Welcome to another edition of the Good e-Reader Week in Review! Where we cover the latest news on E-Readers, eBooks, Tablet and Slate Computers! This week we had allot of IFA convention coverage news from Berlin, Germany! Lots of news ensues on a ton of new Tablet Computers and further developments to the Acer Lumiread and BENQ.
As always, we summarize the latest news from the most important stories of the week! We know not everyone has time to read everything, everywhere. So we some up the most important stories of the week in an easy and digestible format.
Welcome to a Good E-Reader IFA Exclusive! The first moments of the IFA trade show in Berlin, Germany is upon us, and the show kicked started up with the device everyone has been waiting for, the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Many people have been salivating to get any news or new pictures of this device. We have been continously posting videos the last few days, about this little Tablet PC in action. We now have a little bit of hands-on experience with this new device that is blowing us away.
First of all, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is a 7 inch Android 2.2 driven Tablet PC, that Samsung is billing as a new breed of entertainment device. It only weights around 300 G and can easily be held in one hand.
Under the hood we have a 1GHz chip Cortex A8, PowerVR SGX540 graphics and 512MB of RAM. It has 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, 5.76 Mbps HSUPA and HSDPA 5.6 Mbps. You can upgrade the memory to 16 or 32GB. The battery is labeled a 4,000 mAh, which Samsung says can support up to seven hours of video playback.
Visually, the Tablet has a resolution of 1024 by 600 on a full color TFT touch screen, which gives almost PC like graphics and most things look so great there is little need to zoom in. Samsung announced the availability of the latest version of Flash Player – 10.1 – is on the device and working fine. They also mentioned that it was completly compatible with HTML 5. You can also do some Video-conference with the 1.3 megapixel front camera, and switch the conferencing between portrait or landscape mode. There is also a dandy 3.1 MP camera on the back of the device, to take pictures with. The Camera quality does not compete with some higher end smart phones, but we will take it anyways.
Now let’s talk about some applications! Google Maps and other Google core applications are built into the device, and unlike the woeful Augen Gentouch78, the Galaxy Tab has full access to the Android Market. We mentioned earlier today that Samsung had partnered with Kobo for the new Readers Hub Application, they also showed off Media Hub and Music Hub. We will report back with further news on these two new applications. One of the cooler applications shown off were the augmented reality applications
Welcome to a Good E-Reader IFA Exclusive! The CEO of Samsung used the opening of the conference to show off the new Samsung Galaxy Tab Tablet PC! More to follow on the semantics of the Galaxy Tab in another post, but what breaking news we discovered is that Kobo is deeply embeded into this new device.
The New software Kobo has pioneered for this device is called the “Readers Hub”. This new application was designed specifically for the Android 2.2 driven Galaxy Tab from the ground up. Kobo and Samsung both worked in conjunction on this application amidst great secrecy to give owners of the Galaxy Tab a viable store to use their device as an E-Reader.
Kobo is billing this new application as an application easily used and accessible for all readers. The Kobo application will allow users access to the entire book store, which features around 2.2 million popular ebooks in ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM. The Application will even allow you to add ebooks bought or downloaded from other sources. This new application allows the user to Tap or Swipe to turn the pages of the ebook, or use the interactive table of contents to flip to specific chapters. The application also has a ton of fonts and different sizes of the fonts, so it will allow people to heavily customize their e-reading experience.
With the Samsung Galaxy Tab’s built in Accelerometer you can easily switch your viewing of ebooks from horizontal to landscape mode at the drop of a dime. This new application will also be used on all Samsung Devices going forward, including their new line of Smartphones.
For International users, this new application is great, because it will deliver localized languages on ebooks for people who live in Europe, Asia and other major language demographics.
The LumiReader, Acer’s answer to the Kindles and the Nooks that has been in the news for the past few days has finally been launched at the IFA today. Sporting a similar form factor as the Kindle, the LumiReader too comes with a keypad along with associated buttons beneath the 6 inch monochrome E-Ink display that has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.
Other features that the LumiReader comes with include an USB port, Wi-Fi, 2 GB of internal storage that’s good enough for about 1500 e-books, and a microSD card slot that will further enhance storage capacity. Then of course there is the QWERTY keyboard along with the ISBN scanner, the one feature that makes the LumiReader to stand out of the crowd of e-readers.
All of these has been packed into an extremely slim frame while the e-reader itself, at 250 grams also feels one of the lightest around. Asus also revealed Libri.de e-book store will act as the official content provider when the e-reader enters markets in Germany next month.
Price for the Wi-Fi version of the LumiReader has been fixed at €199 while the same with an integrated 3G modem will cost €249 when its ready for release this November.
