Wednesday, 19 October 2016

UK NOOK customers transferred to Kobo

Kobo will receive Barnes & Noble’s previous UK Nook customers. It is a strange turn of events initiated by the closure of Barnes & Noble Nook outside the US and the transfer of its UK user-base to Sainsbury’s (Sainsbury’s sold Nook e-readers, tablets and accessories when they entered the UK). Now Sainsbury’s are closing their own e-book services and transferring their customers, including previous Nook UK users, to Kobo!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Series on free and open access stuff

There is a lot of free and open access stuff to meet your digital needs. I'll set a series of posts on this topic that will include, for example, open access fonts for your e-reader, e-reading management software to e-book repositories. While the focus will be on e-reading needs, it will branch out to other areas too.

Monday, 17 October 2016

HP introduces a stand-out entry-level laptop

HP released the 2016 update to its entry-level laptop series (HP Stream series). Finally, HP introduced the right specifications that makes this device - on paper - a stand-out choice for the entry-level category. With a slightly bumped up processor (Intel Celeron N3060) and more importantly 4GB RAM, the user should get a significant performance enhancement. I never thought 2GB RAM was the right compromise, even for this category. It is understandable to go for a mobile class processor, considering the use-case scenario, but RAM should be sufficient to allow for adequate multi-tasking and a richer web browsing experience. Surprisingly, the device’s retail price remains the same with the RAM upgrade. It will be interesting to see how DELL, Asus, Acer and Lenovo respond with their own entry laptops.

Problems with the Kobo Aura One cover?

There are some reports of problems with the Kobo Aura One’s official cover - specifically, some covers fail to put the device to sleep when closed. Kobo decided to put the power button on the back, so it is difficult to find a universal case that is compatible with the device. However, some iPad Mini cases work with the Aura One. Two features identify these compatible cases - first, is the use of elastic bands or flexible bands that holds the device (most iPad Mini cases come with a form fitting hard plastic casing). Second, a large hole at the back for the camera.

The Kobo Aura One is similar to the iPad Mini’s dimensions and, due to this, flexible elastic bands should work with the device. Further, as the device’s power button is placed on the upper left of the device, it matches the location of the iPad Mini’s camera and so it is possible to access the power button. As an example, I’ve found Belkin’s ‘Smooth Bi-Fold Case for iPad Mini’ to be compatible with the Kobo Aura One.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Amazon Fire HD 8 is now the choice Amazon budget tablet

Amazon updated the Fire HD 8 and judging from the changes, it seems we have acknowledgement that they got it wrong with the previous iteration of the device. Below is a summary of the changes:
  • First, Amazon got the pricing wrong with the 2015 Fire HD 8, with most vendors offering tablets with similar specifications at a lower price. The price of the Fire HD 8 has been slashed from £129.99 to £89.99. I think the lower price with the specifications offered now makes the Fire HD 8 a more attractive budget tablet than the Fire 7. 
  • The anaemic battery of the previous generation (advertised as ‘up to 8 hours’ but in real world use it was significantly less) is upgraded to an estimated ‘up to 12 hours’. 
  • The glossy back (a finger print magnet) is now replaced with a matte finish, similar to the Fire 7. 
  • The back camera has been reduced from 5MP to 2MP. This is a good compromise, considering many users don’t use their tablet’s camera. 
  • The processor is slightly bumped down but RAM is increased to 1.5 GB. The previous generation, while not unusable, did suffer from lags and delays when multi-tasking or opening new files or applications. The extra RAM should help with performance.  
  • The entry level storage is doubled from 8GB to 16GB. I found 8GB to be manageable on Amazon devices, as they are not bloated with Google apps and services that comes with standard Android (Fire OS is based on Android).
  • Amazon is further moving forward in the integration of its services (in my opinion, Amazon is well ahead in service integration across devices), with Fire HD 8 advertised to soon receive Alexa support. This move makes sense in the context of Amazon releasing for the first time, outside the US, updated models of the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot.

Monday, 5 September 2016

What is the right e-reader size for PDF files?

The release of the 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One raises the question on what makes the right size to read PDF files. The answer depends on use-case scenarios. For example, many humanities books come in an A5 size and the 8 inch form factor is ideal for these books. On the other hand, science books and complicated PDF files, with a two column layout, require closer to 10 inches to be comfortably read. Similarly complex magazine pages are better suited to larger colour tablets.

Personally, I find the eight to nine inch e-reader to be the right size. At this size there is the right compromise between size for comfortable reading and portability. It is not too small, e.g. six to seven inches, but not too big for one-handed reading. The portability and convenience of a smaller form factor makes a big difference for long reading sessions, especially outdoors or in tight spaces on public transport.  I prefer to read in portrait but can switch to landscape, if half a book page is viewable and text size is legible. With six inch e-readers the landscape view often gives you snippets or small text and it is easier to lose your place within a larger book.

Another important factor to consider, especially with the eight inch e-reader, is the right software to optimise reading with an eight inch screen. With KOReader, for example, it is possible to set reading to scroll mode and alter PDF page margins. Accordingly, many PDF files can be comfortably viewed and navigated, considering the restrictions of a smaller eight inch screen, in portrait mode.