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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Review! Today Peter takes a look at the Skytex SkyPad 7S. This is the company’s latest generation tablet running 4.2 Jellybean.

The Skytex SkyPad 7S has a 7 inch capacitive display screen with a resolution of 1024×600. Powered by a 1.2GHz Dual Core processor, Android 4.2 operating system, 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage, 32GB expandable MicroSD card slot, Mali-400MP2 graphics processor, and Wi-Fi that are all optimized to bring lightning fast experiences for music, videos, and games.

I like the fact it has solid grip on the back of it, which makes it easy to hold when reading an eBook. Customers may dig the fact this device is brimming with different App Stores to tap into. SKytex has their own App Store, and there is also 1Mobile and a link to download the Amazon App Store. Check out the full unboxing and video review below to see how the SkyPad handles eBooks, movies, gaming and internet searches.


Categories : Reviews, Tablet PC News
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There has been lots of buzz surrounding the Firefox OS, as many companies are trying to not exclusively do business with Google. There are 3 current generation phones that run Mozillas mobile operating system. They all suffer from really small screens and abysmal resolution. Is there a future for Firefox OS, or is it a flash in the pan? Today, we look at the ZTE Open, to evaluate the phone and how it performs.

Review

The ZTE Open was the first Firefox phone to become available. There are two more companies entering the fray, LG and Alcatel. The ZTE Open features a 3.5 inch touchscreen display with a woeful 320 x 480 resolution. It is powered by a single core 1 GHZ processor and has 120 MB of memory, when you take it out of the box. You can also elect to snap some selfies with the 3 MP rear facing camera.

The design of the phone has a rectangular shape, but it has very rounded corners and a tapered front which gives you better and easier access to the home button. The home button is the only physical key on the entire phone. Other ports include, headphone jack and Micro USB port. Battery Life is around 7 hours via the 1,200mAh battery.

You will need an SD card to do anything on this phone. You cannot even use the music, videos or photo apps without one. The internal memory is relegated to apps that you can install from the Firefox App Market. Most of this games are super small, due to the HTML5 nature.

The hardware on the ZTE Open is lacking tremendously. This seems to be the theme so far with all of the Firefox phones. Only LG offers a four inch screen, while ZTE and Alcatel offer 3.5 inch ones. I found it is too small to do anything of note, including reading eBooks or PDF. Who knows why they all elected to make really small phones, maybe to keep the price down? Mainly its the emerging market, with the phone and app market now available in nine different countries.

In the videos below, we give you an unboxing, review of the phone and complete OS review. You can get a sense on exactly what this device brings to the table and if its a phone you should consider buying.

My recommendation? The only people who should care about this phone are people who want neat stuff no one else has, or a beggar on the streets. The OS is not ready for prime time, it is lacking with content and crappy specced phones. It is marketed as a cheap and cheerful device, but the OS does not have a ton of developer support. By contrast, Blackberry World is an awesome ecosystem compared to Firefox, and that is saying a lot!


Categories : Reviews, Smart Phones
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The Netchef tablet, by Sungale is the first time a tablet was developed to resemble a classic cooking appliance. This device is brimming with recipes that lay out what you need to buy and even shows videos of exactly how to cook it, step by step. When it comes to tablets in the kitchen, this seems to be a fairly viable product.

Hardware

The Netchef is built into a very durable plastic enclosure with two giant speakers on the side, that video tutorials can heard over the din of cooking a meal. The tablet itself features a 8” Hi-Resolution 1024 x 768 capacitive LCD Touch Screen. It also has 4GB storage and can be enhanced further with a microSD card. You can connect up to the internet via the WIFI. This is critical for fetching new recipes, or checking your email.

Why clutter your counter with gadgets? NetChef comes with a built-in timer! The NetChef timers will notify you with tones as each cooking time expires. The NetChef also comes complete with a measurement converter available on the bottom of every recipe page to assist in calculating your measurements if need be.

Via the webcam on the front of the tablet, you can scan and store Grandmas secret handwritten recipes and they’ll be waiting for you in your personal recipes folder as required. You can also write your own recipes and save to the SD Card with Notebook on your computer, or scan recipes card as JPEG files and save also.

Software

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Netchef comes with 500 preloaded recipes, and the content can be expanded and updated momentarily from the Internet via Cloud technology. Netchef automatically synchronizes recipes with prorecipesite.com whenever Wi-Fi is connected.

It comes with a very basic version of Google Android 4.1 and has its own custom launcher. The launcher is bright and bubbly, and easy to click things with one finger, if you are juggling things in the kitchen.

The front facing camera can be used for Skype video calling.  You may also elect to snap a few pictures of your creations and upload them to instagram.  The preloaded music app is “TuneIn” which is for radio stations, but Pandora can be downloaded by accessing the Google Play Store under the “all apps” and swiping right to the “system applications”.

