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The Amazon Fire TV has been out for a few months and there are not very many solid Zombie style games. Into the Dead is likely the best of the bunch and today Peter of Good e-Reader takes a look on how the experience plays out and using the Amazon Gamepad.

Into the Dead throws you into the gruesome world of the zombie apocalypse where there are no second chances. Do what you have to in order to stay alive, keep moving as fast as you can, and protect yourself by any means necessary. When the Dead are rising, run!

The whole point of this game is to run into an ever increasing horde of zombies. You can either dodge them or kill them to get by, but you never stop running and never run away from them.

You can find weapons in supply crates. Or you can start with a gun, but it’s gonna cost you. You can buy a head start that starts you at 1500 meters. You can have a dog with you, he will kill zombies for you, and cries when you die. You can buy extra ammunition, and more supply crates. There are 3 modes,, Classic, Hardcore, massacre. In classic you run for your life, in hardcore it’s hardcore. In massacre you kill as many zombies as you can. You can compare your score with friends, overall a great game, with temple run aspects, and you change your weapons and zombie looks!


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Onyx has released the first single screen smartphone that uses the same type of e-Ink technology found on your Kindle or Kobo. This would allow for a glare free experience while using it in direct sunlight and provides longer battery life than the iPhone.

The overall design of the phone is small and lightweight, primarily due to the Mobius screen technology that both Sony and e-Ink co-developed. This gives you higher resolution and a thinner display panel.  Is the Onyx InkPhone merely a gimmick or does it offer us a glimpse of the future of smartphones?

Hardware

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The Onyx InkPhone features a 4.3 inch screen that uses e-Ink instead of the standard LCD, LED or AMOLED found in most mainstream devices.  The core display technology is e-Ink Mobius, which was co-developed by Sony. The essence of this screen is to provide a more lightweight panel, higher resolution and faster page turns.

Unlike most e-readers the InkPhone has a capacitive touchscreen and the display panel is flush with the bezel. If you have ever used a Tolino Vision or Kobo Aura you would know it is much easier to interact with the screen in this manner.

This phone allows you to read in the dark via the front-lit display. The main difference between this and your iPhone is the light emits from the bottom of the bezel and splashes evenly across the screen.  The iPhone and all other phones on the market have light that is emitting from behind the screen, into your eyes.

The hardware specs are fairly woeful which provide an abysmally slow experience in navigation, menus and anything that involves typing. It has a single core Mediatek MT6515M Cortex A9 1.0 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM and 512MB of storage space.  I installed Google Maps, Kindle, Viz Manga, Digg, Facebook and Twitter and already maxed out on available memory. This resulted in the unit being placed in a standby mode and would not boot up until I pulled the battery and put it back in.

There is a built in mono speaker and a 3.55 headphone jack built into the phone. The audio is fairly woeful and does not give you a wide array of peaks. When you plug in a set of headphones the sound is equally terrible. I think it comes down to the built in audio system being very dated.

People who dig taking selfies will be irked by the fact there is no camera. This will obviously prevent most apps that take advantage of camera being unable to work.  One of the redeeming factors is that you should garner 2 weeks of battery life with ultra light use.

An e-Ink phone on paper sounds like the natural evolution of the technology that originated from dedicated e-readers. In execution however the 512 MB of RAM and 512MB of storage is not enough to give users a robust experience. However, you can put a MicroSD card to enhance it, but most apps do not give the option to install to the SD.

Software

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The InkPhone is running Android 2.3 and has a customized homescreen aimed at readers. It shows the last few books you have opened up or loaded on the device via the Mini USB cable. When you hit the home button you hit the vanilla Android experience with all of the preinstalled icons and all the apps you install.

An older version of the Google Play store is loaded on the phone, giving users the option to install content that is compatible with an older version of Android. Sadly, many of the apps we installed simply won’t work.

There seems to be a problem with GPS which makes turn by turn apps unviable. Even things like Google Maps or Street View fail to work. Also, any apps that rely on animations will not work effectively either.

Most apps are designed for smartphones and tablets that have solid specs. Developers often add in animated page turns, peaking what’s on the next page or use visual enhancements to flair up the overall design.  They are also designed to show off color, since modern tablets can easily handle millions of them.

By default the InkPhone does not allow you to move icons from the apps category to  your home page. You cannot hold your finger down on an app and have any options to make a shortcut or move it around. Everything is mostly locked into position. You can install a 3rd party Launcher, but most of them do not support an older version of Android because of integration of Google Now and cameras.

Scrolling to your various menus, accessing settings or opening apps is an exercise in patience. It took me over 30 seconds to type in your standard 10 digit phone number, because you cannot quickly type. You have to enter a digit, pause, enter it again and so on. This makes text messaging via Whatsapp or entering a WIFI password as a tedious endeavor. Primary any kind of data entry is hindered by the e-Ink screen, which simply isn’t as responsive as any smartphone made in the last ten years.