Here is one more company that will also have a tablet device on display at the upcoming IFA. The Taiwan based Hannspree – that till now was known for its TV sets – will be bringing along their latest creation, a 10 inch tablet running the Android 2.2 Froyo. However, before you put it off as just another tablet to swell the ranks of tablet devices running Android, there are quite a few things that the newest kid on the Android block has that can ensure it does not get lost in the crowd of Android tablets that have come out in the recent past.
To begin with, it’s running the latest version of Android. The tablet comes with a 10.1 inch capacitive multitouch screen up front with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels while behind it, and perhaps the most interesting bit on the tablet is a Nvidia Tegra 2 SoC packing two ARM Cortex-A9 cores with a clock speed of 1GHz powering the tablet.
The tablet also scores with other features which include a mini-USB 2.0 port, a mini HDMI video output, a 1W speaker along with an SD card slot that can add a few more gigs to the 16GB SSD that the tablet carries on board. For connecting to the outside world, the tablet includes 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 and also includes some pre-loaded goodies like a Chrome browser, calendar, email, media players, YouTube, and social media applications, to name just a few. Users can also enjoy access to the official Android Market.
Remember the 5 Android tablets from Archos that we had discussed here before? Today, they have been officially announced at the IFA and they promise to undo many of the shortcomings that Archos’ earlier tablets have been accused of. In fact, it’s only the 5 inch Archos that found mass acceptance, though the same can’t be said of the other tablet offerings from Archos.
The latest tablet quintuplets start with the puny 2.8 inch sized screen while the biggest tablet comes with a 10.1 inch screen. Price starts from $100 for the Archos 28 and goes all the way up to $300 or $350 for the 8 GB and 16 GB respectively of the 10 inch sized Archos 101 tablet .
All the models are are ok alterntives, especially at the price, but they do have their drawbacks: Archos tablets have no access to the Android Marketplace, meaning you’ll need to shop through Archos’ own — and seriously limited — app store. Also, none of these tablets feature 3G, so we would recommend a different tablet if speed and apps are important to you.
Archos 28 and Archos 32 will be available by mid September while the remaining three tablets, that is Archos 43, 70 and 101, will make it to the retail scene by mid October.
At the IFA show in Berlin, Germany we have seen many new e-readers and tablets being shown off, such as the ViewSonic Tablet, the BenQ Tablet, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. All of those tablets are quite dandy, but today we got our hands on the new Toshiba Folio 100 Tablet PC!
This Tablet is great! Tt comes bundled with Google Android 2.1. Many people are reporting that it uses 2.2 out of the box, but that is not the case.
Now let’s talk hardware. This device has a 10.1 inch compacitive multi touch screen interface, with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. The Folio 100 measures 28 centimeters by 18 cm by 1.4 cm. There is an Nvidia Tegra 2-processor under the hood and 16GB of built-in storage, which can be expanded using an SD card. Battery life should give you around 7 hours of constant use and WI-FI for surfing the internet. Toshiba mentions that there will be 3G support for this soon, as they try and get agreements with major telecom providers. You will also be able to use Bluetooth with the Folio 100, so you can use it for Skype phone calls. Finally, it has a HDMI port, USB port, and built in speakers.
Toshiba has loaded the Folio 100 with a mix of its own software and third-party apps. Each device comes preloaded with the Opera browser, Toshiba Media Player, FBReader, Fring (for video calls), Documents To Go, and Evernote. Toshiba has also decided to not rely solely on the Android Marketplace for apps, although it does have full access to it. The company is encouraging developers to create apps specifically for the Folio 100. Developers can visit this LINK to find out more information on application development.
ViewSonic has come to the IFA with two tablet devices. Of the 2 tablets, the one with the 10 inch screen is said to dual boot both the Windows 7 and the Android, and it is this tablet that was largely shrouded in mystery with the only thing that was known for sure is that it would have a 10 inch screen. However, that’s not the scenario anymore as ViewSonic has come up with a healthy dose of info about the tablet that has been elusive so far.
It’s built around an Intel Atom N455 processor and will have 1 GB of RAM along with 16 GB of SSD. The 10 inch capacitive touchscreen has a 16:9 widescreen ratio screen and surprisingly, boasts of the same 1024 x 600 pixel resolution as the Galaxy Tab as well as the nReader R100 tablet from BenQ. This in spite of the fact that the Galaxy Tab has a 7 inch screen while the ViewSonic and the BenQ offering comes with 10 inch sized screens.
