… Can be followed here – http://win8review.com/2012/10/october-23rd-apple-event-live-blog/
… Can be followed here – http://win8review.com/2012/10/october-23rd-apple-event-live-blog/
A highly popular Kickstarter project that intends to release the first Android-based video game console has revealed some information recently that lends them a bit of credibility. Muffi Ghadiali, known to come people as a Lab126 member and an important part of the Kindle’s development team, has come forward as one of the OUYA project’s main resources.
Admittedly, this is somewhat peripheral to Kindle news. On the other hand, it’s interesting and I feel like talking about it. You’ll have to bear with me here.
The OUYA console is gaining the attention of gamers and Android developers alike at the moment. Their ambitious goal of $950,000 in 30 days has long since been exceeded. At the moment they are expecting over $5,000,000 from backers. The appeal is understandable, when you look at the goals of the designers.
Essentially, they intend to release an Android powered box that plugs into a television. It will be an open platform, unlike other closely managed console projects enjoying popularity today, and cost comparatively little (backers who help fund the project before the end of the Kickstarter period on August 9th can get theirs for $99).
The open console aspect is particularly interesting, if also problematic. Developers have almost total control over their product. This means they can charge whatever they want for any part of their apps. A free to play model is being encouraged, but any app that has a free demo available will be welcome. Compare this to Amazon’s Appstore for Android where developers wanting to release their work for the Kindle Fire will often have to wade through weeks of red tape just to issue a patch and it is easy to understand the appeal.
Of course this is just intention at the moment. While there is some talk of app curation in the associated storefront, no real details are available yet. They have just now begun working on the interface and such wider concerns are a way off. When it comes time to start selling, however, they will have to balance customer satisfaction against developer freedom to avoid ending up with the same sort of malware proliferation that the Google Play store is just beginning to get under control.
What Ghadiali brings to the project is expertise and credibility. The Kindle was an ambitious project that took off in a major way. If somebody who was part of that says that the OUYA console also has a chance despite being in relatively early stages still, then it may be worthwhile to invest in the project. His direction should help to ensure that realistic expectations are adopted and that quality is an important consideration every step of the way.
In some ways the OUYA console will be a direct competitor for the Kindle Fire. It is intended entirely as a means of consuming games, but will also allow developers to sell their other applications. Since a television connection will be mandatory, streaming video and other such visually impressive applications will enjoy a far superior experience in most cases.
It is hard to imagine a video game console having a major impact on the Kindle Fire given that it is a tablet, but they’re both budget devices running Android that offer media consumption as their primary purpose. It could be interesting to see how they interact down the line.
Amazon is getting a bit more bold with every passing day, it seems, as they step ever-further into Netflix’s domain. The most recent such intrusion is their creation of an app for the XBox 360 that allows Amazon Prime subscribers to access the Amazon Prime Instant Video selection and stream directly to their television. Naturally there is also access for those who prefer to rent or buy in addition to or instead of working with the subscription plan. It is hard to say whether this works out well for the Kindle Fire.
The major appeal of the Kindle Fire, for a fairly large portion of the customer group, is its ability to stream video from Amazon with no trouble at a moment’s notice. Lacking as it does any form of cellular connectivity, the Fire is basically something you are going to be watching video on at home if video is being watched. It is hard to picture large numbers of people gathering at public WiFi hotspots to watch their favorite films on portable devices. When Amazon makes a move like this that offers a potentially superior in-home viewing experience, we have to wonder what the overall effect will be.
The major flaw in turning the Kindle Fire into a video streaming device has always been its lack of video output. Naturally this is not an issue when we’re talking about the XBox. These game systems are already in several times the number of homes as the Kindle Fire, especially when you factor in the Playstation 3 which got its own Instant Video app back in April. There is always the chance that Amazon’s expanding media availability will render their hardware somewhat obsolete.
There are some downsides to this new offering that will probably keep it from becoming a prime means of consumption for the majority of users any time soon, however. For one, users are required to maintain an XBox Gold subscription. This is a relatively minor expense, but it does in many cases increase the monthly cost of access to Amazon Prime Instant Video in a significant way if users do not already maintain this subscription for other reasons.