You can increase the speed in which you can enter data, open apps or access your menu by a feature called A2. By default it is turned on and gives you high resolution. If you turn it off, all of the graphics are scaled down by 90% which makes everything pixelated and off-putting. Things tend to be more responsive in this manner, but it is a absolutely huge trade off.

Reading Experience

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The Onyx phone simply does not really allow you to run any type of apps that take advantage of GPS or involved in animations. Kindle, Kobo, Digg, Wattpad, Marvel Comics, Manga Box and all others provide a lackluster experience. Once you turn a page you have wait over seven seconds for it to occur. During this time it the page slowly turns, each frame being visible and severely discombobulating.

If you are buying this phone to act as an e-reader you can install certain apps that allow you disable animations or do not have any to begin with. Aldiko, Moon+ Reader and Cool-er are three examples of apps that work really well.

The InkPhone has a stock reader app that allows you to turn  pages by hitting the volume up and down button and also swipe via the touchscreen. It gives you many cool options to change the font type, line spacing , margins and font size. This app is really responsive and recommended to read PDF files and EPUBS.

The one drawback of the built in e-reading app is the Text to Speech function. It simply does not work and is in a broken state. When you initialize it it highlights random bodies of text from page to page, not going in any particular order. It might scan the 1st and last paragraph of page one and do something completely different in subsequent ones.  It also goes without saying that despite the fact it looks like it is working there is no audio.

Finally, there are dictionaries and translations you can download, but most of them are 150 to 240MB in size which almost takes up the 512MB of internal storage it has.

Wrap Up

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Onyx first  unveiled this phone at SID Display Week 2013 in Vancouver BC. The first demo model had a very touch friendly UI and everything was super quick and responsive. I absolutely could not wait until they had a commcerially viable model and when news broke that it was to have Google Play, I  was going to abandon by Blackberry and iPhone and just go with e-Ink.

Sadly, this phone is woefully inept in its current form and provides too many barriers for wide customer adoption. People want a responsive phone with lots of customization options and very high hardware specs. People want to shoot video, take  pictures, install apps and have good audio. The Onyx provides none of this and should be avoided at all costs, unless you are an early adopter or have a penichet for pain.

PROS

Two week Battery Life
Great Front-Lit Display
Excellent stock e-reading app
Google Play for everything you need

CONS

Will not play Video or Games
GPS is Broken
Text to Speech Broken
Abysmal one-dimensional Sound
Responsive and Slow
Most apps simply do not work
No Camera
WIFI automatically shuts off when it goes in standby mode
512MB of internal storage, kill me now.
512 MB of RAM, who thought this was a good idea


Comments (6)

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The Amazon Fire TV was developed to compete with Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and a myriad of other media services. The Seattle based company is trying to leverage their movie, television and apps services to appeal to customers that might not have a Fire Tablet or Amazon phone. Today, we give you a hands on review of Fire TV and if its worth it to purchase if you live outside of the USA.

Hardware

The Fire TV box is running on a heavily customized version of Google Android OS and features a very solid 1.7 GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU with 2GB RAM, Bluetooth, 8GB internal storage. It has the same dual-antenna wireless internet that the latest generation Kindle Fire tablets have. It connects to your television via HDMI to give you full 1080p video and Dolby digital surround sound.

I have the Apple TV as my goto streaming video device and the Fire TV blows it out of the water in terms of speed and overall robustness. Navigation, menus and loading up content takes only a few seconds.

The remove control of the Fire TV is fairly standard. The only really unique aspect of it is the voice control system. You can mention an actor or directors name and it will open up all of the movies Amazon sells or rents that they have produced or performed in. This is useful to find out movies you might not have seen.

Gaming is one aspect of the Fire TV that works internationally. If you purchase the $59 game controller you can use it to play all of the games that have been optimized for the Fire TV. It is important to note that not all apps listed in the Amazon app store have Fire TV certification and there is barely a few hundred titles available to download or install. If you have Amazon Coins in your account, you can use them to pay for apps.

In the end, on a hardware level the remote, box and game controller are very elegant and solid. Amazon preety well as the best media box in terms of performance.

Software

Amazon-Fire-TV-Games-Lineup-RealGamerNewz

If you live outside of the US, you won’t have access to 80% of all the content available on the Fire TV. You would figure that Netflix would work, because in Canada we can signup, pay and view the service on our computers, or alternative streaming boxes such as Apple TV. The Fire TV runs the US version of Netflix, so you can login, but can’t actually watch anything.

Most of the apps listed in the Amazon Store for Fire TV simply won’t work. WWE Network, iHeartradio, HULU+ and many other free apps are incompatible outside the US. Normally people would say, you can simply install a VPN or DNS Service, but there is no way to sideload in your own apps or configure it to read a different DNS.