However, with the capability to boot both Windows 7 as well as Android aside, the things that casts a pall of gloom is that the tablet will run a somewhat outdated version of Android, version 1.6 to be precise. This while everyone else is looking forward to the Android 2.2 Froyo or maybe even the Android 3.0 Gingerbread.
Non – IFA News
There is a company called Window and the reason why its in news is that they have added one more tablet device – the Window N6 to the steady stream of tablets that are being produced around the world. But then that’s half the truth for the tablet is among the very few that is built around the uprated 1GHz dual-core RK2818 Rockchip processor. In fact, with the N6, Window has joined an exclusive club of just two other tablets – the ezGear Surfboard 700 and the RAmos W9 which have the new more powerful 1GHz RK2818 chipset at its core.
It is the Rockchip’s 600MHz RK2808 processor that can be found in the majority of the built to a price tablet and is held as a processor with the right mix of price and acceptable performance. However, with the consumers craving for more of almost everything like performance, features, and support, it was only a matter of time for Rockchip to make available the new processor.
So does the new dual-core processor ensure the N6 is one powerful little tablet. Unfortunately there is no way that can be answered with a simple Yes or a No for the simple reason of there being an acute shortage of credible information. There is even serious doubt as to what the screen actually measures though some sources claimed its in the 7 inch category though there’s another camp that believes its 6 inches, the reasoning for which is this – if the N5, Windows previous tablet offering has a 5 inch screen, the N6 should logically have a 6 inch screen and so on.
If you had thought the e-reader price wars has settled down, well here is some surprise for you. For as per the latest e-reader news, Borders has slashed the prices of its Kobo and Aluratek e-book reading devices so that it will now require you to shell out $129.99 for a Kobo e-reader, down from $149.99 while if its an Aluratek Libre reader that you’d like to have, the good thing is it has breached the proverbial $100 mark, by a whisker though so that its now available for $99.99, down from the $119.99 that it earlier commanded.
The latest round of price cuts to affect the e-reader segment is a continuation of the trend that started with Barnes & Noble having slashed the prices of its Nook e-reader to $199 while also introducing a Wi-Fi only Nook that costs $149. Amazon matched the move by not only cutting prices of the Kindle range of e-readers but also introducing a much improved third generation Kindle that cost $189 for the 3G version while the Wi-Fi only Kindle will set one back by just $139. Sony too had resorted to an across the board price cuts of all its e-reader devices for though it had recently stated there isn’t any more round of price cuts forthcoming from the company.
There was a time when e-readers sprouted like mushrooms and within a very short time span e-readers in various shades, hues, shapes, and sizes emerged, all vying for consumer attention. Somewhat the same thing is being replayed once more, though this time it’s Tablet PCs that are being produced at a phenomenal rate. A rate so high that e-readers are getting trampled in the process with only a select few (read fittest) still existing and not going the way of the dinosaurs.
Anyway, lest we deviate from the topic on hand further, a recent sighting of an e-reader called the Jetbook Mini from Ectaco has made us drift into a playback mode as we are reminded of an e-reader of that name that did exist. Only problem is it did not make its presence felt at regular intervals, thereby refreshing public memory. Some pictures of the Jetbook Mini e-reader did drift into the public realms but it was too little for a credible impact. Public memory is short and it was erased.
This time though, there is a video of the elusive e-reader available. Details of the e-reader are extremely scarce and the only thing known is that it has a 5 inch screen. The video also revealed some physical buttons on the e-reader, which perhaps is an indication of the e-reader not having a touchscreen. Also the Jetbook Mini looks a lot different than what we had shown towards the beginning of this year. And guess who the Jetbook Mini has for company – the other 5 inch e-reader in news right now. The Sony PRS – 350 Pocket Edition.
Sony is back to take on the Kindle juggernaut and for that, it has equipped itself with three e-readers. Though they are the same that Sony was selling for quite some time now, the e-readers have been thoroughly refurbished to make them competitive enough for the changed market dynamics. Or so thinks Sony, and the latest e-reader news indicates they have introduced touchscreen version of the same three e-readers along with some other tweaks to renew their battle for the number one selling e-reader brand.
Sony has switched to the ‘Pearl’ screen from E Ink that offers a much better contrast while ensuring that the touchscreen layer on top of it does not lead to a murky or cloudy sort of effect. Instead of the capacitive touchscreen (as is in vogue these days and can be seen on many a smartphone and tablet PCs) Sony has opted for the optical touchscreen. This results in a crisp, sharp display that offers a thoroughly enhanced reading experience. The only e-reader Sony had in its line-up that included a touchscreen interface was the PRS – 650 Touch Edition and this as well as the other two in their latest avatar are a generation ahead of its predecessor. Having optical touchscreen also ensures responsiveness to even little finger actions as well as stylus inputs.
