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eReaders

Whither the Kindle Killer?
May 29, 2014 | 7:01 am

Broken-KindleFound via Slashdot: Larry Press plaintively wonders why nobody’s come up with a “Kindle Killer” yet. He notes a whole host of ways the Kindle falls short of perfection—lack of voice recognition or full interface capability with a computer, for example—and thinks such a device really should be a “low-hanging fruit” for one of the big device makers. I’ll tell you why, Larry. The demand isn’t there. Maybe folks like you who like to get the most out of their devices would want such a thing, but the vast majority of the lowest-common-denominator general public—the ones who actually buy...

LeVar Burton launches Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, fully funds in less than twelve hours
May 28, 2014 | 8:55 pm

LeVar_RR_bio.largeTake a look, it’s in a book. The Verge ran a story today that LeVar Burton has launched a $1 million Kickstarter with the goal of bringing Reading Rainbow to the web, to reach kids across the globe. It’s already available for Android and iPad, but not all kids or schools have access to those devices, or the $60 per year the subscription costs. In addition to putting it on the web, Burton wants to create a version for teachers to use in the classroom, and to set up a not-for-profit organization to make it available for free to low-income schools. The...

The Kobo (and Kindle) in pictures
May 28, 2014 | 1:25 pm

koboAwhile ago, GoodeReader posted a great little write-up showing the evolution of the Kindle---in pictures, and with capsule reviews and commentary. It showed how the Kindle went from big-ish and clunky, with a built-in keyboard, to small and sleek and button-free. Now, they are back, giving the Kobo Reader the same treatment. The Kobo's evolution has been less dramatic---the shape and style has stayed pretty consistent over the past few years. But the Kobo too has gone button-free, acquired a front light and shrunk in size and weight a little. These are fun little galleries to browse. Enjoy!...

Is Barnes & Noble stock underpriced?
May 27, 2014 | 10:58 am

Barron’s has an article by Andrew Bary (paywalled; bypass with Google News) suggesting that Barnes & Noble stock is currently badly underpriced. Trading around $18 right now, Bary argues, B&N could be worth $36 based on the value of the company’s assets alone, especially if B&N follows through on cutting its losses (especially with regard to the Nook) and improving efficiency. What benefits might accrue to B&N shareholders? Bary suggests B&N could split up into three separate companies—bookstores, college bookstores, and Nook—though given the improvements to Nook’s bottom line, this might be unlikely to happen any time soon. Or...

Today only: Amazon knocks $80 off 8.9” Kindle Fire HD refurb
May 19, 2014 | 6:28 am

Just got notification of Amazon’s latest Gold Box deal: its 8.9” 4G LTE Kindle Fire HD tablets, refurbished, at $80 off retail. That knocks the 32 GB version from $300 down to $220, and the 64 from $350 to $270. Full 1 year warranty included; the AT&T 4G LTE data plan costs extra. Not really sure this is necessarily a huge bargain. $80 isn’t all that big a discount for a refurbished product, Also, the Fire tablets are too closely tied to Amazon’s own content ecosystem to count as a true general-purpose Android tablet; one of the attendant problems...

Transhumanism and eReading technologies
May 8, 2014 | 12:25 pm

transhumanismOkay, I'll admit I'd never heard the term transhumanism until today, but, as a fan of cyberpunk, I got it as soon as it was explained to me by Matt Hayler, a teaching fellow at Exeter University. (Seriously, follow the link and check out his Twitter icon. Way cool!) Okay, so what is transhumanism for those of you, who like me, had never heard the term? According to Hayler's blog, he subscribes to this definition: “a general term designating a set of approaches that hold an optimistic view of technology as having the potential to assist humans in building more equitable and...

Comic book shop advocate pushes for windowing of digital comics
May 2, 2014 | 4:58 am

The Southgate, Michigan News-Herald has a story about a local comic book shop owner, Dennis Barger, who has formed a nationwide “Comic Book Retailers Alliance” to advocate for print comic book shops. His rhetoric should sound familiar to anyone who’s watched e-books “kill” print bookstores. Barger said, despite what some people in the industry think, social media and other marketing isn’t what sells books for the most part. “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200...

Photos of Amazon 3D, 6-camera smartphone prototype surface
April 15, 2014 | 2:44 pm

bgr-a-phone-1-500x231There goes Amazon, changing the game again. I’ve noticed that when Amazon introduces its own spin on an already-established device, it likes to add some new and different feature from right out of left field to distinguish itself from the competition. With e-readers, it was the free 3G service to let people buy e-books and check their mail from anywhere. With the Fire TV it was the extensive gaming focus and voice search. Now, with Amazon’s impending smartphone, it appears to be six cameras and a 3D display. The Boy Genius Report has exclusive photos and more information about...

Amazon to purchase ComiXology e-comic-book store
April 10, 2014 | 6:24 pm

Looks like the Big Bad Amazon Wolf has just gulped down another hefty meal. Two weeks after rumors started going around (as noticed by Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader), Amazon has announced it will be acquiring ComiXology, the e-comic-book store that carries titles from Marvel, DC, Image, and a number of others. Although the various comic book publishers are trying to push their own stores, ComiXology has nonetheless become the best known source for e-books of popular comics. Now, like Audible and so many other brands, it is going to find a new home at Amazon. News is...

For Jeff Bezos, customer convenience is king
April 6, 2014 | 3:11 pm

Forbes has another profile of Jeff Bezos. Seems we’ve been seeing those a lot lately, what with that recent book on the man. This one looks particularly at Bezos’s intense focus on customer satisfaction. Actually, “satisfaction” doesn’t seem to go quite far enough, because “satisfaction” implies a middle-of-the-scale response. Bezos wants the customer wowed. He wants to make everything as convenient as possible, even to the point of shaving fractions of a second from page load times. That kind of obsession might be easy to make fun of, but give the man his due: he’s running a multi-billion dollar corporation that...

Pre-paid WiFi roundup: TruConnect, Wal-Mart, Karma
March 21, 2014 | 11:49 am

A while back I talked about the TruConnect Mi-Fi portable WiFi hotspot I had purchased. It’s time for an update, and discussion of a couple of reasonable prepaid Wi-Fi alternatives. First of all, I still use the TruConnect MiFi. In fact, I’m on my second one now. The first one stopped working after I dropped it; I bought a replacement and kept the battery from the old one, which means I now have access to twice the battery life, even before plugging in the three different battery backups I now have—bonus! I don’t use it as...

You can use a Bluetooth mouse with your Android tablet!
March 20, 2014 | 9:49 am

20140320_072854_HDRAlso, the sky is blue, water is wet, and the sun is warm. That’s probably what some of you are thinking upon reading that headline. But I’m pretty sure there must be plenty of people out there who aren’t aware of this yet, just because it’s not what you would assume a (non-Windows) tablet is made for. So this is a reminder to people who like to use their Android tablets for productivity purposes: there’s an easier way than tapping on the screen when you need to highlight things or move the cursor. I had known about this ability...