Author Topic: E-readers revisited 2010  (Read 14347 times)

mgriffin

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E-readers revisited 2010
« on: April 02, 2010, 09:50:40 AM »
Over a year ago I created a topic here bitching about the Amazon Kindle, specifically Amazon's sneaky trick of removing already-purchased E-books from customer Kindles after Amazon received an "oops, we didn't really mean to sell that book electronically after all" complaint from a publisher.  It seemed clear afterward, though, that Amazon realized creating the sense that you don't really OWN the stuff you've purchased -- just rented it for an open-ended term subject to intervention by Amazon, the publisher, the author or possibly others -- was the worst possible impression they could create. I heard lots of good things from people about their Kindles, and I might have considered buying one.

Then Barnes and Noble announced their Nook, and I thought it looked like it might be even better than the Kindle, so I decided to wait a while longer and see.  Specs, photos and videos of the Nook made it look pretty appealing, but before it was actually released, rumors of Apple's tablet computer ramped up enough that I was sure one of those would be announced soon.

Apple did in fact announce the iPad and it seemed to me the ideal combination of kick-ass full-color e-reader, with additional (though basic) computer functionality.  I love my iPod Touch and often though tan iPhone or iPod Touch with a bigger screen would be an incredibly useful device, and that's what the iPad seems to be.  The increase in screen size isn't just about a larger display area, but ALSO a larger control area, so this thing really makes me wish I hadn't purchased a netbook last year.  I wouldn't want an iPad to be my main computer, but it could definitely be my second computer, for things like email, web browsing and the basic stuff (twitter, facebook, blogging, banking) that comprises 98% of most people's actual computer use.  Oh yeah, and it looks like a great ebook reader!



I went ahead and ordered an iPad which will be delivered tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to checking it out.  I know some others on here have Nooks, Kindles or Sony Ebook readers and I'd be interested in comparing notes.  Do you wish your ebook reader had a color screen for things like magazines, web browsing, comic books, or illustrated books?  Or do you just read black print on a white page anyway, and it doesn't matter to you?  To me, the color screen was something I really wanted, and I figured eventually the Kindle 3 or the Nook 2 or something would have color.

Just curious to see how much people use these things.  I probably won't buy fewer books (paper books I mean) but I'm sure I'll buy more ebooks.  Reading downloaded book or magazine PDFs while sitting at my computer kind of sucks, but lounging around and reading them comfortably sounds kind of nice.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2010, 10:27:59 AM by mgriffin »
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Mark Mushet

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2010, 10:22:22 AM »
More soon-to-be-obsolete technologies that deplete resources IMO. Now, where's my Betamax player...

sraymar

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2010, 09:01:11 PM »
I like the idea of e-readers, they're thin, light, wireless, have internet uses, good for academic stuff, lightens up the load in the backpack, no glare, saves trees, noiseless, and the batteries last a long time without recharging. Don't see these becoming obsolete anytime soon. They could also be ideal for musicians that read music, no more turning pages. Don't have one yet but I'm considering getting one.
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ffcal

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2010, 10:11:44 PM »
Neanderthal that I am, the iPad concept doesn't do much for me.  Seems like another way to avoid interacting with people in three dimensions and to perfect the art of looking down and ignoring the unwashed masses when you're walking down the street.

Forrest

cromag

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2010, 10:20:04 PM »
We got my Dad (in his late 80s) a Kindle for Christmas.  A couple of my very tech-handy brothers and sisters live nearby and can help him out if he needs it, but once he got it up and running he hasn't needed any help.  Last I heard, he's having a ball!

As far as the Ipad goes, I'm right down the road from a major regional mall with an Apple store, where they'll be releasing the Ipad tomorrow -- and there's no way you could make me take those roads until this dies down.  Tonight's Charlie Rose show did a very good job of covering the Ipad and speculating on its potential for success.  If you missed it, and are interested, it should be up on his website in a day or two.
Science News, Vol. 175, No. 9, April 25, 2009, page 1 -- "New mapping of the human genome shows none of us are normal."

cromag

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2010, 10:23:40 PM »
Neanderthal that I am, the iPad concept doesn't do much for me.  Seems like another way to avoid interacting with people in three dimensions and to perfect the art of looking down and ignoring the unwashed masses when you're walking down the street.

Forrest

Oddly enough, that's pretty much the way that Charlie Rose got his black eye a couple years ago -- although it was apparently his brand new MacBook Air that got him injured.
Science News, Vol. 175, No. 9, April 25, 2009, page 1 -- "New mapping of the human genome shows none of us are normal."