Wrap Up

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NetChef is available from www.netchef-usa.com website, as well as Amazon for $279.  If you are looking to start cooking or to buy a present for your mom, take a look at this. Some of the tech is a bit outdated, sometimes the touchscreen is not as responsive as you would like, and it doesn’t support faster WIFI connections. All in all, its a viable investment and was designed as a cooking and kitchen aid. Not many of these currently exist in the market.


Categories : Reviews
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Amazon has an extensive track record of releasing seven inch tablets, but has only ever released two 8.9 inch models. The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is being billed as the definitive e-reader that excels at reading magazines, newspapers, eBooks and graphic novels. The entire Amazon ecosystem has a copious number of titles to keep you  basically reading forever. Today, we look at the overall value of this new model and see whether or not you should upgrade from the first generation or pick one up for the first time.

Hardware

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The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 features a 8.9 inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 2560x1600p pixels with 339 ppi. The 7 inch HDX has a resolution of 1920×1200 at 323 PPI. Amazon is hyping up reduced glare, dynamic image contrast, and improved brightness for better viewing in any lighting conditions.

Underneath the hood is a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor that is running at 2.2 GHZ and 2 GB of RAM. There is also a dedicated on-board graphics with the Adreno 330 graphics engine. All of these things combined will be one seriously powerful unit that will be able to tap into the extensive Amazon App Store and be able to run any app or game that you can throw at it. It will also be useful for viewing videos and movies as part of Amazon Video. Amazon has the speakers at the top of the device now and audiobooks/movies will sound really good with Dolby Audio.

One of the most interesting aspects of the 8.9 inch is the frame, it is comprised of a single-piece of machined magnesium with a blend of glass and nylon molded onto the uni-body to create openings for the antennas and maximize signal strength without sacrificing sturdiness. The result is the lightest large-screen tablet—at just 13.2 ounces, it is 34% lighter than the previous generation large-screen Fire HD tablet.

Battery life is fairly respectable with 11 hours of general usage and a low-powered mode if you just read. If you just read Kindle books you can glean 17 hours, which makes it a fairly solid e-reader. It can also take pictures with the rear facing 8 MP camera and shoot videos too.

Software

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Amazon has upgraded their Android OS to version 4.2.2 and has skinned it with a new version of their proprietary entitled Mojito. What has really changed with the older model vs the newer iteration?

There is an upgraded carousal that has higher resolution book covers, app icons and short cuts to your apps, videos and music files. Underneath that by swiping down is a new tray of icons that look very much akin to the vanilla Android experience. You can initiate Quiet Time, which eliminates the distractions and app notifications when you are reading. Finally, there is Mayday, which allows you to talk via the 720 P camera and duel-microphones to talk to a dedicated Amazon rep. They can walk you through anything you need to do, which is good for first time tablet users. Aside from all of these new enhancements, most things remain the same.

Some of the most noticeable software elements include Kindle Freetime. Parents can make a dedicated profile for their child and establish books, apps, videos and music they have access to. They can also establish specific parameters of usage and configure the amount of time they can read, use apps and surf the internet. There is also a Freetime subscription platform to download a ton of kid apps and use them as much as they want for around $9.99 a month.

One of the things I really liked was the way Amazon now handles pictures. In the past you could load pictures on your device via the USB cable that came with your device and then load in your own galleries. Now, you can connect up to your Facebook account and every single picture you have on your profile will be automatically added. If you have a smartphone, such an iPhone, you can enter your telephone number and click on a confirmation text. You can then sync over every single photo on your phone and store them. All photos once on your device are then stored in the Amazon cloud, and if you have other Kindle Fire tablets, everything will automatically be synced.

The Fire HDX has a few drawbacks that center around its content and ecosystem. If you live outside the US and UK, you will be unable to watch any movies. You can buy them and download them to your unit, but you will get a pop-up saying that it is not available in your geographical region. You will need to purchase a VPN and an American Credit Card to bypass this, and Shop e-Readers offers them for a fairly affordable rate.

Another drawback is the Amazon App Store. They don’t really offer many of their competitors apps, so if you want to download comics you have to do it from the Kindle bookstore. Otherwise you will have to either side-load in your own apps or download an alternative app store like Good e-Reader.
Still, the Amazon ecosystem on their tablets is super deep. You can shop for audiobooks, eBooks, music, video, and a slew of other content. They developed their hardware to work perfectly in conjunction with everything else they sell. The only other company to successfully pull this off is Apple, and they tend to do quite well.

e-Reading Experience

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The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a tablet that is primarily built for e-reading. Whether you are reading a standard eBook, listening to an audiobook, checking out the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine or keeping abreast of the latest news with the New York Times. The large screen display gives it an advantage of heavy graphic content than the seven inch version.

Reading an eBook is fairly standard and Amazon has not broke any new ground in the way books show up or the type of options you have to augment the reading experience. You can change the font size quite easily or change the font entirely from a list of eight built in ones. The one new change i like the grey background that almost mirrors the standard background in a physical book. The Kindle Fire HD 3rd generation which also just came out as a bright white background, which hurts the eyes after long reading duration’s. I actually found it easier to read on this model than any of the other Fire tablets.

