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If you joined me in my love for the classic PC Dungeons and Dragons RPG Baldur’s Gate that came to Android devices thanks to Beamdog Studios, you will be excited to hear they are at it again with D&D-based game, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition.

Filled with new content and game improvements set in the Forgotten Realms, Beamdog Studios has a lot planned for Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. Too excited to wait? You can expect to see: six expanded quests with content from the original game, 60 new items, Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansions, 31 new class and kit combinations from Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, 122 new spells carried over from Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, cross-platform multiplayer capability for up to six players, and story mode –allowing players access to the entire story without game over screens.

An exact launch date isn’t yet known, but we are expecting to play Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition later in 2014 (for a price yet to be determined, though the PC version will be $19.99).

Categories : Android News
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The Kobo H20 is shipping this October and is the first time the Canadian based company has marketed a waterproof device. Many people are asking the question, is this all they have coming out in 2014, and should I wait until 2015 to buy a new e-reader?

Kobo has confirmed that the H20 is the only device they have to be released in 2014. In an interview CEO Michael Tamblyn, he said that their tablet lineup is still very competitive with everything else available on the market, there was no need to give it a refresh.

Most hardware companies who are heavily invested in selling eBooks have mostly all unveiled their lineup for 2014. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook was the sole hardware upgrade this year from Barnes and Noble and is actually a very solid device. Kobo has their H20 and Amazon is the only X factor. My sources at Lab126, the R&D division responsible all Amazon hardware have said that two new e-readers and three tablets are all ready to go. The tablets will have more synergy with the Fire TV and the Fire Phone, and give people a reason to go all Amazon, like people go all-in with Apple.

What does Kobo have planned for 2015? They rarely tell media people in advance because it gives a competitive edge to Onyx, Pocketbook, Ectaco, and Icarus.  I do have a bit of insider information that points to what they are planning though.

Kobo outsources all of their hardware design and manufacturing to Nettronix Inc. They are based in Taiwan and have involved in the e-reader space since the very beginning. Last month they demoed a new e-reader that used the same shell and internal components of the Kobo Aura HD.  The main difference is that it was utilizing technology from Wacom, which made it compatible with an official stylus.  This allows you to have the ability to take notes, make highlights and annotations with pinpoint precision.  Will the next iteration of the 6.8 inch Aura finally be a viable note taking e-reader?

Sony made note taking fashionable with all of their e-readers in the past four years. A large segment of readers found a stylus to be a bit more intuitive, instead of relying exclusively with the touchscreen. Sony recently abandoned making consumer e-readers and closed down their Reader Store all over the world.   This leaves a void in the marketplace for a company to market an affordable e-reader that comes with a stylus and has modern internal components.

Everyone involved in the e-reader sector is paying close attention to the ravenous demand for the Sony Digital Paper (DPT-S1). This is a device aimed at the business crowd and has a hefty pricetag of $1,100. Netronix is hoping to convince Kobo that a more affordable 6.8 version would sell to your average customer.

Kobo has always invested heavily in their consumer division with selling eBooks and making low cost e-readers. A Wacom enabled e-reader could potentially expand their base further into the education market and into making it a viable business tool.

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HarperCollins is in the midst of a total rebranding effort when it comes to selling books. In July they relaunched their United States website and started to market eBooks directly to customers. This has been a deemed a success by the top executives and they have now expanded into the UK.

The New HarperCollins UK site has been relaunched with the express purpose of selling eBooks directly. The publisher prompts users to download and install their HC Reader app, which is used to read any purchases on iOS and Android.

HC derives 24% of their revenue from eBooks, so there is still a viable market for print. You can order tangible books from the UK website, but instead of buying them from HC directly you are redirected to  Amazon, Waterstones and W H Smith. The publisher hopes to make physical books available directly through the site in December.

One of the most compelling aspect of the HC UK website is author profiles. You can read their biography, check out their social media profiles, get put on a mailing list for book tours and events or look at their upcoming titles.

HarperCollins is no stranger to selling eBooks in the UK, having prior experience with CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and their Narnia website.  These niche microsites did not generate many sales, but it did establish an in-house division for the future of selling eBooks directly.

