Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 2 December 2013

Posted: 01 Dec 2013 09:16 PM PST

Top stories this morning include new details on the snowballing fiasco that is the iPad pilot in LA (link), anther look at the returned ebook problem (link), a retrospective articlist on self-published ebooks (link), a look at HarperColins, the one major publisher who is daring to experiment with new business models (link), and more.

  • tumblr_mlvlnaw53J1rwdefdo1_500[1]The 7-Eleven library — creative Fresno owners show they care (
  • Apple Complains About Court’s E-Book Antitrust Monitor, Fees (AllThingsD)
  • Bengali publishers log on to e-book bandwagon (The Times of India)
  • Beyond E-Books: HarperCollins Looks For the Next Big Thing (Mashable)
  • eBook Predictions | How’d We Do For 2013? (TeleRead)
  • Facebook Testing Instapaper-Like “Save for Later Reading” Feature (AllThingsD)
  • iPad software licenses expire in three years, L.A. Unified says (
  • Is there a return problem for digital books? (Dear Author)
  • Worldreader aims to eradicate global illiteracy by giving children e-readers (PBS NewsHour)
  • Ten Things I've Learned from Evaluating Self-Published Books for a Year (Writer Unboxed)

The post The Morning Coffee – 2 December 2013 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Puts the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX on Sale for Cyber Monday

Posted: 01 Dec 2013 06:49 PM PST

I thinkKindle Fire HDX Landscape Angle Amazon might be feeling the sting of an overstocked warehouse, because they just announced a couple exceptional deals on the Kindle Fire HDX and the Kindle Fire HD.

Or maybe they just want to sell more stuff.

In any case, you can now find the Kindle Fire HD (2013) for $119, or $20 off of the launch price. You can also get the Kindle Fire HDX for $179.

The KFHD on sale today is the updated model that launched a couple months ago. It’s running the new FireOS 3.0 Mojito on a dual-core 1.5GHz CPU with 8GB or 16GB of storage. This tablet is missing the camera and HDMI port found on last year’s model, but it is also (for the time being) $80 cheaper than the retail price for last year’s KFHD.

amazon kindle fire hdx

The Kindle Fire HDX is running Amazon’s own Mojito OS on a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm processor with 2GB of RAM, Wifi, Bluetooth, and a camera (more details here). It has one of the best 7″ screens on the market (1920 x 1200 resolution), and it even tested better than the screen on the new iPad Mini in a recent test.

It comes with either 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of Flash storage, and since this is a Kindle you can get it with or without ads. Only the Wifi model is on sale today, and only while supplies last.

The post Amazon Puts the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX on Sale for Cyber Monday appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Now Working on Delivery Drones (video)

Posted: 01 Dec 2013 06:04 PM PST

Rememberamazon prime air drone that Australian startup that was working on a drone-based textbook delivery service? That company was called Flirtey, and while their idea was still in the early proof of concept phase it promised to potentially be a novel delivery service.

Amazon has just revealed that they too are working on drone delivery concept. It’s called Amazon Prime Air, and like Flirtey’s drone platform it too is still in its infancy.

The retail giant is looking to solve their service and delivery issues once and for all. While some of Amazon’s competitors (like Google) are working to build a same-day delivery service which would compete with Amazon, the Seattle-based retailer is planning to take their promise of free 2 day shipping to the next level. They’re aiming for a 30 minute delivery promise with Amazon Prime Air.

amazon prime air drone

According to Amazon they plan to be ready by the time that the FAA finalizes regulations for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles:

From a technology point of view, we’ll be ready to enter commercial operations as soon as the necessary regulations are in place. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actively working on rules for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Yeah, I don’t believe they’ll pull that off, but they have managed to get the drones flying (for the demo video, at least):

Assuming they do pull it off this is only going to be available in select metro areas, and coverage will be spotty at best.

There are are far too many areas that are too built up for the drones to navigate safely, and their range will be what, 40 miles as the crow flies? If the distance is any longer than that then Amazon won’t make the 30 minute window, I don’t think.

All in all, I think this is probably going to be a premium shipping option – if it happens at all. And I hope these drones do one day take off on their maiden voyage; I am too much of a geek not to want to see the future come one step closer.

Automated delivery services like Amazon Prime Air have been showing up in SF novels for decades now, with authors like Arthur C Clarke, Vernor Vinge, and Robert Heinlein all putting their spin on the idea.

But until today the idea was at best science fiction (Flirtey not withstanding). What are the chances that Amazon might be the first to make this a reality?

Update: I now have the 60Minutes segment about the drones. They have a 10 mile range so I really don’t see what use they will be. You can skip to about 11 minutes in:

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Review: Ematic EGQ307 Android Tablet Has Impressive Specs But -

Posted: 01 Dec 2013 11:52 AM PST

Ematic is aematic-egq307-front-colors[1] budget tablet maker that has been kicking around longer than most. They shipped their first Android tablet in 2011 and went on to release over a dozen models in a variety of screen sizes ranging from 7″ to a 13.3″ monstrosity (including a funky Kindle clone).

Some tablets were decent while others were atrocious, but you generally didn’t know which category an Ematic tablet fell into until you got your hands on it.

And that brings me to the EGQ307.

When Ematic announced the EGQ307 the week before last I was deeply curious how they managed to get a quad-core CPU, decent resolution screen, and otherwise acceptable specs in a tablet that cost less than $100.


ematic egq07Now I know. Ematic cut a lot of corners to make the $99 price point, and the result is a quad-core tablet that I would rate lower than many dual-core tablets.

This tablet’s quad-core CPU was eye-catching, but the benchmark test doesn’t live up to the promise of the specs and actually rated lower than some dual-core tablets. The VGA webcam was fairly good, and the general performance and responsiveness was about what I have seen on other tablets in this price range.

