Archive for CES
Overdrive did not attend CES in an official capacity, but we managed to catch up with CEO Steve Potash. He spoke to us about the new Overdrive Read HTML5 reader and how it is now officially going live in a staggered release to all participating libraries that use the company’s digital content distribution system. One of the things Overdrive is going to be releasing in the next few days is a new audio and video streaming service that will allow customers to listen to audiobooks and watch video online.
The new streaming service will not be a part of Overdrive Read, but instead will be another way for patrons to listen and watch media content on all of their devices. Overdrive is really striving towards a new system that will work on all tablets, e-readers, and computers. They are trying very hard to not exclusively rely on apps but scalable web technologies.
One of the cool things Overdrive did at the CES event this year was promote the fact you can read library books on a new breed of smart connected devices. Steve was snapping candid pictures of himself reading a cookbook on a fridge, reading a kids book in the back of a car, and even reading on a washing machine. We will try and post some of the pictures when we get them, so stay tuned.
ThisNext originally rolled out Glossi in December, which is a platform that allows people to DIY publish magazines. There is no shortage of online ebook creation programs, but magazines is something that really hasn’t been done before. We caught up with Glossi CEO Matt Edelman, who is spearheading this new endeavor alongside 12 other people. Before taking over the reigns of Glossi, he was in charge of Marvel’s Entertainment division.
In the last month and half of launching, Glossi has seen thousands of self-published magazines. The platform allows users to add pictures, audio, video, and now animated GIF files. Matt told us about some users creating the Daily Prophet from Harry Potter, with animated files on the front page.
Right now, Glossi creators can embed their digital magazines and DIY projects into their websites, blogs, and other platforms. The company is going to be rolling out a ton of new features in the next few months that will allow for the exporting of the files into EPUB3. This will allow people to distribute their magazines to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iBooks. Users will also be able to monetize their content and sell it through those bookstores, and free content will have support for advertising to make long-term revenue.
Digital Magazines are nothing new, and many companies like Zinio take publishers’ Adobe InDesign Files and convert it through their software to provide the same reading experience from magazine to magazine. Glossi sees a bright future in a pure digital format, because it allows for media integration. Some companies are even using the Glossi platform as a way to generate digital promotional content for their print issues.
Glossi is seeing a crazy amount of success early on, and is now eclipsing their parent company. Movements are being made on the business level to rename Thisnext into Glossi, and focus on this digital platform full-time. One of the big reasons the platform caught on so fast was because of the established resources ThisNext had at its disposal. Instead of running around and fishing for VC financing, the company was able to woo existing investors and tap into a consistent revenue stream. This allowed Matt to focus on creating a business instead of just an app. The majority of new users to the platform are coming from social media systems, such as Facebook and Twitter.
I think Glossi has stumbled upon a new magazine creation platforms that harkens back to the days of indie zine culture. It allows anyone with an image gallery to make visually appealing content and share it for free. The company is poised to introduce tons of new features this year and is one to watch in 2013.
The one thing we noticed at CES this year was the lack of new tablets being unveiled by many companies. Most seem to be using older molders to promote their apps, controllers, and software. LG has buckled this trend by debuting two new devices that have built in slider keyboards; you can think of them as a new breed of ultra-convertible tablets.
LG was showing off the Tab Book and Tab Book Ultra, which were basically Windows RT tablets with a built in keyboard. You can slide the screen down to cover the keyboard entirely, if you want to use it strictly as a touchscreen device. If you have the hankering to do something productive, you can slide out the keyboard and type up some emails or edit some spreadsheets.
Both units featured a 11.6 inch screen and a resolution of 1366×768. The Ultra is running on an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor and has 8GB of RAM and a 160GB solid state disk. The Tab Book has a Intel Atom Z2760 Clover Trail, 2GB of RAM, and a 64GB solid state disk.
Each of the these tablets are WIFI only right now and LG has confirmed that they will be issuing 4G/LTE models within the next few months. LG is going to start selling them in Korea first and then work its way into Europe and North America.
It seems most people are either using dedicated e-readers or tablets for their digital textbooks or ebooks. This tablet seems fast and robust and might make a solid device to use for your online course materials and to take notes while in class. It is extremely light and portable, which makes it a modern device to incorporate into your digital lifestyle.
Polaroid is mostly known as a camera company, but recently has decided to try out the tablet market. One of the more interesting developments it has produced is the aptly named Polaroid Kids Tablet, which seeks to compete with v.Tech.
The Polaroid Kids Tablet features a 7 inch touchscreen and is very rugged. It is made of a hardened rubber that survived a few of our impromptu drop tests. Underneath the hood is a 1GHz processor, 8GB of memory, 512MB of RAM, USB port, WiFi, and an SD card slot for extended memory.
