As I’ve mentioned before, this blog is mostly about software but sometimes I think it’s useful to write about related hardware. (Generally only hardware that can run ebook software, such as eReaders, tablets, and mobile phones.)
There have recently been some new eReaders released and some price drops that I wanted to share with you.
This is old news already, but Amazon has released a new version of the Kindle called “Kindle with Special Offers”. It’s the same as the Kindle WiFi model, but $25 less at $114. Coupons and discounts are displayed in the form of screen savers and along the bottom of the home screen. They are designed to not interrupt your reading at all.
Depending on the offers, they might actually be useful for you. You can get discounts on Kindle ebooks, Amazon Gift Cards, and other products sold at Amazon like HDTVs, for example.
Personally, I don’t know whether I’d get this model or not. It could end up saving you some money if you wanted the offers being given. Or it could just end up being annoying. One of the things I like about reading a book is that it is not online, and not involved in ads.
Barnes & Noble has released a new version of the Nook: a smaller device with a touch screen. It’s available for pre-order right now, and the price is $139.
My impression is that this Nook is aimed at non-techy people. Its almost-square size makes it cute, and they seem to be really pushing it as an easy to use device. This is in contrast to the Nook color, which they’re billing as “the reader’s tablet” since it runs on the Android OS and even now has apps available.
Meanwhile, the original Nook has been pushed to the bottom of the screen, called the “NOOK 1st Edition”, and has had its price dropped to $119.
The Nook Touch looks like a fun eReader, especially for those who don’t want a tablet. It’s a good price, too.
Similarly, Kobo now has a touch-screen version available. It’s also more square than the older models, but not as much as the Nook Touch. It has WiFi and all of the other features that the other Kobo eReaders have. It is available for pre-order from Borders for $129 (and other retailers).
The page of specs says that it comes with 15 ebook previews for free. I wonder if that means it does not come with the 100 free pre-loaded books like the older Kobo models. That was one of the things I found most endearing to the Kobo company.
Kobo also now has a “Reading Life” app, which apparently tracks your reading habits, lets you share things on Facebook, and earn rewards. Sounds kind of like one of those grocery store clubs to me, and I wonder if they will mostly be using it to gather data on what to sell you. But it could be interesting in any case.
Both the BeBook Neo and BeBook Club eReaders have gone on sale at eBookMall.com. The Neo has dropped down to $199 and the Club to $169. Plus the Club now comes with a free case, which they say is a $30 value.
I have a BeBook Neo and I like it quite a lot, especially with ePub ebooks. The Neo does have a touch screen, but it’s not the finger-swiping kind. It comes with a stylus that you use to tap on the screen. It was released before these touch screens became as popular as they are now. The stylus method that it has works well enough because it at least means that you don’t have to navigate through the screens with the buttons.
I don’t know as much about the Club, but it does have all of the same features that are now standard on eReaders, and it was designed to cost less than the Neo.
All of this activity in the eReader department makes me wonder if my previous impression of the market was incorrect. It might turn out that there are plenty of folks who want a dedicated e-reading device, and don’t want a full tablet. Either way, I am glad to see that there is still so much interest in eReaders, and that people are reading in general.
The other day I was in Best Buy and I happened to walk through their display of e-readers and tablets. To be totally blunt: the e-readers looked very sad, boring, and even outdated.
It’s not their fault. E-readers are great devices that are really good at what they do. The problem is that they are paling in comparison to tablets, which can function just as well as e-readers while doing a million other things in full color. Next to that, an e-reader with its black & white E-Ink display sort of looks like you’re seeing some piece of technology from the 1950’s.
I’ve written some articles about the differences between tablets and e-readers, such as my Tablet vs eReader Squidoo lens. In my opinion, whether you choose a tablet or e-reader really just depends on what you need from the device.
If all you want is a simple device for reading ebooks, then an e-reader will be fine. The E-Ink screen will also save you a massive amount of battery time, compared to a tablet. E-Ink was created specifically for reading, mimicking text-on-paper, so it can be easier on your eyes than an LCD screen. And, of course, a huge difference between e-readers and tablets is the price. At the Best Buy I was in, they had the Motorola Xoom priced at $799. You can get a Kindle for $129 nowadays.
