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


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

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

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

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


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Pocketbook has been pumping out e-readers in 2014, like nobodies business. The company has released the Aqua, Ultra, InkPad and has been showing off the Mobius enabled CAD reader at various tradeshows. Pocketbook has announced that at the upcoming IFA tech event in Germany, they have a bevy of new products such as ereaders and tablets.

Pocketbook intends on marketing a new e-reader to the fashionistas of the world. It was exclusively designed in cooperation with an internationally renowned fashion and design house. In addition, they intend on releasing a complete line of stylish accessories. The new e-reader is equipped with a e-Ink Pearl screen with a light sensor for automatic front light adjustment.

When you think of Pocketbook, you will likely think of e-readers. They actually been selling tablets for over four years, but often have been lowend garbage. They intend on remedying this situation releasing some very high performance hardware. All three tablets will pack a octa-core processor. There is no word yet on screen sizes, but they will all have 3G internet access, in addition dual band WIFI.

Over the course of the next few weeks we should get an indication on the full list of specs and naming conventions for their new products. Stay tuned to Good e-Reader for all the latest Pocketbook news.

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The Sony Digital Paper 13.3 inch e-reader has been taking the business world by storm, with law, entertainment and tech companies embracing the whole replacement for paper concept. If someone wanted to purchase the $1,100 device they had to buy it from one of three strategic partners,  and they were chronically sold out.  Sony realized they had a potential hit on their hands and started to sell it directly on the phone, through their business unit. Today, Sony has unveiled a new website for the DPT-S1 and is now allowing anyone to order it online.

Sony has crafted a new landing page for the Digital Paper e-reader in order to address the key aspects or selling points.  You can think of it as a replacement for paper and a secondary screen for your workflow.  They have also populated the new site with a number of pictures that demonstrate the reader in action, among their key verticals: law, entertainment and education.

Anyone can now order the Sony Digital Paper e-reader directly off of the Sony website, but you have to live in the United States in order to have it shipped out. One thing that made me chuckle is during checkout, if you select Canada it says “We are happy to accept payment from international billing addresses, but we do not ship internationally.”

Sony may be selling the Digital Paper online, but this is a device certainly not for everyone. The company does not have a customer support system in place to address technical support or troubleshooting. It is aimed primarily at advanced users or businesses that have an IT department to handle this sort of thing, this is mainly why Sony has not issued a press release or hyped the fact they are now selling it online.

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The Good e-Reader Android App Store has been growing steady, since 2011. In 2013 the store recorded 80 million visitors and have quickly become the largest app store in Canada. Good e-Reader is proud to announce that we have partnered with Icarus, and all new Illumina e-reader owners will be able to easily download their favorite e-reading apps.

Netherlands based Icarus has been selling e-Readers for the past three years and have quickly become a very solid company. Their second generation Illumina reader has Android 4.2.2 and allows users to craft their own experience. The Good e-Reader App Store allows Icarus owners to install their favorite e-Reader, comic, manga, newspaper or magazine app directly on their Illumina.

Many e-readers often lock their users into one specific ecosystem and makes it fairly difficult to load in your own eBooks or newspapers. One of the big benefits of an open Android reader is the ability to do business with any company you want.

Good e-Reader currently offers over 35,000 apps and has created a new section entitled “Apps Designed for e-Ink.” This dedicated catalog of great apps is right on the home screen and they have all been extensively tested on the Illumina e-Reader to insure the best user experience.

Roberto Damen, CEO of ICARUS stated “We are very proud to announce this cooperation with Good e-Reader. By integrating their App Store in our e-readers, we can offer our users easy to use access to all relevant Android apps. And thanks to the curated section of apps that are optimized for our device, the end-user can be sure that the apps they download offer them a great user experience.”All new Icarus e-Readers we have the App Store pre-loaded on their device when purchases after September 1st. Existing users can download the Free App today and manually install it.

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Kobo has formally unveiled their brand new 6.8 inch Aura H20 e-reader. The big selling point behind this is the waterproof nature and the large vibrant screen. Kobo has been slowly refining their front-light technology that allows you to read in low light conditions or absolute darkness. Today, we look at the various degrees of illumination to give you a sense if this device is right for you.

Reading in the dark has never been easier with the Kobo Aura H20. It has a number of brightness levels that can be customized, depending on your environment. It is important to note that the light is not emitting from behind the screen, like computer monitors, laptops, smartphones or tablets do. Instead, there are five LED lights spread along the bottom of the bezel and shine light across the screen.  Nook pioneered this technology but Amazon and Kobo really refined it.

