Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 7 April 2014

Posted: 06 Apr 2014 09:30 PM PDT

Here’s a short list of stories to read this morning.

  • Dropbox clarifies its policy on reviewing shared files for DMCA issues (Ars Technica)
  • A Great Reason You Should Self-Publish Your Book… (LiveHacked)
  • Is Dawn Finally Breaking For E-books in Spanish? Spanish Books Spring 2014 (PW)
  • Lies, damn lies and publishing. (Jim Webster)
  • Northeast Ohio Media Group content chief institutes a zero-tolerance policy for typos (JIMROMENESKO.COM)
  • Time to dig out that long-lost dissertation… (The Observer)

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Nook Glowlight is on Sale – $99

Posted: 06 Apr 2014 07:06 PM PDT

Following 406078-barnes-noble-nook-glowlightonly days after releasing an update, Barnes & Noble is running a Spring sale this week on their last ebook reader, the Nook Glowlight. From now until 13 April, customers in the US will be able to find the ereader in B&N stores and online for $99.

The sale does not extend to the UK, because curiously enough Barnes & Noble has not launched this ereader in that market. Even though the Glowlight arrived in the US 5 months ago, it has yet to be launched elsewhere.

The Nook Glowlight was quite the disappointment when it launched last Fall, but since I have already complained extensively I see no reason to annoy you with repetition.

The Glowlight is equipped with a 6″ Pearl HD E-ink screen, with a screen resolution of 1024 x 758. It runs a closed version of Android 2.1 on an 800MHz CPU with 2GB of accessible storage. While the Glowlight features a touchscreen and Wifi as well as a frontlight that improves on its predecessor, it also lacks the microSD card slot and the page turn buttons that appealed to many and which set the older Nook models apart.

The Glowlight is available in fingerprint attracting white, and it weighs in at around an ounce lighter than the previous model.

Barnes & Noble

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Intel is Once Again Talking of $99 Tablets

Posted: 06 Apr 2014 04:47 PM PDT

In October 2013 Intelintel-logo-blue promised that their CPUs would show up in $99 tablets by Christmas, and they (mostly) kept that promise when HP launched the Mesquite Android tablet on Black Friday.

Speaking last week at the Intel Developer Forum 2014, Intel VP Hermann Eul made a similar boast about $99 tablets, only this time he wasn’t talking about Android. Intel is expecting to see  manufacturers release upwards of 90 Windows tablets this year, including models with price tags in the $99 to $129 range.

Intel is taking advantage of the recent Microsoft decisions to offer Windows free of charge to smartphone makers and tablet makers and to lower the hardware requirements for Windows (now only 1GB RAM and 16GB of storage). While Windows probably won’t run very well on the new minimum requirements, it does bring that OS one step closer to Android’s minimalist requirements.


At least some of the cheaper tablets are probably going to feature Intel's recently introduced low-power, low-cost Bay Trail chips, but will they be any good?

Android runs quite adequately on a dual-core chip with 1GB of RAM, and you can even cut it down to only 512MB RAM if you don’t mind sacrificing responsiveness and performance.

But a Windows tablet with 1GB of RAM strikes me as a recipe for disappointment. I wouldn’t even run Windows XP on only a single GB of RAM, and that OS came out over a decade ago. And what with each version of Windows requiring more resources than before, I seriously doubt that Windows 8 can make do with such low requirements.

I know from personal experience Windows 7 cannot; right now I am running Windows 7 with 8GB RAM, with over 5GB in use.

Microsoft had better have some amazing memory management tricks up their sleeves, otherwise the $99 Windows tablets are going to flop just as badly as Windows RT tablets, which are only being made by Microsoft and MS Junior (Nokia).

But I don’t expect most US consumers to notice; the cheapest Windows tablets are probably going to be produced by Chinese gadget makers, with only the more expensive models showing up in the US. At best we might see a single $99 Windows tablet hit the US market, just like the HP Mesquite last year.


