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Many people skip a generation before buying the latest and greatest Apple product. The S line of smartphones tends to get lost in the shuffle between major updates in technology. With the advent of the iPhone 6 Plus, the question is, is it good for e-reading? Today, we look at the iPhone 5 and 6 Plus and put them side by side showing the exact same content. This should give you an indication on how both devices handle manga, comics and e-Books. If reading is important to you and you tend to be invested in the whole Apple ecosystem, you don’t want to miss this!


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The iPhone 6 Plus is the first large screen phone that Apple has ever released and is quite excellent at reading e-Books, comics, manga and staying on top of the daily news.  Unlike iPhones of the past, the 6 Plus actually makes the process of digital reading very enjoyable.

The 6 Plus by Apple features a 5.5 inch display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels and 401 PPI.  The sheer size of the screen and high resolution makes reading HD content extremely viable, such as comics and magazines. It is important to note that if you are consuming a large portion of this type of media to invest in an iPhone 6 Plus with more memory, because the average HD comics for example is around 150 to 250 MB. The base 16 MB model might not cut it.

I have been a Blackberry user for a number of years, so reading on my phone has never really been a viable option. The square screen really prevented landscape mode, which a lot of e-reading apps require. Things improved when I bought my first iPhone 5 a few years ago, and started using news apps such as Digg and Thompson Reuters. The screen on the 5 was only 4 inches, which made reading e-books, magazines, newspapers and manga a lackluster experience. I found myself constantly having to pinch and zoom to find that virtual sweet spot, only to lose it when I flipped a page and had to reconfigure the zooming levels again.

When I gravitated to the iPhone 6 Plus it really felt large and unwieldy for the first couple of days. I constantly found myself bending and flexing it to see if the entire “Bendgate” saga were true and to put my mind at ease that I was not going to bend the thing completely in half.  I have never had an Android phone such as the Galaxy Note, so this was my first “Phablet.”

Its now been a few weeks since I have been using the iPhone 6 Plus as my primary smartphone and find myself reading more on it than my Kindle. This is not because its new and therefore novel, but it can more easily install dedicated apps for the content I really like. My standard e-reading apps are Manga Rock, Crunchyroll  Manga, Kindle, Zinio, Pressreader, Pulse Reader, Reuters, Digg Marvel comics.  Almost all of these apps don’t even require pinching and zooming, all of the content really shines on the large screen.

Do you come for a dedicated e-reader background? I am talking about e-ink based readers such as the Kindle, Kobo Nook or Sony readers. These brands for the most part have been going strong since 2007.  These companies all realized early on that six inches made the ideal device, in terms of portability and overall e-reading experience. The iPhone 6 Plus is only half an inch smaller and is always in your pocket due to the fact it functions as your primary phone.

In the video below, you will get a sense on how e-books, manga, comics and how dedicated news apps function on the iPhone 6 Plus.  If you are on the fence about buying or upgrading to this model, watching this video should lend the assist.


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Jan
15

HP Steam 7 Review

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The HP Stream 7 is one of the first of a new breed of seven inch tablets that have a full version of Windows and at $99 price point. Combined with Bluetooth and expandable storage via SD, you can really turn this into a fully featured laptop. Is this worth it to spend? It depends, you won’t be able to run any graphically intensive games, but would make simple stuff from Steam play well. You also could run a ton of emulated content, use it as an e-book reader or just watch videos.

Hardware

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The HP Stream 7, is seeking to make Windows 8.1 relevant in a seven inch frame. The resolution is 1280 x 800, and underneath the hood is an Intel Atom Z3735G with Intel HD Graphics (1.8 GHz, 2 MB cache, 4 cores), 1 GB RAM and 32GB of storage. Of course, this device has WIFI, Bluetooth, a Micro USB and Micro SD support to enhance the memory further. You can also listen to music with the 3.55 mm headphone jack or the single speaker.

I know lots of people that are buying this tablet and hooking up a Bluetooth keyboard or buying a Beats Pill portable speaker and using it to bring to the beach or use it as a portable entertainment device.

This tablet does not feel very high end has simple shell, sort of like a lower overall build quality than Acer employs on their current generation of mobile devices. It also cannot be charged while be hooked up to your PC via the USB cable, you definitely need to use the wall charger that comes with it.

