Amazon launch 6th gen “Kindle Paperwhite” touchscreen e-reader

new-amazon-kindle-paperwhite

When Michael Cronan was asked to name Amazon’s new e-reader, the branding consultant suggested Kindle. Kindle, as we know, means “to light a fire” and Cronan felt it would be an appropriate metaphor for reading and intellectual excitement. Since the original Kindle was released in November 2007, six generations of the Amazon e-reader have followed. While Amazon has not released official sales figures, according to Forrester Research, as of mid-2010, sales estimates for the Kindle were around four million.

Yes, it’s safe to say that six generations and millions of sales prove that Amazon remains the undisputed leader in the e-reader category. However, will the sixth gen Kindle, the new Kindle Paperwhite live up to the product’s “to light a fire” metaphor?

It was only announced on the Amazon website on September 3 and won’t be released until October, 2013, so it’s a little premature to dissect the technical powers – or even lack of them – of the Paperwhite, right? Not according to the wave of excitement the yet-to-be-released product has already ignited in gadgetry media.

It’s “zippier and better than the original Paperwhite” CNet insists, pinning the new Paperwhite’s superiority on being the first product to feature E-Ink’s Pearl 2 display, which offers better contrast. CNet’s also quick to associate the new Amazon e-reader’s greatness to its 1GHz processor, which is 25% faster than the 800MHz processor that the original Paperwhite comprises of. The latest model is also a hair lighter than the original Paperwhite, weighing 7.3 ounces instead of 7.5. But will we really notice such a marginal difference in weight?

Meanwhile Bloomberg Businessweek Technology emphasises how the new Kindle is showing how Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is, “Link by link, constructing a wall around his digital reading ecosystem that manages to be both alluring to readers and virtually insurmountable for competitors.” The Kindle-loving Bloomberg reporter is especially excited about the Paperwhite’s Vocabulary Builder feature, which stores all the vocab words that readers look up while reading and then enables them to quiz themselves with flash cards.

So let’s not beat around the bush, what exactly is all the fuss about what makes the new Kindle Paperwhite allegedly better than ever?

One of the Kindle’s biggest assets is that reader’s can read without straining their eyes. With higher contrast and better reflectivity, means that as Amazon states, “White are white and blacks are blacks, so the pages are virtually indistinguishable from a physical book.” What’s more, with next generation built-in light that guides light towards the surface of the display, readers won’t get any eye strain.

With a 25% faster processor, pages turn faster than ever and with the new Kindle Flip Page, ‘skim readers’ can be in their element, scanning chapters, skipping to the end or browsing pages without losing their place.

Another key feature that is new to the latest Kindle is the Smart New Lookup. This pioneering trait integrates a full dictionary along with Wikipedia so that user’s can access information and definitions without leaving their page. Although it has to be said that resorting to Wikipedia for information is a a little on the dubious side of credible.

There’s tonnes more we could say about Amazon’s sixth generation of Kindle, such as maintaining its eight weeks of battery life and having built-in Wi-Fi but what we really to know is the price and availability.

The new Kindle Paperwhite is £109. Pre-ordering started on 4 September at www.amazon.co.uk and shipping in the UK will start 9 October.

Top 5 eReader Accessories

Light, portable and able to fit over 1,000 books at a time, it’s no surprise that eReaders are a huge hit. With more users, models and books available for eReaders than ever, the number of accessories you can purchase to go with these handy gadgets has also grown.

We’ve compiled a list of the top five eReader accessories that will keep your reader safe from bumps, scratches and splashes, and give you the chance to personalise your device.

eReader-accessories-

Case

A case is a must for any eReader and with plenty of options on the market that are both stylish and functional, there’s no excuse not to keep your device protected.

If you haven’t already purchased a case for your eReader, you can do so from the manufacturer themselves. Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative, you can find plenty of tutorials for DIY eReader cases online, which range from fairly simple cases made from mailing envelopes to hand-crafted creations that are more complex.

Light

Devices that use e-ink are better for your eyesight in the long-term, however the lack of a backlit screen means that, just like reading the pages of a book, you need a decent light source. Luckily, you can now purchase clip-on lights especially for eReaders. These are just like clip-on lights for books and enable you to read in the dark without disturbing those around you.

Clip-on lights are available for Kindle, Kobo and Sony eReaders. Amazon also stocks a range of cases that have integrated LED reading lights for different brands of eReader.

