Kindle Touch – First Impressions (No more creepy dead authors! Woot!)
e-Reader Reviews / November 19, 2011

Those of you who follow my blog will know how much I’ve lusted after the new Amazon Kindle Touch, and also shared in my frustration at Amazon’s refusal to ship it outside the US.  Anyway, today I caved and took a short trip across the US border to Best Buy in Plattsburgh to purchase one. From my experience with the WiFi only Kobo, I did in the end decide to purchase the base model WiFi only with special offers for $99.  I had a few tense moments when a Nook was produced that had been set aside for me and the saleswoman couldn’t find the Kindle Touches…  I was very relieved to finally have it in my hand. As it is technically not available in Canada I was a little anxious about registering, especially as it took me three attempts with the virtual keyboard.  However, it all seemed to go through and I am now happily downloading my content to my Kindle Touch. Size wise the Kindle Touch is noticeably smaller and lighter than the Kindle Keyboard – not surprising as it doesn’t have a keyboard!  Comparing the screens to the Kindle Keyboard and Kobo, the two Kindles seem virtually…

Review – Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / November 14, 2011

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith follows a similar structure to his earlier book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in that it combines existing material with the fantastical.  The premise of the book is that American President Abraham Lincoln’s life was spent hunting vampires as well as abolishing slavery. A mix of genres Now, straight historical biography is not a genre I tend to read very often; I’d rather be transported to a new world than learn about someone who lives or lived in ours.  I found this particular combination of hard fact and fantastical fiction to be both fun and somewhat informative.  A reader of this book would not finish it with an encyclopedic knowledge of Lincoln’s life – I must admit I kept Wikipedia on hand to check historical facts – but he may know more about him than he did previously, and possibly be inspired to learn more.   It should be pointed out that as a Brit, my knowledge of American history is sketchy at best.  It may be that American readers will learn little that is new to them.  They however may enjoy trying to guess how the author will incorporate certain events into the…

A Few More Thoughts on the Kobo eReader
e-Reader Reviews / October 13, 2011

So I have been using the Kobo now for almost a week, and I must say I have enjoyed using it.  The touch interface seems responsive and is fun to use.  There are many things I prefer about the Kobo user interface to the Kindle interface – the use of book covers for one thing.  Some of those are very attractive and the Kindle’s text-based user interface seems a little basic by comparison.  Of course, I have not seen the UI for the Kindle Touch, but from the video of the Amazon press conference it seems as if it is still predominantly text based.  Amazon’s Collections feature where you can categorise your books into user defined groups for easier searching is one thing I find hard to live without.  Currently I only have a few books on the Kobo, so choosing/finding one is not too tricky,  but on my Kindle I have over 30 pages of books. A lot of the things I like about my Kindle are UI based.  I enjoy sharing on my Facebook page and Twitter feed when I find an interesting passage or have finished a book.  I just find that more intuitive on the Kindle…

Kobo Touch eReader First Impressions
e-Reader Reviews / October 8, 2011

So, I have unboxed the Kobo Touch and have spent my first few hours with it.  My first impressions are generally positive. Hardware:  The Kobo Touch has the same 6 inch eInk display as the Kindle.  From what I could see, there was no discernible difference in contrast between the two, but as they use different fonts, it was tricky to say.  In any case, both are clear and easy to read.  I found the IR touchscreen reasonably responsive and easy to use.  In comparison to the Kindle 3G Keyboard the Kobo seems tiny; of course this is because it doesn’t have a keyboard. I found the Kobo comfortable and easy to hold, and page turns were easy.  I did miss being able to turn back a page with my right hand – the Kindle has page back buttons on the same side of the case as the page forward one.  Personally, I found I had to use two hands – not easy with a cat purring in your lap. One thing the Kobo does slightly differently to the Kindle is the screen refreshes.  By default it will only refresh the screen fully on every sixth page turn,  minimising the…

Kindle vs Kobo
e-Reader Reviews / October 7, 2011

As those of you who follow my blog will know, I am a strong advocate of e-reading and in particular, Amazon’s Kindle. I have had a Kindle now since January 2010, and have built up a significant library of ebooks.  However, I’ve recently become very frustrated with Amazon’s US-centric focus and am beginning to wonder if the Canadian Kobo might be a better way to go.  With this in mind, today I purchased a Kobo Touch e-reader and plan to take advantage of Chapters’ two week return policy to review it and decide whether that is the way to go. I believe both of them are good, reliable e-readers and I don’t think a purchaser would be disappointed in either.  Both have the eInk display which is easiest on the eyes. At the point where I was considering going into ereading, before I bought my Kindle, I did experiment with both Kobo and Amazon stores and customer service and was equally happy with both.  At that point the Kobo ereader was not yet on the market.  As of yet, I have not unboxed it, but from what I understand, the following are the relative merits of Kindle and Kobo. Kindle…