To be honest, this tablet is the best $99 you can spend. Walmart, Best Buy, Future Shop and a number of electronics stores all have cheap and cheerful tablets. They are often underpowered and running Google Android, they feel like Chinese tablets that sell, only because they are so damn inexpensive. If you would put the HP Stream 7, head to head with any of the cheapo stuff you would find at a big box retailer, it would slay it completely.

Software

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The HP Stream 7 comes with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft sells it without any bloatware installed on it. This means, you will conserve precious memory by not having a ton of HP branded apps everywhere. I think the only app by HP it had, was a cloud printing one that hooks up to most WIFI enabled printers.

This tablet runs all of the mainstream apps you would find in the official Microsoft RT store, many of the top apps you would find on Android or iOS have all been ported. You will also be able to use this as a solid e-reader, since Amazon, Kobo, Comixology and a myriad of others all have the ability to buy and read content.

What makes this tablet truly exceptional is the ability to run traditional legacy Windows apps. Want to download and install Steam to play your backlog of content? You can do it. Need to install Firefox, Chrome, and your favorite internet browsing plugins, sure, no worries. Do you find yourself needing to use Photoshop and use the tablet to draw on via a stylus? This does that too, but a stylus does not ship with it, so you need to buy one extra. Finally, it will run the full version of Microsoft Office so you can bring your work with you, on the go.

This tablet is not brimming with super high specs, so you likely won’t play any of the cutting edge games. It struggled with Star Craft 2 and Day Z. The New SIM City actually played fairly well, but anything made in the last few years that has shaders and runs in 3D might not be ideal.

I would say the Stream 7 does well if you want to install the Native Windows Apps, there are all small in size and take up little to no memory. If you need legacy apps, I would install traditional productivity, business and art related stuff. If you need to game, try for more 2D experience or download some emulators. Oh, Hot Line Miami worked very well!

Wrap Up

Microsoft is trying to compete more in the tablet and smartphone space by either eliminating or severely discounting the licensing fees to use their OS. In effect, they are trying to pull a Google by not making money from their software, in a bid to gain market share.

The HP 7 I think is the best tablet to really come to market using this new license strategy and the customer ends up with a solid device for a paltry $99. I would NEVER pay this amount of money for an Android tablet, because at Good e-Reader we have reviewed a ton, and they all sucked. This is the first cheap Windows tablet that is totally amazing.

PROS

Cheap as hell
Bluetooth and SD support
Audio Quality is solid
Runs Native and Legacy Windows Apps

CONS

Needs Wall charger
Does not come with a Stylus
Build Quality feels cheap

Rating: 9/10


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader unboxing video! Today we take a look at the very affordable HP Stream. This is a $99 Windows 8.1 PRO tablet that has very respectable hardware specs and a price tag that is hard to beat. Today, we take it out of the box, and power it on for the first time to give you a sense on how it looks and functions.

The HP Stream 7, is seeking to make Windows 8.1 PRO relevant in a seven inch frame. The resolution is 1280 x 800,  and underneath the hood is an Intel Atom Z3735G with Intel HD Graphics (1.8 GHz, 2 MB cache, 4 cores), 1 GB RAM and 32GB of storage. Of course, this device has WIFI, Bluetooth, a Micro USB and Micro SD support to enhance the memory further. You can also listen to music with the 3.55 mm headphone jack or the single speaker.

Its hard to find any kind of fault with such an affordable Windows tablet, although the Kindle Fire HD6 or HD7 might be a more viable investment because of the slick Amazon UI and deep ecosystem.


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Jan
09

Inkcase Plus Hands on Review

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The Inkcase Plus is a portable secondary e-ink touchscreen extension of  your Android smartphone. It was designed to connect via Bluetooth and run a series of dedicated apps that allow you to view pictures, read e-Books or use as a sports tracker.

The InkCase Plus features a  3.5 inch 360 X 600 resolution Mobius e-ink display. It comes with its own battery, which should last about a month with regular use. Unlike the Yotaphone which has the e-ink screen physically apart of the hardware, this one is separate.  There is a dedicated case that Oaxis sells that fits the e-ink screen inside, giving you the functionality of an Android phone on the right and Inkcase Plus on the left.