The kids tablet is running Google Android 4.0 and has a very bubbly touchscreen interface. It is all customized with over-sized icons that have drawing apps, pictures, Disney videos, enhanced ebooks, and a ton of games. Most of the animated books come from Barnes and Noble and include many features, such as “read aloud” and “read to me.” With this content distribution, you will find that customers in the USA will enjoy this tablet to the max, while international customers may find their selection lacking.
There seems to be no content distribution system bundled with the device. You don’t really have any viable options to download new games or kids apps to it. You will have install the Good e-Reader APP Market if you want to load in a ton of content and not worry about regional restrictions.
This might be a solid investment for parents who want a kid friendly tablet with the ability to load in your own kids apps and games. Most other kids tablets work with cartridges or expensive accessories. This is running Android, so your daily life should be a bit easier to manage. It is on sale now for $149.99 from Polaroid.
E-Ink Holdings has many new technologies for its hardware partners this year and this is evident in a few upcoming releases. The Ectaco Jetbook Color 2 is on sale starting today and utilizes the second generation of E-Ink Triton. In essence, this gives you brighter colors due to the way the color film is added to the screen. The company also was showing off a new prototype e-reader that uses Triton 2 and Front Lite, allowing customers to get a full color experience while reading in the dark.
E-Ink Triton 2 is the next generation color display screens for your traditional e-reader. This is an added layer of film that will give customers a higher degree of contrast and better color display from the previous generation. Triton 1 had a grid of 2×2 pixels, red, green, blue, and white and used a square color filter array. Meanwhile, Triton 2 has the same color display, but instead of using square pixels it is using rectangular. It should give you 4096 degrees of color with 16 levels of each.
Not only has e-Ink developed a second generation of color, but it developed it with front lite screens in mind. During our interview with Giovanni Mancini, Project Manager at e-Ink Holdings, we talked about how the new screen has modules built into it for full color and light. He cited the new Pocketbook reader as the first device to hit the market that will have both of these new technologies bundled in the eight inch screen.
Neither Ectaco nor Pocketbook have an excellent track record for commercially viable products. They often go with the latest generation e-paper screens to woo customers over to their brand, but often skimp out on the proper hardware requirements to give the users the best experience possible. This is a great video interview that really will give you a sense of how these new screens work. We go hands on with the actual color filter, Ectaco Jetbook Color 2, and prototype devices using the latest generation hardware!
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show, taking place in Las Vegas, has already unveiled some exciting new products and enhancements, especially in the area of education and digital textbooks. Alongside this morning’s announcement from educational software company Kno of the interactive study assist dashboard called Kno Me, McGraw-Hill unveiled its own interactive adaptive technology to help learners reinforce their valuable study time with valuable metrics on how they are learning.
McGraw-Hill‘s widely popular LearnSmart program has now been enhanced with SmartBook, its first-ever adaptive ebook. This new method of learning and reinforcing allows college-level students to zone in on the material that is most crucial to incorporating the necessary information.
“Since the launch of LearnSmart in 2009, we’ve developed a deep understanding of how personalized learning through adaptive technology helps improve student performance,” said Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, in a press release. “Bringing our expertise and proven effectiveness in adaptive learning to new areas of the learning experience represents an enormous opportunity, both for McGraw-Hill Education and students, instructors and institutions across the country. With the launch of SmartBook and the rest of the LearnSmart Advantage suite, we continue to lead higher education in using adaptive technology to help improve student performance.”
The model of adaptive learning that is made possible by metrics included in digital textbooks helps students maximize their study time by deciphering which parts of the material the students have already mastered, while helping them pinpoint which areas still need focused attention and repetition. Students become better prepared for evaluation, and teachers don’t waste valuable class time having to review material that LearnSmart has already helped students identify as an area of need.
This new approach is actually a part of a full suite of materials from McGraw-Hill which include SmartBook, LearnSmart Prep, LearnSmart Labs, and LearnSmart Achieve. Working together to improve student knowledge and achievement, the different portions of the LearnSmart Suite are available in almost 100 course areas, with more features coming in the spring, and most will be priced for student or parent direct purchase beginning at just under twenty dollars.
Last year Intel had a concept tablet at its CES booth that was dubbed Project Fionna. This was a prototype gaming tablet with two analog controllers mounted on the sides that provided a unique experience. This year, Razer has refined its technology and has produced a commercially viable product. The development of the Razer Edge stemmed from months of crowdsourced initiative that solicited its hardcore community to provide feedback on hardware and software.
The Razer Edge features a 10.1 inch screen with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels. Underneath the hood is an Intel i5 processor and 4 GB of RAM. The graphics are tremendously accelerated with a Nvidia GT 640M GPU processor. Make no mistake, this is a pure gaming tablet, which is reflected in the price of $999.99 for the base model.