Altus

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2010, 06:51:17 AM »
The biggest issue with using the iPad as a ebook reader is the screen.  Whereas the Kindle and Nook require light to be viewed (e-ink), bright light on the iPad LCD screen will make it very hard to read.  The whole idea behind e-ink was that it's identical to looking at a book (ink on paper), which I think is brilliant since staring as a LCD screen for an extended period of time can give people eye-strain.
I'm one of those people.  However, I can read a book for hours on end and my eyes are fine.
The other obvious one, which has been mentioned already, is that the battery life of these e-ink devices is extremely long.

Mike, I'll be curious to know how you like your iPad after a month or two of usage.  You know, once the hype dies down.  ;)
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mgriffin

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2010, 10:06:02 AM »
It looks like there are all kinds of different thoughts about these things out there.  I can certainly understand the "I prefer my books on paper" perspective, since I prefer my books on paper too.  I also have no problem with people who like the Kindle (or Nook) better, because the battery life is longer, and if you plan to read outdoors a lot, e-ink is preferable to an LCD screen.  On the other hand, if you don't plan to read outdoors, and if you might read some books, magazines or comics with color illustrations, then the color LCD is a mark in favor of the iPad.

As for Mark and Forrest's ideas that an e-reader or an iPad is some kind of threat to humanity, I think that's sort of bizarre.  Mark, are you anti-computer as well, maybe posting to this Forum via smoke signal?  The things we're talking about are basically smaller, slightly constrained portable computers. Forrest, I don't understand how an e-book reader makes you detach from human beings around you any more than a paperback book does.

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sraymar

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 12:09:38 PM »
I was listening to Digital Village this morning and they mentioned there's a new app that goes on sale today that turns the iPad into turntable for DJs. Apparrently they can become more than e-readers. I think it would be cool if they came up with an app that lets you paint directly on the screen. I can visualize some modular synths in the future too, who knows what else they can be? Interactive board games?

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ffcal

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2010, 12:36:47 PM »
Cromag,

Thanks for the heads-up on the Charlie Rose discussion of the iPad.  Sounds like it's better at consuming pre-existing content than at creatign new content, at the moment.

Mike, I work in a building where it is not uncommon for 20 or 30-somethings working at a dot-com to approach the elevator head down, buried in their iPhones, and almost walk into me, but still never look up.  I'm certainly not the first to observe this sort of phenomenon.  There's a level of self-absorption there that bothers me.  Maybe the issue would be more obvious if the device were a GameBoy instead of an iPhone.  I am more interested in hearing about innovations in content.  Do I need a better way to access People magazine?

Forrest

mgriffin

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2010, 01:02:39 PM »
This article shows how the iPad (or similar tech) may enable rich, immersive media combinging the best qualities of newspaper, magazines and video:
http://berglondon.com/blog/2010/04/02/popularscienceplus/

I see what you mean by your example, Forrest, and I see this sort of thing sometimes myself.  For example, a family of five out to dinner in a restaurant, and all the kids are glued to their phones the whole time.  These devices don't force anti-social behavior, though.   I stood in line at Office Depot behind a teen-age girl who texted on her phone the whole time she transacted, and barely paused long enough to hand over some cash.  But before there was texting, some people just talked on the cell phone constantly.  Potential distractions exist in life, and people with bad manners will use those inappropriately.  Then again, I suppose in an elevator with ten people, nine of whom are working their iPhone, you'd start to blame the device rather than the individual.

Sraymar, that DJ app is here:
http://ipadmixr.com/about/

For myself, I see the iPad as an excellent second or third computer for someone like me, and for most people it would be a perfectly adequate primary computer.

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mgriffin

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2010, 02:19:42 PM »
This forum looks great on my iPad!  Whatever you think of it as an ebook reader, this is a damn slick little portable computer.  I swear I'm typing fast on this virtual keyboard... Much better in this respect than I expected.
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Altus

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2010, 02:58:00 PM »
Yeah, I've seen the keyboard in landscape mode, and it's pretty much the same size as a proper mac keyboard.  Two-handed typing is very doable.

Glad to hear you're enjoying it so far.  :)
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Mark Mushet

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2010, 05:18:32 PM »
As for Mark and Forrest's ideas that an e-reader or an iPad is some kind of threat to humanity, I think that's sort of bizarre.  Mark, are you anti-computer as well, maybe posting to this Forum via smoke signal?

Forrest and I are part of an elite Luddite squad determined to sow doubt among tech-excited, middle-aged computer geeks and bring about the "New Eden"(TM)

(this was posted using our patented, silicon-free, internet-penetrating, fully organic mind projection technique)

The Betamax reference would indicate that I'm saying the better solutions often get lost to immediate marketing demands. That is more true now than ever and until we can collectively discuss sustainable, stable, long-term platform solutions that meet more rigorous criteria than "What cool 'nextgen' thing will Jobs pull out of his hat this year at MacExpo?!" (or whatever) we are pissing up a rope as a society.

