May 29 2010

Rumor: Amazon to Introduce Thinner Kindle

According to two people familiar with Amazon’s plans, the company is planning to introduce a new, thinner Kindle this August. The new Kindle will mostly likely be in response to traditional competitors of Kindle, like e-readers made by Sony and Barnes & Noble, not the iPad, which is a recent introduction.

The new Kindle will not have a color screen or touchscreen capabilities. It will have a black and white screen with sharper contrast to make e-books look more like printed books. Amazon hopes to eventually make an e-reader with a color screen.

The Kindle and its competitor, the Nook made by Barnes & Noble, both sell for $259. Sony’s e-reader, which has a touchscreen, sells for $199. The iPad starts at $499. According to a research firm, about 6 million e-readers will be sold this year, which is twice the amount sold last year.

Amazon bought a company earlier this year that specializes in touchscreen technology, so a touchscreen e-reader with a color display could be a feasible future product for Amazon.

Via BusinessWeek, image via Amazon.

May 24 2010

Amazon Kindle to Work for Netbooks and Notebooks

The introduction of books to PCs was a bit of a shaky one, but it’s finally starting to find its place in the market. Several companies have had tried to get a stake in this market, most notably Apple with the release of its iPad. Now we’re seeing a greater expansion in the e-book market.

Amazon Kindle is a  software and hardware platform developed by Amazon.com, as a way to sell electronic books and have a device to work in tandem with their sale. After its release, Amazon released the Kindle for PC and Mac free of charge, allowing users to read Kindle books on their PC or Mac. However, Kindle still didn’t find its way everywhere. Fortunately however, Amazon has announced that Amazon Kindle for PC application will come preinstalled on some Asus netbooks and notebooks. This PC applications acts to fill in for the Kindle and will allow users to sync pages and continue reading from any of their other hardware. This will be a great move for Amazon, and give Kindle-lovers more variety when it comes to what device they should choose to read from. Amazon isn’t stopping there however, for it plans to have Kindle running on devices which run Google’s Android OS.

While this is great news for amazon, a dark cloud looms on the horizon. Kindle is currently Amazon’s most popular item, and it is sure to be threatened by the Apple iPad and Google’s advance into the e-book market.

Via eWeek, image via ScrapeTV

Mar 22 2010

Amazon Introduces Kindle App for iPad

Amazon’s Kindle e-reader and Apple’s iPad are technically going to be competitors, but this hasn’t stopped Amazon from capitalizing off of the iPad by introducing a Kindle app. The app will offer more than 450,000 Kindle books and use Amazon’s Whispersync technology to synchronize the last page read with other compatible devices, such as an iPhone or a Kindle.

The app has been customized to the size and feel of the iPad and lets users customize the background color and font size, according to Amazon. The last page isn’t the only thing synced: bookmarks, notes, highlights, and annotations are also synced.

Amazon’s Kindle app will have a competitor in the form of a Barnes & Noble e-reader app. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble make products whose sales could decline when the iPad is released.

In its announcement about the Kindle app, Amazon implied that the app would be available for tablet computers other than the iPad as well. It’s unclear right now what other tablets will get special Kindle apps.

Via PC World, image via PC World.

Mar 21 2010

For Students, iPad is better than Kindle

Apple’s upcoming device, the iPad, has long been seen as a competitor to Amazon’s Kindle. Not only may the iPad bring about the end of the Kindle, but it may help Apple cash in on a market that the Kindle was never able to: education.

Of course, Apple does sell many products on the education market. But the iPad may be especially convenient for students because of its small size, e-reader capabilities, and versatility. The Kindle was tested at several major universities and just seemed to lack something and was never a good fit for students.

Recent estimates speculate that Apple may be shipping as many as 190,000 pre-ordered iPads to customers in the first week of the iPad’s release (this is just a guess, though, as no official numbers have been released). Perhaps in a hope of catering to the education market, Apple has lowered the price of the iPad by $20 when ten or more of the devices are ordered for educational use.

Via Tainted Green, image via Apple.

