Friday, March 22, 2013

Galaxy Note, iPad Mini, and Kindle Paperwhite screens

I think the Kindle Paperwhite is by far the best B/W Kindle yet, by a large margin. The ingenious frontlight system really helped with the Kindle's dark-screen problem.

Still, it's remarkable to me that despite the very high resolution of the screen, 212 pixels per inch, it still looks a lot fuzzier than, say, the Galaxy Note (185PPI), or even the iPad Mini, which has less pixel resolution, about 160PPI.
(The difference is more noticable in real life than in photos.)

I think it's just that the E-ink screen of the Kindle depends on tiny plastic balls floating in liquid instead of precisely carved pixels in metal and silicone. So I'd guess that the "pixels per inch" is a theoretical number based on how many little balls there are, rather than the actual picture detail that the screen can resolve.

It's nothing that stops enjoyment or reading on the Kindle, but it's just remarkable.

But it also means that even though the Samsung Galaxy Note is an inch smaller (and so fits in a pocket), you get at least as clear text as on the Kindle, perhaps even more so. In other words, what you gain in size with the Kindle, you lose in clarity. Then the questions are only about eye-sight, price, and how sensitive you are to backlit screens.
(The Note has an issue: that the bezel is very narrow and it's hard to handle it without accidentally trickering page turns or other events. But this is a broad issue with tablets which I hope somebody is working on: how to hold them easily and practically.)

(All pics are clickable for more detail)
iPad Mini and Kindle Paperwhite 

iPad Mini and Kindle Paperwhite
(Notice how the photo seems fuzzy on the right, even though it is one photo, and the devices were in the same plane.)

Samsung Galaxy Note and Kindle Paperwhite

Monday, March 18, 2013

Font settings on Kobo

Kobo is good stuff. I like, for instance, their "Mini" reader, pocket-sized.
I have their mainstream Touch model (two years old), and I like that too. Userfriendly, if a bit pokey with the touch sensitivity. It does not seem to have the font features I describe below, even after I figured out how to upgrade the OS.

I just looked at a video promoting the devices (via bookstore W.H. Smith here in UK), and found this tidbit: the readers let your fine-tune your fonts. Not only the size, but also the weight (thickness), and the sharpness (whatever exactly they mean by that).
I think this is excellent, and one of those things Amazon could learn from. Especially if, like it seems, these devices have stepless control of text size. Every ereader and -app should have that. But also the weight. Font weight is hugely influential on the readability of a font, and most fonts, in my estimation, which are made for paper, are too thin to be easily readable on e-ink pages, which despite higher resolution these days, are still cruder than paper and backlit screens.

Self-Published Title Hits No. 1 on Ebook Best-Seller List for First Time

Self-Published Title Hits No. 1 on Ebook Best-Seller List for First Time, article.

I think this is joyous and portentous news. It proves finally in hard numbers that while publishers may have their place, they are not a necessary ingredient to achieve not only success, but big success. In other words, their majority bite of the pie is optional, and their filtering mechanism, their judge function, is also optional.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Galaxy S4

There is no doubt that Samsung is sensing that their killer feature in the war with Apple is bigger screens: the new Galaxy S4 flagship phone is a biggun; a full 5-inch screen at the new redunkilus resolution 440PPI, giving it a full HD resolution, which will fascinate 12-year-olds with 30/20 vision, or people who regularly have loups strapped to their glasses.
They may have a point, it seems that apart from iOS's lack of multitasking, this screen-size conservatism is increasingly seen as a major weakness in their strategy.

Geekbeat says: On specs alone, this is the best mobile device on the market.

Like I've said before: a phone at around 5 inches is a great ereader, with a sharp screen like this. A Kindle is just a bit too large to be a pocket device, but this is not, and yet it's large enough to be very comfortable reading any simple text on. And with Android of course comes Kindle software for the ebooks and many apps like Instapaper for easy reading of web articles (you can send them from your computer and read them in reader-friendly formatting on the mobile device).

Really, unless you have a hankering for surfing more complex sites, or reading comics or formatted magazines, this kind of device goes a looong way in daily use on the run. (When you're on the run, it's a great thing to not have to close and unplug a laptop if the sherif unexpectedly pulls up outside the café.)