Bookseller and Nook purveyor Barnes and Noble has decided to partner with Pandigital to bring a $199.99 color ereader to the market. The device, known as the Pandigital Novel, will use a regular backlit LCD instead of an eInk display like the Kindle or Nook. The Android-based Novel will have a 7-inch 800x600 resolution resistive touchscreen display, and ARM 11 CPU, Wi-Fi, and 1GB of internal storage with support for SD cards.
In many ways, it's really more of an inexpensive tablet that happens to be sold by a bookseller. The Novel will have a full web browser, and multimedia capabilities. Details on just what sort of multimedia experience would be available were not forthcoming, but it will play MP3s and some video formats. Experience with Android means probably H.264 encoded files. As far as ebooks, we're pleased to hear it will support books from Barnes and Noble's store as well as any files formatted as PDF, EPUB, or HTML. Battery life for reading is listed as only 6 hours though.
It's clearly not a match for the iPad on features, but the price is less than half of even the low end model of the Apple device. It is even cheaper than standard eInk-based readers, which often clock in at $260. We'll be interested to see if anyone goes for this device over the competition. Look for it to ship in June.
Despite releasing a Kindle app for the iPad, Amazon isn't giving up on their own hardware just yet. Lab 126, the Amazon department responsible for the Kindle hardware, has been on a hiring spree as of late. Many of the new positions are for testing and product creation. This indicates that Amazon may be readying new hardware.
This is further evidenced by their recent acquisition of Touchco, a touchscreen technology startup. Sources at Amazon that could not speak on record also indicated Amazon is working with publishers to discuss adding games to the Kindle platform. This could signal a direct assault on the iPad.
It's clear the Kindle needs to evolve. Compared to the iPad, it's looking a little dated considering the current price of $260. Even though the Kindle is meant for only one thing, we feel like it could stand to gain a few new features. It doesn't have to compare spec for spec with the iPad, but it has to change or risk obsolescence.
Google's ebook plans have hit a snag or two, but now we're hearing reports that almost all US publishers are onboard with their upcoming Google Editions store. In all, approximately 25,000 authors and publishers have agreed to participate. The deal included many books with expired copyrights, bringing the total number of volumes to over 4 million.
The model expected to be used for Google Editions will be similar to the Apple iBooks version in which publishers set the price. It's likely that many books in Google's store will be available at very low cost. Tie-ins with specific devices were not disclosed. The service is expected to launch in late June or July.
There is hope that the entry of Google into the ebook space can keep other competitors like Amazon and Apple in check. Do they have a chance?
Amazon is preparing to rollout the 2.5 update for their successful Kindle ereader. Some of the new features seem like nice feature additions. The update has added the ability to password protect the devices lock screen. There is also enhanced support for PDF viewing that includes the ability to pan and zoom on the documents. Amazon is including the ability to organize the Kindle Library in "Collections" as well. That should definitely help cut down on the clutter. User's will also have the option of two new larger fonts.
Those are just the useful additions. Amazon is adding a new feature called "Popular Highlights" with a social slant. The service will let you share passages of a book on Twitter or Facebook. The idea is that you'd be able to see what bits of a book others find interesting as you're reading it. Seems like an interesting, if possibly distracting idea. Just be responsible people, and don't share the ending.
The update is set to come out via an over the air update later in May. Some lucky Kindle owners have gotten it early, however. Any Kindle users out there that are looking forward to this update?
In a time long ago, Amazon was a book seller. They've continued to sell paper books while becoming the leader in ebooks, but they also sell a multitude of other products. In the past, most of Amazon's business was selling media like books, music, and movies. Now those "other" products make up the majority of the online retailer's sales. The news came in Amazon's earnings call today when it was also announced that they smashed projections by rocking a 46% revenue increase over last year.
Overall, Amazon took in $3.43 billion in sales from media, and $3.51 billion from everything else. Many analysts have expected this so-called "inversion point" to occur eventually. Amazon benefits from this in that they have a solid buffer in the face of the changing media landscape. It's no secret that Amazon liked having the eBook business all to themselves, but they'll never have that kind of comfortable perch again.
Certainly people are buying all sorts of things from Amazon. What are getting there? Still just books and DVDs? Or have you started buying your electronics from Amazon as well?