Publishers reliance on Amazon, as a primarily vechie to sell eBooks, is forcing them to embrace alternative sales channels. Amazon currently has too much power in mandating terms during contract renewals, as we see from the current Hachette dispute. Whether customers buy directly from the publisher, instead of Amazon, Kobo, iBooks or Nook remains to be seen.

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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The Kobo Aura H20 is drawing praise in our extensive reviews and comparisons. It is the first waterproof e-reader to be issued by a mainstream company and is now finally available for pre-order starting today.

For the next four weeks, you can order the Kobo Aura H20 directly from the Kobo website in Canada and the US for $179.99. Since Kobo is based in Toronto Canada, Best Buy and Chapters are also offering pre-orders in their stores. Meanwhile, in the UK you place yourself in a virtual queue for £139.99 and the rest of Europe for €179.00. If you live outside of these countries, you can order it from our sister site Shop e-Readers.

The Kobo Aura H20 features a 6.8 inch display and is rocking an e-Ink Carta screen. This will insure you are getting the fastest page turns possible with minimal full page refreshing. The H20 is the only new device Kobo has planned for 2014 and is worth it to order if you are looking for a new e-reader.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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The Microsoft Surface PRO 3 and the Apple iPad Air are two of the most successful tablets in the world. Today we look at the overall e-reading experience plays out on both devices.  You will get a sense on how the eBook, PDF and digital comic experience plays out.

The Surface Pro 3 has a 12 inch screen,which allows image based content, such as magazines and comic books really shine. The one advantage the iPad has is the seamless pinch and zooming to isolate particular regions.  The Surface tends to be a little bit more sluggish when it comes to non-native apps, like Adobe PDF Reader.

The video below we look at how both of these handle the same book, same comic and PDF file. We tend to look at these devices from an e-reading prospective, because we know you inevitably read the news or read a comic digitally.


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Young woman reading ebook on an Amazon Kindle, London, England, UKAustralian author Germaine Greer proclaimed on a recent BBC Radio broadcast that eBooks should only cost pennies and that people have a irrational attachment to print.

Germaine was reflecting on the entire Hachette eBook dispute and was in favor of Amazon. “Amazon wants to sell e-books at less, so they should. They should cost less because they don’t have to be put together, stitched, printed, designed, blah, blah, blah. If you skip all that and all you have got is a ribbon of text on a Kindle then it should cost you pennies frankly.”

Printing a physical book obviously costs more due to the industrial-age process involving paper mills and printing presses manufacturing the title and then its distributed by ships,trains and trucks delivering them your local bookstore.

Should eBooks only cost a few pennies? It costs Amazon almost nothing to make and distribute 100 copies of an ebook file to sell to 100 different customers. Credit cart fees are probably the largest per-ebook cost for each incremental sale. Distributing an eBook has no industrial-era components and no industrial-era advantages for Big Publishing.


Categories : E-Book News
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Florida Polytechnic University has just opened their doors and instead of dusty bookshelves full of books, they are embracing digital. This marks the first time diligent young scholars can borrow eBooks on their Kindles, Nooks or iPads and there is not a tangible book in sight.

The inaugural class of 500 students will have access to over 135,000 eBooks and digital textbooks for the upcoming September semester. “Our on-campus library is entirely digital,” said director of libraries Kathryn Miller. “We have access to print books through the state university system’s interlibrary loan program. However, we strongly encourage our students to read and work with information digitally.”

The new university is primarily focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students are better prepared for lives in the technology sector by being able to read, absorb, manage and search digital documents and conduct digital research.

Florida is not the only intuition to embrace eBooks at the expense of physical books. Bexar County opened up the first all digital library a few months ago. Patrons can easily access over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able read them on one of the 600 E-readers, 9 laptops or 40 tablets that are available for loan.

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In this video comparison we look at the flagship Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 and the Kobo Aura H20. This two e-readers have fairly similar technology, as they are both rocking  e Ink Carta, which result in faster page turns.

The Kindle Paperwhite 2 is certainly one of the most popular e-readers in the world, and Amazon currently controls 70% of the global eBook market. Now that Sony is out of the picture,  it is a two horse race with Amazon and Kobo.

