Category: Tech Reviews

Nexus 7, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

As you might have gathered from my title, I have the Nexus 7 in my hand and have been playing with it for a couple of days now.

i can’t believe how different my experience has been with this compared to my previous Android experience on the Kobo Vox. This machine is FAST. it is a Google sponsored product, so it comes with pure Android 4.1.1., Jelly Bean. The Google team has been focussing on lag in Project Butter, and although I can’t compare with anything other than the Kobo Vox, the user experience is silky smooth. In comparison to the Kobo Vox, when I changed screen orientation while reading a Kobo book, I was not faced with five seconds of white screen while the device caught up.

Two things I was anxious to check out in Jelly Bean were the Google Search (a Siri equivalent) and Google Now. I have had great fun with Google Search – I was particularly impressed when it hooked up to my Rdio account and will play any song I tell it to play. I was also blown away by Google Now when I checked it and found my bus times without my having to do anything.

One of my biggest complaints about the Kobo Vox was the lack of apps available in the official Kobo app store (it was recently opened up to the entire Android Market.) The Nexus 7 is linked to the Google Play store. In general I have no such complaints. Within a very short time of owning the device I had all my favourite eReading apps downloaded and installed: Kindle, Kobo, Goodreads, Overdrive. One rather annoying issue is that the Nexus does not show up on my iMac’s Finder when it is connected; I had to download the Android File Transfer app to be able to copy files. This means that I cannot authorise the device in Adobe Digital Editions, as it does not recognise the device, and so I cannot read non Kobo DRMed ebooks. However, I was able to download 50 Shades of Grey (don’t judge my reading choice, please!) from my local library and authorise it for the Overdrive Media Console.

In terms of battery life, I’ve been impressed so far. I charged it fully, and after a full day of playing with it (not much video, in all fairness) it still had 44% left. Of course, that can’t compare to my eInk Kindle or Kobo, but I didn’t expect it to do so. I will read my library book on it and see how it holds up from reading.

One thing I’m loving about Android is widgets. I have my home screen set so it shows me local time and weather information, my last few emails and my upcoming calendar entries.

As a long-time self-confessed Apple fan girl, I live in an iCloud world. I’d been wondering how to get my iCloud information onto the device. I found a couple of (paid) apps that synchronized my iCloud contacts and calendar. I wasn’t out of pocket thanks to the Google Play’s generous $25 store credit on purchase of the device. These two apps worked perfectly, and I soon had my iCloud contacts and calendar on my device.

All in all, I adore this device and will certainly be keeping this one. I had intended it as a multi-platform eReading device, but having played with it, I can see it will offer so much more. I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Dipping my toes back into Android

Those of you who have read my blog know that I am an Apple fangirl, and that I had been very disappointed in my brieftime with the Kobo Vox ereading tablet. That had been my first experience with Android, and although I was very disappointed in the Kobo Vox, I realised that was due to the tablet itself not the operating system.

I really liked the 7 inch size of the Kobo Vox, and I had been considering a more general Android 7 inch tablet. I had been seriously considering the Galaxy 2 tablet, but then I heard about the new Nexus 7 and was blown away by the presentation and reviews.

Just looking at the specs of the Kobo compared to the Nexus I can tell already my experience is going to be completely different:

Kobo Vox:

Operating system custom Android 2.3
CPU 800 Mhz
Storage capacity 8 GB
Memory 512 MB RAM
Display 7″ multi-touch FFS+ multimedia display; 1024 x 600 resolution

Nexus 7:

Operating system Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
SoC Nvidia Tegra 3 (T30L)
CPU 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 with additional low-speed companion core,[1]
GPU 416 MHz Nvidia GeForce ULP with 12 cores
Memory 1 GB DDR3 RAM
Storage 8 or 16 GB flash memory

For only $40 more, the difference is incredible. My biggest gripe about the Vox other than the poor performance was the limited access to apps (since my review the Vox has been opened up to the Android Marketplace.) As the Nexus is from Google itself, it is “pure” Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and has full access to the Google Play store. Although I don’t yet have the device, I have checked on Google Play and all the major apps I use on a daily basis on my iPhone/iPad are there: Kobo, Kindle, GoodReads, Overdrive.

I was also blown away by Google Now. I don’t have access to Apple’s Siri yet (she will come to my iPad in the autumn with the iOS 6 update) so I am looking forward to checking it out.