So the baby of the lot, the Sony PRS-350 Pocket Edition, has also been endowed with the optical touchscreen, making it perhaps the smallest e-reader of repute to be so. However, what remains the same is the 5 inch screen and 2GB of internal memory along with an SD card slot that will let you stretch your storage options. However, the one other important thing that has remained unchanged is the price so that the PRS – 350 still starts at $179. That too without either WiFi or 3G.
“The bottom line is we didn’t want to compete on price.” “We wanted to build quality and overall experience. We want to give consumers the feel of buying an e-reader, not a toy,” is how Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division justified their move to keep price unchanged.
What this means is adding e-books to the Pocket Edition will require connecting it to the PC via an USB cable. Compare this to the WiFi only versions of the new Kindle that cost $139 while the Nook costs $149. Both the 3G enabled versions of the Kindle and the Nook are slightly more than the Sony Pocket Edition and it would be interesting to see which way consumer preference goes.
The Touch Edition with a 6 inch display has been priced at $229 and comes with a 2 GB onboard memory which can be jacked up to an additional 32 GB by way of the expansion slots. The Touch Edition is also capable of playing back audio files, has Wi-Fi connectivity and weighs in at 4 pounds.
The costliest of the lot is the Daily Edition that includes both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, with the display being bigger at 7 inches. Onboard storage still is 2 GB with the option of enhancing it to 32 GB via the expansion slot. Price has been kept unchanged at $300, making it perhaps the costliest e-reader around when it hits store shelves around November.
While every tech freak might be glued to what’s coming out of the IFA event now underway at Berlin, BenQ (that has traditionally been known as the maker of computer monitors and related components like projectors) has lifted the viels off the tablet that it was rumored to be making. And it’s not in Berlin that the tablet was brought to light but at its Global Distributors Meeting held in Taiwan that the world got to see the tablet, which they have named nReader R100 , for the first time.
And the tablet does look every bit like a device to look forward to. To begin with, the nReader R100 sports a 10.1 inch resistive touchscreen display up front having a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixel, which incidentally is the same as the just launched Galaxy Tab features. The tablet is built around a 667MHz Samsung ARM-based processor and runs the latest version of the Android, the 2.2 Froyo. However, out of the box, the tablet will run Android 2.0 with the option to upgrade to the Froyo at a later date.
These apart, the other things that the tablet will have include a HDMI port that can support video output of up to 720p, standard USB and mini-USB ports, Wi-Fi and an integrated 3G modem. The tablet will also have 4GB of flash storage as well as an SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot to further expand storage options.
The nReader R100 also has an appearance as impressive at its feature set, with the glossy black casing measuring 173 x 267 x 14.4 mm while weighing a quite convenient 700 grams. And lastly, the nReader R100 has got the one thing that many of the tablet that had set out challenging the iPad’s supremacy could not muster – a superior battery performance which, as per BenQ is rated at 12 hours. And that’s not all for BenQ is also keen to beat Apple on the price front and is rumored to have announced to make the WiFi only version of the nReader R100 at just one eighth of the iPad’s price. However, we’ll have to wait till the first quarter of 2011 to know if that’s how things pan out as it’s during this time that BenQ intends to introduce the tablet in Japan, China and Taiwan, followed by more countries later on.
The BeBook e-reader is another one that we haven’t heard of for quite sometime now. However, the Denmark based company is back in the news again, and with some good news as well. The company has announced a new e-reader and most importantly of all, BeBook stated they are complying with what can be termed as the new mantra of survival in the e-reader segment – make them as low priced as possible. And this is what BeBook has done with its new e-reader and proudly declares it as something that’s “brilliantly affordable.”
Speaking on the affordability factor, Peter Zieleman, marketing director at BeBook has this to say: “After extensive market research it became crystal clear that there’s a strong demand for an affordable reader with all the popular features. We combined just that; all the features users expect from an e-reader, at just a fraction of the cost!
“It is also possible to expand the internal memory on the BeBook Club just by using the SD card expansion slot. Besides all the technical features, the BeBook club has a distinguished and fashionable design.”
As for the e-reader itself, it’s another one in the 6 inch category. The new BeBook e-reader will enable users to enlarge texts or apply bookmarks. Apart from being compliant with a host of e-book formats, the e-reader also supports popular music files like MP3 and WAV formats. Picture files that the e-reader is able to decipher include Jpg, Tiff, Gif, Png and Bmp. So all this points to the BeBook as being a nice little media device, allowing you to view pictures or play your favorite music.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.