be crafted to their natural length, not to an artificial marketing length that justifies a particular price or a certain format,' said Amazon’s Russ Grandinetti. 'The costs of print production, marketing and distribution have historically driven the page-counts of book monographs up and the word-counts of magazine and newspaper articles down'."

The Ars Technica article about this comments: "Anyone who has ever read a terrible "business" or "self-help" book consisting of a single idea furiously puffed up into 200 pages of pabulum will no doubt agree with this sentiment."
Yep, no kidding. A great many books could be reduced to article length with hardly any loss.
... Aaaaaand of course, some people's immediate reaction is to use the idea the opposite way: They take their existing business book, on Sales of course, and sell each chapter as a book! Oh, come on.

By the way, read this Engadget post on the subject. Man. "If I sound really sarcastic about everything, everybody will think I'm so smart".

Kindle Chronicles

I warmly recommend the (blog and) podcast the Kindle Chronicles by Len Edgerly. It's highly professionally done, like a good radio program rather than a podcast (which, let's face it, very few people make any money from).

And by the way, I've taken a Paypal subscription to support it. In recognition of the content normally being free, they have set very cheap levels of subscriptions, although I missed a $2/month option in between the 1 and 4 dollar ones.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Notion Ink's Adam tablet

This article is getting old, and one wonders if and when the product will actually appear, but at least one thing interests me: the screen can function both as a backlit LCD screen, and a non-backlit screen in bright light, meaning it could be used in daylight unlike other LCDs. That would be the best of both worlds, if they can manage to show good quality in both modes.

Lendable ebooks on Kindle

"Select" Kindle ebooks will become lendable soon, though with many restrictions. I think the dumb one is the 14 days limit. You rarely have such hard limits when borrowing a paper book from a friend. It also seems each book can only be lend out once.

Kindle books outselling print 2 to 1 for Amazon's top 10 bestsellers

Kindle books outselling print 2 to 1 for Amazon's top 10 bestsellers, article.

That's astounding. I was always very optimistic about ebooks, but the speed this change is happening at right now is unbelievable. I would say that this says "done deal" to those who doubted that ebooks would ever overtake "real books". Sure, this is hardly global statistics, but it's a store and a selection which is very indicative of the way things are going.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cursor positioning? Hard?

I just made a little post about a leap forward in ease of cursor positioning. Joy.

20 iPad competitors

It's hard to overview the exploding tablet market, but this article, 
20 iPad competitors, makes a brief attempt.

Apple's influence is remarkable. One gets the feeling that if tomorrow they launched a pocket ashtray with wi-fi, by next month, 20 competing products would be announced too.

But of course, it's not because it's Apple. For example their Cube computer from 2000 failed in the market and was not imitated. It's when they do something spectacularly right like with iPhone, iPod, or iPad, that those explosions happen.