Nintendo Extra is a new digital magazine that was designed to appeal to a younger audience. The first issue includes an introduction to The Legend of Zelda by producer Eiji Aonuma, basic tips for Mario Kart 8, a Captain Toad comic, Pokemon Alpha Sapphire & Omega Ruby features, and the first episode of the ‘Cat Mario Show’.
The new magazine is completely free and is primarily available through the Nintendo official website. There is no word yet if the publication is planned to launch via a series of apps for iOS or Android.Last month we saw the closure of Official Nintendo Magazine and this new endeavor is likely a second attempt to help market core Nintendo properties and appeal to a new demographic.
Amazon is gearing up for the holidays by slashing some of the prices on their tablets and also positioning themselves to push lots of Fire TV sticks.
The Fire TV Stick is a cheap alternative to the Fire TV system that launched earlier this year. In essence, the $39 stick connects to the HDMI port on your HDTV for instant access to movies, TV shows, music, photos, apps, and games. It features a dual-core processor, 2x the memory of Chromecast, dual-band, dual-antenna (MIMO) Wi-Fi, and exclusive features like ASAP for instant streaming. Plus, it comes with a remote control for simple and easy navigation. You can also use the free Fire TV Remote App for Fire phone, Android phones, and coming soon to iPhone to search using just your voice.
The Amazon branded stick is shipping today, but new orders might be a bit delayed, due to the sheer amount of people opting to try out this new system. It is currently estimated that if you place your order today it won’t get shipped out until early January. Hopefully Amazon will get more manufactured and reduce the wait time.
Amazon is also discounting some of their tablets. The new Fire HD 7 normally costs $139 and is now on sale for $119, also the variant released last year, the seven inch HDX is only $179.99.
Also, if you are thinking of subscribing to Amazon Prime for the first time or renewing your membership you can get a $40 discount on the new Basic Touch 2014 model. Simply start/renew your membership and then add the product to your cart for the free voucher.
The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight is the only e-Ink based reader the bookseller is currently marketing. It normally costs $119.99, but starting November 21st, it will be discounted to $99.99 and this price point seems to be locked in stone for the rest of the year.
Barnes and Noble is also having a “Discovery Week” sale this weekend where lots of things are being discounted store wide in order to get a jump start on buying gifts for the holidays. In a limited time promotion from November 21 to November 23rd the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK devices have new low prices. You can pickup the seven inch version for $149.99 (after a $50 instant rebate) or purchase the 10.1 inch variant for $249.99 (after a $100 instant rebate).
Barnes and Noble has formally unveiled their Nook Audiobook app for Android. The Nations largest bookseller is putting a company wide priority on the audio experience. This is the first time they have ever got serious about it and they intend on marketing it towards the types of people who buy books on a regular basis or have never listed to one before.
There are over 50,000 audiobooks from major publishers available to purchase and the vast majority of them have free samples that range between two and four minutes in length to preview. As part of the launch promotion every week there will be five free audiobooks and new users to the platform can download two for free. There is no signup required or credit card needed for the account in order to take advantage of this promotion. The titles were exclusively vetted to span multiple genres and picked especially for the overall quality of the narration. During the first week the following titles will be available; Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Ender’s Game (Ender Quintet #1) by Orson Scott Card, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Heist (Fox and O’Hare Series #1) by Janet Evanovich and Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand.
Kashif Zafar, Vice President of US Digital Content at NOOK Media told Good e-Reader exclusively “The mission of the design was to be very crisp and engage the broad mainstream audiobook customer. This was one of the first apps we built from the ground up and we feel it provides a user friendly experience.
Barnes and Noble is sourcing their compete audiobook collection from Findaway World via their AudioEngine imprint. This is the same organization that powers the vast majority of libraries digital catalogs.
This is not the first time the bookseller has got involved in audiobooks. For the last few years they sold them exclusively online and the titles were provided by Overdrive. When customers purchased an audio edition they had to download the Media Console app and had to register an account. Kashif mentioned that this distracted from the overall user experience and was quietly killed a few months ago.
The Nook Audiobook app will be made available via a firmware update for the Nook HD, Nook HD+ and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 7 and 10.1 inch models sometime in the near future. B&N did not confirm exactly when these tablets will get the update, but the priority right now is the Android app. Kashif made it very clear that the marketing efforts behind the app is simply not pushing it out to the devices and hoping for the best. “We are implementing a marketing program across all of our bookstores to really drive home the fact we are serious about audiobooks. We also encouraging our publishing partners to advertise it across their own networks.”
I got a chance to play around with the final release version of the Android app as apart of the soft-launch program. I actually found it really intuitive to use, it doesn’t bog you down with advanced features, but makes listening and purchasing new content really easy. The main store features the aforementioned free content any user can download. There are a few sections that are curated by the new Nook Audio team and there will be seasonal themes and update provided every few weeks. There is also a featured audiobook of the week, which offers a tremendous discount.