In this video, we demonstrate the entire range of illumination to give you an accurate portrayal of the pros and cons of the Aura H20.


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

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

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

Hardware

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The Kobo Aura H2O features a 6.8 inch e-ink Carta touchscreen display with a resolution of 1430×1080. Carta Imaging Film offers a 50% improvement in contrast ratio over previous generation of e-Paper displays. This allows for faster page turns and the ability to turn pages in a digital book, without the need of constant screen refreshes.

The Aura HD and Aura H2O e-readers are not using a capacitive touchscreen display, which means it does not have pinching and zooming capabilities. Instead, it is employing Infrared technology from Neonode.

One of the main benefits of the H2O e-Reader is the ability to enjoy eBooks, graphic novels or newspapers in lowlight conditions or complete darkness. Unlike a smartphone or tablet that has an LCD screen that emits light from behind a layer of film, the H2O has five LED lights on the bottom of the bezel. It shines upwards, insuring even light distribution and makes it easier to devour books without eye strain.

Kobo has managed to attain the prestigious IP67 certification for their first waterproof device. It will basically allow users to have the e-Reader completely submerged in five meters of water for an hour, with the MicroUSB and MiscroSD ports closed. This makes the H2O the most complete, well-rounded device the market and eliminates the need to send off your reader to a third party and pay over $60 for them to waterproof it for you. During underwater tests I found that even completely submerged in water, you can still turn pages and access the core functionality.

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Underneath the hood is a Freescale i.MX507 1GHZ processor and 512MB of RAM. It ships with 4GB of internal storage and can be expanded further via a MicroSD for up to 32GB of additional memory. Basically, if you max your storage, you can store over 30,000 books on your e-Reader and not have to charge it for up to two months.
Prior models of the Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura HD has the MicroSD, MicroUSB and status indicator light on the bottom. This model still has the slots in the same place, but has a new waterproof flap that snuggly closes in order to truly make it waterproof.

On a hardware level my only complaint is that the screen is not flush with the bezel like it is on the Kobo Aura or the Tolino Vision. In a world of tablets and smartphones, it could be a weird adjustment for people go from that to a sunken screen.

Software

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The Kobo Aura H2O features a home screen that is heavily dynamic in nature. If you create a new bookshelf, buy an eBook or start reading a newspaper an entry will be automatically created right on the home screen. This enables users to be able to quickly jump into reading digital content, without the need of jumping through a lot of hoops. Underneath the book title on your home screen a percentage rating is generated, depending on how far you are in the book.

Kobo has added a sync button right on the home screen and this button accomplishes a few things. If you purchase an eBook on your smartphone or tablet via the Kobo App, all of the content will automatically be downloaded to your H2O if you hit the sync button. Additionally, it is also used to query the Kobo servers for any potential firmware updates and prompt you for an upgrade.

One of the things I liked about the new sync system is the visual cues it provides. Prior models of Kobo would just have a loading animation, with no indications on what it was doing behind the scenes. Now, when it syncs it gives text based updates on the top. By default, it will say it is syncing reading life, awards and firmware updates.

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I noticed a number of small bugs that are easily solved by tweaking some options in the setting menu. By default, the H2O will prompt you to wipe off the screen if it becomes wet. This notification appears when you load up a PDF file and does not disappear. Likely, this is occurring because of the oil in your hands, but you  can turn it off by going into “Reading Settings” and deselecting the Water Notification flag. Also, on the main screen you see curated content by Kobo, recommended reads and eBooks they recommend. There is an option to turn this off, but once it is disabled it is impossible to re-enable it.

Finally, Kobo has maintained their Reading Statistics system on the home screen. This gives you a sense of progression and monitors your reading habits. There are plenty of metrics to keep track of, such as how long it takes you to read a specific page of text or the average amount of time it takes to read a book.

e-Reading Experience

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Kobo does an amazing job in making their e-readers appealing to both casual and hardcore users. They have plenty of advanced options that the competition simply cannot match, such as the ability to load in your own fonts. They also have a bunch of sliders that allow unparalleled flexibility in determining how much weight you want your fonts to have and configure the margins and line spaces.

The Aura H2O was designed to excel at reading the two most popular electronic book formats, PDF and EPUB. They also have support for manga, graphic novels and comic books with CBR and CBZ, so users will be able to download them from the internet and easily load them on their reader. When it comes right down to it, it reads: EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ, and CBR.

