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Kindle Family

The complete modern generation of Amazon tablets and e-readers are now available to be shipped when new orders are being placed. Pre-orders for the Kindle Voyage are also starting to ship, but new orders have a delay of a few weeks.

Amazon originally announced their complete modern lineup of devices on September 17th and actually never orchestrated a media event for it, which was a stark departure from previous product releases.

The Kindle Voyage is likely the most innovative e-reader to be released in quite sometime. It has very high PPI and a new page turn mechanism that is meant to provide haptic feedback.

“Kindle Voyage is designed to disappear so you can lose yourself in a story,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. “This is the most advanced Kindle we’ve ever built. Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re working to build more as fast as we can. We can’t wait to get Kindle Voyage into the hands of readers starting today.”

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Amazon has confirmed to Good e-Reader that they are opening up two pop-up stores in California to take advantage of the holiday season. The first location will be in Westfield San Francisco Centre and Sacramento, in the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.

Amazon has been testing the waters of retail for a number of years with pop-up stores, lockers and vending machines. Industry experts are wondering if this is a larger push for permanent physical retail presence, similar to the likes of Apple’s retail stores.

There will be a number of devices that will be on display with product specialists on hand to answer any questions or concerns. The Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic, Kids Tablet, HD6, HD7 and Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 will be available. Amazon will also be showcasing their Fire TV and Fire Phone and they will also insure you can buy a data plan with AT&T for all of the new hardware.

It is interesting to note that the Westfeld Galleria has hosted their fare share of pop-up stores in the past. Google opened up a Play Store there recently that allowed people to play with Nexus phones and tablets.

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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we check out the Amazon Kindle Basic 2014 Touch Edition and the Kobo Aura H2O. Both of these readers are the latest and greatest and are getting a ton of media attention. Today, we look at the overall reading experience with eBooks and PDF files and also evaluate the big differences between them.

The Kobo H2O has a dynamic home screen, whenever you open up books, the internet browser or other core functions, they are added to the home area. This enables you to quickly access content, without having to constantly jump into various sub-menus. The Kindle Basic home screen is basically your library shelf.

Kobo gives more flexibility and control over the eBook reading experience, but the advanced options may be overwhelming for some users. They tend to have scroll bars that you can employ to augment the size of the font and even allow you to load in your own font styles. Amazon aims for a more simplistic system, which just gives you different font sizes, margins and line spacing.

The Basic really excels in reading PDF documents. You can pinch and zoom to isolate particular regions and you get a small preview window on the top left corner. This assists you in determining where exactly you are in the document if you have really zoomed in. One of the things I really liked was the ability to use highlights, take notes or use the translate feature on PDF Files. The H2O does not have pinch and zoom, and instead you have to utilize manual zoom, which is not very intuitive.


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Bookeen has been teasing the e-reader world with the eight inch Cybook Ocean since 2013. The company has had huge problems with getting this one to market, and I often thought that this model is cursed. Fear not, the Cybook Ocean will be available to order at the end of the month and will start shipping out November 14th 2014.

The Cybook Ocean features an 8 inch screen and has a resolution of 1024×758. This model adheres to the current trend of packing a front-lit display on the e-reader and I was told that it is on par with the Kindle Paperwhite 2, in terms of overall screen clarity.  Additionally, this is the first eight inch e-reader in the world that has their screen flush with the bezel.

Underneath the hood lurks a 800 MHZ processor, 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal memory. If this is not enough to store the books you have purchased from the on-board bookstore, you can simply insert an SD Card.

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Tactile purists will enjoy the physical page turn buttons on the bottom of the device. It can also be interacted with solely via the touchscreen if that is your thing.

The Cybook Ocean was originally announced in October 2013 and was slatted to be available that holiday season. Various setbacks plagued the French company and it looks like it is finally going to be available in November and the cost will be 179€ or $229 USD.

Cybook Ocean Back right

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Whenever Amazon releases new products, inevitably the question arises, should I upgrade? The New Kindle Basic only costs a paltry $79 and is the first model of this class to incorporate a touchscreen. How does the Basic compare to the Paperwhite 2? Today, we dive deep into the eBook, PDF and hardware experience.

What was most surprising about our head to head comparison was the new Kindle Basic 2014 edition actually had a better screen than the Paperwhite 2.  We saw the Kindle Paperwhite had a beige tinge to the background when reading a book, while the Basic had almost a pure white display. This made text  really pop, and serious readers would notice a difference putting them side by side.

The Basic ships with the exact same firmware as the Paperwhite 2, so you get GoodReads right on the  navigation bar. This allows you to tap into the extensive eBook discovery and social community aspect and form online bookclubs.