Jan 21 2010

Amazon To Offer Bigger Royalties on Kindle

Amazon has announced a new option for authors and publishers, which will enable them to receive seventy percent of the royalties of sales for Kindle editions of books. Amazon is trying to make the Kindle more attractive than other e-readers, including Apple’s tablet (which, according to speculation, may have e-reader options). The new royalty option will be available on June 30.

Currently authors get between seven and fifteen percent of the list price of printed books and twenty-five percent of net for digital books. The new seventy percent option sounds good, but there are some catches to the policy. To get the seventy percent royalty, the list price of the book must be between $2.99 and $9.99. The title also needs to have Kindle features like text-to-speech.

Amazon is getting worried about the hordes of e-readers introduced lately, especially those seen at CES 2010. Apple’s upcoming device could be their biggest worry yet, if it comes through as expected at the end of the month.

Via ZDNet, image via Amazon.

Nov 10 2009

Check out Amazon’s Kindle for PC…On Your Netbook

The beta application for Amazon’s Kindle for PC is ready to be tested out. It currently supports Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, and the Mac version is reported to be coming soon.

The selling point of this Amazon creation is that you can read Amazon Kindle books without buying the actual Kindle e-reader. Amazon’s trying to target roughly 85% of the computer-using population with this new application. Although reading on your netbook may not be as great as reading on an e-reader, at least they are around the same (convenient) size as a book.

To access and navigate Kindle for PC, you need to first download and install it. You can then sign into your Amazon account, where you will see your previous book purchases. Books can be sorted by title or author. Double-clicking on the book downloads it. You can navigate the pages of the book by using the mouse, arrow keys, or page up/down keys. There are 10 font sizes to choose from and Whispersync allows you to pick up from where you last left off when switching devices (from a Kindle to a netbook or vice versa).

Via JKOnTheRun.

Sep 23 2009

IRex E-Reader Challenges Amazon Kindle, Netbooks

http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/irex.jpg

IRex Technologies is a big name in Europe, where its e-readers have been in the market for a while now. The company just released the iRex DR800SG netbook in New York stores such as Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, and Verizon.

The company is planning to show off its e-reader as a device that’s more open than the Kindle, with more options as well. It has a touchscreen and uses Verizon’s 3G and Wi-Fi to connect to the internet, and will retail at Barnes & Noble for $399. Verizon may also subsidize the e-reader.

IRex CEO Hans Brons has taken some shots at the Kindle already, hinting that Amazon’s device is too limited and at the same time too fancy.

“We’ve tried to create as neutral as possible device – without any whistles and bells and what have you.”

The European company plans a color version of the DR800SG by 2011, and expects to add more retailers in Q1 2010.

Be sure to check out CNet‘s first look at the IRex e-reader/netbook below.

Jul 9 2009

Turn Your Netbook Into A Kindle

Amazon has just dropped the price of their Kindle 2 by $60 to $299. But this price still isn’t quite so tempting, especially since you can get a decent netbook for around the same amount of money. You know what would be tempting though? A “Kindlebook,” a combination of both a Kindle and a netbook.

Yes, the Kindle is lighter in terms of weight and more compact in terms of size and the battery can last for days (way longer than that of a netbook), but a netbook has colored screen displays and far more functionality.

You can actually turn your netbook into a makeshift Kindle though. Here’s how.

Amazon has a massive library of 275,000+ electronic books that are available for purchase at the touch of a button and can be downloaded in under 60 seconds, but there are also other sellers of electronic books. Some examples include eBooks.com, eReader, Fictionwise, and Mobipocket. eBooks.com offers roughly 168,000 titles.

Project Gutenberg has tens of thousands of books, many of which are free to download. Google Books also offers a large number of electronic books (1.5+ million), although some of them may not be complete versions.

Different electronic booksellers require different software to view their texts. For those who like to view their e-books vertically instead of horizontally, you can download EeeRotate for free here. It’s especially designed for Eee PCs, but should work with all computing devices.

And if you want an even more portable device and don’t mind a (much) smaller screen, you can just read e-books on your iPhone.

Want to go all out? Replace your screen with a Pixel Qi display once they’re available commercially.

Via BNet.