There is also no integrated purchasing mechanism. One of the biggest advantages, and sometimes dangers, of using a Kindle Fire is its quick and easy store integration. If you want to pick up a copy of the latest big name action flick, you can do it and be watching within seconds. The XBox app will require users to head to a PC for all of their purchasing before anything goes up on the TV.
If you have a chance, I do recommend giving this one a try. The interface is reminiscent of the new Netflix application for the XBox and while I can’t say the video selection is as simple to navigate, I have definitely found some surprising and enjoyable titles floating around in the past few days. I love my Kindle Fire, but the jump from a 7” screen to a 47” screen makes an amazing difference when you’re watching just about anything.
Keep an eye on our Windows 8 Release Preview post for updates on download links and hands-on review.
The Kindle line basically started the digital reading revolution. They were neither the first nor the best when they appeared, but Kindles were the driving force behind it. Amazon got too powerful, customers likes affordable eBooks too much, and publishers freaked out to the point of getting involved in what seem to be fairly illegal activities while trying to counter all that. We’ve been over all that before. The big question now is “Why are Kindle eBook prices still so ridiculously high?”
I’m not just talking about the results of the DOJ suit against the publishers over their adoption of the Agency Model. I’m glad that’s happening, and I wish them all the luck in achieving a decisive conviction, but even those publishers who have chosen to settle already will not have had much of an effect just yet. I’m more concerned with common sense.
The most obvious side of this is the obvious dislike of the format. Publishers want physical media to be favored because it is more easily controlled. eBooks are too convenient and most especially too easily pirated, so we have to expect these publishers to try to persuade people to stick to proven methods, right? Some variation on this argument is likely to come up in any defense of the Big 6.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even going to address it at length here beyond saying that it flat out ignores the facts. Study after study demonstrates that piracy either increases or fails to affect overall spending as a trend. It’s unintuitive, so I don’t blame them for being slow to catch on, but surely somebody employed by these companies could do some research that goes beyond ominous warnings of the dangers of piracy like those thrown around by the MPAA. Maybe I’ll go into more detail on that another time.
Even assuming that was too hard to grasp, however, there is plenty of easy to understand information about adapting to a market that does away with the concept of limited supply. The most dramatic example comes from the video game industry where Valve CEO Gabe Newell explained a while back that briefly discounting media by 75% had unexpectedly resulted in sales numbers jumping by a factor of 40. I’m not saying the two industries are directly analogous, but clearly there are signs that digital distribution needs to be approached a bit differently.
There have been a few signs that publishers were tentatively trying to figure all this out. Some short-lived discounts have popped up, and last summer’s Kindle Sunshine Deals promo comes to mind as a large effort to feel out the market. It still seems like the biggest motivator for these publishers is a desire not to change.
They have a good thing going and can basically control the entire publishing landscape when they work together. The Kindle, along with its eReader competitors, is an unknown. If it were embraced, somebody else might figure out how to do things better and that would be bad.
I have no idea when this will change, but it can’t come soon enough. All that publishers have managed to accomplish with this ridiculous behavior is temporarily setting back Amazon by shooting both themselves and their customers in the foot.
Nobody really wants traditional publishing to be completely out of the picture, but lately they’re doing more harm than good. One of these days they will have to realize this and Kindle owners everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief while stocking their digital libraries.
I did some more tweaks to the website in an effort to make it faster. So once again I ask you, my regular visitors to comment whether blogkindle.com website became faster, slower or about the same as of publishing of this post (5:48PM PST October 3rd, 2011)?
On the 12th of August I did some tweaking to my web hosting. Here’s a question for those of you who visit blogkindle.com on a regular basis. Would you say that website loads faster than usual, slower or no change?
If you are interested in getting a G+ invite – drop me a comment here and I’ll send one your way.
Recently the speculation on the potential for a Kindle tablet has gone from considering it a good idea to considering it an inevitability. All the signs are certainly pointing that way, and it fits in with Amazon’s established business model so far. The only real question right now is that of what the particulars will be.