The only way you will be able to stream content or use apps, such as Netflix on the Fire TV is if you use the Second Screen feature on your Amazon Kindle HDX. The current generation of Kindle tablets allow you to load in your own apps and this would allow you to sideload in VPN or DNS services from websites other than Amazon. This would allow you to use Netflix or WWE network, but still won’t allow you to buy or rent movies from Amazon. In the past, we have tried to get this to work, but B&N and Amazon both use geolocation in their products for their core-services.

The Fire TV has a fairly intuitive menu system to find your apps, games, videos, movies and pictures. They are really putting a priority on app discovery with bright and bubbly icons and featured images. This is one of the few media boxes that allow you to install apps, something their competitors don’t.

Wrap Up

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The Average user will simply find the Fire TV totally unviable outside the US. Even if you purchased content from Amazon in the past, they won’t even allow you to stream stuff you own. It is a shame that even Netflix, which works with everything, won’t work.

A streaming box with only Watch ESPN, Flixor and TuneIN radio working is a kick in the pants. I would avoid this at all costs, unless you simply want an Android gaming console with a great controller.

One of the saddest things about Fire TV is the inability to tap into any of the reading content that has made Kindle so popular. There are no newspaper, magazine or eBook apps available for you to read to entertain your kids with.

To be honest, we normally write super comprehensive reviews on any e-reader, phone or tablet we do. What can I possibly say about the Fire TV from a Canadian point of view? The UI looks really nice, its responsive as hell but the only thing you can do is play games. DUDD.


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The Onyx Boox Lynx is part of a new breed of open Android e-readers that allow you to install your own apps and not lock you into any one specific ecosystem. Google Play is showcased on this device, and taps into an extensive wellspring of eBook reading and comic book apps. How does this e-reader compare against the Kobo Aura or the Kindle Paperwhite 2? Today, we take an extensive look.

Hardware

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The Lynx e-reader is very much akin to the Kobo Aura HD, in terms of specs. It features a 6.8 e-Ink capacitive Ultra HD EPD display screen and a resolution of 1440×1080 pixels. Underneath the hood is a Freescale i.MX Cortex A9 1.0GHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Books are stored on the device and has 4GB of internal storage with the option to increase it via the Micro SD Card up to 64GB.

This e-reader has a front-lit display that gives the Kobo Aura and Kindle Paperwhite 2 a run for their money. Most e-readers that allow you to read in the dark end up having a blue hue that detracts away from reading. Instead, this is a brilliant white, even at full brightness.

I was honestly hoping for a capacitive touchscreen display, similar to the Tolino Vision or the Kobo Aura. Instead, it is akin to the Paperwhite line of e-readers with a sunken screen and raised edges.

There are manual page turn keys on the left and right side, appealing towards users who are lefties or righties. There is a simple button on the center of the screen that many people will confuse with HOME. Every single device I have ever used that had a button on the bottom functioned as the home key, instead Onyx has made it the glowlight setting. You can hold it down for 2 seconds and it will turn the front-light on or off.

One of the more compelling features of the Lynx is the inclusion of a 3.55 mm headphone jack. E-Readers in the last four years have all done away with audio, in a bid to offer the hardware has cheap as they can and see audio capabilities as a way to cut costs. Onyx has a text to speech engine that allows the books to be read aloud. It also sets the stage of being able to download the Overdrive Media Console app and listen to audiobooks from your local library. Additionally, there are thousands of music apps such as Beats, Spotify or Pandora that are fully compatible.

Software

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The Onyx Lynx is running Google Android 4.04 and has the Google Play store loaded on it. The open Android concept is a really new thing in the world of e-readers and really hasn’t been done before.

In the past, all e-readers either ran on Linux or took the Sony/Nook route and just used Android as a framework and skinned their own UI on-top of it. Onyx does have a customized Android UI as well, but they don’t let that get in the way of the traditional settings menu or the ability to sideload in your own apps or get them directly from Google Play.

The Settings menu is really simplified, although the more traditional Android menu is accessible when you try and install an app from an Unknown Source and need to enable that feature. So by default, you can customize your WIFI network, access a Bluetooth device or change the refresh rate. There is even a setting to ping the Onyx servers to see if a firmware update is available.

You can think of this has a fairly basic e-reader that is 100% reliant on the software you can load on it. Keep in mind, this is an e-Ink reader. You certainly won’t be able to play Angry Birds or any type of complex game. The e-paper refresh rate is is simply not indicative to do something dynamic. You should stick with reading, comic, RSS, news apps or things that are more static in nature.

E-Reading

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The Onyx Boox Lynx has a default reading app that will scan your Micro SD card or any books you download from 3rd party apps. I really like the default reading app, it is responsive and snappy.

