Friday, 29 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived – What Should I Install on it?

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 06:03 PM PDT

illumina_big[1]At long last, my new ereader/tablet arrived.

The Boyue T61 is a 6″ ereader which runs Android 4.2 on a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, and 4GB internal storage.  It’s the OEM version of the Illumina from Icarus, and it costs only half as much.

It sports a 6″ Pearl HD E-ink screen with a touchscreen, a (splotchy) frontlight, Wifi, a microSD card slot, a cover, and not much else. (It didn’t even come with a retail box, but was packed in a plain styrofoam box.)

This nifty device arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday, but I held off from writing this post because I wanted to get a few things done first. Alas, neither worked, so there was no reason to delay.

boyue t61

What should I do next?

As per a reader request, I am opening up the floor to suggestions for what I should install on it. I last tried this on the Onyx Boox T68, and that post came out well. This post will probably not have as much success.

While I am open to request for apps to install, I also have to add a caveat. My Boyue T61 does not an appstore. I did install both Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, but neither has successfully connected to their respective servers.

I’m not sure what the problem is, and I am stalled at the moment. But I haven’t given up, and I plan to keep working on this issue over the holiday weekend.

So far -

It’s a cute little device, but I am glad I didn’t spend more than $99 on it. It’s pretty fast and the software seems to be running well, but the frontlight is noticeably splotchy – like 2012 era Kindle Paperwhite splotchy.  Newer ereaders like the 2013 KPW and the Onyx Boox t68 have a much more even frontlight.

When I combine the frontlight and the lack of an app store, I am really glad that I didn’t spend any extra to buy the rebranded model from Icarus.

So what should I do next?

The post My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived – What Should I Install on it? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Roundup: Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Reviews

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 12:07 PM PDT

Galaxy-Tab-4-NOOK_25[1]It’s been just over a week since Barnes & Noble launched their latest tablet, and the reviews are trickling in.

Unfortunately for both B&N and for potential buyers, there weren’t very many blogs interested in writing a review for this tablet. I only found 5 actual reviews (not counting the fake review posted by Publishers Weekly), which is far fewer than the dozen reviews I found for the Fire Phone.

In general, the reviewers were less than impressed with this tablet. In fact, the only truly positive verdict I found was penned by my competitor when he reviewed the non-Nook version of the Galaxy Tab 4 a few months ago.

And so I will start off with his review.

This is the first Samsung tablet that I’ve reviewed. I never understood why people chose Samsung tablets when there are almost always other brands with better specs for less money. But now I can see why Samsung’s tablets are as popular as they are. They may not have the best specs or lowest prices, but they have the appearance and feel of good quality tablets, at least that’s the case with the Tab 4 line.

If you need an affordable tablet to entertain the kids and get some light reading done, the $179 Galaxy Tab 4 Nook won't disappoint. The ability to create multiple user profiles makes it easy to share, and access to both the Google Play Store and Barnes & Noble's Nook Shop is a definite plus.

But it's far from being the best tablet you can buy. Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX tablets, which are also pretty affordable starting at $229, come with a much sharper display, a design that's just more premium and polished overall, and access to Amazon's Mayday support feature (Barnes & Noble offers on-site tech support) and other goodies. But you don't get access to the Google Play Store, which is one area where the Nook excels.

  • Laptop Magazine: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook — Full Review and Benchmarks 

Pros: Long battery life; Interesting interactive reading experience; Access to full Google Play store; Light weight;

Cons: Not enough usable storage; Low resolution display; Tinny audio; Expensive content; Confusing parental controls settings

Verdict: For those locked into a Barnes & Noble library, the $179 Galaxy Tab 4 Nook might be worth a look. But its poor performance and complicated controls might scare others away.

  • PC Magazine: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Review & Rating

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is a decent entry-level device, but I don’t see the market for it other than existing Barnes & Noble fans, and those already with substantial Nook libraries. Otherwise, it’s a rather generic tablet that excels in no one area, and one that has even more custom software than the already bloated non-Nook version. It’s even a step down in display resolution from the Nook HD, which was one of my favorite low-cost tablets

  • Engadget: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook review: good for reading, but hardly the best budget tablet 

This should come as a shock to no one, but the Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is only a good idea if you’re already a loyal Barnes & Noble customer. Setting aside the fact that it comes with free content (a gimmick, if you ask me), this tablet is appealing because it offers a better reading experience than even the regular Nook for Android app. Until Barnes & Noble redesigns its standard Android application, this is the best Nook experience you’re going to get, short of buying one of B&N’s standalone, e-ink e-readers.

  • Mashable: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Is Just Good Enough [REVIEW] 

With its middling features and not-quite-fully-integrated Nook widget and app suite, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook can't compete with the forward-leaning Amazon Kindle Fire HDX or mid-size tablet-market-leading Apple iPad Mini.

Yet, I still like it. A typical E Ink-based reader from Barnes & Noble or Amazon costs anywhere from $69 to almost to $120 for the backlit model with the most storage. For $60 more you can get a full-blown tablet that can handle everything from textbooks to movies and even action games. It's a pretty sweet deal.

If you want an affordable, light, sharp-looking, reading-ready tablet for your back-to-school teen, this could be the right choice. Just don't let her see an iPad mini or Kindle Fire HDX.