Odds and Ends
Miscellaneous / October 1, 2011

I thought I would write a short entry today about a few thoughts that have occurred to me. First, Pottermore announced yesterday on its blog that it is extending the beta process for another month, new registrants will have to wait weeks or even months for their welcome emails granting them access to the site, and that the Pottermore store selling Harry Potter ebooks and audiobooks will not open until mid 2012.  None of this comes as a surprise to those of us in the beta program, who have borne witness to the numerous downtimes and the notorious Purple Screen of Death.  Indeed, it's probably the sensible – if only – decision the Pottermore site managers could make.  It is very disappointing though.  The site itself is fun and interesting when you actually get on, and of course, I was anxious to be able to add the Harry Potter ebooks to my collection.   Speaking of ebooks, I realised over the last couple of days just how much more enjoyable I find long form reading on my Kindle rather than my iPad, my iPhone or my iMac.  In all fairness, I should add that reading magazines is a delight on the iPad. The…

Um, Amazon? There is a world beyond the US, you know…
Miscellaneous / September 28, 2011

So, I read the live blogs of the Amazon announcement and, as expected, new Touch Kindles as well as the Amazon Fire tablet were launched. The entry level Kindle is now only $79 US.  That is a steal.  I really hope it will encourage more people to read ebooks.  For the full range of new Kindles, please check out Amazon's web page.  Engadget posted a live blog from the event, so I'm not going to repeat all the tech specs. From my own perspective, my predictions from yesterday's entry were confirmed.  The Amazon Fire tablet looks to be a nice media consumption unit, and at just $199, a wonderful entry tablet.  If I were not already in possession of an iPad, based in the US and not hooked into iTunes/iOS I'd certainly consider it.  The announcement of the Kindle Touch was what I'd been hoping for and I immediately went online to place my order… only to see that it's only available to US users, as are all other models except the current versions and the new $79 entry one!  Thanks, Amazon.  That is one way to generate interest and then kill it off. This is not the first time…

Why I’m unlikely to buy the new Kindle tablet
e-Reader Reviews / September 27, 2011

Amazon recently announced a press conference to take place tomorrow, September 28th.  It is widely expected to introduce the Kindle Fire, Amazon's long expected entry into the tablet market. As per Time, the specs are: based on Android 2.1, but modified to the point of being unrecognizable, Siegler reports. The software will emphasize Amazon's own digital content—movies, TV shows, music, e-books and the Amazon Appstore—with a carousel view of all content on top and pinned app icons on the bottom. The idea is to make content purchases and consumption as simple as possible. In terms of hardware: According to Ryan Block at gdgt, Amazon's tablet will look a lot like Research in Motion's Blackberry Playbook tablet—a 7-inch slab with sharp corners. That's because Amazon reportedly hired manufacturer Quanta, which designed the Playbook, to "shortcut" the Kindle Fire's development process. Naturally, everything is speculation until Jeff Bezos gets up on stage and introduces the new product.  Many believe that it will be the first tablet offering to be a serious competitor to Apple's iPad.  Rumour suggests Amazon will be pricing this most aggressively – below cost at $250-$300.  That is half the price of the lowest spec iPad.  Equally importantly, it…

Kindle in the Cloud
e-Reader Reviews / August 10, 2011

So, today Amazon announced the Kindle web based cloud reader.  Currently, it’s available for the Safari and Chrome browsers and the iPad.  It is interesting to note that this is not yet available for the Microsoft browser Internet Explorer.  This allows users to read and download their Kindle content directly from Amazon’s website without going through an app. Clearly, this is a hitback at Apple who last month forced Amazon to remove the link to the Kindle store from within the Kindle apps available on iOS and Mac.  By developing their own web based app and bypassing the Apple Store apps, Amazon is effectively giving Apple notice that they will not be bullied. Personally, I say you go, Amazon!  Now, I am a huge fan of both Apple and Amazon, but I really did not appreciate Apple’s tactics here, especially coming as it did after the e-book price fixing debacle several months ago.  Apple and Amazon both have an intensely loyal customer base, and with good reason. I am very happy to see Amazon defending its territory in this manner. I am, and will remain, a loyal Amazon Kindle customer and look forward to see what innovations they come up…