The Lynx may have good hardware, but it suffers a bit when it comes to installing your favorite comic, communication, or e-reading app. Most are optimized for tablets and have lots of animations and slick enhancements that make it stand out. Sadly, on the Lynx most apps are simply unusable due to long loading times and the e-Ink refresh rate.

Kindle, Kobo, Marvel Comics, Nook, and WattPad are examples of mainstream apps that become too unwieldy to use effectively. WattPad and Marvel take at least four seconds to turn a page and fall victim to frame by frame refreshing. Most of the other reading apps all have their own idiosyncrasies. Take the Kindle app for example, turning pages has animations that make the next page slide in and no way to disable it. Some of these issues are solved by changing the refresh rate on the Lynx.

Not all reading apps are incompatible with the Onyx Lynx. Aldiko, Moon+, FBReader and many others all work fine. In order to get the ideal experience you have to shut off most animations, and this warrants visiting the settings menu in each app.

I have found that 3rd party apps are incompatible with the left and right manual page turn keys. In some cases clicking on it will bring up the in-app settings menu and sometimes does nothing. This is mainly due to the nature of the Android apps. They were all designed with a touchscreen in mind, so you will have to use it to turn pages.

The stock reading app on the Onyx Lynx is amazing and provides a rich experience. There are over 60 different fonts available to change the entire book to something more suitable. If you can’t find something from the default list that catches your fancy, you can simply load in your own. Increasing the size of the fonts happen in real time and is very responsive, no waiting involved. You can also adjust the margins or employ the Text to Speech engine with a set of headphones.

Whenever you load books on an SD card or import them in with a 3rd party reading app they will be added to your library. This is where the majority of your books are stored and has some cool sorting options. There is the ability to display cover art, grid format, delete books altogether and scan for meta data. The scanning feature is particularly useful because you can access the SD card or the devices memory for books you have downloaded from the internet or loaded in yourself.

In the end, this is a great e-reader if you are using the stock app. You can fire up, import all of your books and get reading right away. The challenge is to find compatible apps that have settings to allow you to turn off animations and enhancements that were designed for smartphones and tablets. The good thing is, Google Play is a wellspring of apps and you can engage in some trial and error.

Wrap Up

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I am really feeling what Onyx is doing with its new lineup of e-readers in 2014. The market in North America and the UK is dominated by only a handful of players, Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The European, Russian and emerging markets are all wide open. Onyx does most of its business in Eastern Europe and Russia. They do have an established base of customers all over the world though, that often like their high build quality and like the fact they aren’t locked into any one particular ecosystem.

This device has a really solid front-light, 1 GHZ processor and high resolution. The glowlight is one of the best in the business and really puts Amazon and Kobo on notice to try and refine their technology when their new products hit the market later on in the year.

I would really recommend this e-reader to anyone that doesn’t want to be locked into any of the mainstream retailers. The open nature of Android on the Lynx basically allows you to install any app you want from Google Play, or alternative markets such as Good e-Reader. The freedom to pick and choose, the freedom to install anything you want or to delete it, is really compelling.

PROS

Excellent Front-Light
Great Resolution
Open Android – Google Play is your friend
A unique device in a crowded market

CONS

Pageturn keys don’t work in 3rd party apps
e-Paper refresh rate makes most apps unviable
Home button is an illusion, it turns on the light
Most apps are full screen, it makes exiting the app tedious
Incapable of switching to landscape mode outside the stock reading app

Rating: 7.5/10

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Jun
05

Top 10 iOS Apps of the Week

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One of the best parts of having a smartphone or tablet is populating it with the greatest of the great apps. To help you choose your next favourite, take a look at our picks for the top ten iOS apps this week!

TwoDots (Free)

The App Store is filled with games that are designed to capture our attention and fill our time (or steal it away), but few games do it better than TwoDots. Made by the same folks who brought out Dots, this app is an awesomely addictive puzzle game. Navigate yourself through 85 levels that start easy and get increasingly more difficult, trying to connect different items: dots, sink anchors, make bombs, extinguish flames and more! Titles like TwoDots make waiting rooms a little more bearable.

TwoDots

Minecraft – Pocket Edition ($6.99 USD)

We all know Minecraft is addictive and fun, just ask the millions of people who have been playing it. With the pocket edition. you can play in survival and creative mode, multi-player and randomly generated worlds, while you craft and create and breed to your heart’s content! When you have a game that is centered around building things by placing blocks, it only seems fitting that you can play it on your mobile devices as you go on non-digital adventures as well (or if you need your kids to sit quietly for a few minutes, either one).

Minecraft

THE GAME OF LIFE Classic Edition ($0.99 USD)

I would be willing to bet that nearly every last one of you played THE GAME OF LIFE when you were children, and now you can also play it on your iOS devices! Some board games do not translate to the digital world very well, but this title does a very nice job –perhaps because it lends itself well to the 3D animations and colourful graphics that perform so well on our smartphones and tablets. Because you can pass and play with up to 6 of your friends, this app may just be the saviour of your next road trip!

