Archive | March 2011

Bluefire Reader Coming for Android

I usually don’t like to repeat news stories that I’ve seen on other websites. That’s not really the purpose of this blog. But I thought it was worth mentioning that it’s been reported that there will be a version of Bluefire Reader for Android.

I like Bluefire Reader because it’s compatible with Adobe DRM ebooks and library ebooks. It was the first real solution for Adobe DRM on iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod). It is easy to use, has all the same features that are now expected of ebook reader apps, and it’s free.

Android devices are quickly becoming popular and widespread, first with the many Android mobile phones that were released, and now with Android-based tablets that are coming out like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy.

Since Android devices aren’t directly connected to a big book company (such as Amazon, B&N, etc) users aren’t stuck with one ebook source. This makes Bluefire Reader an excellent option for Android because it allows the user to read ebooks from smaller ebook stores.

I haven’t read any specific release date, but I’m sure it will be in the Android Market whenever it is ready to go.

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Tablet Impressions

Recently I was at Best Buy to check out netbook computers, and while I was there I decided to look at the tablets. I recently wrote a Squidoo page and article comparing tablets to e-readers, but that was based on technical specifications and my own general knowledge about the technology. I figured it would be a good idea to mess around with these devices a bit, since there is no way I’m going to be buying one anytime soon.

The main three tablets available right now are the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Xoom.

First, I looked at the Samsung Galaxy Tab. All I could find was the 7″ model (like these). The price for these was $499. I didn’t see the newer 10.1″ model anywhere (not sure if they are even in stores yet). The size of the device seemed too small to really function as a tablet. It’s inbetween the size of a phone and a larger tablet like the iPad, which just leaves it in some kind of no-man’s land. I felt like if I owned one, there would be no real reason to use it instead of my phone or laptop. Its response time seemed just a tad too slow, as well, but I don’t know if that was just a problem with the particular display model I was using. When I would tap the icon to see the apps, the screen didn’t change instantly so I tapped it again, thinking that it didn’t register my tap. Then everything processed all at once, and the app screen appeared and then closed again. I went through this twice before realizing that it was just a bit slow. It’s okay if it takes a second for the screen to change, but there was no indication that anything was happening, so it caused me to tap again and again, waiting for something to happen. Once I was able to get to an app and open it, the graphics looked nice, though.

Next, I looked at the iPad. To be totally honest, I’ve never been that impressed with the iPad. It’s basically a big version of the iPhone. I used an iPhone for about three years (before the upgrades in iOS caused my 3G model to function really poorly) so I’m just not excited about the iPad because it’s the same exact thing. I do like the size of it, though. If I owned one, I would definitely use it to read ebooks and other texts. I think it would also be fun to play games on it. I think it would be excellent to use during travel, especially while waiting in an airport, but I rarely fly anywhere. Again, the price was $499.

Finally, I found the Motorola Xoom. It was displayed next to the netbooks, which was my main reason for going to Best Buy in the first place. I’m glad that they had the Xoom in that location, because it was amusing to see the size comparison. The netbooks have a 10.1″ screen, and so does the Xoom, so the Xoom looked like a netbook that was missing its keyboard. The Xoom is way fancier than a netbook, though. I was more impressed with it than the other tablets by far. It was very responsive, no matter how much I tapped or flicked through the screens. Something about the design of interface seemed futuristic, which was cool. Without paying attention to the actual specs, it felt like it was the most powerful device. It was also the most expensive, at $799. If I were shopping for a computer, I’d buy a whole laptop at that price instead of a tablet.

I didn’t end up getting a netbook either — I mostly went to the store because I wanted to see how big the keyboards were, to get an idea of whether it would be comfortable to type on one. I’m considering buying a netbook to use for some writing projects that I’m going to be doing soon, as well as possibly using it as a backup hard drive because they come with a lot of disk space. If I get one it will be the HP Mini. At $299, it would give me a very lightweight and portable laptop with a real keyboard. For my purposes, I would prefer that over a tablet.

Tablets vs eReaders

I’ve made another lens on Squidoo. This one compares tablet computers to e-readers.

The lens itself is meant to be very objective about the subject, but my personal opinion is that tablets are quickly making e-readers unnecessary. Since tablets can do so much more than read ebooks, there really isn’t much need for a separate device that is only for reading. However, there is a big barrier to that, which is the price. Tablets are $500 or more right now, while the cheaper ebook readers are about $150, give or take $20.

Check out the lens for more information. I think it should be useful for anybody who is shopping for this type of device.

Five Situations In Which You Should Not Use eBooks

eBooks have grown in popularity over the past couple years, largely due to new ebook readers that have become available and more affordable. Many people are giving ebooks a try now that they have become more of a mainstream product. eBooks are excellent for a variety of reasons, but there are some situations in which purchasing an ebook is not the best choice. The following situations are those that I have identified as the five most common.

