Saturday, 15 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

A Kindle Which Plays Games, and Speaking the Same Language

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 07:43 PM PDT

I had a conversation this week that made me sit back and wonder whether I missed a major shift in how people are talking about technology.

My teenage brother, who for various reasons lives on the other side of the country, wants to get an ebook reader. This is neither here nor there, but this past week our mother drafted me to help pick one out and find one that was a good value. Aside from one request, he wasn’t very picky, but my mother made it clear that she wanted to pay as little as possible.

His request? He wanted an ebook reader that could play games.

Now, I’m sure my more knowledgeable readers will know that the Kindle ebook readers can play games, but that’s not what he meant. After I asked a few more questions I realized that what my brother was looking for was a cheap tablet of some kind that could play games.

I ended up convincing my mom to get him a new Kindle Fire HD. The 2013 models are on sale this week at Best Buy for $119 (8GB) and $129(16GB), so it actually cost the same as some of the refurbs on And since the software other services were more polished than most tablets in that price range I thought it was a good value.

But never mind the tablet we got him; I am more interested today in his request.

While I was discussing the topic with my mother, she told me that it is not unusual for people to refer to a tablet by their primary use for it: as an ebook reader.  She also told me that the word Kindle has become the generic term for ebook reader – just like Xerox, Kleenex, Aspirin, and other brand names.

Is this true?

I am not raising this topic in order to argue that anyone is wrong; when it comes to inventing new uses for existing terms the general consensus is what defines proper usage.For example, Aspirin used to be a specific brand, but once people started using it to refer to all competing similar drugs it became a generic term.

And if enough people are using Kindle as a generic term for ebook readers then the same thing could be happening right under our noses.  And if enough people are referring to their tablets as ebook readers then that is the new normal.

So is my mother correct? How do you refer to the gadgets in question, if I may ask?

The post A Kindle Which Plays Games, and Speaking the Same Language appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kindle for Android Updated

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 04:17 PM PDT

kindle itunes logoAmazon issued an update today for the Kindle Android app.  The update doesn’t add any major new features, but according to the changelog it does offer a few useful refinements.

The update adds faster cover loading and it reportedly also fixed the sensitivity issue that some have experienced when using the volume buttons as page turn buttons. According to the changelog readers also have greater font choices, which strange because I can’t seem to find any options for font choices.

Amazon is also promising auto-brightness controls, meaning that the Kindle app is now integrated with the auto-brightness option for your Android device. Unfortunately I have the brightness set manually on my Hisense Sero 7 Pro, and the Kindle app completely ignores the setting. I have to manually adjust the brightness inside the app as well as outside the app, and it’s getting to being annoying.

You can find the app in Google Play and other fine app stores.

Here’s the change log:

- Font choices
- Faster cover loading
- Auto-brightness controls
- Easy access to table of contents in the book
- Fixed sensitivity of volume button page turning
Looking for additional options or settings?
- In a book, tap the center of the screen
- In the library, tap and hold any item

The post Kindle for Android Updated appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Earl Back Country Tablet Sports a New Look, New Specs

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 01:05 PM PDT

The buzzworthyjanuary2 gadget story last summer was the Earl tablet. With a 6″ screen, a rugged shell, and more sensors than you could shake a stick at, the $300 Earl was in a class of its own.

That tablet has seen numerous delays and has long since missed its planned ship date, but it’s still under development. Earlier this month the developers released another update on the Earl, including images of the newly redesigned shell as well as a new spec list. This tablet is still months away from production, but it’s getting closer day by day.

The Earl now has a yellow and black shell.  As you can see in the images below, this case has covers for the ports and an adjustable external antenna. The case is designed to meet the IP68 standard, meaning that it can be submerged in up to 2 meters of water for up to an hour. It’s also designed to protect against a 2 meter drop.