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Couch-to-5K ($1.99)

I know, I know, I know… you have been meaning to get more exercise –and it is right there on your to-do list, just below the entry that says ‘make a to-do list’. Running and jogging can be fantastic exercise (as well as being a great way to lower stress and clear your head), but it can be very intimidating for those of us who have never tried the sport before. With Couch-to-5K, no experience is necessary. Honestly! It doesn’t matter whether you are doing your routine on a treadmill or sidewalk, you can workout with your own personal trainer and your own music playlist. Actual human audio cues will let you know what you should be doing and when. This program worked for me and it can also work for you!

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Tinder (Free)

Tinder is social media done a little differently. If you are looking to meet somebody new (for friends, dating or otherwise), take a flip through this app. With anonymous swipes, let people know if you are interested in them: swipe right to like or left to pass. If the feelings are mutual and you both like each other, it becomes a match and you can use the in-app chat to get to know your choice a little more. Taking your location from the GPS, Tinder can help you to meet new people no matter where you are!

Tinder

Geocaching ($7.99 USD)

If you haven’t yet joined the world-wide treasure hunt, you shouldn’t waste any more time! Geocaching is a great deal of fun and can be an amazing adventure. Caches are hidden all over the world (by the millions) –in fact, I can almost guarantee you walk by at least one of them each day… you just have to know how and where to find them! Using this app, you can locate geocaches and log your finds; I must warn you though, it can be very addictive!

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Shazam (Free)

Shazam is one of those apps that you likely need to discover again for the first time! Included as part of Siri in the next version of iOS, this app lets you identify music and TV almost instantly. Gone are the days where you have no answer to the question ‘what song is this? or ‘who sings this?’, just load of Shazam and in moments you will know (plus you can buy it with one more tap of the screen if you choose).

Shazam

Watchup: Your Daily News (Free)

There are plenty of ways to read the news on your iOS device, but what if you prefer to watch it? With Watchup, you can tune in to a considerable number of local, national and international news channels and watch their actual newscasts. If you are as forgetful as me, this app will let you schedule a reminder so you receive your newscast at the preferred time and if you want to know more about a particular story just click through to read text articles on the topic you are currently watching.

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Momondo (Free)

Whether you travel for business or pleasure, getting a good deal on airfare is something that everybody appreciates. Using Momondo, you can easily search hundreds of airlines for the cheapest flights to any destination. One of the handiest features of the app is the ability to save flights from your past searches so you can monitor whether the prices are going up or down and determine whether the latest deal is really that great. Once you find the flight you want to book, click through the app to make them yours!

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Wine Reviews & Ratings: Natalie MacLean (Free)

It’s almost (the weekend | 5:00 somewhere | the end of the work day | any other time that pleases you), so it is time for a hard-earned glass of wine. Thanks to Wine Reviews & Ratings: Natalie MacLean, you have access to the reviews, prices, ratings, prices, food pairings and recipes for over 150,000 different wines (plus if you live in Canada, current store stock is also available for many locations)! All you need to do is scan the bar code or search the database and you can decide whether the bottle in your hand is the one you should be taking home. I especially love the cellar journal that lets you keep a record of everything you currently have at home –because inevitably I am at the liquor store and cannot for the life of me remember what I still have left.

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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Review. Today we are looking at the brand new Skytex Skypad SP727 Android tablet. How does it handle HD video, eBooks or top end games? We let you know exactly what to expect if you are thinking about buying this.

The SkyPad SP727 has seven inch display screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600. Underneath the hood is a Cortex-A9 1.3 GHz quad-core Processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB Storage. You can elect to expand it up to 32 GB via the Micro SD if that is not enough for you.

Running on one of the latest Android operating systems, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the SP727 is equipped for you to surf the web, play apps, and read eBooks.

The Skytex Skypad definitely contends with the big boys of 2014. Skytex really goes out of their way to make app discovery both simple and plentiful. HDMI out, a corner mounted camera, and enough processing power to run any app or game available in today’s market makes the Skytex Skypad SP727 a quick, affordable, robust little tablet.


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May
29

Tolino Vision Review

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The Tolino Vision was released early April in Germany and was billed as a Kindle Killer by  the Tolino Alliance, which comprises of Deutsche Telekom, Hugendubel, Thalia, Bertelsmann and World View. The intention behind the Vision was to be the definitive device to own if you speak German and taps into an extensive eBook Store with over 1.2 million titles. How does this reader compare to the latest generation offerings by Amazon or Kobo? Today, we take an extensive look at the Vision and let you know if its worth it to buy.