Now, we know that Amazon doesn’t really get too into the whole traditional hardware competition mindset too well. Their only entry so far, as far as I know, has been the Kindle. While it’s great at what it does, the functionality has always been limited to doing one thing very well rather than adding in all the bells and whistles. It is safe to assume that the same will be true of any tablet that they bring out. Affordability and ability to consume media are almost certain to be highlighted over any numerical comparisons of hardware superiority.
As far as software goes, the new Android store and the recent updating of the Kindle for Android software to allow for better tablet PC support via Honeycomb are both indicative of Amazon’s interest in this system. We’re going to be looking at an Android 3.0 device. As a result, right out the door the device should have a great selection of apps ready to go, even excluding the Kindle book apps.
One thing that I’m wondering about is whether or not it will be a part of the Kindle line or a new branch of Amazon hardware. For the most part people have been assuming that it would just be the next generation of the Kindle. Something along the lines of a Kindle Color to compete directly with the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. The more I think about this, the less likely it seems.
Amazon is making their money in the Kindle Store, not on the Kindle itself. Hardware is not what makes this so amazingly profitable for them. The same will be true of any tablet they might come out with. By offering their own device with a predetermined source for app purchases, they should be able to lock in that much more in terms of software sales. The image of the product is likely to reflect this. Just as the Kindle is advertised as having the best selection of eBooks anywhere, the predicted tablet is likely to be sold as a method to have easy access to any app you could ever need.
When you think of apps, is the first thing that comes to mind the Nook Color? For me, not really. While it makes sense at first glance that the smart move would be to capitalize on the Kindle brand in order to jump-start sales, I would say it’s at least as likely that Amazon will try to start off a fresh hardware line without the existing B&N rivalry to anchor this in customers’ minds as a reading device. If they’re going to try to take on the iPad, the best way to approach isn’t with direct comparisons to another product that doesn’t compete on the same level.
This year’s CES selection has been really interesting to follow for me. Everything from Three Dimensional Printers to Smart Grid Homes has come up. It’s loads of fun. A couple things in particular popped up that I thought might be interesting to highlight here though, as relates to all us fans of Kindles and Nooks and such!
Going with the name “MyEdge” for the product line, M-Edge is getting set to open up a service allowing customers to have their Kindle, Nook, or iPad cover personalized with whatever photo they want right on the front. The idea is, you choose a basic cover color, along with any text you want on it, then add in photos, pictures, graphics, etc in whatever pattern works for you. They are aiming to have these personalized cases printed and shipped in 10-14 days. The pricing I’ve heard about is surprisingly affordable, with the Kindle cover being just $40, the Nook cover matching that, and the iPad cover costing only $50. While the service is not quite open yet, if you’re interested you can head to their website and be notified when ordering opens up.
One of the biggest impediments for many newcomers to the eBook phenomenon has often been that book lovers are very attached to their libraries. Personally, I’ve come to dread moving for no other reason than that books are heavy when you get a couple thousand together all in one place. Anyway, when you already own all your favorites, it really doesn’t make much sense to go out and buy them all again just so that they can fit on your Kindle. This isn’t a move from VHS to DVD where the quality is suddenly going to excite you, they’re books! The solution that Ion(a company probably best known for their audio converter hardware) has come up with is an interesting looking scanner made specifically for books.
The device as a whole is a little bit bulky, and far from automated. It’s not going to look at your book and do the work for you. What you get is a scanner with a surface angled to allow book pages to lie flat without being held down firmly that can supposedly scan both pages of an open book in about a second. It will come with some form of OCR software to give you a file that has selectable text, reflow capabilities, etc, rather than your usual flat image or PDF file. The whole thing looks simple to use and should be useful to anybody with the time and interest to spend a few minutes turning the pages. This should all be good, legally, given that any book you scan should in theory be something you own, but I’m sure there’ll be some objection along the lines of piracy at some point. Still, I know that I have a few out of print books that I will be immensely pleased to have digital scans of as soon as this one comes out.