May 29 2009

Kindle Haters Rejoice! E-reader Screens Coming To Netbooks

If Pixel Qi has its way, the Kindle won’t have much of a leg up on netbooks for readability. The startup plans to implement its e-reader screens on netbooks everywhere.

pixel qi laptop

Mary Lou Jepsen is a former OLPC CTO and is showing off the new Pixel Qi product at Computex Taipei 2009, which falls next week. The netbook screen is called the 2qi, a 10.1-inch device designed for use in “a black-and-white e-ink mode for reading text documents and e-books, and two color modes, designed for use indoors or in bright sunlight, that are more suitable for Web surfing and video playback.”

The E-ink mode turns off the back light to preserve the netbook’s battery life. Many consider e-reader screens essential for avoiding the eye strain of reading documents and online books on a conventional display.

Jepsen says the screens will be on netbooks by the end of this year – perhaps a snazzy holiday gift? Amazon can’t be happy with the development, as its Kindle e-reader will seem quite a bit less differentiated if the only difference between it and netbooks is its costliness, lack of a web browser, and form factor.

Pixel Qi COO John Ryan is proud of the energy efficiency delivered by the 3qi screen:

“What you’re looking at is a screen that’s entirely reflective… It’s just running like e-paper so that it’s running on the ambient light. It’s not fighting the office light , it’s not fighting the sunlight. That makes it better for reading but it also cuts the power consumption. The backlight in the screen is typically the largest power drain in any notebook computer.”

You can say that again. Netbook battery life is a sticking point for many loathe to make the shift from desktop to netbook, and 6-cell batteries are expensive. Will Pixel Qi revolutionize netbooks with its e-reader screens? I hope so!

Via PCWorld.

Feb 14 2009

Amazon Kindle 2 Vs. The Netbook

Comparing netbooks with similar products is inevitable. Netbooks highlight mobility and accessability for a low cost, but they aren’t the only devices to do so – ultramobiles, smartphones, and laptops (to an extent) all emphasize these qualities.

So while it might seem a little strange to compare netbooks with the new Amazon Kindle 2 reading device, you have to admit they have a lot in common. The Kindle 2 is immensely portable, costs $360, and packs a heck of a lot into its tiny frame… just like a netbook. In case you don’t know much about it, the Kindle 2 is a 3G device specified for reading. You can download any of the “230,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available” in under 60 seconds, read what you want, and store up to 1,500 items in the 2 GB hard drive.

Amazon Kindle 2

A recent blog post by Karen DeCoster at LewRockwell.com discussed the Kindle 2 in relationship to netbooks, mentioning a few major problems with Kindle. Firstly, she mentioned that, though the Kindle 2 offers access to all kinds of media, “most of it is modern, junk fiction, or cheeseball non-fiction. There are some serious works of literature or non-fiction available, but it still has to be “popular” before that occurs.” Of course, if you’re a major reader of popular fiction, it’s quite possible that the device would be great for you.

She also mentions that Kindle seriously taxes you for news subscriptions; for example, the New York Times costs $14/month. Kindle can subscribe you to blogs, but mostly only mainstream ones. Unlike on a netbook with a web browser, access to blogs through Kindle can cost you around 1.99/month. It’s not a lot, but the numbers add up.

Amazon Kindle 2

The $360 price tag isn’t horrible. Unlike nearly all netbook mobile broadband plans, Amazon doesn’t charge Kindle users monthly for 3G. There’s no browser on the device, making most of the point of 3G null, so the inclusion of the feature is only really meant for access to new things to buy.

DeCoster then suggests an alternative: netbooks. The particular model she mentions is the Eee PC 1000H, and we think she’s heading in the right direction. The Kindle device is sleek and pretty, but so are a lot of netbooks. For $360 you can get a lot more than just access to reading materials – you get word processing,the ability to connect with printers and any USB device you’d like, web browsing, and in the near future all kinds of other tasks. A costly device like this doesn’t deliver what it could, and netbooks are the way to go.

Of course, Amazon won’t flinch too much at that pronouncement – they’ve been riding the netbook wave to great benefit lately, with these successes culminating in their new online netbook store.

If you’re still interested, you can get the Amazon Kindle 2 here.

Via LewRockwell.

