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Polaroid mini-tablet offers Android iPod Touch alternative…though not a very good one
January 23, 2014 | 9:28 pm

polaroidtabI have mentioned more than once that Android lacks a real equivalent to the iPod Touch. Sure, there are plenty of smartphones, and there are more than a few mini-tablets, but the mini-tablets generally seem to be running version 2 of Android, which means they have no (legitimate) access to the Play Store. Since I’ve ended up switching to an Android smartphone that fills my music-playing needs, I haven’t needed one as much, but I’ve still been curious whether one might become available. I was interested the other day when Nate mentioned on The Digital Reader that Sony was...

Thirty years of time shifting: The Supreme Court decision legalizing the VCR
January 18, 2014 | 2:14 am

Today marks an important anniversary for our digital media era—an era that couldn’t have been foreseen thirty years ago, but nonetheless relies to a very great extent on a legal decision exactly thirty years old. Today is the 30th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision that declared the Sony Betamax VCR was legal because “time shifting,” recording a program off the air to watch it later, was fair use, and thus the VCR had substantial non-infringing purposes. Ars Technica has a feature article looking at the context of the decision in greater detail. This decision is crucial to...

13-year-old bemusedly tries old Sony Walkman for a week
December 24, 2013 | 2:40 am

Kids these days, eh? The BBC’s Magazine section has a story on a 13-year-old kid’s experience over the course of a week using one of the original Walkman tape players, which came out 30 years ago this week. As you might expect, it’s replete with “How does this work? This looks funny. I can’t believe people actually used to think this thing was awesome!” from the younger generation. (It’s easy to wonder how he couldn’t understand a Walkman, but you have to remember he’s just 13. It would be like asking someone from my generation to figure out a...

Voice Dream reader app can now play audiobooks
December 8, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Voice Dream reader appThe new version of the Voice Dream reader app, a superb iOS text-to-speech app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, can now play audiobooks, too. Even at $10, costlier than the typical app, Voice Dream is a Buy, capital B, at the Apple App Store. Voice Dream 2.9.2 can handle zipped MP3s as well as audiobooks in Daisy, thanks to help from a Swiss library organization, and navigation and general usability are excellent, just as in the regular text-to-speech mode for ePub files and others. Dozen of optional voices in common languages work with the app, and my favorite is the UK-accented “Peter” voice...

iPad success secret: Building on the iPhone, and replacing laptops
November 5, 2013 | 10:47 pm

ipadWired is running an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Fred Vogelstein, looking at how Steve Jobs made the iPad successful when no other tablet ever had been. There’s an interesting parallel with e-readers in this story. No dedicated e-reader had ever been successful before Jeff Bezos pushed the Kindle, and likewise no prior tablet had ever worked until the iPad came along. The tablet computer was the most discredited category of consumer electronics in the world. Entrepreneurs had been trying to build tablet computers since before the invention of the PC. They had tried so many times that the conventional...

Enjoying tablets and smartphones? Thank e-books!
October 31, 2013 | 11:24 pm

The world has been changing a lot. In the 98 years my grandmother has been alive, we've gone from cars as rickety novelties on dirt-track roads to polished metal eggs on highways that span the globe; the Wright Brothers' first flight to putting people on the moon and machinery on Mars. And we've gone from mechanical clocks and automated looms as state-of-the-art in information technology to having powerful computer/photo/video terminals in most peoples' pockets. Even over the course of my own lifetime, the rate of advance has been remarkable. When I was in grade school. having computers in the...

How to get the most out of library ebooks via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
October 18, 2013 | 6:26 pm

FireVergeWant to hear text to speech from free library ebooks on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual OverDrive app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? Also, what if you haven’t even bought an e-reading gizmo for library use, but want to? Which model to go with? In those cases and others, the guidance here is for you. Most tips will work even with low-cost, no-name tablets. But let’s pay special attention to the new Kindle Fire HDXes. They are among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can stomach...

Apple allows old iOS devices to install ‘last compatible version’ of newer apps
October 6, 2013 | 6:00 pm

ipadlatestappThis is a slightly old story, but I thought it was worth following up on when I had the chance. A few weeks ago, Apple quietly added a new feature to its iOS app store. It used to be that when you had hardware too old to run the latest version of an app, and you lost the version of it you had, you were out of luck. After OS 7 came out, for example, when I tried to update my 1st-generation iPad’s Zite app, I was told that the new one required OS 7. So if I...

Android still lacks iPod Touch alternative
September 12, 2013 | 5:18 am

galaxyplayerWhy is there still no good Android alternative to the iPod Touch? I last posed this question over two years ago, when Apple’s imposition of the 30% fee policies to apps with stores first caused me to question whether it was worth staying with the platform. At the time, there just weren’t any good options, though the Galaxy Player on the horizon looked promising. At the moment, there still aren’t (though plenty of people have been calling for one). My iPod Touch is getting pretty long in the tooth, and I’d like to replace it with an Android device....

My Answers Expert Articles: E-Readers, iOS
June 21, 2013 | 6:33 am

faceshotOne of the reasons I haven’t been writing as much lately here is that I have another part-time writing gig now that takes up much of my attention. I’m the “PC Expert” for Answers.com’s Experts program, contributing 500- to 600-word articles on subjects pertaining to computers, tablets, and related issues. It’s a very different sort of writing than I do for TeleRead, as those articles have to be neutral in tone and informative or instructional, rather than editorial. Along the way, I have managed to fit in a number of posts relating to topics relevant to TeleRead. A number of them...

Apple apparently opens refurbished outlet on eBay
November 19, 2012 | 11:04 pm

ebay-logoIt’s not clear whether Apple is doing this or it’s just someone who’s cut a deal with them (both 9to5Mac and CNet asked Apple for clarification, but the company apparently hasn’t responded yet), but an eBay store entitled “refurbished outlet” has opened up, selling factory-refurbished Apple products at the same prices (including some 4th-gen iPod Touches at the bargain prices I noted a couple of weeks ago) and with the same one-year warranty as on the Apple Store. (It’s a buy-it-now only operation, so there’s no bidding.) As a side benefit, only a few states’ residents—California, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey,...

Refurbished 4th generation iPod Touch on bargain sale
November 8, 2012 | 9:15 pm

If you’re looking for a handily pocketable e-reader and wouldn’t feel dirty giving money to Apple, CNet points out that Apple is running a pretty good deal on refurbished 4th-generation (the model from two years ago) iPod Touch units. The 8 GB version is available for $129 shipped (it costs $199 new), the 32 GB version is $179 ($229 new), and the 64 GB version is $229 (not available new). While these aren’t the latest model, with the 16:9 screen, Lightning connector, and better rear-facing camera, they do have Retina-resolution screens, FaceTime cameras, and modern operating systems. I don’t mind saying,...