Admittedly these are only a couple of the fun things we have to look forward to now, but they intrigued me and seemed worth pointing out. Enjoy!
Well folks, it’s been a fun and exciting year in terms of eBooks and eReaders. I’m sure that the next year will be even more interesting but for now I’m off to celebrate the New Year for the rest of the day. See you in the new 2011 year!
Cap d’Any – Nit de Cap d’Any
Kindle Black Friday Deal just showed up on Black Friday Lightning Deals page on Amazon Black Friday home page. Deal should become active at 9am today. Here is a screen shot of the deal. You can click on it to go to the deal page (new price will become active only after 9am PST).
More details on the deal could be found at Kindle Black Friday Deal Announced post.
Besides Amazon Kindle Black Friday deal I’m hoping to see some deals on Kinect Sensor with Kinect Adventures and Xbox 360 Console (4GB or 250GB) with Kinect. I tried Microsoft Kinect when visiting my friend for Thanksgiving and it is an amazing product and great gift. That’s why Black Friday deal would be a great opportunity for Amazon and Microsoft to join forces. Even though Microsoft Kinect is still brand new it would be nice to see some nice bundling deals for it on Black Friday.
At this moment brand new XBox 360 4GB Kinect bundle is available on Amazon Marketplace from several merchants with prices starting from $398 for featured merchants and from $361.99 from all other merchant.
Being a hardcore Civilization fan (starting from the Civilization I with CGA graphics) I couldn’t resist posting this slightly off-topic post. The Civilization 5 game is scheduled to release in a few days on the 21st of September. Meanwhile game manual PDF has been made available for download. In case you just want the scoop on the new stuff and don’t want to read the whole thing – here it is: Civilization 5 Review.
It kind of happened by itself… So I grabbed my camera and captured the moment…
I would like to invite you to check out another blog of mine that I’ve recently started: netbook-expert.com. It covers news about netbooks and ultraportable computing in particular. It also allows you to compare netbooks side by side. At the moment there are a little bit over a hundred models in the comparison engine but I’m adding new ones on a regular basis. So with time coverage will become more comprehensive. I’ve made it available on Kindle marketplace along with this blog.
As this blog is relatively new I would like to ask your help in attracting visitors. I encourage you to visit it and review it on your blog or website if you like it or if you think that it should be improved. As a small incentive I can offer one Google Wave invite to first 30 people to write and post reviews about it be these reviews positive or not (honest and objective is what I’m looking for actually). Just email the link to your review to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send back invite your way.
Since release of international Kindle 2 was announced this blog started getting significant number of visitors from outside of US. I decided that it would be nice to deliver the blog in many languages. However I’m only fluent in two and don’t have the resources to translate it manually to many languages that my visitors speak. I’ll have to go with automated translation for the time being.
I’ve enabled it for the following languages (based on the countries visitors come from):
You can also find the translation control at the bottom of left side-bar. If your language is not among these – drop me a comment. If I get enough requests I’ll add more languages.
The reason I didn’t enable them all is because the translation quality is rather poor. However this is something that you can help me with. The translation plugin that I use supports wiki-style modification of the translated pages. However in order to prevent spam and vandalism I don’t want to open editing to the entire world. If you speak one of the listed languages and would like to correct the automated translation now and then, I can email you login credentials for the translation editor.
Take a look at the list of best selling products in electronics section on Amazon.com. As of recently 3rd generation Apple iPod Touch 32GB has climbed to the second place. Currently it is outsold only by Kindle 2 and is trailed by Kindle DX. This is interesting since Kindle has had prime advertising spot on Amazon.com homepage for quite some time now, while the Apple product generates sales only because of this popularity and the fact that Amazon sells it at $20.00 discount compared to the official Apple store and provides free shipping.
Technically it also can be considered Kindle related merchandize since it can run Kindle application that is available in Apple app store.
While it has been widely rumoured that Apple will release tablet PC type device that will compete with eBook readers, the fact that two companies cooperate this much indicate that Apple will not be competing with Amazon in this space. Just look at all the current news about Apple Google feud around Google voice application for iPhone. There’s clearly competition there and no cooperation at all.
