Posts Tagged ‘Tablet’

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.

Apple iPad Hitting Stores

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

The e-Reader Wars

By the time I am done writing this post, the iPad release date will have arrived. There are multitudes currently freezing in line waiting to be among the first to purchase their beloved device. My first question is, why? A lot of people are going to buy this product simply because it has Steve Jobs’ stamp of approval on it. They will buy anything Apple makes. Others have looked at the specs and like what they see. Let’s take a look at the specs to see what these new iPad owners will get to experience.

  • 9.7″ backlit LED display
  • 1024×768 Resolution
  • 1GHz Apple A4 processor
  • 16, 32, or 64GB flash memory
  • Dock connector port
  • 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
  • Built-in speaker
  • Microphone

The Wi-Fi model carries additional features including Bluetooth 2.1 and Wireless 802.11b/g/n.

As I was watching Modern Family this week, iPad got a huge plug. The geeky dad really wanted one for his birthday, and after a series of unfortunate events he ultimately gets to blow out birthday candles on his new toy. The show made a couple of good jokes, including one where Phil (the geeky dad) aligns himself with early adopters. Considering the guy is not a computer geek it makes me wonder if he is the perfect target demographic for Apple. A middle-aged man with no real knowledge of computers, who is looking for the latest and greatest thing to come out. Apple certainly has other demographics, yet the show highlighted this one particularly well.

So, getting beyond the hype, and the fact that this is an Apple product, is it worth it? I have said all along during the development phase that I think this will be a fun toy, whether or not I am interested in owning it. I am sure I could amuse myself for hours with the myriad of apps, especially considering that there is no phone, making it a glorified iPod Touch.

The early adopters referenced in the TV show suffered a setback this week, when we all learned that pre-ordered iPads would not be shipping this week. Those who paid up front won’t be getting their devices first, the people freezing in line will. If I had pre-paid I wouldn’t be too thrilled about that. I am sure those who paid early are too loyal to Apple to cause too much of a stink over it though. It’s kinda like how we Star Wars fans watched George Lucas destroy his own franchise and continued to send him money.

As I explained in my Kindle for iPhone post, I could probably read a book on it without too many problems. I’m not sure that I’d want to, but I would be reasonably able to do so. I am saving the topic of whether or not the iPad is even competing with e-Ink enabled e-Readers for another post. I don’t think iPad is a “Kindle killer.” I don’t happen to like the concept of anything being an anything killer, since it is typically hype. I don’t want the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 because I hate the iPhone, I want it because I am a Sony Ericsson fan and really want an Android phone. Same with the iPad. I am not interested in other products just to dismantle Apple’s market share, but simply because I am interested in other products. I think Kindle is pretty safe by the way. I could be wrong, but I don’t really see the two engaging in the all-out battle people are talking about.

The bottom line is, if you want to buy it, go for it. It is a well-designed product, and shouldn’t have any major issues. If you want a bigger screen, or Flash, hold out for one of the competing products. Tablets are just now hitting mainstream, so it couldn’t hurt to wait for the prices to come down, or for the next great device to come out in a couple months, whatever that product may be.

The e-Reader Wars

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

The e-Reader Wars begin this week, or so Apple would like you to believe. This week marks the release of the much-hyped iPad. It is being touted by Steve Jobs and Co. as the end all device. It is certainly a fun looking toy, but in the end it is a tablet. Can a tablet substitute for a good e-Reader? Let’s find out.

This is the kickoff post to a brief e-reader series. I will be looking at the big names like Sony, Kindle, and iPad, as well as some lesser known names like JooJoo and Alex. Is e-Ink superior? Is a tablet computer superior? Interestingly, Alex offers both. Another question I will explore is whether or not e-Readers and tablets are comparable, or even competitors. My inclination is that this is apples and oranges here. I will be testing Kindle on the iPhone in anticipation of the iPad, and offering reviews of some of the devices I have played with, as well as those I want to play with. Hopefully this will be as fun as I am hoping. Let the e-Reader Wars commence.