Apr 23 2010

Amazon is Aware of Apple Threat

Amazon was probably not too happy about the release of the iPad because the iPad poses a major threat to Amazon’s Kindle. Though the iPad is more than an e-reader, it does have e-reader capabilities that have been touted by Apple. Amazon is astute and realizes this threat.

Though Amazon just posted earnings that exceeded expectations, its predictions for the next quarter are a bit more conservative. Amazon gets a lot of its revenue from the Kindle, so lower earnings would probably result from a slowdown in Kindle sales. Though the Kindle is an obvious choice for people who would want a device just to read books on, those who want more capabilities would be much better served by the iPad.

The iPad has created trouble for Amazon and probably will continue to do so. It will be interesting to see how e-readers fare with the iPad on the market.

Via Tainted Green, image via Amazon.

Apr 17 2010

iPads and Colleges

Logically, colleges should be embracing the iPad. After all, the iPad is a revolutionary device that could be extremely useful for students (digital textbooks, anyone?). Some universities have embraced Apple’s newest device—Steton Hall has said it will be giving incoming freshmen iPads (that kind of makes me want to go there…).

However, not all universities have embraced the iPad so heartily. George Washington University has banned iPads from its wireless network due to “security issues” (what these issues may be is anyone’s guess) and Princeton has begun blocking iPads from its network one at a time. Cornell also seems to be afraid of the iPad, but at least it is being honest about why: it is afraid that its wireless network will not be able to handle the influx of data generated by iPads.

Interestingly enough, none of the schools have mentioned any problems with the iPad’s WiFi signal dropping that other users have complained about and Apple has acknowledged.

Via Beatweek Magazine, image via Apple.

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Apr 11 2010

TSA Approves of Apple’s iPad

The Transportation Security Administration has clarified in a blog post last week that the iPad will not need to be removed from carry-on baggage at security screening. This news will be welcome to iPad users who travel a lot.

Normally travelers are required to remove laptops at security checkpoints, but the iPad will now be one less thing for travelers to worry about (it’s sort of ridiculous at times, having to worry about shoes, jackets, belts, and laptops). Since the iPad is thin and does not consist of internal parts that can block images, it can stay in people’s luggage.

Other small electronics, such as Amazon’s Kindle and netbooks, are also allowed to stay in the bag. Of course, screeners use their discretion and sometimes do ask for them to be removed.

TSA has said that ultimately, the way to avoid bag searches is to keep the clutter down. Unfortunately, not all of us (especially me) are very good at this.

Via USA Today, image via Apple.

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Mar 27 2010

iPad Will Have Access to Many eBooks

Okay, I know I was so against the iPad when Apple first announced it. I said that it was extremely disappointing and that I did not want one. But I have to admit, the iPad has been growing on me. This is one of the many reasons why: over 30,000 major books will be free for reading on the iPad.

The free books will be both from Project Gutenberg’s library and from other publishers. Project Gutenberg makes books in the public domain available online.

The iPad does not come with the iBooks application, but it is available for download for free from the App Store. According to other reports, books that are not free will be priced the same as Amazon Kindle books are. Barnes & Noble and Amazon will also be offering apps with eBooks for sale.

Via Times Newsline, image via Apple.

Mar 24 2010

Steve Jobs Emails Apple Customers

I am so incredibly jealous—I want an email from Steve!

According to the latest news, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has been personally responding to Apple customers’ emails. One user asked him about a universal inbox on the iPhone’s Mail app. The current app supports multiple accounts but each account has a separate inbox. Jobs said that the iPhone will have this capability.

Another customer asked Jobs about whether transferring Google Docs to the iPad through iWork.com or iDisk. Jobs replied in the affirmative. Both of these messages from Jobs bore the tagline “Sent from my iPad.”

Another customer wrote to ask about whether Apple plans to support Picasa’s faces and albums features. Jobs said, “No, but iPhoto on the Mac has much better Faces and Places features.” That email was sent from Jobs’ iPhone which is apparently running the older version of the iPhone OS.

Other emails have concerned the MacBook and MacBook Pro lines of computers and the availability of the iPad from Apple resellers.