Google has unveiled their newest addition to Google news: Fast Flip. Fast Flip is really just a nice, snazzy interface to browse through Google news feeds, but the best way to describe it is to have you try it yourself. So go ahead and check it out a bit before reading on.
Fast Flip seems like it’s trying to be the end-all solution for newspapers’ transition to digital. Users can quickly browse and scan articles until they find something they want to read in depth, and then they can open the article itself. It’s a perfect example of mimicking, and even improving, some aspects of the hand held tree paper experience.
Fast Flip has also been optimized for Android and the iPhone, which means that smart phone owners can comfortably browse their news on the go. Google’s emphasis on mobile devices means that Fast Flip is, in a way, a competitor to current eReaders. Instead of paying for a subscription to one newspaper and reading it on a device like the Kindle (or the Kindle iPhone app), many people may prefer the ability to skim across articles that Fast Flip provides. Really, it’s this kind of interface innovation that is going to help newspapers stay afloat in the digital age and it’s now up to the eReaders to respond. Some sort of application like this on a Kindle DX would be a killer news app. Sure, the slow refresh rate of eInk would mean no fancy transitions, but a sampling of articles across that huge screen would help close the gap between digital and print news. Let’s hope Amazon can produce something like this with the next generation of Kindles.
The Book Seer is really just a combination of several recommendation engines, including Amazon’s. Sure, you could just let Amazon give you their recommendations, but you would lose out on the dramatic presentation and woodcut graphics. Plus, the Book Seer gives you a lot more results than just Amazon’s suggestions alone. It’s also kind of interesting to see how Amazon’s recommendation algorithm compares to the others.
At the very least, The Book Seer will provide you with a time waster for a couple minutes.
Scientists have developed an incredibly cheap method to build an electronic display. They made it out of electric wiring, paper, and the thermochromic ink found in mood rings. The result is a foldable, color-changing display.
There isn’t really any major technological developments involved. The ink changes color depending on its temperature. By evenly layering the ink across paper, and adjusting the ink’s temperature via various electric voltages, the appearance of the paper can be altered.
At the moment, this is really just a proof of concept. It’s planned use is for integrated displays in affordable scientific tools, such as a water tester. But what if the technology was refined and used as a cheaper alternative to an E-Ink display? A fine tuned electric grid placed across a thermochromic surface could create a durable, relatively inexpensive, dynamic display. The refresh rate wouldn’t be fast enough to be a computer monitor, but it could work as an eReader.
Such an application is probably unlikely due to the long head start of eInk technology, but display is fairly cool nonetheless. If you want, you can try to build one yourself, but I’ll warn you that the paper can get a bit technical.
Once again I forgot to restore full-text feed after WordPress update so Kindle subscribers could have gotten snippets today instead of full posts. I’ve fixed the error and wrote a 12 posts-its to myself to it doesn’t happen again. Sorry for the inconvenience.
A bit old but funny. A sketch from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon which has the Kindle 2 reading passages from The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama. All set to candlelight and classical music. Oh, and it tells jokes too!
Unfortunately, no such device is yet in production, but the basic technology already exists. Braille displays for blind computer users have been around for decades, and it’s only the prohibitive cost that has kept an eReader like this from being developed. As research continues, it can be expected that something like this prototype will one day exist.
A braille device that fell under the Kindle brand, or at the very least had support for the Kindle Store, would solve any problems surrounding the current suit against ASU. But even more important would be the larger effect a braille eReader would have. Unlike the purchase of a normal eReader, which essentially comes down to a consumer’s personal preference, a braille eReader would have near universal acceptance in the blind community. With braille, a refreshable eReader with a limitless digital library would have clear benefits over the limited supply of bulky paper braille books. If such a device could be developed at a reasonable price, the maker would not only stand to help the disable but also to make a huge profit.
I was just informed that people who subscribed to this blog via Kindle Store were getting snippets instead of full articles. This was an unexpected side effect of me upgrading to WordPress 2.8. I’ve addressed the issue so from now on articles should be full text again. I apologise for the inconvenience.
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