Posts Tagged ‘e-Reader’

E-Reader Pricing Battle Begins

Monday, June 21st, 2010

With the launch of the iPad, a lot of comparisons have been made between tablets and traditional e-readers. While the iPad is in its own class, the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble have been compared against it. Both devices came up short at their asking prices due to their limited features by comparison. However, when classed appropriately among peer devices, the Nook and Kindle are more directly competing for the non-iPad crowd.

Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Wi-Fi, a lower-priced version of the popular Nook e-reader. The Nook Wi-Fi offers familiar features, and is available on all of AT&T’s Wi-Fi hot spots. The Nook Wi-Fi is priced at $149. The original 3G/Wi-Fi Nook is now $199, a drop of $60.

Amazon moved quickly on the news of the Nook announcement. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but landing at $10 under the Nook 3G looks pretty intentional. Either way, it was about time the Kindle came down. With no color screen, no touch screen, and no Android tablet features, it was way too expensive. There has been some discussion (likely not at Amazon) that the ideal price point for the Kindle is $100, if it is to gain a lasting foothold in the e-book market. I think it would be a much more reasonable price, but at least it dropped as far as it did this time. An e-reader needs to compete against other e-readers, not a “full”-featured tablet like the iPad.

The e-reader pricing battle has begun. I am looking forward to a counter-move by Barnes & Noble. It may not happen soon, but I am sure something will happen. Let’s see if Sony jumps in on this price scheme. At $200, the Reader Touch remains on the top of the price tier. Let’s hope for a continued collective drop.

Alex E-Reader

Monday, April 19th, 2010

The e-Reader Wars

The Alex, by Spring Design is now available for shipping. Alex has been discussed a lot since CES, and it looks like a really good option. Here are the basics:

  • 6″ Electronic Paper Display
  • 3.5″ LCD Touchscreen
  • 256MB DRAM internal, 2GB flash memory
  • Micro SD slot
  • Stereo headphone jack, speaker and microphone
  • Charge via USB cable or power adaptor
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
  • USB cable, Headphones, and mini USB power adapter included in box

At first glance, the Alex resembles the Nook. The touchscreen display is a half inch bigger on the Alex, though, and it does a lot more. You can extend the e-Ink portion to display on the touchscreen, giving you a larger viewable area. The touchscreen is powered by Android, and doesn’t have the limitations of the Nook. You can browse the web, view pictures, find music, and more. You can find ePUB books, search Google Books, and can use Alex partner stores to find content. Your data can be stored on the microSD card so you can take your pictures, music, and books wherever you need to go.

There are three versions of the Alex available. The one currently available (Alex DS-10) is Wi-Fi enabled. This summer there will be a version (Alex DS-11) with EVDO/CDMA and another (Alex DS-12) with HPSA/GSM. By this summer, the Alex will be both Wi-Fi and 3G capable. I am assuming the early version won’t get a 3G upgrade though.

You can listen to music while you read, a feature that is particularly nice. You can use the built-in microphone to record your own notes to supplement your annotations. The Alex is also Flash-compatible, so you can watch movies on it too.

The Alex Marketplace is still in development, but by featuring Android, the device will be upgradeable through a number of forthcoming apps. You will still have to enjoy these apps on the 3.5″ screen though, so it may or may not be useful. 3.5″ is about the size of modern smart phones, though newer models are getting bigger.

This is a really solid e-Reader for those who don’t want to choose between a tablet or an e-Reader. I like the fact that you can extend the e-Ink screen to the touchscreen. I would hope that the gray-scaling matches or that might be off-putting. The starting price is a little high, considering it came out after the iPad. I still think e-Ink is the way to go for e-books, so hopefully the marketplace agrees with me on that. I think this is a good upgrade for current Nook users. I personally would wait for the 3G version though, and perhaps a price drop. The Alex looks really good right now though, and if I wanted to combine a tablet and e-Reader this is on the list that I would choose from.

As the weeks go by and customers have had a chance to put it through its paces I will take another look at it and see if it is as solid as it appears. Until then, those of you who pre-ordered the Alex, enjoy it. Let me know how it works for you.

Nook Review – Hands On: Part 2

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

I was discussing my last post on the Nook with a friend, and it came to my attention that I could have added quite a bit to the review. There are a few more features that are worth noting: the e-Lending, checking out books from a library, and the mp3 player.

Lending a book to a friend is a good feature. Apparently there is a time limit though, so your friend needs to be able to finish a book in 14 days. Your friend doesn’t need to have a Nook however, which is good. You can share with friends on a PC or Mac (with Barnes & Noble software), iPhone or iPod Touch, with Blackberry and other smartphones getting the feature sometime this year. An interesting thing that I picked up in the store is that Barnes & Noble oversold the e-Lending feature initially, and that the book publisher has a veto power that wasn’t initially advertised. The only books available for e-Lending have been pre-approved by the publisher. It also looks like just as with real books, if you lend it out you can’t read it until they return it or their time expires.

The library feature is also interesting. Again, I was told it was limited, and that the Los Angeles County library is the only one currently lending to Nook owners. I don’t know if this means only L.A. has the feature, but I imagine that it is limited to metropolitan areas.

The Nook also features an mp3 player. This can be especially useful for books on tape (or CD) that you have in your home library. Load them up on the Nook and enjoy them all over again, assuming you know how to rip a CD. You can also listen to music of course.

There was a little confusion over the external memory when I discussed it with the Barnes & Noble staff. They said to use a Memory Stick, which I thought was strange considering it is Sony’s product. I asked again for confirmation and they said it was the Memory Stick. Turns out it is really a Micro SD card. Big difference. I’m glad I wasn’t in the market that night. Of course with 2GB of internal memory it probably wouldn’t have come up immediately. It would be good for the staff to know the difference however.

It probably seems like I don’t like the Nook much after this post, but it really is a decent device. I learned a lot about it and while it may not be my top choice, I think there are plenty of people this would be great for. It is a solid device, has plenty of features, and has a huge volume of available content. This device is sure to make a book-lover happy.