Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kobo eReaders overlooked in review

     I no more than published the article on eReader/Tablet Computer selection than I received a request for information on the Kobo. I had never heard of it but have learned a lot in a short time. There is an article in The Beacon (3-5 Dec 2012 pg 2A) about the Kobo being the savior of local book shops. I'm not sure how that applies when all of the usual sources are selling the Kobo.


NOTE:  DRM is "Digital Rights Management" which requires a license to use content.  Adobe DRM provides, free,  a program for your computer that manages your DRM files. Example: eBooks you borrow from the public library.

"Family Book Shop" DeLand
1301 N Woodland Blvd
Deland, FL 32720
(386) 736-6501

Kobo is a Canadian Company.  Learn more about them and their products:  Kobo - about us

Presently there are four models of the Kobo, Mini, Glo, Touch and Arc. Kobo eReaders Here are the specs for those and for the original models as well, with links to the reviews of each model:

Mini 5" e-Ink (b/w) 2GB memory, micro SD slot (32gb max); WiFi 802.11 b/g/n; wt 4.7oz White, USB Cable, WiFi 2GB Battery life over 2 weeks w/wi-fi off; $80 @ Best Buy

Glo 6" e-Ink, Card slot, ePub and all Adobe DRM; WiFi; USB; no headphone jack (no audio capability) wt: 6.52 oz $130 @ Best Buy, $120 @ Amazon

Touch , 6" e-Ink (b/w); 600x800 dpi max, USB & Card Slot, Browser, WiFi wt: 200gr supports ePub, PNG CBZ PDF JPEG HTML GIF CBR; 2GB built in memory;  $113 @ Amazon

Arc Android 4.0 ICS (UPGRADE TO JELLY BEAN WHEN AVAILABLE), 1GB RAM, 7" color, wt 364g; available in 8 or 16GB  [Kobo just announced that it will now be available in 16, 32 and 64 GB]; Micro USB connection, "Wi-Fi Direct"; 1.3 mp forward looking camera; 10hr reading w/WiFi off; Black or white w/ available blue or purple back. NO MICRO SD CARD SLOT; 


N647-KBU-B  6" b/w 1GB expandable to 32GB in card slot wt: 8oz (1st gen Kobo) Supports ePub & pdf  $70 @ Target

WiFi eReader 6" eInk (16 levels of grey)  6" 1GB (as N647 w/Wi-Fi to Kobo store) supports ePub, PDF (Adobe DRM and non DRM) and TXT $85 @ Amazon

Vox (K080-Kbo-B) 7" Color 1024x600 7" Vivid Color, 8GB internal memory, Mini SD card, slot 32GB max, not included; micro USB port 802.11b/g/n; wireless; wt:14.2oz; up to 7 hrs battery life. Now Google certified with access to the Google Play Store apps. Headphone jack, no camera. $180 @ Amazon 

Ancestry launches "Newspapers.com"

Ancestry has launched a new newspaper site.  It is just getting started but expect them to add papers quickly in the next 2 or 3 months.  Some of the content overlaps with what Ancestry has available through their regular subscription site.

Kimberly Powell has written a great review of what is available and what is planned.

Find it here


Monday, December 3, 2012

by Jerry Hale
December 3, 2012

First, let me say that I am NOT an expert. My experience has been with the Nook Color and a little with the Kindle. I've only read about the others. For my money the Apples are not a consideration. Although they are very popular everything Apple does is especially proprietary and expensive. Except for the Apples the whole world is using the Android system so there are plenty of free apps (applications) and third party accessories for the Android devices, you don't have to go to the Apple Store to get them.  Android is the most popular operating system (OS), it is being used in everything from eReaders to autos. Ford announced it was putting the Android OS into it's new cars.

When people see me using my tablet computer they often want to know more about the choices they have when considering acquiring one.

It depends upon what you want to do with the device, use it as an eReader only or use it as a full blown tablet computer?

Do you want to pay the extra money to get one of the top of the line tablets, Apple or Samsung Galaxy, with a camera (or even two) or can you buy an eReader (Nook or Kindle) and convert it to a tablet computer as I have?

Other considerations are memory size, battery life, whether or not the battery is replaceable? On the Nook Color the battery is not made to be replaced by the user but many who are technically oriented have opened it up and replaced the battery themselves. I haven't heard whether Barnes and Noble will replace the battery if you send it back. One thing I know about the Nook is that the power cable is fragile. I've broken two of them even while being careful. Fortunately Barnes and Noble seems to be aware that they have a problem and have sent replacement cables for no charge. One disadvantage of hacking a Nook is that there is no camera on it.

Battery life varies quite a bit, the iPad claims "up to 10 hours", hmmm the problem is that 4 hours qualifies in that statement. Manufacturers of notebook computers are notorious for claiming longer battery life that they ever produce. The other ads do not specify battery life.