When you are reading a book, you have a number of options you can employ. Aside from font and customization options you can long-press on a word and get an instant definition of it. If you speak another language, you can look the word up in Japanese, Italian, German, Dutch, and many more. When long-pressing a word, you get an anchor that will allow you to select a single word, sentence, or entire paragraph. You can then highlight it or add a note. When you add a note, a virtual keyboard appears that allows you to manually add one.

Have you ever wanted to know more about a particular character, or learn more about the world they live in? “Beyond the Book” is a program Kobo unveiled in late 2013 and is quite similar to Amazon’s X-Ray feature, Beyond the Book allows a user to find more information about part of the book, providing similar topics, books, and authors. Not all titles have the Beyond the Book, so if your specific eBook is missing it, please do not fret.

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The Kobo Aura allows you to pinch and zoom to isolate specific bodies of text, but this model does not have this feature, primarily due to the fact is not using a capacitive touchscreen. Instead, you have to double tap the center of a specific document to enable zoom. A small bar is on the bottom of the screen, which you can think of your magnification settings, this allows you to manually configure the zoom level. While you are zoomed in there is a preview pane in the top left hand corner. You can think of this pane as a snapshot of the specific page you are on, which helps orientate on the exact position in the PDF. If you have zoomed in and want to maintain your settings, you can flip to the next page and your exact zoom level is still preserved.

Many PDF files are massive in size and eclipse 150MB, such as eTextbooks, role playing games and medical journals. The Kindle Paperwhite e-reader really buckles under the weight and but the H2O handles them like a boss. We normally load in a 50 MB science journal and a 189 MB D&D Monsters Manual, both of them handled them fairly well.

When you start amassing a large library of eBooks, collection management becomes a big issue. Kobo has a system that allows you to create custom bookshelves, where you can select the eBooks you want to include. For example, you can create a bookshelf to house all of your Fantasy and Science Fiction titles and another for Literary Fiction.

When it comes to buying books, Kobo simply has the most massive ecosystem in the world. They have over 4 million digital titles, which not includes eBooks but also kids’ books, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, manga and comics. They officially sell this content in over 84 countries and if you don’t live in a supported country, you are automatically sent over to the one closest to where you reside. I found the Kobo Store used to not load all of the cover art and text based assets quickly in prior models, the H2O loads everything very quickly.

Wrap up

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The Kobo Aura H2O is the byproduct of multiple generations of e-readers, and the constant refinement of software and hardware. The H2O is considered to be the most complete e-Reader Kobo has ever produced.

When it comes to freedom, the H2O provides it in spades. Not having to fret over spilled coffee or getting sand stuck under the screen is liberating. You can read it just as easily in direct sunlight as you can in complete darkness, e-reading technology just took a giant leap forward.

Kobo sometimes receives a lot of flak for their abysmal customer service when it comes to hardware repairs or errors in purchasing books. We have seen thousands of comments on our news site about most people experiencing the same type of errors, with no resolution in sight. The company has tried very hard over the years to simplify the process, and are closer than ever with their live chat and 1-800 numbers, but they still have a long way to go.

In the end, if you have a Kobo Glo, Kobo Touch or even a Kobo Aura, I would recommend you upgrade to the H2O. There isn’t any new e-ink technology on the horizon that you should be saving yourself for, and the only new thing that will be out next year is a Kobo e-Reader that will likely have Wacom support and be bundled with a stylus for note taking.

The Kobo Aura H2O comes out October 1st in Canada and the United States for $179. It comes out at the same time in the Uk costing £139.99 and in Europe for €179.00.

PROS

Reads many popular eBook formats
Waterproof
e-Ink Carta screen
You can bring it anywhere and read anytime
Global eBook system that appeals to a worldwide audience

CONS

Beyond the Book not available in most modern best sellers
The lack of pinch and zoom may turn some people off
Constant water droplet notifications are annoying.

Rating: 8/10


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We have seen a massive new movement in e-reader operating systems in 2014, with the advent of open Android. This is a concept where instead of locking you down to a specific ecosystem and custom UI, we are now seeing the equivalent of a pure vanilla Android experience. Onyx and Icarus have both released numerous models and now Boyue is entering the fray with their Boyue T61 e-reader.

The Boyue T61 features a six inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×758. It has a sunken screen, instead of one flush with the bezel, which provides the illusion it is using Neonode IR technology. This e-reader uses a fairly solid front-lit display, which will allow readers to easily view eBooks while in the dark.