There are 4 main apps that are available to download from the Google Play store that adds new functionality to the device. There is a connectivity app which basically establishes the Bluetooth connection and lists the number of apps that were specifically created for it. There is also a photo and sports app, which allow you to send over content to your Inkcase. The sports app is a bit of a letdown because the timer is staggered to refresh every 5-10 seconds and basically is just sending over a series of screenshots.

The best app that was made for the Inkcase Plus is the EpiReader  app. It allows you to take advantage of the manual page turn keys and turns it into a dedicated e-reader. All you have to do is download EPUB or PDF documents to  your phone and import them into the EpiReader app. You can then access a menu function to transmit the entire book to your portable and read to  your hearts content.

You can think of the Inkcase Plus as a dumb terminal, when you are reading there is no options to increase the size of the font, change the font-type or augment the linespacing. Instead,  you have to do this on your phone, within the app itself. After making the adjustments it is sent over to the Inkcase live, so you can read books with the font size of your choice. To find the ideal reading setup it does take a bit of time to find your sweet spot.

There are a few other options the Incase Plus allows you to employ. Anytime you get a notification on your phone, such as a phone call, text message, Whatsapp ping or an incoming Skype message, you see it all on the portable. It is possible to disable these notifications, but you have to do it one by one.

I think this device is really solid. You can think of it  as a super low-cost e-reader where you can read books and avoid all the notifications that constantly barrage you on the phone.  The screen isn’t the largest in the world, but users coming from a Blackberry background or a flipphone will feel right at home.  You can buy the Incase Plus with the official case for your Android phone for $105.


Jan
06

Inkcase Plus Unboxing Video

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The Inkcase Plus is a secondary screen for your Android smartphone. It pairs up to your device using Bluetooth and once you install the e-reading app, it functions as a mini e-reader.

This device features a 3.5 inch, 360 x 600 pixel  e-Ink display which is visible in direct sunlight. The low-power screen also only uses electricity when you refresh the page, so it should get up to 10 to 15 days of battery life.

There are a number of apps available for the Inkcase Plus, such as a photo gallery, sports and picture app. My personal favorite is the e-reader app, you can simply load in your own e-Pub books and turn it into a dedicated 3.5 inch digital reader.


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This time of year, everyone is coming out with essential reading lists to hopefully sell you a brand new e-Book for the holiday season! Here at Good e-Reader we simply enjoy the process of reading. This year, plenty of amazing fiction and non-fiction books came out and I take a look at the ones that riveted me the most.

In the video below, I go over by top 5 books of the year, and yes I own the print versions. I find the discovery process of finding a new book much more enjoyable when I leave my comfortable abode and participate in bookstore culture. On a side note, the New York Times just posted an amazing list of books that are my list to read in early 2015, so be sure to check that out.


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The ability to take screenshots is not just relegated to phones or tablets, but your Kindle Voyage too. It is rather simple to take a screenshot of anything displayed on your screen. Today, we show you exactly how to do it in another Good e-Reader Video Tutorial.

Taking screenshots just needs you to click on opposing corners on the very edge of the touchscreen. You need to ideally do it on the top right and bottom left, or vice versa. When you take a screenshot the screen will briefly flash, there is no confirmation message. If you want to access your list of screenshots, you simply need to plug your Voyage into your PC with the USB cable. All pictures are on the root drive, so you don’t need to go hunting for it.


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The Cybook Ocean is the first eight inch touchscreen e-reader and the main selling point is that you can fit more text on the screen at any given time than your standard six inch device. One of the big advancements of the Ocean is the new illumination technology that allows you to have control over the brightness of the screen during the day or night.

Today, we take a look at the Cybook Ocean and demonstrate how the front-lit technology works. You will get a sense of how the interface is designed and how the e-reader performs in complete darkness. One of the very unique things is “nighttime reading mode” which will turn the background black and the text white. This mode, is normally reserved exclusively for smartphone and tablet apps. How does it perform on the Ocean? Check out the video below.