This is one of the first tablets to ship with Windows 8 PRO and will allow gamers to play Diablo 3, Star Wars – Old Republic, Warhammer 40k, and any other game that tickles your fancy. One of the display areas had a television set hooked up to the tablet via the HDMI cable and had two people with controllers playing Diablo. This can be a legitimate substitute for a dedicated gaming system.
The one huge downfall of this system is that battery life will only last 2 HOURS! This is totally deplorable, but what could be expect? A hardcore gaming tablet will destroy your battery and your social life. Razer is going to be issuing extra batteries that can be inserted on the back of the device and docking stations to give you a few extra hours. This is the type of tablet that is not going to replace your Playstation Vita or Nintendo DS.
Razer said it will begin to sell the device from its website. The company also mentioned it will try and get some retail partners behind this product, like Best Buy, but did not elaborate if Newegg, NCIX, or other resellers will carry it. All of the accessories will hit the virtual shelves around the same time, though the docking keyboard is in the prototype stage and will be issued this summer.
The only new tablet Samsung debuted at CES 2013 was the Galaxy Verizon LTE model! This new device is certainly a step up from the WIFI model released a few months ago. It ships with Android Jellybean and has a number of software enhancements that are sure to impress. If you live in the USA, you can tap into Verizon’s LTE/4G network via a SIM card. You can actually now use the Note in a mobile setting without having to rely on a constant WIFI connection.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 LTE model has no firm release date yet, but Samsung said they will be announcing one shortly. Suffice it to say it is running on a 1.4 GHZ Quad-core processor and a resolution of 1280×800. It has a 5 MP rear facing camera and a front facing 1.9 MP one for video chatting. You can enhance the 16 GB of internal memory up to 64 GB via the Micro SD card. It also has an HDMI port to stream it to your TV.
I must admit, I slept on the original release of the Galaxy Note Tablet. The one thing I liked about this model was the multitasking feature. You have some of the same multitasking models found on the Windows OS. You can have two windows open at the same time and lock them in. For example, you can have your email on one side of the screen and a video playing on the other. You can scroll around to position them in different ways to size them to your liking on the fly. You can also open up a new multitasking feature that makes windows out of your open apps. Traditionally with Android, you have a series of open apps you can view. The Note 10.1 takes it in a bold new direction of being able to adopt a seriously cool Windows feature. You can click on the X to close them and scroll open windows around the screen.
The one thing I noticed with this is Verizon did away with Samsung Readers Hub. This eliminated Press Reader, Zinio, and Kobo from the default apps that came loaded on the device. Instead they ship with KNO for educational textbooks and Amazon for ebooks. It is a significant departure, but it does maintain the Media Hub, which has a revised interface. It actually looks way better in this iteration with new Jellybean enhanced features.
Plastic Logic, Intel, and Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab first revealed the new Papertab e-paper a few days ago. Many people were obviously very excited about the prospect of flexible e-paper with innovative new features. We caught up with representatives of Queens and Plastic Logic today outside of the CES 2013 show in Las Vegas.
The essence of this e-paper is the ability to replace sheets of paper on your desktop and provide a multitasking alternative to being dependent on a tablet or PC. We saw a few fine examples of being able to access Google Maps and instead of scrolling around, you can bump a piece of e-paper next to it, to get a wider map. If you have images on one piece of paper, you can bump it with your email and automatically attach the image. The big hyping factor behind this new technology is that you can do many common tasks by bending the paper on the left and right hand side, rather then interacting with the touchscreen film in the traditional way.
There is a ton of potential with this new e-paper, and eventually we will have the ability to print them out the same way people would do newspapers or normal paper. Right now, the Papertab is dependent on an Intel PC to run all of the processes. This why in the video below you see ripens on the bottom of the paper.
There are many barriers to a true flexible e-paper that have prevented these types of technology to cross over from the concept stage. The main problem is the chassis and internal components. Memory, batteries, and transistors are not suited to be bendable and small. This is why you see devices, like the Wexler Flex One using LG’s flexible e-paper, being anything but flexible. This is why it is hard to say if this will catch on or not. The industry as a whole needs to adopt flexible e-paper and develop internal components that are suitable. In all honesty, I don’t see this happening anytime soon.
Copia first launched in 2010 and geared its core business towards online social communities and selling ebooks. The company currently offers around 9.2 million free and paid books, newspapers, and magazines. Business is good, but Copia is now branching away from selling fiction and non-fiction books and gravitating towards the educational sector.