One feature I dig is the translation function which will automatically translate words in 12 different languages. You can hit the audio button and have a robot sounding voice translate a specific word or entire body of text that you have highlighted.

One of the more popular aspects of dealing with Amazon is the synergy between Audible and Kindle. You can buy both the eBook and audiobook at once and have a slew of functionality that is available. You can listen to the audio edition while you are reading the book and the text is highlighted as the audio plays back. If you are reading the Kindle edition and turn the tablet off on the 3rd chapter, you can pick up where you left off on the audio edition on your phone while you are commuting. Not all eBooks and audiobooks work with Whispersync for Voice and Whispersync for Text, but the ones that do offer cool features.
Amazon sells a copious amounts of magazines by major publishers and you can pinch and zoom to read the text if its too small, but little else. As stated earlier in the review magazines seem to be down scaled. They look exactly the same on a high resolution tablet like the HDX as they do on the 3rd generation Kindle Fire HD. I suggest if you are really into Magazines to install a 3rd party app like Zinio.

Newspapers for the most part are either dedicated apps or Kindle editions. The former don’t have any design consistency and tend to all look completely different. You will have different options and a UI with the USA Today then you would with The Onion. The New York Times is a Kindle edition, which means you can have full control over your experience just like an eBook.
Overall, Amazon offers one of the deepest ecosystems for quality content anywhere in the world. You can get Singles, Serialized Fiction, Indie Titles, fan-fiction or hundreds of thousands of books written by major publishers. Amazon may not have the sheer amount of titles that Kobo has, but it is presented very well and no one can match their selection.

Wrap Up

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The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is certainly one of the best large screen tablets on the market. This is a device you are primarily buying to participate in the Amazon ecosystem. I suggest purchasing a one year Prime membership and also a subscription to Kindle Freetime to give you lots of free audio/video content, free eBooks and apps and games for your kids.

This tablet is really great, but only users in the US will be able to get the most out of it. International users will be able to buy apps, books, magazines, newspapers, graphic novels and most e-reading content. The video and television selection is non-existant if you say live in Canada.

If you have the first generation 8.9, this is a solid upgrade if a faster processor and higher resolution mean a lot to you. If you tend to read just the standard eBook and watch the occasional movie, not so much.

Rating: 8.5/10

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The Apple iPad Mini with Retina is the latest generation 7.9 inch device and many people may want to use it to read technical PDF files. Today, we take a look at the overall PDF experience using the stock iBooks app.

The iPad Mini Retina has the exact same resolution as its larger screen cousins. This really makes graphic heavy content really shine and is a significant step up from the iPad Mini 1. The PDF file we look at today is the Dungeon’s Masters Guide 5th edition and check to see how image quality, text clarity and what type of gesture support it has. This video is really meant to show off the screen to give you a sense of how it handles larger files.


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Greetings everyone! Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we look at the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 and the Apple iPad Mini with Retina. The holiday season is quickly approaching and many people may want to get this under the tree or to give to a loved one. What device may be right for you?

The iPad Mini with Retina and the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 are often used for reading digital content. We look at magazines, comics, eBooks, and newspapers to give you a sense on how they perform head to head. As an added bonus we show you how both units handle video and audio.


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Barnes and Noble has just released their second generation glowlight e-Reader and has dropped the “Simple Touch” naming convention. The Nook Glowlight has a design that is entirely unique and features a piece of rubber that circulates the device in a bid to minimize the damage from dropping it. The company has refined the lighting technology that allows you to read in the dark and can now give Amazon and Kobo a run for their money in terms of clarity.

How does this device perform under real world conditions when reading newspapers, magazines, eBooks and other content? Is the new design a boon or bane for the average customer? Is this worth the upgrade if you own previous Nook e-Readers? Today we look into all of these issues and more to give you the definitive answers.

Hardware

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The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight features a six inch IR touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024 X 758-pixel and 212 PPI. This is a huge upgrade from the previous generation Nook that only had 800×600 for the resolution. Under heavy tests we noticed that the blacks were deeper in cover art and the way fonts look when you maximize their levels.

The Glowlight technology that allow you to read in the dark has been dramatically enhanced. B&N still continues the philosophy of bucking the major industry trend of putting the LED lights on the top of the device, instead of the bottom. Overall, the light is now almost pure white, where the NST with Glowlight would often have a blue hue to it. The entire Good e-Reader review team think that that the new model has 75% brighter and clearer lighting.

We did notice some drawbacks with the way light was handled. When you have it above 65% in brightness you tend to notice a layer of grey film at the very top of the screen. This is where the 5 LED lights are positioned and point downwards. To turn the light off you can access it in the settings menu or hold down your finger on the home button for two seconds. The settings menu itself is at the top right hand corner and the Nook screen is sunken, much like the Kindle is. You will often have to try and few times to hit the settings menu to control the brightness.