Underneath the hood is a A9 1Ghz Dual Core processor with 512MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage with the option to increase it up to 32GB via the MicroSD card.

Android 4.2.2 Jellybean is the main attraction and users can load in their own apps. There is no built in app store, so you will need some sort of technical knowledge in order to sideload in your own.

The T61 is basically the exact same as the Icarus Illumina E653, they both use the same hardware shell and internal components. The software is quite different though, as Icarus has a slew of reading apps right out of the box and will be adopting a e-ink based app store soon.

This is an e-reader that is primarily available in China, international users might be able to buy them from eBay, or 3rd party markets.

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In the last four years we have seen the entire publishing industry embrace eBooks. In 2013, Nielsen’s Books & Consumers survey shows that among U.S. buyers of adult fiction and nonfiction, 25% of book buyers bought an eBook and 31% of new books purchased in adult fiction and nonfiction were eBooks. e-Readers have traditionally been the best way to read these titles, because of the long battery life they provide and the lack of eyestrain due to e-paper. Sadly, it seems that the general public does not seem as enamoured anymore with these core benefits and new research points to the mass adoption of multifunctional tablets and smartphones.

Forrester’s World eReader and eBook Forecast reported in June that just five years after Amazon released the original Kindle, more than 25 million people in the US owned e-readers in 2012. But that figure is set to decline to seven million users by the end of 2017.

The seismic shift from e-readers to smartphones and tablets are seen by some to be a natural evolution of the technology cycle. Like the PDA, the digital camera and the iPod, it was once the hottest gadget around, but have now been given way to large screen tablets and high powered smartphones.

Amazon currently leads the charge in the eBook space and sells the most e-readers globally. Modern research points to them controlling 75% of the US eBook market and 79% in the UK. It did the smart thing in the companies transition from selling print books, to selling eBooks. The Kindle managed to appeal to the voracious reader, who saw the transition of book to e-book as a progression.

The most recent data from IDC shows that for Q3 of 2013 Android made up 81% of devices shipped. You read that right—four out of every five smartphones shipped in Q3 were built on Android. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS scraped by with a sad and distant second place figure of only 12.9 percent. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo are starting to all see more users employ their apps to buy and read books, than the dedicated readers. All of these companies apps are normally much easier to navigate than their hardware.

Amazon saw the writing on the wall early on and have successfully marketed their line of Kindle Fire tablets to younger users. These are the type that casually read, but normally use the device for music, movies, social media and playing games.  In 2014 the Seattle based company tapped into two new verticals, with the advent of the Fire TV and Fire Phone.  The problem the company faces is how do you transition the older readers to embrace the new technology?

Barnes and Noble and Kobo are two major players in the digital book space and in recent years have been slowly producing more tablets than dedicated e-readers. B&N recently unveiled the brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook, and they continue to market the Nook HD and HD+. The only e-reader in their modern portfolio is the Nook Glowlight, released last year. Kobo primarily markets their e-readers via international markets and has created a huge demand for their legacy e-readers, such as the Kobo WIFI, Kobo Glo and  Kobo Touch. They still sell the Kobo Aura and Aura HD, but their latest offerings are 3 tablets, all released last year.

Forrester may be proclaiming that the age of e-readers is nearly over and more users have been embracing tablets, but other research is not completely counting them out. Pew Research reported that during the 2013 holiday season the rate of tablet ownership rose to 42% of American adults, up 8%  from September. Ownership of e-book reading devices like Kindles or Nooks similarly increased to 32% as of January 2014. Some 50% of adults now own at least one of these devices.

Wrap up

At Good e-Reader we have been chronicling the e-reader industry since 2008 and often talk with e-Ink, Freescale, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and a host of European companies, both on and off the record. It is quite evident that the race to the bottom, in terms of price, is still generating strong sales with e-readers. The main problem, is that the core e-reading technology is fairly static and has not really offered a compelling enough reason for people to upgrade their units. Every year, processing power, resolution and app ecosystems get stronger in tablets and phones. It is quite normal to see someone with a three year old e-reader, but seeing someone with an old Nokia flip phone or  Blackberry Bold will incur scorn.

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Amazon is hoping to steal a bit of the limelight off of the brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook tablet by offering a $20.00 discount on the second generation Kindle Paperwhite. Starting today, the main Amazon website is discounting the WIFI only version to $139 and the 3G model for $189.