Hardware

The Tolino Vision features the latest in e-Paper innovatio,  e Ink Carta. This is the exact screen technology found on the Kindle Paperwhite 2. This will not only provide higher contrast, but also eliminate the refreshing when you turn a page in an eBook. There are actually settings menu options that allow you to manually set the refresh rate from every 6 pages to every 100 pages.  The overall resolution is a very respectable 1024 × 758 pixels. One of the things that stands out with this model is that the screen is flush with the bezel. The only other e-reader to do this was the six inch Kobo Aura, it almost feels like a tablet or smartphone in this respect.

The Vision  is using bleeding edge technology with the e-Paper tech, to really give a solid reading experience. It gives you the best of the Kindle Paperwhite 2 and Kobo Aura in one slick little package.

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.

The Tolino Vision has has brushed aluminum on the backplate and really rounded edges. There is a power button and front-light switch on the top of the unit and a Mini USB and SD slot on the bottom. There is a single software driven home key on the front, which is fairly responsive.

Overall, the Vision offers one of the most compelling industrial designs I have ever seen on an e-Reader.Deutsche Telekom were the ones that actually did the RND on this unit, instead of outsourcing everything to China. Really, this certainly puts Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Onyx and Sony on notice for their next generation e-Reader offerings.

Software

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The Tolino Vision has a fairly basic home screen that has a number of responsive elements to it. Whenever you buy or open a book it automatically appears there, making it easy to pick up where you left off. At the bottom of the main screen are 5 book recommendations from Buecher.de. You can simply click on any of these titles to see the product listing on the online bookstore.

The library management system is fairly deft, with extensive options to make you feel right at home. You can easily view books with their book cover art or condense them in list view. There are options to sort the library by author, date added or by title name. I liked the ability to easily delete books on your shelf by hitting the delete key and selecting the titles.

When it comes to library management 4GB of onboard storage should be enough for most people. BY default you can signup for TelekomCloud storage for books and have store up to 6GB of content. It is important to note that the maximum file size for each title is 500MB. They bill it as a way you can access your library titles in DRM format or student textbooks.

The overall menu system is clean and intuitive, there are hardly any advanced elements outside of the settings menu to confuse or alienate the average user. I think the only thing in the settings menu I can see someone regularly using is the built in internet browser.

Reading Experience

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The Tolino Vision certainly excels in the hardware department but feels lackluster when it comes to the reading experience. You cannot register an account to buy eBooks on the device or cannot even login to the store unless you are in Germany. If you adjust any of the publisher defaults in a book you are reading, such as line spacing, margins or font size, you are in for a long loading delay if you reopen a book.

The most damning aspect of the Vision is the PDF rendering engine they employ. You cannot pinch and zoom to magnify a specific area or text, instead you have to longpress the center of the screen to hit the plus or minus symbol for manual zoom, but if you want to zoom on the fly things get a little crazy.

PDF Glitch

The PDF rendering engine does not preserve the unrendered state of the original page you are navigating. Instead, it gives you a jumble of white noise that will likely send people into seizures. You have absolutely no preview pane on where you are in the document and once you release your finger from the page, it instantly renders. This obviously can be repaired with a quick firmware update, but since the bookstore that comes bundled on the reader does not sell PDF files, it is likely not in their best interest to fix this issue.

If you are enamoured with PDF documents there is a reflow option that will strip all of images and formatting away and give you the document in pure text form. Sadly, when you do this there is no spacing between words. Youbasicallyhaveanetirepdfbookrenderlike thisquitesad.

The bread and butter of the Tolino is reading your standard EPUB book. There are plenty of advanced features to allow you to change the size of the font (8) and change the font-type completely (6). You can change the margins, line spacing and revert back to the publisher defaults on the fly.

If you long-press on a specific word it opens up the ability to take notes, highlights, look words up in the dictionary or translate them. Currently it offers translation and dictionary support for English, German, Spanish, Italian and French. These are not installed by default and each one is around 100MB in size.

One of the things I like about note taking is the fact it will save all of them in a singular book file in your main library. Highlights will also be injected into this file, which makes it applicable for book clubs or students wanting to check on their notes, without having the sift through the whole book again.

If you are reading in the dark, you have the ability to adjust the brightness level of the display while reading a book. If you tap the center of the screen it brings up a set of UI options. This is your command and control center where you can change the level of luminosity. Overall, the brightness of the screen looks completely white, unless you jack it up to the max, and it gains a blue hue. This is a situation that has faced every other e-reader company relying on this tech, Amazon was the only one to get it right so far.

Wrap Up

ourthoughts

The Tolino Vision is a fairly polished ereader on a hardware level and is currently one of the most advanced ones in the world. Sadly, it is hampered by a series of software bugs and a deplorable state of PDF rendering. The great news is, this can all be easily fixed and updates can automatically be pushed out when you reboot your reader.