Underneath the hood is a 800 MHZ processor and 256 MB of RAM. There are 4 GB of internal memory that you can use to store purchases made from the bookstore. When you take it out of the box for the first time and power it on, there is only 2.1 GB available. If you like to load in your own PDF Files or eBooks there is only 500 MB reserved for user files. Unlike prior models of the Nook line of e-Readers, there is no expandable memory via SD in the Nook Glowlight. The specs on paper are very much akin to most other e-readers on the market by Sony, Amazon, Kobo and most of the indie companies.

The Nook Glowlight has a full piece of rubber that circles the entire length of the e-Reader. You can take it off, but it exposes some of the assemblies and the motherboard is showing. It also is a bit jagged in parts, so you don’t want to do this. This was one of the most oddest design choices ever in e-Readers. Why they did this is beyond me, they don’t even offer different colored bumpers to buy to customize your device, which I would have done. I realize the essence of the rubber is to protect your device from drops, as the weight of it would change the momentum to land on its side, rather then face down. Really, how many people are reading when they are walking down the sidewalk or in a position to truly damage their e-readers from big falls? We run a drop test on the previous generation Nook Simple Touch and it was fine after dropping it from five feet in the air on concrete.

Battery Life is on this device is somewhat consistent with other e-readers on the market. You will get two months of battery life out of a single charge and you power it up by hooking it into your computer with the USB cable. Barnes and Noble has elected to not bundle a wall charger, so you will have to buy your own.

In the end, the overall resolution and glowlight enhancements are the main drivers to upgrade to this device if you own one of Barnes and Noble’s earlier devices. Text and pictures look way better and the light is more evenly distributed across the screen. The physical construction of the device has a bit to be desired for and I quite frequently found myself starting to peel off the rubber when holding the device. It is not held in place very tightly and easily comes off.

Software

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Many uninformed tech sites cited that the Android 2.1 OS that comes bundled on the Nook Glowlight to be old and outdated. It is true that its an older version but to the average user no one cares. You certainly would not gain any compelling benefits of a recent version of Android because B&N heavily skins their UI, so you wouldn’t even know.

The UI has been really simplified on this version of the Nook. You no longer have to tap the home button to bring up all of your quick options, instead they are persistently at the bottom of the screen. Library, Store and Search are the only three options available. The settings, social and other functionality is now at the top right hand side of the screen. No one really changes their settings on a daily basis or adjusts the lighting every few minutes, so I dig the fact its neatly tucked out of the way.

The main library shelf has not received an upgrade and you can sort your collections by newspapers, eBooks, documents, and even an “Everything else” option which shows your apps and other content you may have purchased using the Nook HD line of tablets. This is actually their “cloud” option, but everything listed in here is a bit of a tease because you can’t even use it. You can also do a cover art few, or a list few, fairly basic stuff and nothing advanced of note.

If you have the Nook Simple Touch or the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight most of the menus and sub-menus look exactly the same. There are no exciting software enhancements of note. Things are organized a bit differently and I think its more intuitive now than before.

The Store experience right now is quite buggy and we reached out to Barnes and Noble for comment. If you are reading a book and select “more” it brings you to the store. In the past, there were options to change your e-reading experience from the stock portrait view to landscape. If you go into your settings menu and click on LENDME titles, you would think it would bring you into the section of the Nook store with titles you can share with your friends, nope, its the same stock store. If you try clicking on any eBook you can’t actually click on it to get the book description and even to buy it. Instead, you have to login to the Nook website and sync your content directly. Finally, if you click on Social and try and enter passwords to connect up your Facebook or Twitter account all of the password fields are blank when you enter text. I ran into the situation where I knew the password I entered was correct but there was no place holder symbols to let me know how many characters I typed. When I scrolled up the page the it for a second showed me the password in plain text but then quickly disappeared. Maybe we have a bum unit, maybe its the software acting up, maybe its the fact we live in Canada but could buy content on our other Nooks, likely the device was rushed out too fast, who knows.

In the end, most e-reader companies release a new model every year and some have some cool new software features that offer a compelling reason to upgrade. Kobo unveiled “Beyond the Book” which is their answer to Amazon X-Ray. Amazon announced GoodReads integration and Kindle Freetime for their e-readers, both are not available yet, but will be soon. Sony and B&N generally remain fairly consistent with slowly refining core elements of their device but not introducing any new software enhancements that make users turn their heads around and take notice.

e-Reading Experience

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Barnes and Noble has always maintained an elegant e-reading experience and not providing a ton of advanced options to confuse their customer base. When it comes to reading you are mainly using EPUB and PDF Files. EPUB is what the Nook store sells and you can load in your own PDF’s.