When you listen to an audiobook, you don’t have the advanced features that Audible has. You can’t adjust the speed of the playbook to read faster or slower, you are stuck with the default setting. This isn’t all bad, as much I as do use the iTunes and Audible Players I have never adjusted the narration speed, but some people do, so it bears mentioning. You also are limited to two simultaneous downloads at a time, but once the first chapter is is complete you can listen to the book as its downloading.
The Nook Audiobook App is available as a free download from Google Play but is only available for US customers. I found that living in Canada you can buy and listen to audiobooks, so there seems to be no geographical restrictions on content. Kashif also wanted to make clear that an iOS version should be available in early Spring 2015. There is no timeline for official expansion into the UK or other international markets.
The entry into the audiobook market is perfect timing for Barnes and Noble. It perfectly rounds off their Nook Media catalog so they now sell everything a reader could possibly want. Apps, eBooks, comics, graphic novels, magazines, music, newspapers, and video.
The Amazon Silk Browser is fairly innovative because it can buffer in advance websites you visit on a regular basis, to cut down on the load times. One feature that has sorely lacking is private browsing, so you can cut down on the footprint you leave online and avoid some of the cookies that tend to follow you around. Today, Amazon has announced that this critical feature is now available.
In a statement issued on the official Silk Blog the lead developer said “In response to customer feedback, we are excited to announce support for Private Browsing. With Private Browsing, you can surf the web without saving a record of your visits. For example, if you use Private Browsing while researching travel destinations for a surprise trip or shopping for presents, these sites will not show up in your browsing history when someone else uses your device. Private Browsing is now available on our 2012, 2013, and 2014 Amazon Fire tablets as well as the Amazon Fire phone. Pages you view during a Private Browsing session do not remain in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after the session is over.”
In order to download the new update for your Amazon tablet or phone you have to download the largest update. This is normally pushed out via WIFI, but if you want to get it right away see the Software Updates page on the Fire & Kindle Support site.
The Sony Digital Paper is the first large screen E Ink device aimed at business professionals and a stark departure from consumer e-readers. The product up until this point has only been available through key Sony partners and sold online, prospective owners have not got a chance to try it out to see if its the right fit for them, until now.
Sony executives have announced that the DPT-S1 Digital Paper is now on display at Sony Stores to “touch and feel” the device, especially to realize the lightness and also the fluid handwriting. It is currently available at the Sony Store at Stanford University in Palo Alto and the 550 Madison Avenue Store in New York.If a customer likes way they see, these locations have plenty of units in stock for $999.99. Not to mention that people from overseas have another option if they, a relative or colleague is in the neighborhood!
Sony has also confirmed they are engaging in direct advertising for the first time “We’re running some ads in the The Stanford Daily digital edition. There’s been considerable interest from individuals in the Stanford community, and from the Bay Area in general.”
I think being able to give the Digital Paper a test drive is tremendous. Up until this point if you wanted to check it out, you had to watch one of our extensive YouTube Videos, which demonstrates the full user experience. Actually being able to hold one in your hands and play with it for awhile is likely the best way to actually push more device sales.
The Slush conference in Helsinki brought news that Nokia hasn’t been twiddling its thumbs in the seven months since their devices and services unit was sold to Microsoft (for a cool $7.2 billion). It appears the company was hard at work preparing to deliver the N1: a 7.9-inch, aluminum-shelled, Android tablet (running Lollipop OS). It looks a lot like Apple’s iPad Mini (complete with the placement of the camera, buttons, and headphone jack), but will sell at a far more attractive $249 price-point.
Luckily (and cleverly) for Nokia, the sale to Microsoft may have included a ban on making smartphones or handsets for 30 months –but other devices, including tablets, were not included in that agreement.
Nokia’s head of devices Sebastian Nystrom indicated that the N1 is targeted toward users who have yet to find the Android tablet of their dreams (meaning those out there who love the classy look of an aluminum-bodied tablet, but would prefer not to buy an iPad). Other specifications for the N1 include the use of Gorilla Glass 3, a weight of 318 grams, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera, 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, and Wi-Fi (only) network connectivity.
Nokia’s reveal video is linked below, offering an excellent overview and visual guide to the N1.
The initial launch of the N1 will be limited to China and is expected around the Chinese New Year (February 19, 2015), with delivery to Russia and select European countries shortly afterward. There is no word yet on when we might see Nokia’s new tablet in North America, but I suspect that will depend greatly on how is is received following the initial release.
Profits are down, so Samsung is making plans to streamline their product offering in an effort to get the company’s financials back on track. Selling fewer smartphone models will be Samsung’s primary cost-cutting measure, reducing their current line-up by 25%-30% overall. This news comes on the heels of the heads up given to investors that the upcoming financial results will show a considerable 74% drop in mobile profits during the third quarter of this year.
While it may seem like a huge loss, it’s actually about time (with a seemingly endless array of available devices, like their flagship Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy S5 Active, Galaxy Note Edge, Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5, Galaxy S5 Mini, Galaxy Alpha, and more)!
If successful, Samsung will find its way back to a double-digit percentage margin:
“After maintaining smartphone operating-profit margins above 15% for 10 consecutive quarters, Samsung’s margins from its mobile and information technology business were squeezed to just 7% in the third quarter ended September—the lowest level since the end of 2008, before it launched its first Galaxy smartphone. Acknowledging the slide in margins, Samsung executives said during an earnings call last month that its new goal is to maintain a sustainable double-digit percentage margin starting in the new year. They reiterated that pledge during this week’s investor day meeting.”