The Tolino is worthy investment if you live in Germany, because the entire book ecosystem is built books published there. There are over 1.2 million titles in the library, which is a mix of translated works by popular American bestselling authors and books written and produced in Germany. There are also 250,000 free books available to get reading right away, although there is only one title on the reader out of the box.

In the end, the Vision is a solid e-reader from a design point of view and can actually give a Kindle a run for its many in the critical German market. Just don’t expect to read PDF files effectively on it.

Rating: 7/10


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BufferWe’re all addicted to social media, some of us more than others, and it can be a little daunting to juggle accounts with all the biggies like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and App.net. Luckily for us, apps like Buffer exist to let you leverage content to be shared easily across all of your accounts. To further compliment their existing app, the company has released Daily by Buffer –branded as “Tinder for content sharing”.

The concept is simple: every day you are presented with a selection of articles and posts that the app feels you would enjoy.  If you like them, swipe right… if you aren’t so keen, swipe left. After you go through all of your picks, review your Buffer queue and share them out across your connected social media accounts.

Daily by Buffer currently offers five to sex stories each day and a lot of the content is being reused from the main Buffer app, but in time this offering should improve.

So far the app is only available for iOS devices –but with any lucky there will be an Android version available soon.

Categories : Reviews
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When you purchase a high end tablet you obviously want to take care of it. There are hundreds of faux leather or cheap Chinese knockoffs on the market that will do the job, but are flimsy or have a very poor build quality. Today we are looking at the Noreve Saint-Tropez leather case for the Kindle Fire HDX 7.

Noreve Saint-Tropez is a boutique French company that produces really solid leather cases for most mainstream tablets from Apple to Amazon. The case for the Kindle Fire HDX 7 is very elegant and uses top quality handcrafted leather. It has an ultra slim profile and has 3 pockets for business cards, credit cards or notes. There are plenty of customized areas that have plenty of room for you to access the volume, 3.55 mm headphone jack and croppings so the speakers are visible.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Noreve case is the kickstand. It has a ton of torque that allows you to prop it up to watch movies or interact with the touchscreen and not have to collapse on itself. If you want to bundle it up to carry it while on the go, the magnetic clip insures it will not fly open. The aspect I like the most is the tablet, once hunkered down fits nice and snug.


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Kindle DX Review

The Kindle DX Graphite edition was the last 9.7 inch e-reader that Amazon
ever produced. The device was geared towards reading PDF Files with the large screen, but was no slouch either when it came to purchasing and reading eBooks. The big draws on the DX was the free 3G internet access that works in over 300 countries and the speakers to listen to audiobooks or take advantage of text to speech. Today, we look at the Kindle DX with a fresh perspective and let you know if this $199 reader is worth it.

Hardware

The Amazon Kindle DX has a 9.7 inch display screen with 1200 x 824 pixel resolution at 150 ppi, 16-level gray scale, 10:1 contrast ratio. There is a built in gyroscope and accelerometer and switches between landscape and portrait mode automatically.

Unlike most modern e-readers this does not have a touchscreen and instead is reliant on physical keys. There are left and right page turn buttons, home and settings menu. The D-Pad functions as your scrolling and navigation utility and clicking it is basically the OK button. One thing that Blackberry and old school users will like is the full QWERTY keyboard. It is much easier to write notes using this, then a software driven solution. The keyboard also has a number of quick launch keys. For example, if you click alt and the spacebar you will automatically play whatever audiobook or music file you were listening to last.

One of the great things about the DX is the inclusion of text to speech and the two speakers. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Sony have all abandoned audio in their last few generations of e-readers in order to cut down on manufacturing expenses and compete against each other on price alone. The DX was last e-reader from Amazon that had built in audio, and many people who have vision problems flock to this model.

There is only 4 GB of internal memory and no ability to increase it via the SD card. You want to make sure you always have room enough to buy the next great read from the Kindle bookstore.

Overall, the DX is one of the few e-readers available to Western Europeans and North American customers that is easy to buy and accessible. Currently this model just got discontinued for the second time ever a few weeks ago, but you can buy them used or scoop up deals on Ebay. Over the course of the last year the prices on the DX dramatically decreased to a paltry $199.99.

Software

software

One of the big reasons why the DX fell out of favour with the majority of customers was the lack of firmware updates. It never received GoodReads integration to discuss the books you are reading with the largest community in the world. It also never got X-Ray or Whispersync for Voice or translation dictionaries as found on the current generation of Paperwhite e-readers. It has been said that the DX has an older processor, less RAM and all of this combined would be a sub-par experience, which is why Amazon likely never patched this unit.

The DX is fairly barebones when it comes to the home screen. It basically just lists the books on your device, in text format. There is no cover art or progressions to let you know how far you are in a book. This was the standard way Amazon presented the menu system until they gave it a dramatic overhaul with the original Paperwhite e-reader.