Via Computerworld, image via Wikipedia.

Mar 24 2010

Survey: People Want iPads For Work

The rather surprising results of a survey concerning intended iPad use have been released. According to the survey, many people are interested in buying Apple’s newest product, the iPad, so that they can use it for work.

The survey was conducted by Zogby International for Sybase. The results showed that work ranked ahead of playing games and watching videos as reasons for buying the iPad, which is quite unexpected. I personally viewed the iPad as more of a device for entertainment than anything else.

The results of this survey show the increased importance of mobile devices in today’s world, as well as the desire of customers for increasingly portable yet functional devices.

Via Barrons.com.

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Mar 21 2010

Apple Still Tying up loose ends for iPad Release

Though the iPad is coming out in fewer than two weeks, Apple is still not entirely ready for its release. The company is still trying to tie up loose ends concerning its newest product.

Apple is trying to negotiate more content for the iPad. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple is hoping to sign additional agreements with media companies. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is famously against Adobe Flash content on websites, so this may explain Apple’s last-minute negotiations.

Another issue concerns accessories for the iPad. Due to the high demand, the ship dates for them have slowly been pushed later and later. At this point, it’s really anyone’s guess whether this will affect iPad sales or not. Analysts have widely varying opinions about iPad sales, with some speculating that Apple could potentially sell 1 million iPads in 74 days, which is how long it took Apple to sell its first 1 million iPhones.

Via eWeek.

Mar 15 2010

Barnes & Noble Plans to Offer iPad App

Barnes & Noble is planning to offer an iPad app, which will give customers the option of buying online books from a source other than Apple’s iBook store. Barnes & Noble already makes eReader software for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Blackberry. The app will provide access to more than one million e-books and periodicals from the eBookstore. Books purchased for the Nook, Barnes & Noble’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle, will be accessible through the iPad app.

Since Barnes & Noble plans to target the iPad, Amazon will probably do the same, though it also offers an e-reader. The strategy is sound: even if the iPad becomes the demise of e-readers, the companies will still make money through e-book sales.

Planned iPad competitors abound, as well as planned e-readers. Samsung and Dell have both said that they are planning to release e-readers, though the Samsung e-reader could potentially help Barnes & Noble because the two companies have agreed to partner with each other, with Barnes & Noble agreeing to offer its online store to users of Samsung’s e-reader.

Via InformationWeek, image via Barnes & Noble.

Mar 14 2010

Apple’s iPad Forces Rivals to Improve Products

Apple’s iPad looks set to be a huge success, and this has competing companies worried. If competing companies do not improve their products that are meant to compete with the iPad, these products simply won’t sell and will be overshadowed by the iPad. Obviously they do not want this to happen, so companies such as Amazon, HP, and Microsoft are hard at work creating products that will be able to compete with the iPad.

Amazon wants to hire a software developer to improve its Kindle by adding web browsing capabilities to it. HP has been heavily promoting its Slate tablet, especially the fact that it will support Adobe Flash (Apple’s mobile devices famously do not support Flash). Even Microsoft has said it intends to make a tablet called the Courier.

This has all happened before the iPad has even been released. After April 3, once we know definitely what the iPad is really like, more companies will offer iPad competitors.

Via ZDNet, image via Apple.

Mar 10 2010

Dell may be Releasing Apple iPad Competitor

The next iPad competitor?

Dell, with some help from Amazon and Google, may be releasing an iPad competitor called the Dell Streak. The Streak will be a tablet that will have access to all of the e-books in Amazon’s Kindle store and everything in Amazon’s MP3 download store, which includes songs as well as TV shows and movies. This is a comparable to what the iTunes store offers.

The Streak allegedly will have a five-inch screen, which would put it between the iPhone and iPad in size. It is supposed to offer access to the Kindle store through 3G with no extra fees. This is an advantage over the iPad, which requires a data plan for 3G access. The Streak is supposed to be Android-based.

Both Amazon and Dell refused to confirm if this rumor is true or not. No one has speculated about the ship date or price of this unannounced product. A tablet processor manufacturer has said that it expects over fifty iPad competitors to be released this year.

Via Wired, image via Wired.

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