But then the big question for a shopper is: if I’m going to buy a tablet-style device, why buy one that only reads ebooks when I can get one that I can use for books, games, internet, video, email, apps, etc? The extra cost is reflected in the additional functionality, and they’re not all as expensive as nearly $800.
Modern e-readers, especially the Kindle, did an awesome thing for ebooks. eBooks have been around for 10-15 years but only became mainstream when Amazon managed to make Kindle a household name. In that sense, e-readers have fulfilled their purpose, and done a good job of it.
Now it seems that Amazon will be releasing a tablet, according to this article and others. Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color is already partially a tablet, and I’ve read that they might be coming out with a new device that might be more tablet-like. BeBook has just released a tablet called the BeBook Live, which runs on Android. It’s not yet available in the US, but it’s selling for $279, which really helps in the affordability department.
It also looks like the makers of mobile phones are scrambling to offer tablet devices. Blackberry is now running commercials for their Playbook tablet. We already have the Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab, and of course, the iPad, which everyone is trying to compete against.
Personally, I am torn at the moment. I prefer to read from a device that is back-lit, like a tablet. However, I would not spend more than about $300 for this type of device since they’re not quite full computers and I already have a phone that does most of the same things, albeit on a smaller screen.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out this article about 10 Memorable Milestones in Tablet History.
Sony recently announced that it would be releasing an app for iPhone and Android that would allow Sony Reader eBooks to be read on those devices. This type of software has already existed for the Kindle and Kobo ebooks for a while, so it’s a smart idea for Sony to release something similar. I have been meaning to write a post about those options, and this announcement from Sony reminded me about it.
This is a great way for these companies to be able to sell content (ebooks) to customers who don’t actually own an ebook reader. I know that there must be plenty of people who would be interested in trying out an ebook for the Sony Reader, Kindle, or Kobo, without having to actually buy one of those devices. With these apps, you can buy an ebook from any of these companies and read it on hardware that you already own. Below are details on exactly what kind of software you can use.
Sony’s announcement said that the apps for iPhone and Android would be available in December, but I don’t see them on Sony’s website quite yet. Right now you can get apps for both Windows and Macs. They’re calling it “Reader Library Software” and you can use it to buy ebooks or borrow ebooks from your library.
If you don’t want to buy a Kindle but you do want to take advantage of the convenience of Kindle eBooks, you can get the free Kindle App for Windows, Mac, Blackerry, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7. The Kindle itself provides a better reading experience with its E-Ink screen because your eyes won’t suffer the strain of reading from an LCD screen. But, like I said above, it’s a useful way to try out an ebook if you’re not yet sure if you want to buy a Kindle. Plus, you can use these apps to share your Kindle ebooks between your devices.
Kobo also covers a lot of different devices with their free reading app: iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and Palm Pre smartphones, iPad and presumably other tablets in the future, and both Windows and Mac desktops.
This kind of cross-platform versatility makes ebook reading seem a lot more appealing. I think that it removes some of the fear that a lot of people have that they’ll be locked into reading a book on specific device, and might lose it if they upgrade that device in the future, or decide to starting reading on something else instead. It also gives you the option of sharing an ebook between different members of your family — for example, you could put an ebook on your e-reader, and also on your spouse’s iPhone. It’s also a good way for these companies to get customers to become familiar with their products. Once trust is developed they might be more likely to buy the e-reader.
Most of the time this blog is about the software used to read ebooks, but sometimes I will post about the hardware used – after all, it uses software and if you have an ebook reader device, you’ll have to be familiar with the required programs and apps for it.
I have created a page for this blog that lists the most current popular ebook readers, with their prices and tech specs. This will allow anybody shopping for an ebook reader to make an informed decision. I hope this will be especially useful for this holiday season, which is starting today with Thanksgiving (or maybe it started back on Halloween.)