Waterproof bag

A waterproof bag isn’t so necessary if your eReader is staying in the sunny UK, but if you plan to take it abroad, it’s a must. Waterproof bags can help protect your device not only from deadly splashes and accidental drops, but also from sand, which can wreak havoc with electronics.

Waterproof eReader bags and cases are available in most major travel shops and from online retailers.

Sleeve

A sleeve is similar to a case, except instead of covering the outside of your eReader like a book cover, it is a similar design to a laptop case. Sleeves can be more decorative than cases and can help protect the whole screen. They are, however, less effective at protecting your device from hard knocks than a hardcover case.

Decal

A decal is the same as a vinyl skin – it doesn’t protect your device (except maybe from light surface scratches), but it lets you customize your eReader and make it unique to you. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy have a range of skins available for popular brands of eReader like Kindle and Kobo.

New Kobo family proves Kindle are not the only e-readers in town

It was announced late last week that eReading giants Kobo (10-million users in 190 countries with around 3 million books across 60 different languages) are set to unleash a pretty awesome series of eReaders for everyone – the Mini, Kobo Glo, and Kobo Arc. Starting at £59.99 the series will be available at the world’s largest network of booksellers and leading retailers including WHSmith. Good work.

Kobo-Family

Arguably the most impressive (in our view, at least) is the new front-lit, Kobo Glo. It is billed as the next generation in comfortable eReading. It’s got nice soft, even and adjustable ComfortLight technology to enable consumers to read anytime – day or night. That’s nice, isn’t it? Its durable screen and customisable page-turning features make it very useful. To go a bit deeper into it all, the Kobo Glo uses E Ink technology, customisable fonts and a no-glare XGA high-resolution 6” E Ink screen that is just like reading print on paper, and connects easily to Wi Fi allowing users to explore and discover recommendations in the Kobo eBookstore. The Kobo Glo eReader comes in black or white and a selection of stylish colours like…err, Blue Moon and will be available starting October 1 for £99.99 MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).

“Our focus has remained firmly on delivering a superior experience for booklovers around the world. With 11,000 booksellers and leading retail partners across five continents, we are bringing the new Kobo Family to booklovers everywhere,”
Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo.

This announcement follows last week’s one about Kobo’s slick partnership with the American Booksellers Association (working with 2,000 bookstores across America). US independent bookstores now join Kobo’s global network of leading booksellers including Indigo (Canada), WHSmith (UK), FNAC (France), Mondadori (Italy), Libris (Netherlands), Collins (Australia), Whitcoulls (New Zealand), Rakuten (Japan). Massive!

The Kobo Mini meanwhile, is the world’s smallest and lightest full-featured E Ink eReader available, offering the full Kobo experience at a very decent and accessible value. Proving that great things come in small packages (like me…ahem), the 5” Kobo Mini easily fits into the pocket Kobo with some excellent features. Just like reading print on paper, the no-glare 5” E Ink screen is pretty easy on the eyes (even in sunlight) and it comes in black or white and offers a selection of three Kobo SnapBacks in Teal, Ruby Red, and Purple. So peeps, basically, this one is best for people on-the-go, young adults, and easy for first-time readers to hold and read; it’ll hold 1,000 eBooks and like the Glo, it’ll be available from October 1 priced at £59.99 MSRP. Cool beans.

Neeext! We have the award-winning Kobo Touch, which is the industry’s first touch-screen eReader and is available in stores around the world. This one is now £79.99 and includes Kobo’s latest software with more ways to personalise the reading experience, get recommendations and discover new content. The Kobo Touch is available in seven languages including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Japanese. It’s as good as it sounds. Seriously.
On to the (very) impressive Arc now; this delightful beast offers booklovers a Android 4.0 multimedia tablet with a new way to discover content – books, movies, TV shows, music, web pages and more. With a Kobo-developed interface called Tapestries (…this is so cool!), Kobo Arc is giving consumers a more exciting way to engage with content.