When You’re Not Comfortable With Technology

Five Situations In Which You Should Not Use eBooksIn order to successfully use an ebook, you must be able to install software, download a file, and open the file in the correct program on your computer. If you want to read the ebook on a mobile phone or e-reader device, then you need to know how to transfer files between your computer and that device. You might also need to install a program or app on your mobile device. If you’re not already comfortable with these processes, ebooks might be difficult for you to use.

When You Need a Printed Book

Many ebooks, if not most ebooks, are not printable. Even ebooks in PDF format are often not printable. This is because book publishers are concerned about copyright protection. They disable the printing function so that people can’t make illegal copies of the book. Other ebook formats, such as Mobipocket or Microsoft Reader, don’t have a printing function at all. In general, ebooks are meant to be read on your computer, e-reader, or other mobile device.

Besides the question of whether or not the ebook will be printable, printer paper and ink is not free, so you’d end up paying for the ebook and then paying more to print it yourself. If you need a printed book for any reason you should buy the paperback or hardback version of the book.

When You Want To Give The Book as a Gift

eBooks are often not able to be given as a gift for the same reason that they aren’t printable. Book publishers are very concerned about software piracy, so most ebooks are sold with DRM (digital rights management), which ties the ebook to a specific user account. If you email an ebook to someone else, or give it to them on a disk or flash drive, the ebook won’t open once it’s on their computer because their software is not registered to your user account. If you would like to give an ebook as a gift, look for a gift certificate option instead of buying the ebook yourself.

When You Don’t Know What You Need

Before you buy an ebook, it’s best to do a little bit of research to find out what type of ebook you need. eBooks come in different formats, and not all work on every operating system or mobile device. If you don’t already know, find out which operating system your computer or device uses. From there, you can research ebook formats and determine which format will work on your operating system. Next, you should install any software that’s required for that type of ebook. Once you’ve taken those preliminary steps, you’ll be ready to find ebooks that you want to read.

When You Want The Text Read Out Loud

“Text-to-speech” is sometimes a feature that people look for when buying ebooks. Unfortunately, it is often disabled in the ebook (again, because of DRM), and sometimes it’s just not available at all. Even when it is available, it’s just not very good. Sometimes people even buy ebooks with the intent of putting them onto their iPod to listen to. That is not what ebooks were designed for, and it doesn’t work at all because ebooks don’t contain an audio track. When you want an audio recording of a book, the best option is to buy the audiobook instead of the ebook.

 

The situations I’ve explained above are not only common situations in which you should not use ebooks; they are also some of the most frequent reasons why people get frustrated with ebooks. When someone buys an ebook with the hope that it will do something that ebooks aren’t capable of, they quickly become disappointed.

eBooks aren’t meant to replace paper books, and you don’t have to use them. It’s best to think of ebooks as just one book format that is available. You wouldn’t buy an audiobook when you wanted a paper book, and likewise, there is no need to buy an ebook if it’s not really the best choice for you. Use ebooks when you want a book in digital format to read on your computer, e-reader, tablet, or mobile phone.

Aldiko for eBooks on Android

Aldiko Android eBooksLike my last post about Bluefire Reader (for iOS devices) there is a solution for reading Adobe DRM ebooks on your Android phone or tablet. The app is called Aldiko Book Reader and it can be used on Android OS 2.1 or higher. This is useful because it means that you can get Adobe PDF or EPUB ebooks from sources other than the major sellers like Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble (or even Aldiko itself) and you can read them on your Android device.

Here are instructions for what you need to do to use this app:

Step 1: Install

To install Aldiko on your Android device, scan the barcode on the Aldiko website with your device. Or, search “Aldiko” in the Android Market.

Step 2:  Authorize

Just like with Bluefire Reader, you’ll need to authorize your device with an Adobe ID. This is how Adobe verifies that you are the same person who bought the ebook. When you have both your computer and device authorized with the same Adobe ID, you can use your ebooks both places.

To authorize your device, tap on “Adobe DRM” under General Settings. If you have an Adobe ID already, type in your Adobe ID and Password and then tap on “Sign in”. If you don’t have an Adobe ID, just tap on “Register” and you will be linked to the registration page.

Step 3: Import

Here are the options that I gathered from the Aldiko website:

Option 1: Put the ebook in the SD card of your device, then tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home. Check the box next to the file that you want to import (or tap on the menu key of your device and choose “Select All”), then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.

Option 2: Create a folder (for example, “import”) in your SD card, and put all the files that you want to import in that folder. Tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home, check the box next to the folder and then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.

Option 3: If the ebook files that you want to import are under different folders, tap on the “SD Card” icon at Home, check the box next to the folders that you want to import and then tap on the “Import to Aldiko” button at the pop-up window at the bottom.

Help?

If you need help, try Aldiko’s Support website.

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