Within the next month it is believed that Amazon will be releasing two new e-readers and three new tablets They are intending on refreshing their entire hardware lineup with new technology. The discount to the Paperwhite serves to give an incentive to people on the fence about going over to Barnes and Noble.

Since the Paperwhite 2 originally came out, it has received a number of firmware updates and hardware enhancements. Some of the more notable software features include the social book discovery site, GoodReads and a more stable PDF experience with a new preview window. On the hardware front, customers in the UK and Canada are seeing an increased amount of Kindle Storage, from 4GB to 8GB.

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Barnes and Noble has just launched a brand new tablet in conjunction with Samsung. It costs $179 with a $20 mail in rebate, but the bookseller is hyping the fact you get an extra $200 worth of free content. What free stuff are they actually giving out?

When you pick up a new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook you get three free eBooks. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, The Wanderer by Sharon Creech and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

Customers can also pick 4 digital magazines from a pool of 12 for a free two week trial. There is a ton of great content, including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, and US Weekly. Back issues are also available for your selected magazines at no extra cost.

Nook Video is giving free content to the hit HBO Series Veep, Hannibal, and Orphan Black.

New Barnes and Noble customers are also automatically given $5.00 in free credit when they buy the new tablet, giving them the ability to either get an eBook for free or use the money to subsidize a new mainstream bestseller.

Barnes and Noble is really hyping the free content as a way to lure existing customers to upgrade and offer a big incentive to new people looking for a tablet billed as an e-reader.

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Barnes and Noble has unveiled a brand new seven inch tablet called Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. This is the first time the bookseller has outsourced the design to another company and instead focused on user experience. CEO Mike Husebey said “This is an exciting and truly historic day for us at Barnes and Noble.”

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab for Nook features a seven inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 Pixels and 216 ppi. This is a bit of a downgrade in the resolution department, the Nook HD had 1440 X 900 resolution.

Underneath the hood is a Quad-core 1.2 GHz and 1.5GB of RAM. It has 8B of internal memory and an MicroSD port for an extra 32GB. Unlike prior Nook tablets, this one has two cameras, which will insure apps like Vine and Snapchat will be relevant. It has a 3 MP rear facing camera and a 1 MP edition on the front. It is lighter and thinner than any previous color NOOK device at 9.74 ounces and .35 inches.

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The new Nook Tablet is running the most current version of Android 4.4 Kitkat. It does not feature the same TouchWiz UI that most Samsung tablets rock, instead Barnes and Noble has created their own custom UI. It also has access to Google Play, which will insure that hundreds of thousands of apps are available to download, no matter what country you live in.

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Barnes and Noble has designed the UI to focus primarily on readers. The ecosystem currently offers over 3 million books, comics, magazines and kids books. When it comes to your library,  managing content it is broken up into video, books and magazines.

During the unveiling event in New York, Barnes and Noble trumpeted the fact that many people prefer to use their tablets for e-reading, instead of playing games or watching videos.

– Over three-quarters (77 percent) of U.S. adult respondents to a recent online study conducted by Harris Poll for Barnes & Noble agree with the statement that “Reading has always been an important part of my life.”

- Over two-thirds (67 percent) say reading puts them in a better mood.

- Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults state their reading habits have increased over the past three years, and nearly half, over two in five (44 percent), attribute access to an eReader, tablet or smartphone as the reason.

- Tablets have not only changed our reading habits, but what it even means to read – personal email (96 percent) is now the number-one item read, followed by social media (67 percent); Web sites, online articles or blogs (73 percent); work-related materials (46 percent); eBooks (31 percent); and digital magazines or newspapers (40 percent).

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is available starting today at over 660 Barnes and Noble stores in the US. It is retailing for $179, which is actually cheaper than the Samsung exclusive device which is $199. We will be getting our hands on this in the next few days, for a comprehensive hands on review and a ton of comparisons against the previous generation Nook HD tablet and also other e-reading first devices from Amazon and Kobo.

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icarus illumina and kobo aura

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Icarus Illumina second generation and the Kobo Aura.

The premise of this comparison is to take a look at ePub eBooks and PDF documents. Both of these devices handle these formats in completely different ways. The Kobo Aura does a splendid job in handling PDF files, with their preview window pane and ability to pinch and zoom. The Icarus really stutters with large PDF files, but does have a neat ability to increase the darkness of an image, but manually adjusting the gray scale.