And then there’s the screen, which I can’t stand. It has a narrow viewing angle, but more importantly the screen on the EGQ307 has some undefinable quality that repels me. I cannot explain it other than to state that I don’t want to use it. The battery was also disappointing; it ran down while on standby.

In short, there is little to recommend this tablet over lower priced Android tablets with dual-core CPUs.

Where to Buy


The EGQ307 is your standard Android tablet, 7 inch, one of.  It has the usual glossy front as well as a matte rear shell that attracts fingerprint grease. The one speaker is on the back, and the VGA webcam is on the front upper right corner. All of the ports and the card slot are on the right edge and include an HDMI port, microSD card slot, headphone jack, microphone, and more.

This tablet is running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on a quad-core 1.2GHz Allwinner CPU. I know that the listed specs say that the clock speed is 1.5GHz, but the benchmark test disagrees.The Antutu test also confirmed that the EGQ307 has a dual-core graphics chip as well as 1GB RAM, and 4.9GB of accessible internal storage.

I found the EGQ307 easy to hold in one hand. It’s smaller than your average 7″ Android tablet, and it also weighs less. At first glance the general build quality and appearance is good, but I have some issues when I turn the tablet on.


This tablet has a 7″ screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600. That screen resolution is not uncommon among sub-$100 Android tablets; I know of a couple other models with similar screen resolutions.

What sets this screen apart is that it is much lower quality than its competition.The backlight is about middling bright but lacks the ability to reach either dim or a flashlight level of brightness.

The viewing angle is narrow; you can turn the tablet (at most) 10% to 15% in any direction before losing color quality.  The image will still be  fully visible, though, even though the you might have trouble making out certain details because the color is off.

The screen is also unpleasant to look at; it has some undefinable quality that makes me want to turn my eyes away. I know that is not terribly specific but TBH this is the first time I have had this issue since playing with a 3d tablet at CES 2013.

And as I sit here writing the review, I have noticed that I can see a grid of fine lines on the screen. I’m guessing that this is the touchscreen component. That should not be visible, and the fact that it is tells me that this tablet suffers from a serious manufacturing defect – possibly due to the subcontractor cutting corners to reduce cost.

All in all, the screen alone is enough of a reason to avoid this tablet.


Screenshot_2013-12-01-13-51-42I’ve used this tablet for a week now and its performance is not bad. It’s also not great – not like the Hisense Sero 7 Pro (which costs $30 more). The EGQ307 is reasonably zippy for a sub-$100 Android tablet but it is also not significantly more powerful than competing tablets featuring a dual-core CPU.

In some ways it is also laggy. For example, this tablet can take a couple seconds to wake up after I press the power button. Download speed would best be described as unexceptional; this unfortunately affected Youtube performance .

And app loading time is also somewhat slower than I have seen on other budget tablets. Angry Birds was noticeably laggy at times, which affected the animation and the load times. This last point is particularly important because I have generally been satisfied with playing Angry Birds on other budget tablets.

The EGQ307 scored 12006 on the Antutu benchmark test. That’s both good and bad; it’s a higher score than Ematic’s last tablet, the dual-core EM63, but it is also a lower score than the ClickN Kids Tablet. It confirms that the EGQ307 doesn’t gain anything from the quad-core CPU other than hype.


The VGA webcam was the one redeeming quality on this tablet. The image resolution may be  low, but the image quality was relatively good when compared to what can be found on similarly priced tablets. You won’t be using this tablet for photography, but if you like to videochat the other party will be able to recognize you.

Audio & Video

Video performance was a mixed bag. While this tablet is capable of playing a 720p video without skipping frames or the sound losing sync, Youtube performance left a lot to be desired.

This tablet was unable to play anything other than low resolution Youtube videos without pausing a couple times. This is more of a problem with its ability to download and buffer the video than play the video, but it’s still an issue.

The sound quality (from the single speaker on the rear of the tablet) was generally good for spoken words, but not so good at catching the nuances in music. But that is to be expected from a cheap tablet.


The EGQ307 is running a stock version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. So far as I can see it has not bee customuzed beyond the addition of a few apps.

It ships with Google Play and the usual suite of Google apps like Gmail, Chrome, Youtube, Google Maps. There’s also the stock Android apps like the email client, file manager, gallery, camera, and media players. Ematic has also added apps for Nook, Evernote, Pogoplug (5GB of free online storage), and Kingsoft Office.

Screenshot_2013-11-26-14-11-41 Screenshot_2013-12-01-13-50-52 Screenshot_2013-12-01-13-50-57


The EGQ307 is specced at 4 and a half hours of battery life; I was never able to use it long enough to confirm this. And since the battery can’t hold a charge when the tablet is asleep I don’t care to, either.

In short, battery life was terrible. Over the course of the week, this tablet managed to run out of battery life while on standby no less than 3 times. I would often put it on my night table only to discover that the battery had run down in just over 6 hours of non-use.

This is a not uncommon problem with Ematic and other cheap tablets; even some Hisense Sero 7 Pro units exhibit a similar problem. But just because this problem is common doesn’t mean it is something to be endured.


  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • CPU: 1.2GHz Allwinner A31 quad-core
  • GPU: PowerVR SGX 544MP dual-core
  • 1GB RAM
  • 7″ (1024 x 600) screen
  • 8GB Flash storage (4.9GB accessible)
  • microSD card slot
  • speaker, microphone, headphone jack
  • VGA webcam
  • g-sensor
  • HDMI out
  • Weight: 321 grams
  • Dimensions: 7.58″ x 0.45″ x 4.6″


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