The Nook hasn't exactly made the same splash the Kindle has, but it's apparently doing well enough that Barnes and Noble is planning new versions. The always fun "anonymous source" indicates that a "lite" version of the Nook without cell data will be shipping soon. This will shave a bit off the price of the device as the cost of lifetime data is built in. Users would still have data connectivity over Wi-Fi. This version is rumored to be priced at $199, breaking that psychological $200 barrier.
As for the Nook 2, there aren't many details other than Barnes and Noble is working on it. But the Nook Lite will be available by the end of the second quarter. It's not that we aren't appreciative of a $60 price cut, but it may not be enough. The Nook's software has been on the buggy side, and updates have been slow to appear. Though, the 1.4 build is expected soon.
The wireless data is a major selling point on these devices. It's unclear if people will be willing to make the trade off. Would you take the Lite version at that price over the regular Nook?
Apple is expected to release an update to the popular iTunes software this Saturday in conjunction with the launch of the much anticipated iPad. Many of the software enhancements are meant to support features of the Apple tablet. Some updates that users can look forward to are improved Genius mixes, redesign of iTunes store categories, and an improved device management interface.
For Genius mixes, users will be able to play them via iTunes DJ, and rearrange them simply by dragging them. As far as iPad related enhancements, we can expect the “audiobooks” category to be absorbed into the new iBook store. Newspaper and magazines may also end up under this heading. Apple may also beging using some sort of shorthand to indicate is content is designed to work best with the iPad or iPod/iPhone.
One new feature will be the ability to convert audio on the fly to 128kbps AAC when syncing to a device. This was previously only available with the iPod Shuffle. The conversion saves space on the device, but leaves the computer files unchanged. How do the iTunes users out there feel about these changes? Anything to write home about?
When Apple announced its iBook store there was one publisher conspicuously absent: Random House. In case you don’t keep up with the wheelings and dealings of the publishing industry, Random House is the largest publisher in the world. Now we’re hearing the strange truth about why they won’t be jumping on the iPad bandwagon. According to the Financial Times, Random House doesn’t want to start an ebook price war.
We certainly find this confusing, as most other publishers are moving ahead full speed with the apparent intention to cause just that. The Amazon model has always rubbed publishers the wrong way. Amazon simply buys the book licenses and sells them for whatever they want (usually $9.99). Many in the industry feared that ten bucks would just become the default price for a book, much as $.99 became the price for music. Apple will allow them to pick their price, and pay Cupertino a 30% cut of that.
It could be that Random House just wants to stay above the fray until the whole thing is worked out. Maybe if the iPad really takes off, Random House works will deluge the iBook store. Are you concerned about this impending of future of siloed content? Will we ever be able to just get everything in one place?
Spring Design’s Alex e-reader was slated to come out on February 22nd. It didn’t happen. There was a bit of concern around the interwebs as Spring Design didn’t really release any information. The company did eventually come out with a statement to assure us all that the Alex wasn’t vaporware. The release date has apparently been pushed to early March.
We were a bit baffled when we first saw the Spring Design Alex. Not because of any particularly confounding element of the Alex, but because we thought it was the Barnes and Noble Nook. The Alex fit all the rumors: color touchscreen, additional eink display, Android powered. Turns out that the Alex was just very similar to the Nook, and Spring Design even claims the Nook is based on the Alex (hence the legal issues).
The Alex will have a tie to Borders stores in an effort to compete with Barnes and Noble's Nook. It is expected to retail for $359 when it launches… whenever that is.
If you had asked us what electronic device had no business running a multitouch display, we’d have said eInk-based ereaders. Apparently, we don’t know what we’re talking about, because the Bookeen Orizon is an ereader with a multitouch screen. Why? So you can adjust the zoom level. No one wants to use buttons for that, right?
The Bookeen Orizon will be out in May and will retail for $250. When the current price of a Kindle or Nook is just a bit higher, they must really be banking on people going crazy for the multitouch. The screen is 6 inches and the device will come with 1GB of built-in storage. There’s no book store for this product, but it supports whatever ePub files or PDFs you’d like to put on it.
Even if you don’t need an integrated book store, why get this over a Sony reader? Is anyone really hankering for multitouch zooming on their ereader?