The Purpose of today’s comparison is to give you a sense on how these two devices fare head to head. We look at Beyond the Book and Amazon X-Ray, GoodReads, PDF files, eBooks, menus, settings and the how the online bookstores perform.


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Welcome back to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Kobo Aura H2O and the Kobo Aura. You will get a sense on how the eBook experience plays out in both PDF and ePub books and if either model appeals to you.

The Kobo Aura H2O is not only a waterproof e-reader but it also features e-ink Carta technology. This dramatically increases the page turn speed and cuts down on the quintessential refresh issues that plague lower end devices. Meanwhile, the Kobo Aura came out last year and features a 6 inch screen capacitive touchscreen display. This is most useful for pinching and zooming PDF files and graphic novels.

This comparison video looks at the hardware and what the primary differences are. This is most useful if you have an older device and are thinking of possibly upgrading. As an added bonus, we do a side by side comparison looking exclusively at the front-lit display.


Kobo Aura H2O water

The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out in October and the main selling point is the waterproof screen. Earlier in the week we conducted an underwater test to see how the unit performed. Today, due to extensive requests on our YouTube Channel, we are conducting an underwater Glowlight test.

A waterproof e-reader will likely be used while taking a bath. Often the lights are dimmed, or shut off completely and the only illumination comes from candles or the e-reader itself. If an e-reader is submerged or wet, does it affect the brightness of the front-lit display? Does the light become muted while underwater? The video below answers all of these questions.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble has collaborated with Samsung for the latest generation Nook tablet. Samsung provided the hardware and B&N designed custom reading apps for Android, which gives users a very unique experience. How does this new device compare to the Nook HD or Nook Tablet and is it a viable upgrade?

Hardware

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 800. The resolution overall is a big of a downgrade from the Nook HD, but not enough to be noticeable for your average user.

Underneath the hood is a 1.2 GHZ quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, plus support for MicroSD (up to 32GB) The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook features a 3Mp rear camera and 1.3Mp front-facing webcam, with the former capable of 720p video recording at 30fps. This is the first time a Nook device will have front and rear cameras.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook measures 186.9x9x107.9mm and weighs 276g. Part of this weight comes from the 4000mAh battery, claimed to allow for up to 10 hours of video, 190 hours of audio, or 10 hours of internet usage.

When it comes to the audio experience there is a single speaker on the back, but it is in stereo. This allows you to listen to audiobooks, music, video or the read aloud feature in kids books.

Barnes and Noble tried to stem the tide of constant financial losses in their Nook division by outsourcing the hardware to Samsung. This is a double edged sword because there is no Nook branding on the tablet at all. If the device is totally powered down, you would have no idea that it is anything else but a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

Software

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Every single tablet that Barnes and Noble has even released ran a heavily skinned version of Google Android. This was the same tactic that both Amazon and Kobo employed to make their devices stand out in the crowd. The Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook is the first time users get a vanilla Android experience, allowing them to install live wallpapers and even change their keyboards.

Instead of heavily augmenting Android, Barnes and Noble has firmly embraced it. They company has developed a series of custom apps that get users participating in the booksellers ecosystem. There is a dedicated store, Nook Video, Library, eBook Reading Apps, Nook Search, custom settings menu and the ability to view all of the notes and annotations you have ever made.

One of the strongest benefits of the new Samsung tablet is the ability to finally download apps from outside the US and UK. The Nook App Store used to lock customers out of purchasing or downloading apps, due to geolocation. This seems to be disabled in the new Nook, which allows users to download apps not only from B&N but also Google Play. The only limitation placed on customers is Nook Video, you still have to be in the US to buy or rent videos or television shows.

The Home screen mainly comprises of all of your Nook Reading App, Nook Store and a bunch of official Google ones. Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Play and all of the standard Google apps are all included in a mini folder. If you swipe the screen from the right to the left on the edge of the bezel there is a side screen full of apps. By default, its all the official Google ones, but you can add or remove any of them there, adding to the customization capabilities.