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The Kindle Basic for the first time ever has a new touchscreen, all prior models had a D-Pad and physical page turn keys. Customers switching over to the new Kindle from a smartphone or a tablet will find it an easy adjustment. Today, we take a comprehensive look at the e-reading and overall hardware experience to give you a sense on how it performs.

Hardware

The Kindle Basic features a six inch touchscreen with a resolution of 800 x 600 at 167 ppi. The touchscreen technology is using Infrared, courtesy of Neonode. The fonts and overall screen clarity have been dramatically increased and in a head to head comparison with the Kindle Paperwhite 2, the Kindle Basic had a whiter background and crisper fonts, which was very surprising.

Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ Freescale processor and 512 MB of RAM. Amazon has doubled up the amount of internal memory from 2 GB on prior models of the basic model to 4 GB. This in effect gives you the ability to store more books and PDF files on your device, without having to run in there and free up space.

Amazon has gone more angular with the Basic touchscreen Kindle, but surprisingly, despite its abandonment of physical controls, the gadget is actually heavier than its predecessor, and slightly larger in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The case is made from a hard plastic, instead of hard rubber. This makes it feel less premium, but at $79 for the entry level cost, I am not complaining.

I am a big fan of the new direction that Amazon has took with the Kindle Basic. Now that this model has replaced the prior generation, Amazon currently does not offer any other e-readers that don’t have a touchscreen, which should make it more accessible for the average reader.

Software

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This new model has the exact same firmware as the Kindle Paperwhite 2, and mirrors it in all respects. You have the ability to directly access over two million books via the Kindle bookstore. I like the fact that the e-reader version of the store looks the same as the website, so there is no weird adjustment you have to undertake. GoodReads also plays a prominent role on the main UI, which is the social eBook discovery website they purchased.

Reading on a digital reader and buying books online is normally a solitary experience. Unlike visiting a real bookstore, that is populated by staff that love books and customers all there for the same reason, e-readers make you feel alone. GoodReads gives you access to virtual book clubs and provides a layered social element, which is refreshing.

Amazon provides a number of options in their sub-menu system that are not overly complicated to the average user. Some of the most notable ones is Kindle Freetime, which allows parents to establish a permission based system and account management to let little Johnny to read, but maybe not access the store or internet browser. Speaking of internet, the “Experimental Browser” is still in beta, almost a seven years since it was first unveiled.

The Kindle software feels really polished, you will seldom have to wait a few seconds for a menu to open or for a process to launch. This is really refreshing because I remember only a few years ago where I frequently had to put up with full page refreshes that took ten seconds and clunky interfaces that were counter intuitive.

If you have used a Kindle over the course of the last few years, Amazon really hasn’t done anything new with the software, but has promised future firmware updates. One of the updates will allow you to find out more about an author, if the book is apart of a series and what the other titles are and allow you to get discounts on purchasing them all at once.

eBook Reading Experience

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The one thing that really surprised me on the overall reading experience was being able to pinch and zoom while reading PDF files. The Kobo Aura H20, which costs $199 does not have this ability. Instead, you have a really clunky interface that takes 4 steps to isolate a particular region in a document.

The Kindle Basic handles pinching and zooming like a boss. Its more responsive than the Kindle Paperwhite 2 in this regard. When exploring a complex document a small preview window appears on the top left hand corner, which contains a snapshot of the page you are on. This helps orient you on where exactly you are on the page.

The other aspect that I really liked was the ability to take notes, make highlights and translate words in a PDF document. When you really think about it, a PDF is basically one giant image. Amazon is the only company that lets you augment text or give you advanced options to really craft a solid PDF experience. The only company to to do it better is Sony, and that is via the Digital Paper, which is PDF focused and costs $999.

The average user will find themselves reading books they just purchased from Amazon. This is where the reader really shines, there are a number of options to really refine the look and feel of a book, but doesn’t have a ton of complex options. You can change the size of the font and whatever one you select instantly appears on the screen, without the need of existing the reading menu and saving the options. You can also change the linespacing and margins. Page turn speed has been dramatically increased over prior models, you will likely never notice a full page refresh and the entire process is lightning quick.

In many cases, you might be reading a book and not understand a specific word. There are two built in dictionaries issued to customers living in North America. If you live in Japan or China, for the first time ever the Kindle Basic is being marketed there and has those countries respected dictionaries bundled on it.

Another feature I like is translations. This works in both Amazon purchased books and PDF files. You can select a specific word or complete body of text and translate it from one language to another. Any market that Amazon officially supports is available. Currently there are 15 languages from Simplified Chinese to French. This might be useful to someone who is learning a new language, or if a particular book has a number of idioms.

