Saturday, May 5, 2012

Temple Grandin on ereaders

Temple Grandin is a well known expert on autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and animals, and our friend Len Edgerly interviews her about how different ereaders may help people with learning- or reading-difficulties.
For example the lower screen contrast of the Kindle and the flicker-free nature of tablet screens may help many people.

Friday, May 4, 2012

(Updated) Barnes & Noble shipping GlowLight Nook

Barnes & Noble shipping GlowLight Nook, article.

It's an e-ink display. It's not backlit. It's front-lit. From the sides, but still pretty evenly. Quite interesting. And once again, B&N beat Amazon to it, like they did with the color reader and with a touch reader.
The contrast of the screen itself does not seem to have changed from the miserable middle-grey background e-ink always has had so far. But maybe the light helps. In any case, I'm curious. But not available outside the States, of course. I could buy it from the US, but I couldn't buy any books for it, so that'd limit the joy.

I wonder what technology they use to spread the light evenly over the page, from a narrow slit by the edges. I can't really figure that out.

I found a video showing it clearly. It looks very attractive to me.

(Does this video show to you?  If you can't see it, try here and tell me what you get please.)

 I think that maybe my problem with the e-ink screens is less the low contrast, and more the overall darkness of it, it is not one of the brighter things in my field of vision, so it does not attract my attention. Judging from this video, this may make a significant difference in that area.

In any case it's much superior to the little exterior light sources people have had to use, because they give light so uneven that I just couldn't use them (I tried a couple, including Amazon's leather Light case for Kindle 3). Well, they are usable if you really have to, but for me at least they are not pleasant at all.

No convergence please!

Believe it or not, this spoof was made by Brydge, the company with the so-far most serious attempt at actually making something like such a convergence.

Brydge is making a quality keyboard component which fits the iPad.
When the iPad was new, I knew these things were bound to come. Now they are here, I'm not at all sure if I want it, or if I really should bring the MacBook Air when I want to use a keyboard a lot. There are many things you can do on a Mac which you can't do on an iPad. But then this is also true vice-versa. And you can pull the iPad from the keyboard and then you just have the lovely iPad. Sooo...

Kindle Fire, is it failing?

iPad Marketshare Hits 68% Worldwide, article.
IDC’s data shows Kindle Fire shipments dropping from 4.8 million units during the fourth quarter 2011 down to 750,000 in the first quarter of 2012.

Ouch! Okay, sure, that first one was the Christmas quarter, but still, that's a serious drop.
And the Kindle Fire only had a 4% market share in the first 2012 quarter. Honestly, I had expected quite a bit more, due to Amazon's marketing power and the shocking loss-leader price, $200, they put on the Fire.
Mostly I hear people are happy with their Kindle Fire. But perhaps most people really do want either a bigger tablet, or more abilities than mere media consumption?
I hope this won't stop the creation of a 7-inch iPad, I would like one.

In related news, Target is dropping Amazon/Kindle products. That's also a bit of a bombshell. I don't see how the Kindle could possibly be less of a boon for the store than other ereader products, which are basically no-name products compared to the fame of the Kindle. I'd like to know why they did this. Can it really have been selling that badly, when Amazon continues to say it's their best-selling product?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A keyboard on the iPad screen

Thanks to Tonya Engst's excellent book Take Control Of Your iPad, I found out about the TouchFire keyboard. It sounds almost too good to be true. If that thin screen overlay can really let you touch-type, that's too kool for skool. (I don't see any reviews on YouTube, so I think it hasn't quite reached the first customers yet. But they have links to a few preview reviews.) (No, it's not shipping yet, updates here.)

From the C/Net review: "Isaac let me try a prototype, and I enjoyed the experience.
Not surprisingly, it doesn't replicate the full experience of a real keyboard with plastic keytops and nice, clacky mechanical switches. But it's in the same league as more cumbersome external iPad keyboards that use rubberized keys, and eliminates the experience of your fingertips thudding against a piece of hard glass."

Off-topic comment on the second video: I wish they'd found a less distracting background. Or that they'd used a large-sensor camera (like a Lumix GH2) with a fast lens, and blurred the background. I think that would have looked nice.