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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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July 2014
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Tablets Help Visually Impaired Readers Read More Quickly

Before e readers and tablets came around, blind and visually impaired readers had to rely on braille, large-print, or audiobooks.  Now, the visually impaired can use a Kindle or other e-reader or tablet to enlarge the font right in the screen.  I can attest first-hand that reading a Kindle is much less tiresome on the eyes than reading print books.

That is definitely a huge step up from lugging large books around.  No more bulky travel bags.

The font adjustments in the Kindle are very helpful for creating a less tiresome reading experience, not only for the visually impaired, but for people who don’t have any vision loss.  That in turn enables us to read for as long as we want to.  As long as time permits, of course.

The latest studies show that people who have central vision loss can benefit from reading on a tablet such as the iPad or Kindle Fire.  The level of contrast between the text and background helps speed up the reader’s reading levels.  The sharpness and clarity of the text on the background is important.  On tablets, you can use either black on white, or white on black.  There is also a more neutral setting that doesn’t create such sharp contrast.  So, the added customization can fit the needs of more readers.

Overall, e readers have a lot of potential for opening up a world of reading and literacy for people who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity.

With that said, the technology still has a ways to go to meet the needs of all readers.  Text-to-speech is currently a controversial service, and isn’t offered on some Kindles.  Including audio menu navigation and the ability to read books via audio on the Kindle go a long way for those who can’t read print at all.

 

Kindle Trade-In Available Now For Those Hoping To Upgrade

As Kindle updates have happened over the years, one of the biggest customer complaints has been that Amazon has completely ignored the existing customers who might want to upgrade to the newest device possible.  This was especially an issue moving from the first generation of the Kindle to the second generation, since it was such an immense improvement and change in aesthetic.  Up until recently, however, the only recourse for early adopters and other existing customers was to either be happy with what you already have or pay full price for the next generation.  At this time, though, if you are a Kindle owner who would like to trade in their existing eReader for credit toward a new one, there is finally an option!

It seems that pretty much anything you have on hand is eligible.  Even first generation Kindles will get you up to $12 depending on condition.  That might not be much compared to the initial purchase price, but using a 4 year old eReader to get 15% off a new Kindle 4 isn’t a bad deal at all, considering all the improvements that have taken place.  Surprisingly, even non-Kindles are eligible.  At this time, a non-touchscreen Kobo or Sony Reader Pocket will get you around $20.  You’ll find any number of competing products to be worth some money if you are interested in switching to the Kindle, or just want some Amazon credit in general (Nook excluded at the moment).

As one cautionary note, be aware that when trading in your eReader you are unlikely to get the full “up to $__” value for your device as this is for a completely unworn product with its original packaging intact.  I doubt many people have hung on to their old boxes on the off chance they might come in handy someday.  The difference between the “Like New” price listed and a “Good” product is generally between $1 and $15, proportional to the value of the device.

I can see this being a valuable move for Amazon in a couple different ways.  Obviously it spurs adoption of new devices.  The Kindle Fire is doing great, of course, but more is always better.  Also, the Kindle Touch is probably where Amazon wants focus at this time as far as eReaders go, so it makes sense to provide an easy way to upgrade.  No matter what device is chosen, there is a good chance that it will be something that Amazon can present ads on, increasing the revenue stream along those lines going forward.  There is also a high probability that, since the Kindle 4 and Kindle Touch are the newer, shiner eReaders at the moment, this will mean fewer devices with unlimited 3G access floating around.  While they have not gotten rid of that feature for new Kindle Keyboard purchases, the restriction on the new device makes it clear that there is an interest in cutting down those ongoing expenses.

Regardless of the motivation for offering the deals, though, this should help some people who want to get their hands on a new Kindle to do so.  It might not be a lot of the price being offset in some cases, but everything makes a difference in the end.

Here is the link to the Trade-in department of Amazon where you can choose any stuff for trade-in transactions. In the “Find the Items You’d Like to Trade In” select “Electronics” category from the drop-down menu and type Kindle in “Search by title or keyword(s)” box. After clicking the “Go” button you will see the options for trade-in transactions.