The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 and Nook Glowlight have similar text augmentation features when it comes to changing the size of your font, line spacing, margins and font size. If you hold your finger down in the middle and select text you are able to customize your changes and it dynamically updates. There are six different fonts, 7 different font sizes and 3 different ways to edit margins and line spacing.

When inside a book you can make highlights, look words up in a very basic dictionary, share a specific passage with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. You hold down your finger on a word to drop an anchor and then can select an entire sentence or page of text. You can load in your own books on the Nook and have access to all of the functionality as books purchased from B&N.

One thing I noticed about the reader is the lightning fast page turns! You do not have full page refreshes at all. We turned 100 pages and did not even experience one refresh. I don’t know what Barnes and Noble did to make this happen but its pleasant. The last two Nook readers did one every six pages and every single page you turned tended to blur the text. The Nook Glow is the best reader to date for the company in terms of not taking you out of the immersive reading.

The PDF experience on the Nook Glowlight is lacklustre to say the least. You cannot pinch and zoom on this unit like you can on the Kobo Aura or Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2. Instead, you will have to chance the size of the font to initiate a reflow. This is much akin to the old way that Sony used to do things by relying on you to switch up your Zoom level. The page numbers change depending on this. Our DND Monsters Manual was around 280 pages but on the first level of zoom changed to 600 pages and 3rd 800 pages. You also don’t get a preview window that helps orient you on where in the document you actually are. This is likely the weakest part of the Nook e-Reader and likely a deterrent to anyone looking to purchase one.

Finally, you can purchase magazines and newspapers via the Nook ecosystem but you can think of them as eBooks. Aside from the cover art everything is basically the Nook Edition, and allows you to augment the text size, font type and add notes. Anything you can do in a standard eBook you can do in either of these.

Wrap Up – Is it Worth It?

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If you have the Nook Simple Touch or the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight this is worth the upgrade if you read a ton in the dark and if font clarity matters to you. Aside from those two things this reader is very much the same as previous generations in terms of the hardware. The lack of SD card is a black mark on this device, because it does not allow you expandable storage to load in more content.

PROS

Resolution is on par with Kobo Aura and Kindle Paperwhite 2
Expansive eBook Store
Affordably Priced
Fast Page Turns
Glowlight is solid
Good e-Reader for Beginners

CONS

PDF Experience is Woeful
Rubber feels really weird and takes getting used to
No SD Card
Some cases of Ghosting

Rating: 7.5/10


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Welcome to yet another installment of the Good e-Reader Video Comparison Series! Today we check out the Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display and the Apple iPad Air. Over the course of the video we check out the reading experience with eBooks, magazines, newspapers, and comic books. As an added bonus we look at audio/video to see if the aspect ratio difference is noticeable.

Many people own the first generation Apple iPad Mini or prior models of the iPad. Quite often the burning question is “should  I upgrade?” and “is it worth it?” This video mainly focuses on the e-reading experience because we know more people then ever before are consuming a wide array of written content on their iDevice.

The Air and Mini are almost exact mirrors of each other when it comes to the overall hardware. The resolution is 2,048 x 1,536 on both models, the Air has 264 ppi while the Mini has 326 ppi. They have the same 1.3 GHZ Dual Core processor and 1 GB of RAM. The only other major difference is the aspect ratio for watching movies and the lack of a 128 GB storage option on the Mini with Retina. This video puts the exact same content side by side, giving you an indication on how graphic heavy content looks, as well as the standard eBook.


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison video! Today we check out the latest generation Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display and the Apple iPad Mini 1. Over the course of our review we focus on the e-reading experience to see if the high resolution display makes a difference. We compare the same comic, magazine, newspaper, and eBook side by side. As an added bonus we show you the same HD video to test how they handle it.

The iPad Mini with Retina has a 7.9 inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. This is the exact same resolution as the 9.7 inch Apple iPad Air and really shines with HD content. The first generation Mini has only 1024×768, which means the new one doubles it.

During our tests we found that black text really pops out and looks less pixelated. There is also a stark difference with image heavy content like magazines and comic books, but looks exactly the same with newspapers. As far as video goes, we did not notice a huge difference with content from Netflix, but did with HD videos purchased from iTunes.


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When the original iPad Mini was released last year most people lamented the poor resolution. This issue seemed to have been solved with the advent of the iPad Mini with Retina Display that just came out yesterday. How does it stack up against up against the first generation and is it worth it to upgrade? We dive into the e-Reading experience and show you how magazines, comics, graphics novels, newspapers and eBooks look.

Hardware – The Difference Maker

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The iPad Mini with Retina has a 7.9 inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels. This is the exact same resolution as the 9.7 inch Apple iPad Air and really shines with HD content. The screen itself was a huge upgrade over the original and in head to head tests anything that is graphic heavy really excels.