Now, for the downside: I placed my order with the Google Play Store on Wednesday and as of yet, it still has not shipped. I really can’t wait to get it in my hands. I will keep you updated.

Dipping my toes back into Android

Those of you who have read my blog know that I am an Apple fangirl, and that I had been very disappointed in my brieftime with the Kobo Vox ereading tablet. That had been my first experience with Android, and although I was very disappointed in the Kobo Vox, I realised that was due to the tablet itself not the operating system.

I really liked the 7 inch size of the Kobo Vox, and I had been considering a more general Android 7 inch tablet. I had been seriously considering the Galaxy 2 tablet, but then I heard about the new Nexus 7 and was blown away by the presentation and reviews.

Just looking at the specs of the Kobo compared to the Nexus I can tell already my experience is going to be completely different:

Kobo Vox:

Operating system custom Android 2.3
CPU 800 Mhz
Storage capacity 8 GB
Memory 512 MB RAM
Display 7″ multi-touch FFS+ multimedia display; 1024 x 600 resolution

Nexus 7:

Operating system Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
SoC Nvidia Tegra 3 (T30L)
CPU 1.2 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 with additional low-speed companion core,[1]
GPU 416 MHz Nvidia GeForce ULP with 12 cores
Memory 1 GB DDR3 RAM
Storage 8 or 16 GB flash memory

For only $40 more, the difference is incredible. My biggest gripe about the Vox other than the poor performance was the limited access to apps (since my review the Vox has been opened up to the Android Marketplace.) As the Nexus is from Google itself, it is “pure” Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and has full access to the Google Play store. Although I don’t yet have the device, I have checked on Google Play and all the major apps I use on a daily basis on my iPhone/iPad are there: Kobo, Kindle, GoodReads, Overdrive.

I was also blown away by Google Now. I don’t have access to Apple’s Siri yet (she will come to my iPad in the autumn with the iOS 6 update) so I am looking forward to checking it out.

Now, for the downside: I placed my order with the Google Play Store on Wednesday and as of yet, it still has not shipped. I really can’t wait to get it in my hands. I will keep you updated.

eBook borrowing with Overdrive

A past blog entry of mine related my frustrations with borrowing from the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec. I expressed my frustration at the difficulty I had finding a book and loading it onto my Kobo eReader.  

Recently, the BAnQ moved to the Overdrive ebook lending system, and I have to say it's a HUGE difference in ease of use.  Last Saturday my husband and I went to see the movie The Help and as I enjoyed it I decided to borrow the book on which it was based.  I logged into the BAnQ's Overdrive site and discovered that both copies of the book were out.  (Libraries can only lend as many copies as they have licences for that book.)  However, there was a handy link nearby: Place a Hold.  I entered my email address to register my hold.

So, this evening I got an email from BAnQ saying the book was available, providing a link and directing me to My Holds page on the Overdrive system.  A couple of well guided clicks and a login later, the book was downloading to my computer and then a drop and drag moved it to my Kobo.  All in all, it took maybe 5 minutes from receiving the email to being able to read it on my eReader.  

Now, maybe it's just because I'm more used to the way the borrowing works, but I do find the Overdrive system a big improvement. I would just like to say well done and thank you to BAnQ for this big improvement in service.

eBook borrowing with Overdrive

A past blog entry of mine related my frustrations with borrowing from the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec. I expressed my frustration at the difficulty I had finding a book and loading it onto my Kobo eReader.

Recently, the BAnQ moved to the Overdrive ebook lending system, and I have to say it’s a HUGE difference in ease of use.  Last Saturday my husband and I went to see the movie The Help and as I enjoyed it I decided to borrow the book on which it was based.  I logged into the BAnQ’s Overdrive site and discovered that both copies of the book were out.  (Libraries can only lend as many copies as they have licences for that book.)  However, there was a handy link nearby: Place a Hold.  I entered my email address to register my hold.

So, this evening I got an email from BAnQ saying the book was available, providing a link and directing me to My Holds page on the Overdrive system.  A couple of well guided clicks and a login later, the book was downloading to my computer and then a drop and drag moved it to my Kobo.  All in all, it took maybe 5 minutes from receiving the email to being able to read it on my eReader.