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Bookeen has just released a new e-reader that seemingly came out of nowhere, with no fanfare or advance hype. The Cybook Muse with Frontlight gives users the ability to read eBooks in many different formats and read in the dark. It allows you turn pages with both the touchscreen and manual buttons. Is this e-reader a valid investment?

Hardware

The Cybook Muse has a 6 inch screen allowing for easy reading in all conditions, while reducing the size of the e-reader by 17% in comparison to its predecessor, the Cybook Odyssey. The resolution is 1024 x 758, and has 213 DPI, which is fairly conventional.

Underneath the hood is a 800 MHZ Freescale processor and 4 GB of internal storage. It does have support for an MicroSD card, so you can simply insert one in to store thousands of additional titles. Speaking of eBooks, there is a built in store loaded on the two e-readers, with over 100,000 books. You need to register an account with Bookeen and another one with Adobe.

The Cybook Ocean has the physical page turn keys flush with the bezel, whereas the Muse has more convention page turn keys that protrude upwards. This is appealing towards people who have used older e-readers and want to upgrade to something more modern.

Software

Bookeen has been using the Linux operating system for their complete line of e-readers for a number of years.  This e-reader is fairly basic and does not have a ton of advanced features to boggle the minds of people new to digital reading.

The homescreen comprises of the book you are currently reading with a progress bar of how much of it is remaining. Underneath that is a small carousal with all of the eBooks in your library with their cover art being displayed. If you click on any of the book covers it will automatically launch the e-reading app.

I think overall the Cybook software is fairly robust, it is super stable and never prone to crashing. One of the downsides is that there is no internet browser bundled on it, so you won’t be able to visit your favorite websites.

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Bookeen handles the core e-reading experience fairly conventionally, but most of its advanced features are a bit complicated to access. If you are buying this reader to just read books and not make highlights, annotations, look words up in the dictionary or use the keyboard, you are fine! If you want to do any of these things, be prepared to jump through a ton of hoops.

You can customize your e-reading experience by hitting the home key and then selecting the settings menu. There are options to change the font size, eight different font types, line spaces or margins. This is normally the most accessed reading features and anything you augment is dynamically changed on the screen.

PDF Viewing is a solid experience on the Muse you can pinch and zoom and get a particular frame or image showing up correctly. There is also a “reflow” mode, which will strip away all of the images and CSS elements, giving you more of an eBook experience. Depending on the extensiveness of the PDF file you are viewing, reflow can be hit or miss.

Wrap up

If you want to find out what we thought of this e-reader and if its a viable investment, check out our unboxing and video review.


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Today we look back at the top news items of the week! Make sense of the shifting climates of digital publishing, eBooks and e-Readers in one concise video!

Some of the news stories we follow this week are updates to the Amazon Kindle Fire Silk Browser for better security and the Sony Digital Paper available in a few stores in California and New York.


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Welcome to another Video Installment of the Good e-Reader Gift Giving Guide! Last month we did one on the best e-readers of 2014 and today we are basically looking back on 2014 and giving our advice for the best devices to buy yourself or a loved one. Peter and myself have very different views on technology, so you can get a sense on what we loved the most.


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Hey everyone! Welcome back to another Good e-Reader Video Comparison. Today, we evaluate the new Amazon Fire HDX 8.9, which is the model released in late 2014 and the other model released a year ago.

The new 8.9 HDX model has a few things going for it, that makes it a worthy upgrade. The main aspect is hardware based and it has a faster processor, there is also graphic improvements. The most compelling aspect is the inclusion of proper Dolby Audio, which makes audiobooks, music or videos really shine using the speakers.

On the software side of things it runs a more modern version of Android 4.4, so it has more compatibility with modern apps. Amazon borrowed an element from the Fire Phone called Firefly. It can scan book covers, bar codes, UPC labels and even music and gives the price listing on the main amazon website. Finally, ASAP should appeal to video lovers, it buffers in advance content you are watching, such as episode 2 and 3, when you are watching the first one. This cuts down on loading time and allows you not break immersion.

I think the HDX 2014 edition is worthy upgrade if you own last years model or even the first generation edition. This tablet has high enough specs and internals that it will still be relevant for a few years.