Underneath the hood is a duel core A7 1.3 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM, quad-core GPU and a new 64 bit architecture. The Mini has varying degrees of internal storage and you can opt for a 16, 32, 64 GB depending on your needs. It is important to note that HD content tends to fill up your device very quickly. The average HD comic by Comixology has increased to over 100 MB per issue, and magazines are sometimes much larger. I found that my 16 GB model would constantly run out of space with 50 comics loaded on it. So if you do a ton of online streaming for music and video, you should be OK with a smaller model, but if you download a bunch, consider the 64 GB edition.

Aside from the processor and resolution not much has changed from the first generation iPad Mini. You still have the front facing 1.3 MP camera and rear facing 5 MP camera. The stereo speakers next to the lightning connector have also remained consistent. The positioning of the speakers are somewhat odd as most movies tend to play better in landscape mode. When you are holding it with both hands it tends to muffle the sound.

The iPad Mini with Retina no longer feels out of date when you look at the specs on paper. Apple products are seldom about what is on the back of the box or on Wikipedia. It is all about the 475,000 tablet optimized apps in the store and tremendous first party support.

The most obvious competitors of the iPad Mini is the Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7. They are all a full one inch smaller and cost around $170 less than the $399 iPad mini. The most noticeable differences when comparing the Kindle and Nexus to the iPad Mini is when you are watching films. Anyone can easily distinguish between a 7-inch, 16:9 or 16:10 screen and a 7.9-inch, 4:3 screen. You have more than 33% percent more pixels on the iPad mini than the Nexus 7 and Kindle.

In the end, the resolution simply makes video and graphic heavy content really shine. The GPU and hardware underneath the hood will insure that anything the iPad Air can handle, this one can too. I used to use the Mini casually for short spurts of content consumption while commuting and rely on my iPad 4 for marathon movie sessions or playing serious games. No longer, the Mini will be my replacement for everything.

Software – The Apple Ecosystem

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iOS 7 has its own idiosyncrasies when you compare it against Android. The Keyboard has not really changed over the years and five finger multi-tasking can be hit or miss. Apple has introduced pseudo livewallpapers with animation effects, but severely lack in interactivity.

Still, iOS 7 has more features once you can get past the cartoony icons. I like the ability to swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen and be able to turn WIFI off and augment other core features. I also like when you are multitasking you can simply swipe upwards to close an app, which feels similar to Android.

The Apple ecosystem is the entire draw about buying the iPad Mini with Retina. Most HD videos purchased from the iTunes store look really good and put it right on par with the iPad Air. The Mini no longer plays second fiddle in the entire gaming and multimedia experience.

e-Reading Experience – Good Things in Small Packages

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When you open the Mini for the first time you are greeted by the iBooks app. This is the only bookstore on the iPad that allows you to purchase books within the app. Amazon, Sony, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and all other major booksellers disabled the ability to buy eBooks within their apps because they did not want to give Apple a percentage of every single sale. This really hinders the customers ability to easily buy from their favorite merchant. Instead you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to buy content via the website and then sync it to the app.

The iPad Mini with Retina on a core eBook level really makes the text stand out. When comparing the Mini 1 against the Mini 2, the text really pops out and looks less pixelated. You would figure how difficult is it to make a white background and black text. On a hardware level, it is all about the resolution in this regard.

When it comes to magazines purchased from the Apple Newsstand and Comics purchased from Comixology the Retina Display shines. Graphic heavy content really shines. Most magazines these days from the newsstand actually have iTunes integration. For example, Rolling Stone magazine has a built in music player that allows you to play tracks right in the magazine and if you want to buy it, you are automatically directed to the store to buy it. This makes it more intuitive to do something very unlike any other ecosystem.

Comixology delivers comics in their CMX-HD format, which increases the size of the files from 60 MB to over 150 MB. This is the big advantage of Apple staying consistent with their resolution and size of their hardware. The iPad has always been 9.7 inches and the Mini 7.9. The last three generations of the iPad has maintained the exact same resolution and now the Mini has participated in that trend. This allows content delivery platforms to optimize everything for the same resolution and two different screen sizes. This is Apple’s greatest advantage and allows people who love to read graphic novels, manga, comics and magazines a better experience than Android.

Wrap up

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If you have the first generation Apple iPad Mini you owe it to yourself to upgrade to the latest iteration. The resolution and hardware underneath the hood really makes your day to day tasks load faster and look better.

At Good e-Reader we normally focus on the overall reading experience and this is one of the most portable and lightweight tablets we have ever reviewed. It remains very pocket friendly and will last all day long with the 10+ hour battery. If you do roam around a lot you might want to spend the extra cash and get a model with a cellular connection.

People may not want to invest the $400 needed to buy the entry level iPad Mini with Retina and opt into purchasing the Nook HD+, Amazon Kindle HDX or the Nexus 7. There are viable and compelling reasons to walk down the road of Android but if you are a reader, you want to avoid these.