I love the design of the iStuff BTW (including iPods) but won't own any of it because I already have more than enough to work with and enrich my life and don't want to contribute to the glittering landfills.

Wake me up when "cradle to grave" computer/gadget design (ref Bruce Mau) arrives. Then I'll get excited.

ffcal

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2010, 07:35:57 PM »
Very funny, Mark!  One other side note--there is an almost evangelistic fervor to the marketing of new Apple products that I find a bit off-putting.  Were these the same folks who were trying to sell us zero interest loans in our most recent bubble era?  I'll wait for the beta testing and non-stop testimonials and ads to stop before I consider a product like this in earnest.

Forrest

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2010, 05:31:14 AM »
Heidi bought me a Barnes and Noble Nook eReader as a very, very, very early birthday present.   She wants an iPad and I could see us getting one eventually.

Why I wanted an eInk reader instead of an iPad... it got mentioned up above...  no computer monitor staring me in the face when I read my books.   I really just wanted to read books again (I've had to stop reading because my hands/wrists wear out so fast trying to hold books open...) - I'm thrilled with the Nook.   I've been wanting a Kindle forever - and the Nook just kind of leap frogged to the top of my list due to: user replaceable battery, large selection of books, multiple stores to purchase from (not just Amazon - which believe me I love Amazon - they've certainly taken a lot of money from me in the last decade or so), the ability to "lend" books, the color screen at the bottom.

iPad truly looks awesome.   Heidi has to decide if she wants an iPad or a Macbook.  (hey, why isn't it mAcbook?)  The iPad looks perfectly suited to replacing a lot of magazines - which a Kindle or Nook just can't do.

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Brian Bieniowski

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2010, 05:38:33 AM »
I'm of two minds about the iPad.  On one hand, it is an impressive bit of gadget innovation, unlike anything we've seen before.  On the other ... it's hard for me to see the value in it for my own limited purposes.  I wish it didn't feel as though so many recent innovations were intended to create needs, rather than offer solutions for current societal maladies or inconveniences.  As it stands, the iPad currently seems to me to be today's fancy product intended for upper middle class consumers.  And that's fine by me—nothing new in the human world, of course.  I think the potential to make it a powerful and useful product is there; it definitely looks like what you'd expect a "future computer" to be like. 

I agree, to some extent, with previous commenters Mark and Forrest—the innovations truly need to be in content, and I'm not seeing enough of that just yet.  But I think it will come now that the technology is arriving to foster it.  While I think this device offers heartening support for troubled media (like magazines, for instance), it remains to be seen, from my perspective, if the flagging state of readership and literacy is going to be improved upon by a machine that costs hundreds of dollars, targeted toward people who can afford Apple luxury items.  The trouble has not been from a lack of books in the world, in my experience.

We're getting iPads in our office, I'm told, so I'll probably get to play with one later in the week.  We'll see if it makes me a convert.

mgriffin

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2010, 08:23:08 AM »
I've seen a number of complaints about the iPad from people who have never actually used one, saying "It needs a USB port" or "it's useless to me if I can't multitask."  When you actually use the thing, you definitely aren't thinking "If only I could plug a USB thumb drive into this."  It works great with Dropbox and Google Docs and email, so you can definitely get your "stuff" on and off of it.  A lot of applications are set up to sync to "cloud" accounts, or to email your files to you, so if the iPad isn't your only computer you really don't mind how simple it is.

The only drawback I can find so far is that the keyboard's perfectly good for typing short stuff, but any longer typing would require an external, hardware keyboard (which is fine -- there are multiple options for this).

Of course a first generation $500 device isn't going to meet everyone's needs and eliminate every shortcoming in the worlds of technology and media, but I do think this device represents a new way forward for modern computing after the CPU + monitor + keyboard + mouse paradigm.
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APK

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #18 on: April 05, 2010, 11:34:56 AM »
I recently bought a net-book for my daughter to use. About $300.
Great little device. Not for gaming or such intensive things, but otherwise
excellent and very portable and durable. Good keyboard, usb ports, etc.
Wondering what would the iPad improve on compared to one of these?
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Mark Mushet

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Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« Reply #19 on: April 05, 2010, 11:41:00 AM »
Then there's this:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html?ref=opinion

Think of the scene in China from the "Manufactured Landscapes" doc...viewable on a soon-to-be-replaced-gadget near you!