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m more used to the way the borrowing works, but I do find the Overdrive system a big improvement. I would just like to say well done and thank you to BAnQ for this big improvement in service.

 

eBook Borrowing from the BAnQ Montreal – followup

Further to my blog entry yesterday regarding ebook borrowing from the BAnQ in Montreal, I received a very useful and informative reply from them which I would like to share with you:

Thank you for sharing your comments regarding our ebook collections. We recognize that the process includes numerous steps and can be cumbersome at some times. Please find below some information about recent developments in our services.

Finding ebooks on our portal

Regarding the visibility of our ebook collections on our website, we have recently implemented a new page entirely dedicated to ebooks. There is a link to it on our homepage, at the right side (where it says Livre numériques on a green banner). The page has not been translated into English yet, but we hope that our subscribers will be able to navigate our ebook collections easily from this page and will find answers to most of their technical difficulties in the page’s FAQ (Foire aux questions
:http://www.banq.qc.ca/ressources_en_ligne/livres-numeriques/index.html. This page is updated regularly.

Once you are on the Livres numériques page, you may use the search box to search for ebooks in the Iris catalogue (it is a different search box from the one that you have used on our Online Resources pages). You may also access the Iris catalogue’sAdvanced search screen and check the Numeric books option. All ebooks are indexed in the Iris catalogue. There is, however, a small indexing delay between the appearance of a new ebook in Numilog or EBSCOhost and its inclusion in the Iris catalogue. We strive to keep this delay as small as possible.

Reserving borrowed ebooks

The portal eBooks on EBSCOhost allows users to add their name on a waiting list for an item that is currently borrowed. However, as you mention it, this option is unfortunately unavailable in Numilog.

Transferring ebooks on a mobile device

Dowloading an ebook from Numilog or EBSCOhost on a mobile device is indeed more complicated than it is for a free ebook, especially for the first time. Numilog and EBSCOhost’s books are protected by copyright. Providers therefore must use technological solutions to ensure that copyright will be respected by users. Due to the wide range of technologies currently available on the market and the commercial rivalries that sometimes cause compatibility issues, it is difficult to ensure that the procedure will be clear and simple for every device.

That being said, as you mention it, this technology will likely become simpler and more accessible as more and more people get accustomed to ereading. We value our users’ comments and keep working towards a better service. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact our reference services if you encounter any other difficulties or have any other comment.

We thank you for the interest you have shown in Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Do not hesitate to contact us as needed.

User services

I checked out the combined search page they mentioned and it did make a big difference to my searching.  That certainly resolved one of my issues with borrowing from the library.  Many of the other frustrations I experienced were not so much the library's fault

All kudos to the library, I was impressed by the depth of information they provided and their level of commitment to ebooks.  I look forward to seeing how things develop.

eBook Borrowing from the BAnQ Montreal – followup

Further to my blog entry yesterday regarding ebook borrowing from the BAnQ in Montreal, I received a very useful and informative reply from them which I would like to share with you:

Thank you for sharing your comments regarding our ebook collections. We recognize that the process includes numerous steps and can be cumbersome at some times. Please find below some information about recent developments in our services.

Finding ebooks on our portal

Regarding the visibility of our ebook collections on our website, we have recently implemented a new page entirely dedicated to ebooks. There is a link to it on our homepage, at the right side (where it says Livre numériques on a green banner). The page has not been translated into English yet, but we hope that our subscribers will be able to navigate our ebook collections easily from this page and will find answers to most of their technical difficulties in the page’s FAQ (Foire aux questions
:http://www.banq.qc.ca/ressources_en_ligne/livres-numeriques/index.html. This page is updated regularly.

Once you are on the Livres numériques page, you may use the search box to search for ebooks in the Iris catalogue (it is a different search box from the one that you have used on our Online Resources pages). You may also access the Iris catalogue’sAdvanced search screen and check the Numeric books option. All ebooks are indexed in the Iris catalogue. There is, however, a small indexing delay between the appearance of a new ebook in Numilog or EBSCOhost and its inclusion in the Iris catalogue. We strive to keep this delay as small as possible.

Reserving borrowed ebooks

The portal eBooks on EBSCOhost allows users to add their name on a waiting list for an item that is currently borrowed. However, as you mention it, this option is unfortunately unavailable in Numilog.