The one thing I really want to focus on during this review is the Nook content and not really dwelling on the standard Android functionality.

Nook Library

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The Nook Library houses all of the purchases you have made from Barnes and Noble. This includes eBooks, comics, magazines, newspapers, television shows. There is a shop button on the top right hand corner, which opens up their online store that sells all of the content.

eBooks are opened by the quintessential Nook app for Android, which has been available on Google Play for years. One of the things I always liked about reading on the Nook is the different backgrounds. Kobo and Kindle have always just had three different background colors, but Nook has six. You can easily change the bright white background to Sepia or different shades of off-white. This makes it easier to read in the dark, without having to strain your eyes. I also dig the way Nook handles animated page turns, wikipedia lookups and built in dictionary.

Magazines and Newspapers are opened via a special Nook for Magazine app that has been completely revised for this new Samsung model. The one thing I really like, aside from the animated page turns is “article view.” This strips away all of the images and CSS and turns a magazine into an eBook.

Nook Shop

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The Nook Shop was designed as a standalone app that lets you browse books, magazines, movies & TV, Kids, Apps, Newspapers and Comics. The only thing international users cannot access is media content, but all others are completely viable. The Home screen is curated content by the Nook team, currently they are hyping “Passion for Passion” and “Your Favorite Heroes.”

Nook Search

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Nook Search is a standalone app that allows you to type in key terms that you want to look for in the shop. You can look at specific keywords, such as “post apocalyptic” or “Potter.” It will then give you a huge list of titles matching your search results in everything B&N offers in their store.

Nook Today

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Nook Today scans all of the content you purchase or samples you access from the online store. It then gives you a recommended reading list, which helps with discovery. In addition, it remembers your results from Nook Search and also recommends similar titles.

Nook Settings

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The last unique aspect of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is the customized Nook Settings. Now it is important to note that you do have access to traditional Android settings too.

Nook settings allows you to control the way all of the dedicated Nooks apps behave. You can download alternative dictionaries and make them your default. Right now there is only six, but I was told more are on the way.

You can also control the way the magazine and eBook reading apps function. Cool options include turning off animated page turns, or two page layout in landscape. This is also where you can associate your Ultraviolet account with Nook Video to get the digital copies of the movies you buy from retail stores.

Wrap up

Good e-Reader has reviewed every single tablet Barnes and Noble has ever released, from the Nook Color to the Nook HD. This tablet is a step in the right direction. It gives you a unique e-reading experience and allows a deep level of customization.

I like the fact you can opt into dealing with Barnes and Noble, but aren’t exclusively roped into it. Google Play allows you to basically downloading any 3rd party reading app, Overdrive Media Console, Amazon Kindle, Kobo or thousands of others.

PROS

Reading digital books is impressive
Tons of unique Nook Apps
Allows you to download any app you want from Google
Live Wallpapers and Widgets

CONS

Setup involved a Google, Samsung and Nook account.
Speaker quality is not the greatest
No Barnes and Noble branding on the hardware

Rating: 8.5/10

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The second generation Icarus Illumina HD offers the ability for users to install their own e-reading apps. It also has its own built in eBook app and this allows you to load in your own books you have purchased from another store, borrowed from the library or simply downloaded from the internet. Today, I will show you how to use Adobe Digital Editions, Calibre and Windows Explorer. Along the way, you will get some bonus knowledge on how to add in your own book cover or even change the authors name.


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The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out this fall and sometimes you want to load in your own PDF files, CBZ comics or ePubs you bought online. In this video tutorial you will learn how to load them onto your H2O using Adobe Digital Editions, Calibre and Windows Explorer.

Calibre is a free download and is used primarily not not only copy PDF or ePub files to your Aura, but also to edit them. If you are copying backs that do not have DRM, you can easily swap out the cover art or edit the authors name. Editing the metadata allows for more flexible control over the way the book is found in your library or searched.

Adobe Digital Editions is also a free download and is mainly used to copy books to your H2O that you purchased from another online bookstore or books you borrowed from the library.

Widows Explorer is the most commonly used way to copy and paste books to your Aura H20, but offers the least amount of flexibility. Still, you can get a sense of the internal directory structure.