Saturday, 25 June 2016

Is Kobo releasing a larger e-reader?

Surprisingly, according to these FCC fillings, Kobo intends to release a 7.8 inch e-reader - the Kobo Aura One. If accurate this would be the largest e-reader released by Kobo. The question arises on what Kobo's objectives would be with a larger e-reader? First, the extra screen estate would be useful with comics and graphic novels. The more obvious use case scenario would be PDF files but both Amazon and Kobo develop e-readers for purchased e-books, with PDF support an after-thought. To be fair, Amazon do allow, with most non-scanned PDF files, the possibility to highlight, take notes and utilise dictionary support. Kobo's PDF support, on the other hand, is merely a bare-bone PDF viewer, with little functionality. This means, if the FCC fillings are accurate, Kobo would need to significantly re-vamp their PDF software, if they envisage users to make use of the extra screen size.

Another possibility, with the extra size, is to offer a choice differential, at the premium end of e-readers, against Amazon's recently released six inch Kindle Oasis. If E-Ink Carta is ready for the larger size then it would put the new Kobo e-reader at advantage, if both e-readers are priced similarly. From the end-user perspective this might mean, finally, Amazon responding with a larger Kindle. 

If a 7.8 inch Kobo Aura One is released and Kobo decides not to enhance PDF support, it might be possible to install KOReader (there is already a version available for Kobo devices). KOReader, when stable, is a feature rich e-reader application that supports both e-books and PDF files. However, to rely on KOReader for PDF support means the end-user would need to be proficient enough to install the application and resolve any possible compatibility problems. If something goes wrong, and the device is rendered unusable or faulty, then the warranty would be voided. It is here that installing external Android applications help - with Android the user is not restricted to the stock firmware, with its limitations, and can work through different applications to find what works.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Amazon updates its entry-level Kindle & announces software enhacements

Amazon announced the release of a new entry-level Kindle. Judging from the release details this is a worthy upgrade without any cost increase. The updated model is lighter, thinner, and comes with Bluetooth support and twice the RAM. Hardware improvements and excellent firmware makes the Kindle, already the choice entry e-reader, further ahead of similar models from other manufactuters. Kobo might update their Kobo Touch 2.0 to keep-up with Amazon but this is not likely. Kobo tends to run less frequent updates and the Kobo Touch 2.0 was released late 2015.

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Amazon also announced the enhacement of notes and highlights management, with the ability to export notes to your email and to save them in PDF format. According to the Amazon Kindle team:
It’s now easy to export notes and highlights from a book to your e-mail, so you can always have them on-hand for reference. Receive your notes both as an easily printable PDF that’s ready to bring to your book club, and as a simple file you can open in your favorite spreadsheet app.
This software enhacement is a great feature that other e-readers neglect. Amazon already pushed enhanced notes and highlights management features to the Kindle application for Android, iOS and Fire tablets, so it is useful to see these features natively supported with the Kindle e-readers.