 

 

Sony Reader App Announced

Sony, the company that all but started the eReading industry, has finally gotten around to joining the mobile reading app marketplace!  This December, according to their admittedly sparse preview page, we’ll get to play with Sony Reader for iPhone and Sony Reader for Android in addition to their hardware options.  It will have the expected features we’ve gotten used to in existing reading app offerings: text resizing, bookmarks, highlighting, and annotation.  It does have a nice looking interface though, from what we can see, and may present other unique features as well!

The Sony Store integration is what’s going to make this app unique compared to the Kindle or Nook alternatives.  Their store does have a decent selection of comparably priced books available, of course, as well as the now almost expected Google Books connection that allows them to present over a million eBooks free of charge.  This last feature was rather loudly advertised for a while, as one might expect, but doesn’t really seem like it will add much to the value of the application.  As anybody who has used a Nook for any length of time will know, however, the integration of the Google Books library into a store can cause more trouble than it solves.  It is nice to have those things available, but quality and tagging can occasionally be somewhat problematic and leave you unsure what you’re even looking at.  Besides, isn’t it fairly likely that anybody who wants Google Books on their phone is going to be able to just head to the web page?  Anyway…

I really like what Sony has done for the eReading marketplace in the past.  I really don’t think it would exist in quite the form it does today without them.  It has been a long time since they were leading the pack, though, and they’re late to the game on this point.  Hopefully, that just means that this will be something that’s been given enough development time to really impress, somehow rather than just being a means for owners of the Sony Reader devices to read their purchased books on other platforms.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but it would do them some good to pull a bit of attention away from the Nook and Kindle front-runners.  More competition is always a good thing.

Sharp Takes On Kindle

It’s hardly new to anybody that the eReader market is a place where everybody is scrambling to make their mark and stake a claim.  Some successfully nudge their way into the public eye via good marketing and good feature sets, like the nook, and some simply fail in the face of so much pressure.  It remains to be seen how Sharp will do, but they’re clearly interested in finding out!

We know little about their announced eReader besides that it is going to be LCD-based, has presented with a touch-screen in prototypes, and will feature an entirely new format and distribution system, if all goes according to Sharp’s plans.  The basic idea of the design seems to be going along the lines of Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) recent addition of A/V integration to the Kindle software, but with a format based on an accepted Japanese standard for eBooks and eComics.  This file system, a next-gen XMDF, is said to allow audio and video integration that will be accessible across multiple devices including user PCs and, obviously, their eReader tablets.

Where does this leave the existing market?  Even assuming that this takes off, and the interest garnered by Amazon’s A/V efforts demonstrate that there’s a market for somebody willing to cater to such things, I think that the Kindle has little to worry about.  The traditional LCD, the new format and distribution system starting from scratch, and the fact that they’re facing off against established competition all work against Sharp’s design.  I, however, am intrigued and wish them luck.  I’d like to see where this takes things.

What We Know About the Kno

While it’s ridiculously early to be talking much about a product that will, in the best possible case that they’re claiming, not be available until late fall(December has been mentioned), the Kno is an interesting take on the eReader market and might address some of the reasons that the Kindle is having trouble taking off as anything but a library resource at many universities.  While the Kindle is far more pleasant than any LCD for leisure reading, eye strain is usually a lesser concern for a student hitting the books.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • It’s HUGE.  Two linked 14″LCD touchscreens meant to accommodate a full sized textbook with note-taking capability and integrated annotation functions for textbooks
  • It’s expensive.  They’ve not released much information about pricing yet, but most sources and interviews about the device tend to focus on the range of $1,000
  • WiFi enabled.  Enough said.  It’s for students and if you can find a college student without regular internet access these days, you’re likely going to a lot of trouble for it. 3G would be overkill
  • Deals with McGraw Hill, Pearson, Wiley and others already in place for textbook distribution
  • SDK entering Beta this year.  More options are always better and it’s a safe bet that the application selection on this one will be essential

That’s about it.  The size and weight will be off-putting for a lot of people.  This is clearly not a leisure device for most.  For students already used to carrying around multiple textbooks each the same size as and nearly the same weight as these devices, however, it makes a lot of sense.  The ability to display textbooks with natural pagination, little to no scrolling, and annotation by the student has the potential to make the Kno a must-have for students.  Overall, the news is cautiously optimistic.