Less hardware diversity means being able to share more components across devices (particularly in the mid-to-low-end models), allowing Samsung to maximize profits while they “further leverage economies of scale.”
Fewer smartphones should also make it easier for consumers to decide which device they want (not to mention making it more clear when their existing device is out of date and in need of an upgrade).
Now before people worry too much about Samsung as a whole, don’t forget that they have a lot of other irons in the fire.
Liberio is a eBook publishing startup and has been quite vocal about embracing the cloud. The company launched with being able to tap into your documents on Google Drive to create your own eBooks.Authors have more options with the ability to integrate material from Dropbox, Github, OneDrive, SoundCloud and Vine into the platform.
Using Liberio’s custom file picker, you can import documents, cover images, and media files from these additional sources free of charge. If you created an eBook in the past with the system, you can edit it to add new media content or just create a new one from scratch. No other self-publishing system currently enjoys the flexibility to be able to create enhanced books with tons of media content from around the web.
The eBooks created with Liberio are 100% compliant with the types of formats major eBook stores require, such as Amazon, Google Play Books or the iBooks Store.
I think this is a bold move on the part of Liberio to embrace popular media channels such as Soundcloud and Vine. Frequently these platforms are employed by rising young internet stars and suddenly its quite viable to harvest your own material for publishing their own eBooks.
Amazon has put together their first true true tablet aimed at children with the Fire HD Kids Edition. This device incorporates a free subscription to Kindle Unlimited, which has thousands of apps, books and movies on a À la carte basis. It also has a child proof case that ships with the unit and a two year warranty.
The Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition on a fundamental hardware level is the exact same as the Fire HD7. It has a seven inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 X 800 pixels. The colors look rich and vibrant, but it certainly won’t break any barriers in terms of the 216 PPI.
Underneath the hood is a quadcore 1.5 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage. There is also a rear facing camera with 3 MP and a fairly woeful front facing .03 MP camera.
When you buy the kids tablet it comes with your choice of colors for the rubber protective housing. There is a few that will appeal to boys and girls, such as blue, pink and yellow. There is ample room for the speakers, Micro USB and power buttons, as to not obfuscate them from easy access.
Speaking of speakers (see what I did there?) the stereo ones on the back provide some fairly bombastic sound levels. It does not exceed the Dolby Audio found on the HDX 8.9, but Amazon consistently delivers the best audio experience on tablets. This makes sense, because they are heavily invested in their Instant Video division, music and audiobooks.
If you have been a parent for long, when kids attach themselves to something that makes a lot of noise, it can be frustrating. This unit has a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you can get them to attach some earphones, when they read the enhanced eBook for the 100th time.
The Fire Kids Tablet has Android 4.4 loaded on it, but since its so heavily skinned you will likely not tell the difference between an older version of Android. When you fire (see what I did there again?) up the device for the first time you are presented with the option to register some children profiles. If you have one, or many, they can personalize their app, book and video experiences so they don’t overlap.
Parents will get one year of Freetime Unlimited with purchase, this gives over 5,000 books, videos and apps. Anything accessed via the Freetime interface is completely free. So you won’t have to worry about any types of apps with micro transactions, there simply aren’t any.
There are a number of options that can be employed to keep your kids using the tablet on a respectable level. There are options to establish when the tablet can be used and when it automatically turns off. Parameters can be defined for the weekday and weekends. I like the fact there can be reading goals, such as read for 2 hours a day and play video games for X hours. It encourages kids to read, with the proverbial carrot being mindless entertainment.
This tablet is perfect for a household because on one hand you have a unique interface, clearly aimed at kids. When you enter the parental password it turns into a quintessential Amazon experience. You can buy eBooks, audiobooks, apps, movies, television shows and any other core digital content Amazon sells. You can read your favorite newspaper and read some manga.
The Fire HD Kids Edition is a tablet that is aimed at a household with not a lot of money to spend. They want these types of customers to feel confident that they will have an unlimited two year warranty if anything should go awry with it. It has enough bells and whistles on a software level to keep the little ones entertained, without having to spend anything extra for a year. Parents can access any of the content they bought on prior Fire models or if they had a Kindle, everything is preserved.
There are many companies involved in the tablet sector that aim their products at kids. Fisher Price, Samsung, V.Tech and others have all sorts of gadgets you can buy at Walmart or your local Toys R US. Amazon did something different. They made a product aimed at kids, but also at adults. It doesn’t feel like a cheap tablet, made of plastic, its rugged and durable.
I would recommend this tablet to parents on an extreme budget and don’t have luxury items like the iPad. If you have the 2013 edition of the Fire HD, there really isn’t any need to upgrade to this.
1 Year Freetime Unlimited
2 Year Unlimited Warranty
Durable Rubber case to protect the tablet
Speaker quality is solid
Resolution could be better
Video service is only relevant in the US only
Hardware specs are average