PCMag’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards for Tablets and eBook Readers was posted last month, but I just now ran across it. Some of their results are what I would have expected, but some of the data was pretty surprising to me.
It’s no surprise that the Apple iPad was chosen as the favorite. What did shock me was that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer was also chosen as a top pick. I’ve never even seen one of these sold in a store. I knew that these devices existed but I didn’t think that anybody actually used them, because as someone who provides tech support for this category of devices, nobody has ever asked me a question about them. It seems like it could be a cool device to own because of its flexibility … maybe it’s just being overshadowed by the larger companies?
A quote from the article: “If you needed any evidence that Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the leaders in ebook readers, look no further than our Readers’ Choice scores. They far outscore the other ebook reader manufacturers: Sony and Pandigital, the only others we got enough responses to include.” (emphasis mine)
Apparently they let people fill in their own answers, and almost everyone wrote in Amazon Kindle or B&N Nook. The only other devices that people mentioned often enough for PCMag to get enough data for were the Sony Reader and Pandigital Novel. I’m not doubting their data, but I find this hard to believe. There are about a zillion different eReader devices available and some are quite popular, like the Kobo eReader or BeBook. It seems quite odd to me that at least the Kobo didn’t get enough mentions to be included. It’s not surprising that the Kindle and Nook were the most popular, for the same reason mentioned in the article: they are tied to previously established bookstores. Most people will buy eReaders from those companies because they are already shopping at those stores.
Check out the article‘s second and third pages for charts.
What is your choice for best tablet or eReader? Anything besides the iPad, Kindle, or Nook?
I made a new Squidoo Lens: Tablet Comparisons. This one is similar to the eBook Reader Comparisons lens, but obviously about tablets instead. It lists tech specs on each tablet so that you can reference them all in one place, hopefully making it useful as a shopping guide.
Right now the tablets covered are: iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom, Blackberry Playbook, Toshiba Tablet, and BeBook Live.
I plan to keep it updated as new tablets come out and as new models are released for the current available tablets. If you know of a new tablet that should be included, feel free to leave a comment to suggest one (either here or on the lens itself). Sometime soon I’ll be updating the eBook Reader Comparisons lens to include the new eReaders that I wrote about in my last post.
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.
If you want to read ebooks that are protected by Adobe DRM on your iOS device (that includes iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) the app I recommend is Bluefire Reader.
Most of the ebooks being sold by mainstream publishers that are in PDF or ePub format are protected by DRM. Book publishers, just like music publishers, are concerned about software piracy, so they require ebook stores to use Adobe’s DRM on the ebook downloads. Programs like Adobe Reader and other standard programs or apps that read PDF files aren’t set up to deal with that DRM, so you need an app that can handle it.
Here is what you will need to do:
1. Follow my previous instructions for how to set up Adobe Digital Editions correctly. You’ll need to install it and then “authorize” with your Adobe ID.
2. Get the Bluefire Reader app for your iOS device. Download it from iTunes and install it on the device.
3. The first time you open Bluefire Reader, you’ll be asked if you want to authorize it with your Adobe ID. You should go ahead and do it. Just follow the instructions given.
Make sure to use the same ID that you used when you authorized Adobe Digital Editions on your computer. That is how Adobe will allow you to use your ebooks on both your computer and the iOS device.
4. If you haven’t already, get an ebook that you want to read.
5. Transferring Files
Note: This will only work with iOS 4 or later. If you have an iPad you should already have that, but if you have an older iPhone or iPod, update the OS so that you can transfer files from your computer to the device.
a) Connect your device to your computer.
b) Open iTunes and click on your device. It should look something like this:
Obviously if you have an iPad it will say “iPad” or whatever you named your iPad, etc.
c) On the top-center area of the screen, click Apps. In iTunes on my computer, it looks like this:
d) Scroll down to the “File Sharing” section, which should be at the bottom of the screen. Select the Bluefire Reader app from the list, and click “Add”. On my computer it looks like this:
e) Now you can find the ebook that you want to transfer. If you bought a DRM-protected Adobe PDF or ePub file, it should be in a folder called “My Digital Editions”. Any non-DRM ebooks will be wherever you put them on your computer.
It might sync to your device automatically or you might have to perform a sync on your own. After that you should be able to open Bluefire Reader on your device and see the ebook.
I recommend that you find ePub files rather than PDF whenever possible. It seems that most e-readers and ebook apps display them a lot better because ePub files are reflowable, which means that the text of the book can rearrange itself to accommodate your screen size much easier than in PDF files.
Almost everyone has a mobile phone now, and many people have heard of the idea of reading books on them. But there are many misconceptions about this that people form in their mind before they even give it a try.
The screen is too small.
Here’s an interesting thing that I recently realized: If you have a modern phone, then the size of the screen is about the same width as a newspaper or magazine column. That size of text is okay for you to read, right? So what’s the difference if it’s on your phone screen? The only real difference is that you can’t see the rest of the page at the same time. But are you reading everything on the entire page at once? Probably not, unless you have some kind of mind disorder that also makes you a genius.
You know how you can change the font size in a program like Microsoft Word? Well, surprise! You can change the font size in just about any program that displays text, including ebooks. Every ebook app that I’ve ever seen has a way for you to do this.
It costs extra money.
The ebook reading apps that you need are free. The only thing that costs money are the books, and those cost money whether you buy them digitally or on paper. There are ebook apps that cost money, but you don’t have to use those.
It’s too difficult!
It’s really not difficult if you’re comfortable with using the features of a smartphone. If you’ve ever gotten an app for your phone, you can get an ebook app in exactly the same way. A lot of the ebook apps will let you buy an ebook and download it directly to the app without even having to use your computer. If you do need to purchase the ebook on your computer, then you just sync it to your phone the same way you would any other file.
It’s not very convenient.
Downloading an entire book to your little mobile phone is a lot more convenient than driving to a store to get a book, or ordering it online and waiting for shipping.
There aren’t many books available.
Nowadays most book publishers are making their books available as ebooks. There are literally hundreds of thousands of ebooks available from a lot of different sources. You can pretty much take your pick of what you want and where you want to get it.
It hurts my eyes!
Okay, I can’t really disprove that. If it hurts then don’t do it!
Top 5 eBook Apps
If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, check out the Squidoo lens I made for the Top 5 eBook Reading Apps for iPad and iPhone.
If you have an Android phone, get your ebook apps from my Squidoo lens called Top 5 Android eBook Apps.
I’ve been working on my series of articles/blog posts for “The Top 5 Reasons Why Your eBook Isn’t Opening”. Three of them have been posted here so far. Don’t worry, that series will be continued with the next installment soon. But to take a break from it, I’ve made a new Squidoo lens that is also in the theme of “top 5” things: Top 5 eBook Reading Apps for iPad and iPhone.
I know that many people love using their iPads as ebook readers. It makes a lot of sense because if you have an iPad there is no need to buy a separate ebook reader, and it does so much else at the same time. I’m not ready to spend the $500 that an iPad costs, but if I had an iPad, I would definitely make use of it as an ebook reader. I like the fact that it has a backlit screen instead of an e-ink screen like dedicated ebook reading devices (but that’s a matter of personal preference).
The lens I created today outlines the most popular ebook reading apps that you can use on your iPad and iPhone. You actually have a lot of flexibility when it comes to where you get your ebooks, so if you’re not familiar with the options, go check it out.