UMPC Portal

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TeXet Launches New 8″ eReader in Russia

Posted: 06 Apr 2014 01:50 PM PDT

With 418FL_cov_1396441398Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony only launching slightly updated versions  of their existing ereaders in the past year, the drive for innovative new ebook readers here in the US has largely fizzled.

Luckily the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. TeXet, a Russian gadget maker, has just announced their second 8″ ereader.

The TB-418FL is one of the growing number of 8 inch ereaders that don’t have an E-ink screen. No details are available on the CPU or OS, but I can say that it has 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, page turn buttons on both sides of the screen, and a frontlight. Curiously enough, this ereader lacks Wifi or a touchscreen, which would have made it a one of a kind device had it been launched in the US.

This ereader’s 8″ screen has a resolution of 1024 x 768, just like the screen on the Cybook Ocean from Bookeen. Depending on how you count it’s the 4th or 5th ebook reader to use the screen, which was produced by E-ink rival Ganzhou OED Technologies. That company, which is jokingly referred to as producing knockoff screens, is having growing success in offering screens that cost less than comparable screens from E-ink, including 4.3″, 6″, and the 8″ mentioned above.


In terms of features, the teXet TB-418FL supports a wide variety of ebook formats, including PDF, Epub, Mobi, FB2, PDB, and DJVU. A number of common office doc formats can also be read on this device (Doc, txt, rtf, html, chm). Reading features include PDF reflow but not much more than that. Readers can change the font size, add bookmarks, and invert the screen (white text on a black background).

The TB-418FL is available today in Russia. The retail price is 7499 rubles, or about $212 USD.  That is expensive, yes, but gadgets generally cost more in Russia than in the US.


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New Video Demos Smartphone to Fire TV Mirroring

Posted: 06 Apr 2014 08:55 AM PDT

Onekoush-fire-tv-mirror[1] question I had when the Fire TV launched last week was how well it worked streaming content from paired, and yesterday that question was answered.

Koushik Dutta, a leading Android developer whose work can be seen in Cyanogen (the open source Android firmware), ClockworkMod (the Android rooting tool), and Helium (a 3rd-party tool for backing up apps), took some time this weekend to see how well the Fire TV worked with Allcast.

Allcast is a $6 Android app that enables users to take whatever they see on the Android device in their hands and stream it on other devices including set top boxes like Roku and the Apple TV, gaming consoles like the Xbox and Playstation, and even SmartTVs.

According to the Google Play description Allcast is supposed to only work with video, music, and photos (the related Mirror app handles apps and games), but apparently the Allcast app has been updated to support games as well.

Koush posted a video to Youtube which shows games being played on how Android smartphone being  mirrored to Fire TV.  He describes it as low-latency, but not quite low enough to play Flappy Birds:

Koush originally posted this on Google+, and he also happens to mention that he compard the Fire TV against Chromecast and Apple TV. It should probably come as no surprise that the Fire TV scored the best:

  • Fire TV – Great audio and video quality. Works on any 4.4+ device.
  • Apple TV – Great video quality. Great audio quality, but I don’t have audio implemented yet.
  • Chromecast – Good video quality after 2 minutes, when WebRTC ramps the bitrate up. Terrible audio quality, not sure why. I think that it encodes the audio stream to be optimized for voice. Requires a hardware vp8 encoder, currently only available on Nexus 5.

Koush didn’t include the Roku 3 in this comparison, but I would expect that the Fire TV will still have much better performance. The $99 Roku 3 has much weaker specs than the Fire TV which costs the same, and I bet that we’ll be able to see the difference in capabilities when streaming from an Android device.

While the Roku 3 has a much broader selection of sources, the fact that the Fire TV works well when paired with another Android device is a strong point in its favor.

Koush has given me the first good reason to buy the Fire TV, namely that it is can work closely with the Android device I use every day. Given that I don’t watch much TV that means more to me than the Fire TV’s streaming abilities.


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