Wrap up

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In the end, this is one of the best entry level e-readers ever made. It has cool features like X-Ray, so if you are juggling many different books at once, you can get a sense of the major characters, places and things referenced in the book.

This $79 entry level e-reader is perfect for someone who has never had one before or are thinking of giving the Amazon ecosystem a try. Owners of the D-Pad enabled Basic model from years past, will find this edition is a very solid upgrade and well worth the money.

PROS

Touchscreen
4 GB of internal storage
Pinch and Zoom PDF Files
Page Turns are lightning quick
Same Firmware as Kindle Paperwhite 2

CONS

Battery Life is weaker than the prior Kindle Basic
e-Reader is heavier than prior versions
Internet Browser prone to crashing

Rating: 9/10


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The FAA relaxed restrictions on airplanes last November that allowed passengers to use e-readers, smartphones and tablets on all phases of travel. This has been a boon to readers, who simply want to immerse themselves in a great book. Not everyone is happy with the FAA, as the Flight Attendants Union filed a lawsuit last Friday, challenging the use of electronics.

As outlined by the Associated Press , the lawsuit alleges that the FAA “acted improperly” and failed to follow proper protocol implementing the changes. A lawyer for the Association of Flight Attendants argued that portable electronic devices distract passengers from safety announcements and can “become dangerous projectiles.”

The Association of Flight Attendants also argued that the FAA did not properly handle the process of changing its guidance. Apparently the FAA failed to follow the guidelines of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires government agencies to give public notice and allow time for commenting when a rule is changed.

This lawsuit may not really go anywhere, as the three judges presiding over the case are not going to countermand the relaxed restrictions. “Airlines have always had discretion on how to handle this,” Judge Harry T. Edwards told a lawyer for the union, the 60,000-member Association of Flight Attendants.

Since the FAA allowed e-readers on all stages of air flights, over 31 airlines have adopted the use of electronics and they account for 95% of all commercial traffic in the US. A good rule of thumb, try at least to feign attention to the safety presentations.

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Amazon has been toying with the idea of a physical brick and motor store for quite awhile. The Seattle based company is taking the first few tentative steps towards retail by opening a temporary pop up store on 34th Street in Manhattan across the street from the Empire State Building just in time for this year’s holiday season.

The experimental pop-up store will function as a small warehouse, holding limited inventory for same-day deliveries only in New York. If a customer orders a product online, they can visit the store and pick it up in person.

The store also intends on showing off the complete modern lineup of Kindle e-Readers, tablets, smartphones and Fire TV. This will give customers a chance to play with the tech in person and have experienced reps to walk people through the key features. Amazon will also be selling the hardware and running daily contests.

Amazon has been experimenting with temporary retail locations since December 2013, when it ran one in San Francisco. During the summer of 2014 Amazon took the show on the road to China and went to a series of locations in Shanghai and Beijing.

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, says the old adage. Media and customers will likely be flocking to this retail outlet to gain insight on how Amazon does brick and motor.


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Kobo has experimented with many iterations of Android driven tablets, but has decided that their primary focus is going to be e-readers and apps.

The brand new Kobo H2O waterproof e-reader started shipping last week and CEO Michael Tamblyn said had achieved the highest rate of pre-orders of any other Kobo device. However, he also revealed tablet devices were no longer a focus area for the company. Instead, it will concentrate on three main e-reader models, the Kobo Touch, Kobo Aura and the new H2O.

Kobo has been developing tablets since 2011, with the advent of the Kobo Vox. The Toronto based company has done a number of followups, such as the Kobo Arc, Kobo Arc 7 and Kobo Arc 10 HD. Increased competition from notable vendors such as Apple, Amazon Samsung and Sony have relegated Kobo branded tablets to a novelty and not a must buy.

Tamblyn verified the exit of the tablet market by confirming “The tablet devices we already have out there will continue to be sold, but we are not at this point planning any new tablets.”

Kobo scored a major coup de tat when it reached an agreement with Sony to take over their digital book business. This resulted in over 25,000 new customers coming over to the Kobo ecosystem. Going forward, Sony has promised that their new smartphones and tablets will have the Kobo reading app pre-installed.

The future of Kobo looks bright. The company is focusing their energies on marketing their complete line of e-readers to international markets and refining their apps for Android and iOS. There really isn’t any need anymore to spend a copious amount of money, trying to compete against the big boys, when all you need is to have an exciting ecosystem and compelling apps.

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The Tolino Alliance was formed in 2013 and their mandate was to combat Amazon in Germany. This was the first time Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Club Bertelsmann, Deutsche Telekom banded together to sell their own e-readers and digital books. Today, the alliance has announced the brand new Tolino Vision 2, which is a waterproof e-reader and will come out this November.