The post Roundup: Galaxy Tab 4 Nook Reviews appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Wearable, Shmearable: iWatch Delayed Until Next Year (If It Even Exists)

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 09:36 AM PDT

k1 iwatchDo you know that Apple iWatch that everyone has been panting after for the past year and a half and insisting that it would launch this fall? (The one that I kept saying again, and again, and again that there was no proof it even existed)?

It turns out it’s not launching next month, and pretty much the entire blogosphere was wrong to say that it was (while I was right to point to the lack of evidence). Even the famed John Paczkowski has reversed himself:

So that new wearable device Apple is introducing on September 9? It's going to be a while before anyone is actually wearing it. Sources in position to know tell me it won't arrive at market for a few months. "It's not shipping anytime soon," said one. So when does Apple plan to ship its eagerly anticipated wearable? That's not clear, but my understanding is that we're unlikely to see it at retail until after the holiday season — think early 2015. 

He’s now claiming that it will launch next month but won’t ship until early spring 2015. That’s possible, but I won’t believe it until we start seeing real leaks: components, named statements, diagrams, etc.

At this point we do know that Apple is having an event on 9 September, and that they are erecting a wonking huge building at the location.  But no one has been inside, so we don’t yet actually know what is going to happen.

As for today, please excuse me while I go take a victory lap. Could someone cue the Rocky theme song, please? Thanks!

The post Wearable, Shmearable: iWatch Delayed Until Next Year (If It Even Exists) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Keurig’s New Coffee Pod DRM Hacked, Copied?

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 08:52 AM PDT

keurig-20-560[1]DRM may be the bane of some ebook users but it looks like at least one other market may escape the hassle.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, maker of the Keurig single cup coffee machines, had been planning to incorporate DRM into their next generation coffee pods (think ink jet cartridges, only for coffee) but now it seems that their competitors have a different idea.

Two different makers of coffee pods have revealed that they’ve cracked the new Keurig DRM and could now offer compatible coffee pods.  TreeHouse Foods, makers of the popular Grove Square line of cappuccinos and hot chocolates, and Mother Parkers (they make brands like Tim HortonsMarley Coffee, and Martinson Coffee)have announced plans to produce coffee pods which are compatible with the Keurig DRM.

In short, TreeHouse Foods and Mother Parkers have short-circuited Green Mountain’s nefarious plans to repeat a trick used by many printer makers: force their customers to only buy expensive proprietary cartridges.

Or at least that’s what they say they’ve done.

Neither of the Keurig competitors have released their new pods, and from what I can tell the new Keurig pods are still only being beta-tested, so it’s not clear to me that they’ve actually pulled this off. (And given the money involved, they have good reason to stretch the truth.)

But i wouldn’t be surprised if they had. The CEO of Treehouse Foods had boasted months ago that he thought “it will be a matter of months, not years, before we replicate the technology for the cups or the pods”.

It looks like he was right, and that’s a good thing for coffee drinkers everywhere. It’s bad enough that we have to put up with proprietary cartridges for our printers, but to also have that perfidious idea spread to another market?


The post Keurig’s New Coffee Pod DRM Hacked, Copied? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Consumers Aren’t Buying Most of Their Digital Content, But They Are Buying eBooks and Music. Why?

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 07:32 AM PDT

719557295_beeba0e0ac[1]A new survey from the UK crossed my desk yesterday which shows that consumers are adapting their pre-internet buying habits to the digital content they consumer online.

A couple days ago eMarketer posted the results of an April 2014 consumer survey by Ipsos MORI which showed that far more people consume content online than pay for it. A third of the 1,000 respondents in the survey reported downloading free apps, while only 8% had bought apps. Over a quarter are streaming video online, but only 9% are buying said apps. And 24% were streaming music while only 4% paid for the service. 

You can see all the publicly available results here:


All in all this does not look good for anyone trying to sell content online, but as you can see in the chart there are a couple exceptions.

Ipsos MORI found that people were buying ebooks and downloadable music in greater numbers than those paying for streaming services, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

I got this piece yesterday, and after thinking about it for a while I concluded that consumers have transferred their buying habits from books and CDs to ebooks and MP3s. Similarly, they’re used to getting broadcast TV and radio for free, so they’re not as willing to pay for the online streaming versions.

OF course, my guesses tend to fall apart when you take apps into account; people used to pay for them, but they’re not as willing to do so anymore. I would bet that comes as a result of the glut of apps and games on the market which drove the price down to effectively nothing (plus in-app purchases).

On a related note, there are similar gluts of videos on Youtube and online news sources, which might help explain why consumers aren’t as willing to pay for those types of content either.

So does this portend a dark future for publishing? After all, more and more ebooks are published every year, which could have the same effect. Does this mean indie authors will have the same trouble as app developers in making a living?

I don’t know, but I am hoping that the trend of buying ebooks tends to stick around. The latest data from Smashwords suggests we’ve already gone through peak “free ebook”, with more indie authors now using discount sales to drive their marketing efforts, and that could mean we’ve passed the danger zone and moved on to a real market where consumers continue to pay for what they read.

What do you think?

image by Extra Ketchup


The post Consumers Aren’t Buying Most of Their Digital Content, But They Are Buying eBooks and Music. Why? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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