It comes down to the content delivery systems and the sheer number of Android tablets with varying screen sizes and resolutions. Magazine, Manga, Comic and Newspaper publishers cannot possibly optimize HD content for all of these different models and delivery it properly. This is the failing of the Kobo Arc 10, that has the highest resolution in the business but lack of HD content kills it dead. You spend the big money on a tablet to make everything look awesome, if the comic you bought was optimized for a tablet that is 800×600, it doesn’t matter how awesome your Android tablet is, it won’t look as good as the iPad.

PROS

Amazing Resolution
Lightweight and Portable
HD Content Shines
475,000 Tablet Optimized Apps

CONS

Expensive
iOS 7 needs some work
Poor Availability – Sold out almost everywhere
Larger battery adds slightly to thickness and weight of original iPad mini.

Rating: 9.5/10


Categories : Reviews, Tablet PC News
Comments (7)

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Greetings everyone! Today we take a look at two large screen tablets that are being primarily billed as e-readers. The Barnes and Noble Nook HD+ has been on the market for over a year and has enjoyed modest success. The inclusion of Google Play and the $149 price tag is fairly compelling. We compare this model against the brand new Kobo Arc 10 HD and put both devices through the paces.

In this video we focus on the e-reading experience and take a look at eBooks, magazines, newspapers and comics. As an added bonus we evaluate resolution and speaker quality with a barrage of audio/video tests. If you are thinking about upgrading or purchasing either of these for the first time, this is a must watch video.


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Comparison. Today we take a look at the new Apple iPad Air and the Kobo Arc 10 HD! Both of these devices reflect the very latest and greatest in large screen displays and bring completely different ecosystems to the table.

Today we take a look at the eBook, magazine, comic, newspaper experience. The iPad Air and Kobo Arc 10 HD make very fine e-readers and we put them in a series of side by side comparisons to give you a sense on how they perform. If you like to watch movies or listen to audiobooks, as an added bonus we show you how they perform with content from Netflix.

The Kobo Arc 10 HD features a stunning 10-inch capacitive touchscreen with ten point multitouch. It has one of the best resolutions in the business with 2560×1600 pixels. To give you a sense of how great it is, the Apple iPad Air is only capable of displaying 2048 × 1536 pixels. The Kobo has the advance of a 1.8 GHZ Quadcore processor, whereas the Air only has a dualcore. Really, both devices just blaze along fine. The big difference is not the hardware but software ecosystem.

Aside from Android vs iOS, the big advantage the Air has is the pushing of HD content, such as magazines and comic books. We all hear about the fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, but what does that really mean in this comparison? Comixology pushes out HD comics for the iPad 3, 4 and 5. This is due the resolution staying the same and its easier to optimize your tablet content when you know what size screen everyone has. Android on the other hand has a ton of different screen sizes and its hard to really take advantage of the pixels. So basically you have the iPad Air with lower resolution actually having most graphic based content look better.


Nov
13

Kobo Arc 10 HD Review

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Kobo has finally released their new top of the line 10 inch tablet. In the past, the Canadian based company has always developed seven inch versions and the latest iteration is a bit of a departure. The large screen display really makes magazines and comic books really shine. It is a bit on the expensive side at $399, but the burning question is it a good investment?

Hardware

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The Kobo Arc 10 HD features a stunning 10-inch capacitive touchscreen with ten point multitouch. It has one of the best resolutions in the business with 2560×1600 pixels. To give you a sense of how great it is, the Apple iPad Air is only capable of displaying 2048 × 1536 pixels.

This tablet is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core 1.8 GHZ processor, which puts it faster than most of the other tablets on the market. It also packs an impressive 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage space. The entire internal structure is somewhat of a milestone for Kobo, as they have never released a more polished looking device, which seeks to really give them a competitive advantage over most large screen devices on the market. What I really like about the overall design of the hardware is the angular grooves on the back. It stands out in a crowd and when you spend a lot of money on a device, you want to to look not so cookie cutter.

If you decide to just watch videos, listen to audiobooks, or play a game, this tablet really performs. It has dual speakers at the very top of the rear panel, which even when lying on its back still gives you superb sound. Side by Side the Apple iPad Air still outperforms it in the audio department. You can hook the Arc 10 HD directly up to your television with the Micro HDMI port. I like the inclusion of Micro HDMI, as more companies like Amazon are tending not to include it in their top of the line HDX tablets anymore.

The Arc 10 HD may not have a rear facing camera, but has a respectable 1.3 MP front facing camera used for video conferencing or instant messaging. When you turn on for the first time you are greeted by an empty photo frame which you can take a picture of yourself to personalize the home screen.

The hardware is really slick and outperforms most other tablets on the market. Kobo has never produced a ten inch device before and I had a bit of trepidation on whether or not it would be another Vox, or if it would be solid first time out. There are still some quirks to iron out with the software and in some cases needed full on reboots. Still, over time this may be a device to purchase.

Software

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The Kobo Arc 10 HD runs Google Android 4.2.2 and is heavily skinned. This means it is not the same stock experience as you would find on the Google Nexus 7. You can think of it as similar to the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Nook HD+, in the respect that its a tablet billing itself as an e-reader.