Using an intelligent cross-media recommendations engine, Tapestries responds to the user’s “pinned” content to recommend related videos, movies, books, webpages and other related content. What’s also cool about Tapestries is that it makes it easy to discover new personal multimedia recommendations with little effort as the engine “learns” what users enjoy. The 7” high-definition display delivers crisp, sharp text and with 16-million colours to create the best photos. With front-facing speakers featuring SRS TruMedia, a built-in microphone and high-resolution 1.3 MP camera, the Kobo Arc offers up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play (yeah!), and two weeks on standby. With Google Play, Kobo Arc users have access to more than 600,000 apps and pre-loaded ones like Facebook, Twitter and PressReader. The Kobo Arc is available in all the usual colours and interchangeable SnapBacks. This one will be available from November, starting at £159.99 (8G) MSRP and £189.99 (16G) MSR.

For more information visit the official Kobo website: http://www.kobobooks.com

Top five boy’s toys for Christmas

Christmas is coming, and the man in your life is getting fat, and whether you like it or not this man is going to spend too much time eating, drinking and using the Lords birthday as an excuse to meet up and make merry with every person he’s ever had a passing acquaintance with.  A direct result of this is said gentlemen will also spend extended periods of time sitting in a state of inertia, moaning and trying to sweat out the previous days pleasure.  This being the case you want to keep him amused, his hands busy and away from the eggnog for as long as possible.  This being the case, please find latestgadgets top 5 (in no particular order) Big Boys Toys this Christmas, to keep him happy for December and beyond…

Playstation Move/ Microsoft Kinect

Move-vs-Kinect

The Playstation Move is aimed at the hardcore gamer market and a fiddle to start with, but if he’s a died-in-the-wool Call Of Duty type then this might be your best bet.  The Kinect is more of a Wii extension with games intended to be fun and social.  There’s considerable fun to be had in its novelty value too- there isn’t actually a controller and the Kinect sensor just recognises your movements on games like Dance Central, Fighters Uncaged and more.

Move- £41.99 starter pack, £17.99 each additional controller.
Kinect- £129.99

Flip Mino HD and Flie Ultra HD Video Cameras

Flip-Video

Reception has been universally positive since these were released.  And what’s not to like?  Quality HD recording, the ability to plug directly into your HD TV for instant Christmas Lunch playbacks and only, in the case of the Mino, 10cm long.   Technical specs between the two are more or less the same-1280p x 720p , Transflective screen.  The main difference is the size of memory- the Mino has 4GB of memory, the Ultra 8GB.

Mino- from £99
Ultra- From £114.99

Amazon Kindle

Kindle

Despite a certain amount of scepticism, the Kindle is starting to worm it a way into the wider consciousness and, if the makers will have us believe, is going to drastically alter the way we read books. A dedicated book buyer such as yours truly might not be too enamoured with it but for the man who likes to read but doesn’t want the luggage, this is perfect.  Enough space for 3500 books, a month long battery life and a reasonable price clinch the deal.

Price- £109

Nikon P7000 Digital Camera

For the person that wants to take pretty good pictures, but doesn’t want the faff of an SLR.  Small (360g), compact yet with enough bells and whistles to satisfy him with time on his hand it is ideal as a portable.   With its 10.1MP sensor and wide 7.1x optical zoom lens, and a 720p HD filming capabilities its got enough behind it to justify its somewhat steep price.

Price- £489

Boogie Board Paperless Writing Tablet

Bit more of a gimmick this one, but for those of us that remember Etch-a-Sketch it’ll bring back some fond memories…and make us realise that they pail in comparison to this.  Essentially a little black board that you can scribble over and immediately wipe or send the pictures to somewhere else via USB, Bluetooth of WiFi it can double as child entertainment device, shopping list or portable easel.

Price- £39.99

TWIG: RailEasy app, Bookbox eReader, Totes Smartouch

Have a smartphone? Take the train? Get the RailEasy app. I’m very tempted to leave it there making this the shortest review in these pages, but I suppose I should go into a little more detail. RailEasy is a train times and (crucially) booking app from independent online train ticket retailer RailEasy. The in-app purchasing is what makes RailEasy stand out from other train apps as it’s a first. Everything else is pretty straightforward, you can set your “home station” or search for a station near you and see a train timetable or when the next train is departing. The “next train home” button is a nice touch. Booking tickets switches you across to their web platform, but via some in app magic you are able flit back and forth between the two – if you need to change some of your journey details. And fittingly for a train booking app, it is available across a range of platforms – they say over 90%. Go for it.