The Tolino Vision 2 has basically the same design as the first generation model that came out in April. The main differences is this model is waterproof, much akin to the Kobo H2O and Pocketbook Aqua. It also has a new function called Tap2Flip. It basically turns the entire back into a pressure sensitive touchscreen, allowing you to turn pages in an eBook.

The Tolino Vision 2 features the latest in e-Paper innovation, e Ink Carta. This is the exact screen technology found on the Kindle Paperwhite 2 and Kobo Aura H2O. This will not only provide higher contrast, but also eliminate the full page refresh issues that have plagued e-readers since the very beginning. The overall resolution is a very respectable 1024 × 758 pixels and has 212 ppi. The dimensions are identical to the first generation reader, but the new model is four grams lighter (174 grams instead of 178).

Underneath the hood is a Freescale iMx6 1 GHz processor and 512 MB ​​RAM. There is 4GB of internal memory, but after you take it out of the box for the first time, you are relegated to two. This will store around 1,500 eBooks on average, but you can expand it up to 32GB via the Micro SD. Battery life is very solid and should net you around seven weeks of constant use.

This is not truly a waterproof e-reader, although its being billed that way. You can think of it as being splash resistant and likely will not be able to stand up to being completely submerged in water. This is primarily due to the fact that the bottom Micro USB does not have a waterproof protective flap.

The Vision 2 is a viable e-reader if you speak German as your primary language, because the online bookstore only sells eBooks in that language.  The new e-reader is going to be released in early November and can be pre-ordered from the  Thalia website for 149 euros.


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Jeff Bezos is the proud owner of the Washington Post and he is hoping to build some synergy between the newspaper and the Kindle. Within a few weeks a special version of the Post will be loaded on the new Kindle Fire line of tablets. it will offer a curated selection of news and photographs from the daily newspaper in a magazine style format.

According to Business Week the project has been dubbed Project Rainbow and is being led by Kerry Lauerman, the former editor-in-chief of Salon.com. Lauerman joined the paper as a senior editor in July to work on “an initiative focused on the fast-growing mobile readership,” according to a Post press release announcing the hire. Lauerman reports to Cory Haik, the Post’s executive producer for digital news.

Once the new Post app drops on the new line of Kindle tablets, it will also be available to read on the new $79 Kindle and Kindle Voyage. The app will also be ported over to Android and iOS, but users will have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access the content. Kindle owners of course, will get it all for free.

Will a free news app from the Washington Post be enough to convince people to buy the new Kindle Fire tablet? Likely not, the vast majority of newshounds do not pay for news anymore.

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Professionals representing many industries and institutions have been embracing the 13.3 inch Sony Digital Paper as a better way to read and write. This has promoted Sony to officially slash the entry level price from  from $1,100 to $999.

The lower price should be more appealing towards schools and businesses looking to divest themselves from a copious amount of paper.  Many of the clients that deal with Sony normally buy a few for a trial run and this discount should assist them in further adoption. The $999 price tag will also be a boon towards power-users  who find themselves editing PDF files on a daily basis.

Sony is also hyping the the device’s built-in WebDAV protocol, that enables users to wirelessly transfer electronic documents created on Digital Paper to and from a user’s compatible online document file-sharing and storage services, such as Box.com.

Many people have been on the fence about purchasing the DPT-S1 and a $101 discount is very compelling. This is simply one of the best e-readers ever made and has technology from e-Ink not really seen in any commercial device. Battery Life, resolution and document editing are the main attractions and no other e-reader or tablet comes close in this regard.

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The new Kobo Aura H2O is now available in Canada at major bookstores such as Chapters and Indigo. Americans who have pre-ordered it from the main Kobo website have their units shipped out today and international markets will be getting it soon.

Kobo has an obsession on what constitutes the perfect e-reading experience and they have been feverishly working towards this ideal. They have slowly been evolving their product line to fall in line with the quintessential five B’s of bookselling; Bath, Backyard, Bedroom, Bus and Beach.

The brand new Kobo Aura H2O e-Reader is the most complete device the Toronto based company has ever released. It was designed to be able be completely submerged in five meters of water, for up to fifty minutes, which finally allows users to safely read in the bath and beach.

We spoke to Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn in prelude to the formal unveiling and he mentioned that “The H2O follows the same design principles of the Kobo Aura. When the Aura first came out we expected that the premium 6.8 inch screen would only account for 2% of our companies sales, and within a few months it captured 25%. We are hoping to replicate the success of the Aura with the H2O, which is slimmer, lighter and can be used on vacations.”

Are you intending on purchasing the Kobo Aura H2O? We have done extensive videos documenting the entire e-reader and what it is capable of. Check out the unboxing, review, underwater test and eBook loading tutorials below.


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