The home screen mainly has your widgets and apps you want to have quick access to. You can establish a live wallpaper if thats your thing or customize it anyway you see fit. The second screen is a compilation of all books you have added to the tablet recently or have purchased. It will also give you customized book offers based on your past purchases. There is also Beyond the Book information that is synced here. This is the new social media platform that replaces Reading Life and Pulse. You can get biography info on the author and information on most of the characters inside. If you have any new content synced over from Pocket, it will also appear here too.

The last screen main screen is your collections, which is the heart and soul of the Arc 10 HD. Kobo has really taken the entire concept of collection management and turned it on its head. You can make your own collections that have videos, Pocket articles, eBooks, magazines, cookbooks and interactive content. If you use the stock Android browser, there is an option to add any website to your collection, to make it easier to access all of your info.

One of the drawbacks on reading on a tablet is the fact you can get distracted with notifications, app updates or people visiting your Springfield on Simpsons Tapped out. Kobo introduced a Reading Mode, which allows you to suspend the radio and all notification. This allows you to immerse yourself in whatever book you are reading and kill any unwarranted distractions.

Kobo did a really good job by eliminating the Tapestries UI, which was prone to crashing on the original Arc. This new UI is more intuitive and provides more customization than the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or the Nook HD. This tablet is more internationally friendly than many of its rivals, with more people able to buy into the entire Kobo ecosystem.

The large display really makes audio and video shine, but the speaker quality is not the best. Despite the fact it has stereo speakers at the top of the unit, it still doesn’t reach the type of audio capabilities as demonstrated on the Kindle Fire. Honestly, resolution at this point in the tablet game does not make a huge difference. Most of the big name companies like Netflix, Comixology, Zinio, Crunchyroll simply doesn’t deliver HD content. This is one of the downsides of Android in general, there are so many different screensizes and resolution that it makes it impossible to push out HD content properly.

Reading Experience

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The big new draw about the Arc 10 HD is the inclusion of the new Kobo Magazine section. The service has just launched and gives you hundreds of magazines to purchase on a singular issue basis or to opt into a one year subscription. There are many titles available from major publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst and myriad of others.

When it comes to reading, you can use the stock Kobo application to check out the manga, graphic novels or eBooks you purchase. There are around seven fonts you can select from and around 16 different sizes to find that sweet spot. There are plenty of options to change the background color, if pure white is not your thing. You can go with nighttime reading mode, which is a black background and white text or go with a soft milk background. The Kobo app lacks compared to the Nook App or Kindle App, but gets the job done.

When you are reading a book you have a bunch of options to take notes and make annotations. There are five different colors you can use for highlights and dictionaries can be downloaded on the fly. One new thing Kobo has done is make your personal notes private. You can opt into this of course, and you can check out other peoples notes, which makes this sort of thing entirely unique.

The one great thing about Android is that you are not stuck dealing exclusively with the company you bought the device from. With Google Play you can download reading apps from Amazon, Sony, Nook, or go with indie apps such as Moon+ Reader or Aldiko.

Personally, I am not the hugest fan of the graphic novel selection found on Kobo and instead like to buy single issues on the day they are released. If this matters to you, I’d suggest to download Marvel, Comixology, Dark Horse or the app of your choice.

Finally, Kobo as added new kids section to the store, which allows you to get plenty of stories, picture books and eBooks like My Little Pony. The link to purchase from all are right on the front navigation bar. The one thing I don’t like about the Android store is the lack of clearly defined categories to find Fiction, SCI-FI, Graphic Novels and Manga. You really have to dig deep to find it.

Wrap Up

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The ARC 10 HD is quite pricey when it comes to buying into the Android ecosystem. It costs around $399, which anytime a device costs this much it draws obvious parallels to the Apple iPad. You can check out our Youtube Channel for a head to head comparison and see for yourself.

This tablet is really new and has some small software bugs to work out. I noticed a bunch of unresponsiveness when it came to interacting with the touchscreen while reading a book. Often when I tried to highlight a word or make a note, it took a few tries. This could be due to the software app or maybe a hardware error.

Many international markets do not have a ton of options when it comes to buying a large screen device that is geared towards reading. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo are the only three that market an e-reading-centric experience. Kobo is likely the best if you live outside of the US and UK, you get a bunch of power and no limitations on what you can buy. Amazon has a bit of a deeper ecosystem with magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and video, but limits the purchasing of it.

In the end, is this tablet worth the money you spend on it? The answer is yes. The large screen display makes e-reading an unbridled pleasure. If you are looking for a new device, you would be hard-pressed to find anything better.

PROS

High Resolution Display
Large Screen
Asymmetrical Design
Huge digital ecosystem
Collection Management

CONS

Audio
Cannot load in your own PDF files into the Kobo Reading Apps

Rating: 9/10


Categories : Reviews, Tablet PC News
Comments (19)