RailEasy-App

Yet-another-e-reader-fatigue not quite set in? Give it a few more months. Until then you might be interested to know that View Quest and HMV have teamed up like Enigma Force Five to produced BookBox, an eReader with Adobe DRM, a feature I’m sure you’ve all been crying out for. Designed for young readers, the 154mm x 88mm, 218 gram device has a rubberised finished, which should make it feel a little safer in the hands of a child. Utilising TFT technology instead of e-ink the BookBox is reasonably versatile and can play back at range of photo, music and video formats, as well as support for epub, pdf, txt and fb2 formatting. At £99 it’s a little pricey for just an eReader when King of the Hill the Kindle has a similar price point for a much more refined e-reading experience. However, throw in the multimedia playback flexibility and the BookBox makes a nice cheap gateway to tablet browsing for kids. The BookBox should be in HMVs near you now.

Cold isn’t it? Well I don’t know where or when you’re reading this, but as I type in mid-November in winter it is freezing and I dread reaching into my bag for my iPhone or iPad. As I’m sure you are aware, in Korea some people use a snack sausage that works well with capacitive touch-screen phones. As a vegetarian this didn’t really appeal. However Totes Smartouch have released a slightly less ridiculous alternative – some touchscreen gloves, specially designed with tips to work with iOS and Android style touch input devices. Quick and responsive, the one-size-fits all gloves are best for quickly navigating menus and answering calls – I wouldn’t write a lengthy novel using them. However as the cold winters sets in – these look set to become essential purchases.

4 Top “Back to School” gadgets for a new term

It is that time of year again where parents pay out huge amounts of money so their children can have the latest and greatest for the new school year. We also have the university students who are soon to be off in the big bad world. I can say with absolute certainty if I had just a handful of the gadgets available for students when I was at university, my life would have been so much easier. Well here are some gadgets to help you along the way whether you are preparing for your GCSEs or degree.

Samsung-e60

I don’t know about you, but my textbooks were enormous. Right at the top of my wish-list at university would have been an e-reader. Instead of breaking your back why not have all your textbooks on an e-reader? Most publishers are now providing digital textbooks. Samsung have released the Samsung E60, available from WH Smith, to rival Amazon’s Kindle. With 2GB of storage and Wi-Fi access, you can read books in PDF, TXT and ePub formats. The memory is expandable to 16GB. It also comes with a MP3 player and organiser. You can annotate books and newspapers and images by writing them. For students, this would great feature to add notes while in lectures. At £199 it is more pricey than the Kindle but for students, the ability to annotate books is vital.

smartpen

Livescribe have released the Echo Smartpen. Echo, the successor to the Pulse smartpen, records audio and everything you write at the same time so you never have to miss anything from your classes. Built-in speakers can play back your recorded audio and you can transfer notes and audio to your computer using the USB connection. It captures everything you write using an infrared camera in the replaceable ink tip. It comes in 4GB and 8GB sizes enabling it to hold 400 or 800 hours of audio. You can use customizable Livescribe applications allowing you can write and email by hand or even write a word down and hear the translation in Japanese. The Echo is available from Amazon where the 8GB will cost £180 and the 4GB costs £160. A handy little time-saving gadget.

Rosetta-Stone

Language students should check out the Rosetta Stone, which attempts to recreate immersion – one of the best ways to learn a language. The Rosetta Stone is a software or Flash based web service that tests your reading, writing, speaking and listening. Each skill is broken into short little chunks – so you can do a 10 minute writing lesson, or a 5 minute listening test, making it ideal for a busy student lifestyle. The whole course is carried out in the target language – forcing you to learn and hammering home grammar and vocab until you get it. However the Flash based nature of the website means there are certain portable devices (iOS ones most notably) that won’t run, making it a little less flexible than it could be. However the Rosetta Stone people have assured us that they have noticed the relentless march of apps and are working on some mobile solutions.

appschool

Our top application to help with your studies is iStudiez Pro. Student life can be hectic juggling different classes and knowing your homework deadlines. iStudiez Pro offers a detailed schedule planner and a daily calendar view of your classes for the day and what homework is due in. You can view by week or month to plan ahead. Push notifications will alert you to any upcoming classes and tasks. Courses can easily be setup for a term and labelled with colours. This app will always ensure you are where you meant to be.

Remember: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Good luck!

Amazon Kindle 3 review roundup

Amazon has announce that the newest version of its famous Kindle e-reader device will be hitting the (virtual) shelves on August 27th. At £109 for a Wi-Fi device, and £149 for 3G + Wi-Fi, the reading device is certainly one of the most affordable readers available – but is it better than a book? We’ve scoured the web to find out if the Kindle really is the droid we’ve been looking for.