New users to e-readers might feel a bit discombobulated with the DX. There is no menu system, UI or navigation bar for you to easily access the store, settings or the experimental internet browser. Instead, the Menu key is your catch all solution to access the Kindle Store, Bookmarks or options. The settings button changes its internal options depending if you are on the home screen, reading an eBook or surfing the internet.

The entire UI of the DX feels woefully out of date. It takes at least a few weeks to orientate yourself on what keys do what, depending on where you are. The internet browser engine is fairly old, it automatically tries to load the mobile version of a site, even if the site you’re visiting doesn’t have one. It struggles loading websites like Good e-Reader that has lots of CSS and Javascripts.

Reading Experience

Reading

When it comes to reading and buying eBooks the Kindle Store is fairly well the same on the DX, as it is on any modern reader. You have access to all of the core categories, such as Kindle Singles, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Books and even a small Audible category for audiobooks. When I say a small category, there is only a single title available to download.

When you read a purchased eBook from Amazon or one you loaded in yourself there are few options available to augment your reading experience. There is no way to change the font-type, only the font size. There are seven different options to change the text from smaller to larger. When you resize the font, it all happens dynamically, so you get a sense on that your own personal sweet spot.

The DX makes a very good eBook reader in the respect that older people or folks with vision problems can get a lot out of it. Large font print books often cost double or triple the cost, compared to your average book. Bookstores only have a dedicated shelf when it comes to these texts, so finding something you want to read can be painful. The DX has basically 10 inches of screen real estate that you can easily read, by pumping up the font size. If you have really crappy eyesight you can take advantage of the text to speech function and have it read aloud to you via the speakers or the 3.55 mm headphone jack.

The Kindle DX does a fair job when it comes to reading PDF files, but pales in comparison to modern rendering engines made by Kobo or Sony. About the extent of your options is five different levels of zoom. You get a small preview box that shows you how much text will appear on your full screen. I found you can never really truly find that sweet spot, in which a split column PDF book looks good. This makes newspapers and magazines unfeasible to read, but technical documents, Maps or DND materials look fairly solid.

Wrap Up

our thouhts

When an e-reader has been on the market for over three years and people are continuing to buy it, sometimes it pays to take a second look at an old reader. The DX in the modern era will appeal to someone who wants a 9.7 inch display, but doesn’t want to spend the $300 to $500 that Pocketbook, Ectaco, Icarus or Onyx charge for their premium models. It tends to stress out when reading PDF files and with large files often load fairly slow. If you are buying it for a dedicated eBook reader, it does a tremendous job.

PROS

Free 3G internet Access
Buy Kindle Books in over 300 countrie
Listen to Audiobooks and Music
Low Price
High Build Quality

CONS

Short keys are not clearly defined
Audiobook Selection in the Amazon Store is non-existent
Large PDF files take 10-20 seconds to load and hard to Zoom properly
Discontinued

Rating: 7/10


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kindledx-vs-ipadair

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we evaluate the core reading experience with eBooks and PDF Files on the Amazon Kindle DX and Apple iPad Air.

The DX and iPad Air both have 9.7 inch screens, but are quite different in their form and function. The Kindle has an e Ink display screen, which means in long reading sessions you won’t strain your eyes. The iPad Air has the traditional LCD screen, so you will have light emitting from behind the screen. The DX does not have a touchscreen, so you will have to use the menu/settings and the DPAD to navigate around. The iPad Air has the best touchscreen in the business and you can easily pinch and zoom PDF Files.

The Kindle DX has a resolution of 1200 x 824 pixels and uses an E Ink Pearl display screen. The screen is a giant sized 9.7 inches, which really makes PDF files shine. Most files you will load in won’t look good right off the bat, so you have to use the zoom function to find your sweet spot. The bigger a file is, the longer it takes to zoom and to turn a page. This unit has free 3G internet access, which works in over 300 countries, so you can buy books from Amazon while on the go. Reading a standard eBook is pure bliss, it has text to speech and plenty of ways to augment the margins and font size.

The iPad Air has a staggering resolution of 2048×1536, which blows the DX out of the water. Reading a PDF file is a cakewalk with the ability to pinch and zoom on the fly. I noticed when you load in a 100MB file though, the iPad tends to struggle with it and you tend to see clipping with big black boxes if you pinch/zoom quickly. The overall clarity in reading PDF files is really nice, there is a ton of detail that is evident. One of the things I liked is being able to do highlights and note taking right in a PDF file, while the DX has no functions at all. Your standard eBook looks really crisp, lots of great functions in iBooks to change the font size, font type and lots of advanced highlight features.

The video below documents the same PDF side by side on the iPad Air and the Kindle DX. You can get a sense on what both bring to the table and what types of functionality you can expect. We also fire up an eBook, so you can see what device may be right for you.


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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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