We spoke with Ben Lowinger, the Executive VP of Copia, today about his company’s shift to educational institutions instead of selling ebooks directly to end users. Copia is currently offering 10,000 digital textbooks from Pearson and other major publishers. There are around 50 universities and 900 colleges in the USA, Brazil, Spain, Australia, and Canada that do business with the company. It has incorporated all of the social discussion engines that its business was built around and now offers a turnkey solution that will allow schools to sell ebooks, audiobooks, and video in a singular platform.
The shift to the educational sphere was a timely one and many schools were petitioning Copia for the tools necessary to sell books to their students. Copia accommodated these learning institutions by offering white-label solutions for K12 and other schools to brand the experience as their own. This gives the schools the power to market everything on their own and is simply powered and custom tailored by Copia. This allows schools to offer content on iOS, Android, Windows, and many other platforms, more or less a hardware agnostic approach. Ben mentioned that “75% of our entire business is now strictly focused on schools”.
There is no shortage of companies that are marketing their digital textbooks towards schools and universities. Chegg, Coursesmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and many other players sell e-textbooks directly to students. The major advantage Copia has is the agnostic approach to hardware and giving schools the ability to monetize digital textbook sales. We speak to many schools and many of them don’t do business with Amazon and other exclusive platforms, because they don’t want to lock their students to one exclusive platform. Copia is savvy because schools can brand the entire store experience as their own, and the other competitors don’t offer these options. Most just market to students directly, instead of the schools themselves.
In a very short period of time, Copia’s fortunes have drastically turned around. The company still markets major fiction and non-fiction titles to end users on their website, but its major focus is schools. It will be interesting to see how Copia fairs in a very competitive, yet untapped market. Selling ebooks to end users is rife with only a few major players who cornerstone the entire market. Digital textbooks are the next battleground, and Copia is poised to employ an international strategy and become a major player.
One of the world’s largest tech shows will begin next week! This is a chance for small and large companies alike to show off their product lines and to announce new gadgets. Good e-Reader has been attending this annual expo for the last three years and we are going to be live on the scene in 2013! We will be bringing you all of the latest e-reader and tablet PC news. We are excited about a number of rumored new ebook readers with e-Ink Triton 2 and Front Lit technology.
Every year we upload close to 50 interviews and review videos live from CES! You can expect the latest previews, interviews, and industry coverage. If you are an e-reader developer or digital publisher and either have a booth or are just going to check things out, let us know! Peter and myself will be attending the entire event and are very excited to check out the latest reading devices.
Toshiba is working on a new convertible device that can both be a tablet and a netbook at the same time. However, the device was nowhere to be seen at the Toshiba booth at the just concluded CES. Instead, the Toshia Portege M930 was seen jostling for space at the Windows camp among a sea of other ultrabooks.
Under its covers, the Portege M930 plays host to an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB RAM, 256 GB hard disk drive, along with a display size of 13.1 inches packing in 1280 x 800 pixels. Of all the netbook specs, one aspect that makes the Portege M930 so special is the manner in which it transforms from a netbook to a tablet device running Windows 8.
One just has to push the screen until it is facing the other way round and then fold it down over the keyboard. This swivel action is sturdier than the sliding action type mechanism seen on other such convertible devices such as the Asus Eee Pad Slider or the Samsung Series 7 Slider.
However, at 4.2 pounds, it is well out of the ultrabook segment. That’s a big disadvantage with the Portege M930, as it almost rules out one-handed tablet operation. Further, the device can also be cumbersome for use as a netbook as well, since a narrow keyboard has rendered the touchpad to just the right edge of the keyboard. But then, the Portege M930 does offer an array of ports that one might expect of a netbook.
However, the Portege M930 is still far from being a market ready product as the prototype on display at the CES was only responding to stylus inputs and not finger touches. So its isn’t too surprising neither Toshiba nor Microsoft are offering a launch window or expected price range. But then, not all products revealed at the CES go on to reach markets. The Samsung Series 7 Slider is one such.
via the verge
CES is officially over and we had a great time in Las Vegas checking out the latest e-readers and tablets! This year there was not many pure e-ink readers being shown off but we did see a number that tickled our fancy. Two of the best we saw that made our Best of Show list was the Cybook Odyssey by Bookeen and Jetbook Color by Ectaco! This year it was tremendously evident that the tablet computer industry continues to grow and many companies refined existing products and released new ones. Motorola was showing off the Droid Xyboard and Samsung drew crowds with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 LTE.
Obviously at CES more then just e-readers and tablets were in attendance and that is the core of our daily coverage of the industry, but being a tech geek at heart, we put together a comprehensive video that shows you ALL of our selections from various categories. Brands such as Samsung, LG, Green Book, and many more made the final cut! Check out the video below for our CES Wrap up and get a sense what we saw during the last week at the convention.