Transferring ebooks on a mobile device

Dowloading an ebook from Numilog or EBSCOhost on a mobile device is indeed more complicated than it is for a free ebook, especially for the first time. Numilog and EBSCOhost’s books are protected by copyright. Providers therefore must use technological solutions to ensure that copyright will be respected by users. Due to the wide range of technologies currently available on the market and the commercial rivalries that sometimes cause compatibility issues, it is difficult to ensure that the procedure will be clear and simple for every device.

That being said, as you mention it, this technology will likely become simpler and more accessible as more and more people get accustomed to ereading. We value our users’ comments and keep working towards a better service. In the meantime, do not hesitate to contact our reference services if you encounter any other difficulties or have any other comment.

We thank you for the interest you have shown in Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

Do not hesitate to contact us as needed.

User services

I checked out the combined search page they mentioned and it did make a big difference to my searching.  That certainly resolved one of my issues with borrowing from the library.  Many of the other frustrations I experienced were not so much the library’s fault

All kudos to the library, I was impressed by the depth of information they provided and their level of commitment to ebooks.  I look forward to seeing how things develop.

The Joys of eBook Borrowing

Amazon recently announced that their flagship Kindle ebook reader was now capable of borrowing from public libraries.  As my ebook budget is a source of, um, friendly banter between my husband and me, this is one functionality that was very welcome to me.  However, at this point, this ability is only available in the US.  

I know from past experience that the Montreal public library, of which I am a member, does have some limited ebooks to borrow, so I decided to check it out.  When I last checked several months ago, the selection available, at least in terms of my preferred genre of fantasy, was extremely limited, especially in English.  Well, it is the main city of Francophone Canada, so I guess I'll forgive it for having most books in French.  In all fairness I believe their selection has improved markedly since my initial investigation 18 months or so ago.

My experience borrowing from the library was painful and I felt it would have been easier to write the darned book.  I am no technophobe by any means, in fact more the opposite, but I found the numerous stages ponderous and unnecessary.  I really hope Amazon's process is much easier.

First step was to go to the homepage of the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec.  


First challenge: where to go for ebooks?  I eventually found it under Online Resources then ebooks.  Okay.  Clearly, ebook lending is not a high priority at the BANQ.  The ebook resource page brought me to a whole list of other resources:


So, to find a book they expect you to click on each of the links to search?  The search box above is less than useless for ebooks.  I searched for Percy Jackson – a book I know is there – and it found nothing.   Eventually I selected the Numlog link and after logging in finally got to a selection of ebooks for borrowing.  I should mention that the website flashed a warning saying that the Safari browser wasn't recommended, but I had no issues with it.

As you can see, many of the books are marked "deja emprunte" – on loan.  That is a positive sign I guess.  The more people in Montreal who borrow ebooks from the library, the greater likelihood of the selection's increasing.  I would have welcomed a link to add myself to the waiting list for some of these, though.  

I selected to borrow Percy Jackson in French and an acsm file was duly downloaded to my computer.  I was already aware that the Adobe Digital Editions software and an Adobe ID were required and these were already in place.  Once entering my Adobe ID I was soon set up to read the book on my Mac.

So far so good.  I knew already that the Kindle is not setup to read ePub format books.  Fair enough.  I did want to get the book on my iPhone and iPad, however.  I hooked my IDevices up to my Mac and in iTunes in the Apps pane I navigated to the acsm file to add it.  

A quick Sync and I thought I'd be able to read the book in my Kobo app or the Bluefire reader.  No, that would have been too easy…  After much Googling I finally understood I had to navigate to the Digital Editions folder on my Mac and upload the epub file to my iDevice.   Once I had understood that I was finally able to read my book on my iPhone and iPad.  

One thing I haven't been able to test is the syncing of the books across the devices.  One of the delights of Amazon's Kindle and Kindle apps is the Whispersync.  I can start reading a book on my Mac at breakfast, then use my iPhone to read on the bus and it will automatically pick up to where I left off on the Mac.  I suspect that will not be possible on this non Amazon lending.  We shall see.

All in all, the process took me well over 90 minutes, although next time it will probably be quicker.

In order to be fair, I decided to borrow a second book directly on my iPad to see if that would be any easier and in all fairness it was.  Once I'd navigated the mess of the ebook resources though the iPad's Safari browser, chosen a book and logged in to the library website I was asked to enter my Adobe ID in the Overdrive application and was soon reading.  