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The original shell, which you can see in this Vine video, had a kickstand with a solar panel. After early tests revealed that the kickstand was a weak point, that had to go. Now the solar panel is integrated into the rear of the shell.

And that’s not the only change. The Earl now has a 6″ Mobius E-ink screen. This replaced the original flexible screen which was going to be provided by LG Display. That was added to the design in November, and it was only the first change to the Earl tablet.

The Earl is going to be running Android 4.4 KitKat on a dual-core 1GHz COU with 1GB RAM, 16GB Flash storage, and a microSD card slot. In terms of sensors, this tablet has a barometer, thermometer, hygrometer, and a 9-Axis accelerometer/gyroscope/magnetometer.

In terms of connectivity, the Earl has Wifi, BT, GPS, NFC, and a multi-band M/FM/SW/LW radio. It can also pick up UHF, VHF, and it can double as a low-power 2-way radio. The surfeit of radio support is what lead to the redesign that added the adjustable antenna. Wifi doesn’t need an external antenna, and nor does GPS or Bluetooth, but when it comes to more traditional radio frequencies manually adjusting the antenna can improve the signal.

Here’s a complete list of the new specs:

  • Android 4.4 (Kit Kat)
  • 6" Flexible, sunlight viewable, E-ink screen (1024×758) with front light
  • Glove friendly capacitive touchscreen
  • i.MX 6 DualLite 1 GHz Cortex A9 processor
  • 1GB ram
  • 16GB memory + microSD (up to 128GB)
  • WiFi 802.11 B/G/N
  • NFC with Android Beam
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • ANT+
  • AM/FM/SW/LW world radio
  • 2w two-way radio with 1w/0.5w low power modes
  • GMRS (USA/CA): 462 + 467 MHz
  • PMR446 (EU): 446 MHz
  • UHF CB (AU/NZ): 477MHz
  • VHF: 2m, 136-174 MHz
  • UHF: 70cm, 400-480 MHz
  • GPS with support for GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU) and Bedidou (China) locational satellite systems
  • 9-Axis Accelerometer/Gyroscope/Magnetometer
  • Temperature, Humidity and Barometer (10cm resolution)
  • Wolfson WM8960 audio codec
  • Waterproof microphone and speaker, 1 watt
  • Vibration alerts
  • 3.5mm TRRS headphone/microphone jack
  • Micro USB
  • Impact resistant solar panel, 22% efficiency rating
  • 20+ hour Li-Ion 3000mAh removable battery
  • Quick Charging system with data support
  • Dual quick disconnect sling connectors
  • IP68 certified, Ingress Protection of dust and water up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) for up to 60 minutes
  • 125mm x 178mm x 15mm (24mm w/antenna)

The Earl has not yet been certified by the FCC or other regulatory bodies. It is expected to go into production in late May, a little over a year after it was announced and about 10 months later than the original ship date.

The post The Earl Back Country Tablet Sports a New Look, New Specs appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Japanese News Reader App Gunosy Raises $12 Million in Funding

Posted: 15 Mar 2014 09:59 AM PDT

The 2012111411-280x205[1]Japanese telecom KDDI announced earlier this week that it had invested in Gunosy , a 3-year-old startup. The amount of funding and the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but sources have estimated that it was in the range of $12 million to $14 million USD.

Gunosy was launched by three University of Tokyo graduate students (Yoshinori Fukushima, Yoshifumi Seki, and Koji Yoshida) in October of 2011.The app is reportedly designed to help readers process a story within 3 minutes, and according to the iTunes listing it has 1.7 million users in Japan.


Its primary source of revenue at the moment are the ads and sponsored links which are placed before each summary or article. TechInAsia believes that this ad network, which launched in November 2013, is the main reason Gunosy raised such a large round of funding.

This is its 3rd round of funding, following a seed round from several investors including B Dash Ventures, as well as 2 earlier small funding rounds in February and July 2013.



The post Japanese News Reader App Gunosy Raises $12 Million in Funding appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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