Kindle-Roundup

The first stop on the Kindle-trail was Amazon’s own website – no-one has laid-out the merits of the new device better than them:

  • All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen – 50% better contrast than any other e-reader
  • Read in Bright Sunlight – No glare
  • New and Improved Fonts – New crisper, darker fonts
  • New Sleek Design – 21% smaller body while keeping the same 6″ size reading area
  • 17% Lighter – Only 241 grams, weighs less than a paperback
  • Battery Life of One Month – A single charge lasts up to one month with wireless off
  • Double the Storage – Up to 3,500 books
  • Built-In Wi-Fi – Connect at home or on the road
  • Books in 60 Seconds – Download books anytime, anywhere
  • 20% Faster Page Turns – Seamless reading
  • Enhanced PDF Reader – With dictionary lookup, notes, and highlights
  • New WebKit-Based Browser – Browse the web over Wi-Fi (experimental)

Outside of these mainstream enhancements, i-Reader Review has revealed 22 interesting things about the Kindle 3, the most interesting of which are:

  1. There’s a microphone on the Kindle 3
  2. Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi support CJK fonts and Cyrillic fonts
  3. There’s now an Audible section in the Kindle Store. Audible audiobooks can only be downloaded when you’re using WiFi – else you can download to your PC and transfer to Kindle.
  4. Pressing Alt + any character in the top row gives you a number (Alt+Q = 1 and so on). Numbers are also accessible via the SYM key. Removing the numbers row is a terrible decision.
  5. The speakers are now on the top left and the top right of the back of your Kindle 3.
  6. The back is now texturised rubber for a better grip.
  7. There’s a ‘View Downloading Items’ option in the Menu of your Kindle 3 Home Page that will display what items are being downloaded and their download progress. This is pretty cool.
  8. The Kindle 3 Experimental Web Browser supports JavaScript, SSL, and cookies but not Flash or Java Applets.

CrunchGear have shed some light on the use of the microphone, announcing it will be used for a “new voice navigation option”.

The real insight comes from the good people over at Engadget, who actually managed to get their hands on the new handheld. The feedback is mainly positive, reporting that “the Kindle is still very much the reading device you know and love (or hate, depending on your preferences). The build quality and materials used did seem slightly more polished than the previous version, and we really liked the new, more subtle rocker. We can also attest to screen refreshes and overall navigation feeling noticeably more responsive and snappy compared with the previous generation.”

The people at PC Advisor, however, are even  more generous, claiming that the new device is “is unlike any other e-book reader [they’ve] handled before” and that “its lighter weight and its more compact design [gives] a more pleasing experience than with earlier models. The unit felt very balanced in-hand, and the buttons felt like they were in convenient, ergonomic places (more on that in a moment).” The conclusion is that it’s “a winner poised to top the pack.”

Other details have been also been revealed by CNN, including the Kindle’s code-name: Shasta. They also noted Amazon’s intentions for the device, by quoting Amazon’s VP of Kindle content, Russ Grandinetti: “It’s like running shoes. If I’m going five miles, I put on a pair that are designed for running and will be supportive, not my Chucks.”

ZDNET’s have managed to cover it twice already, with one blogger claiming that, “$139 was enough to make me sit up and take notice, though, and give some more serious thought to what it would take for Kindles to start really adding value”, while another announced the “Amazon Kindle will be the sole survivor of the eReader Apocalypse”.

It seems that from various hands-on tests, Amazon’s claims are true: the new Kindle is better than its predecessor in every way. And as a dedicated ebook reader, its stiffest competition was probably its older self – with newer readers, such as the Nook, underwhelming critics.

For everyone who wants a media-rich, iPad-clone, however, the Kindle is still not (and never tried to be) an alternative – sorry, you’ll still have to fork out over £500 and buy Apple.

Even students might think twice about this one – sure, it can post book extracts to Facebook and Twitter (possibly pretentious?), but without a touchscreen or stylus annotation system, it’ll only provide half the experience of a regular textbook.

For me, however, the £109 cost and positive reviews have sold me. The sheer number of out-of-copyright books that can be downloaded for free means that it’ll have paid for itself in about twenty reads. For standard books it seems that the new Kindle is finally ready to take over the bookshelf.