As a comparison of ease of use I bought a (free) book from Amazon for my Kindle.  I went to the Amazon Kindle web page and chose my book.

I clicked on the buy now button:

And within 60 seconds was reading on my Kindle, just like the ad says.  

In general, I would say that the ebook borrowing process at the BANQ is painful at present.  The poor website layout combined with the multi step process makes it discouraging for people to become interested in ebooks.  However, I do believe that this will improve as more and more people become accustomed to ereading.  I look forward to seeing the progress.

The Joys of eBook Borrowing

Amazon recently announced that their flagship Kindle ebook reader was now capable of borrowing from public libraries.  As my ebook budget is a source of, um, friendly banter between my husband and me, this is one functionality that was very welcome to me.  However, at this point, this ability is only available in the US.

I know from past experience that the Montreal public library, of which I am a member, does have some limited ebooks to borrow, so I decided to check it out.  When I last checked several months ago, the selection available, at least in terms of my preferred genre of fantasy, was extremely limited, especially in English.  Well, it is the main city of Francophone Canada, so I guess I’ll forgive it for having most books in French.  In all fairness I believe their selection has improved markedly since my initial investigation 18 months or so ago.

My experience borrowing from the library was painful and I felt it would have been easier to write the darned book.  I am no technophobe by any means, in fact more the opposite, but I found the numerous stages ponderous and unnecessary.  I really hope Amazon’s process is much easier.

First step was to go to the homepage of the Bibliotheque et Archives Nationales du Quebec.


First challenge: where to go for ebooks?  I eventually found it under Online Resources then ebooks.  Okay.  Clearly, ebook lending is not a high priority at the BANQ.  The ebook resource page brought me to a whole list of other resources:


So, to find a book they expect you to click on each of the links to search?  The search box above is less than useless for ebooks.  I searched for Percy Jackson – a book I know is there – and it found nothing.   Eventually I selected the Numlog link and after logging in finally got to a selection of ebooks for borrowing.  I should mention that the website flashed a warning saying that the Safari browser wasn’t recommended, but I had no issues with it.

As you can see, many of the books are marked “deja emprunte” – on loan.  That is a positive sign I guess.  The more people in Montreal who borrow ebooks from the library, the greater likelihood of the selection’s increasing.  I would have welcomed a link to add myself to the waiting list for some of these, though.

I selected to borrow Percy Jackson in French and an acsm file was duly downloaded to my computer.  I was already aware that the Adobe Digital Editions software and an Adobe ID were required and these were already in place.  Once entering my Adobe ID I was soon set up to read the book on my Mac.

So far so good.  I knew already that the Kindle is not setup to read ePub format books.  Fair enough.  I did want to get the book on my iPhone and iPad, however.  I hooked my IDevices up to my Mac and in iTunes in the Apps pane I navigated to the acsm file to add it.

A quick Sync and I thought I’d be able to read the book in my Kobo app or the Bluefire reader.  No, that would have been too easy…  After much Googling I finally understood I had to navigate to the Digital Editions folder on my Mac and upload the epub file to my iDevice.   Once I had understood that I was finally able to read my book on my iPhone and iPad.

One thing I haven’t been able to test is the syncing of the books across the devices.  One of the delights of Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle apps is the Whispersync.  I can start reading a book on my Mac at breakfast, then use my iPhone to read on the bus and it will automatically pick up to where I left off on the Mac.  I suspect that will not be possible on this non Amazon lending.  We shall see.

All in all, the process took me well over 90 minutes, although next time it will probably be quicker.

In order to be fair, I decided to borrow a second book directly on my iPad to see if that would be any easier and in all fairness it was.  Once I’d navigated the mess of the ebook resources though the iPad’s Safari browser, chosen a book and logged in to the library website I was asked to enter my Adobe ID in the Overdrive application and was soon reading.

As a comparison of ease of use I bought a (free) book from Amazon for my Kindle.  I went to the Amazon Kindle web page and chose my book.

I clicked on the buy now button:

And within 60 seconds was reading on my Kindle, just like the ad says.

In general, I would say that the ebook borrowing process at the BANQ is painful at present.  The poor website layout combined with the multi step process makes it discouraging for people to become interested in ebooks.  However, I do believe that this will improve as more and more people become accustomed to ereading.  I look forward to seeing the progress.

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