Yes, this is simply the new incarnation of the Kakai device we reported on a while back.  We’ve gotten more details and they’ve gotten more interesting since then.  A second glance was merited.

nook Promotional Offer

Moving back to the other side of the usual competition, after Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) recent announcement of this fall’s upcoming slimmer and more streamlined Kindle, Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has begun a limited time offering(from June 2nd through July 3rd) of a $50 Gift Card with every nook device purchased through either themselves or their partners and Best Buy.

There is, of course, plenty of opportunity to read into this as more than a marketing push, paving the way for the WiFi-only nook we’ve been hearing about or a jump to a lower price point in general, but without anything to set schedules by, it’s a bit hard to assess.  Regardless of the reasoning behind the offer, anybody who was on the fence about picking up this eReader will now have that much more incentive to run out and give it a try.

For those who order their device online, you will need to create a BN.com account with attached credit card and you may expect the gift card to be included in the packaging with your new nook.  This might not be the best time to upgrade, or even to simply join the eReading populace, given the new technology right around the corner, but if the urge is there then this is one more reason to go for it.

A not-so-Novel Device from Pandigital

Pandigital, a company until now known for their digital photo frames, has entered the eReader market with their new device: the Novel.  This 7-inch tablet device features what is described as a responsive touchscreen, 1GB of internal storage, a 6-hour battery, a full web browser, and the ability to store and view both pictures and video, among other things.  At first glance, it’s honestly kinda cool.  Almost like getting an iPad without all the extra expense, maybe. Given the price, however, and the emphasis on it’s status as an eReading device, we find some shortcomings by comparison.

A $199.99 MSRP is a good start, however it hardly makes this a revolutionary introduction to the marketplace with the Kobo coming in at $149.99 and the anticipated nook Lite matching the $199.99 asking price.  Oddly enough, what is said to make the nook price drop so much in the move to the Lite model is the lack of 3G wireless support, which the Novel lacks in the first place.  Makes some sense.

Also, not to belabor a point that most people have probably realized on their own by now, it is an LCD display.  This means that while it’s likely to be pleasant to look at and great for displaying full-color texts(especially magazines and such that rely on this), it is going to be harder on the eyes than something like the Kindle.  No, I haven’t held one in my hands yet, but with LCDs it’s the nature of the beast.  Some are better than others, but for reading eInk puts them all to shame.

The thing that stands out the most for me, however, is the battery life.  One of the most pleasant parts of owning an eBook Reader is the fact that you can treat it just like a book for the most part.  My Kindle comes out once a week for charging, if that, and otherwise sits in my bag or on the bookshelf, always ready to go.  I don’t have to come home and worry about plugging things in.

Needless to say, I’m unimpressed by what’s being presented here so far.  It’s a neat little device, but it’s too late to make a splash.  There are better eReaders out there for the same price, better multi-purpose tablets for just a bit more.  Unless you spend extremely long periods of time with books or magazines that require color displays, this will probably be something you pass on.

New Budget-Conscious eReader Enters the Market

Slated for release this May and already available for pre-order, the Kobo eReader provides an inexpensive option for those looking to enjoy the eReader option without breaking the bank. It’s not a Kindle-killer or even trying to be a contender in the recent eReader/Tablet competition being played up all over the internet at the moment, but rather a basic, simple take on reading a novel.

It’s really quite a deal at just $149, honestly. The physical specifications are similar to what is already out on the market:

120mmx184x10mm w/ 6″ eInk Screen
221g / 7.8 ounces
1Gb Internal Storage with an SD Expansion Slot
Bluetooth Compatibility, including Blackberry sync
Compatible with ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM files

You can get books in these standard formats from pretty much anywhere on the net, including all the popular sources for free literature like Project Gutenberg and Manybooks.net, but the main promoted source will clearly be the Kobo website. No shortage of reading material is always an upside! The downside however, from the gadget lover’s point of view, is that they make no attempt to turn the device into a catch-all for every day tasks. This is quite plainly an ebook Reading Device. Nothing more. No 3g coverage, no downloadable apps, nothing but what you need.

We have only pre-release reviews and technical specs to go by at this point, but it looks like a promising addition to the eReader scene. If you or somebody you care to buy for likes to read a lot for pleasure, this will almost certainly be a welcome product. It won’t check your email, find you a path to the movies, play your home movies, or run games. If that doesn’t turn you away, it might be worth a close look.