From the web site Squidoo http://www.squidoo.com/tablet-vs-ereader

"The battery life of e-readers is significantly better than that of tablet computers. e-Readers can typically go for a month or more of regular use without having to be charged. Tablets run out of battery life within a few hours or so. This is mostly due to the screen type (discussed above) and the fact that they do a lot more internal processing."

I maximize the battery life between recharges by turning off the screen of my Nook and my Droid X smart phone whenever I'm not using them.

Purusing the ads in this Sunday's newspaper I find that there are 17 choices. The Samsung "Transformer" is the most expensive at $750. Transformer means it has a keyboard that the tablet fits into and it then becomes a notebook computer.

On the other end of the spectrum, at $70 is the Kindle eReader (black and white) only for reading electronic books. See the lists at the end of this article.

Other considerations are screen size, memory and operating system. Except for the iPads the operating system is some version of the Android. Android (Google) gives their operating systems colorfull names to distinguish them apart. Version 3.2 was called "Gingerbread," version 4.0 is called Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS) and version 4.2 is called "Jelly Bean".

The Nook and the Kindle use a proprietary version of the Android operating system but can be "hacked" and turned into a full tablet computer. The SD memory card is replaceable, I use a 16gb card but have a 32gb card I can use if 16gb ever proves to be inadequate.

I "liberated" my Nook Color and it is now running a hacked version of Android called "Cyanogen 7". Hacking or "jail breaking" the Nook is very easy, I have no experience with the Kindle. A step by step procedure can be found on the www with video tutorials on YouTube to help you through the job. I missed something the first and second time I tried and turned my Nook into a "glass brick." After I realized I wasn't going to have a heart attack I went back to the www and Googled "Nook glass brick" and learned how to rescue the device. The third time worked as advertised and I've been very pleased with the result. I bought the Color Nook reconditioned, from Barnes & Noble, for $150. I'm sure it doesn't work as well as an iPad or a Galaxy but it is adequate to my needs for now. I will help anyone who wants to go that route, it is easy once you know how ;-)

The nurse at my podiatrist's office said she had the iPad with a 10" screen and found it too large and too heavy to hold comfortably. It was especially difficult if she tried to read in bed. She was going to buy a 7" model instead.

The best part of these new devices is the world of books it opens up. I have purchased one book but have downloaded a couple of hundred from the free sites like The Gutenburg Project. At present I'm reading "The History of the Inquisition" in three volumes. It is more interesting than any modern book I've read. My next assignment is "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire". All free.

Screen sizes vary, here are the sizes:

5" [Intuos5],

7" [Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, Nook Color HD, ASUS Nexus 7, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, & Polaroid],

7.9/8" [Apple iPad Mini & Coby],

9" [Nook Color HD, Galaxy S III, Leap Pad 2 Explorer, Nabi 2 Kid's Tablet & Lenovo Idea tab]

9.7" iPad ith Retina display

10/10.1" Samsung Galaxy 2, ASUS TF700 Infinity and TF300T Transformer

11.6" Samsung Series 5 Slate (transformer)

Here's how the choices line up by price:

$ 70 Kindle B&W ??GB ??" (Kindle modified Android)
$100 LeapPad 2 ??GB??" ??OS
$100 Polaroid Tablet 4GB 7" (Android ICS)
$120 COBY 4GB 8" (Android ICS)
$160 Kindle Fire 16GB 7" (Kindle modified Android)
$200 Nook HD 8GB 7" (Barnes & Noble modified Android)
$200 Kindle Fire HD16 GB 7" (Kindle modified Android)
$200 Galaxy Tab 2 8GB 7" (Android ICS)
$200 nabi Kids Tablet (Android ___)
$230 Lenovo Idea Tab 16GB 9" (Android ICS)
$230 Intuos5 Small ??GB ??OS
$250 ASUS Nexus 32GB 7"(Android Jelly Bean)
$270 Nook HD+ 16 GB 9" (Barnes & Noble modified Android)
$330 iPad mini 16GB 7.9"
$350 Galaxy Tab 2 16 GB 10.1" (Android ICS)
$430 iPad mini 32GB 7.9"
$450 Galaxy Tablet 16GB 10.1" (Android ICS)
$500 iPad Retina16GB 9.7"
$500 ASUS Transformer 32GB10.1" (Android ICS)
$600 iPad Retina 32GB 9.7"
$750 Samsung Series 5 Slate 64GB SSD & dock (Android ___)

Here are this Sunday's ads:

Here are some web sites that will help you decide or confuse you further.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hello all,

Last Thursday I was working in the Genealogy Room and an old man came in. He wanted a history of Volusia County. I guided him to the shelf where he found the book he wanted. He sat down at a table and took out a magnifying glass. After a while he called me over and asked whether that book was available in large print. I said that I was sorry but it wasn't.

I sat back down at the desk and looked over to the old card catalog file. On top is the old magnifying glass which is lighted. I drew his attention to it. He went over and used the glass but I could see he was uncomfortable standing up for very long.

Suddenly I remembered what I call the "Big Eye". It is a home made device that we used to have on a desk over by the off-line computer. When Louise donated the microfiche reader we decided that there had been little or no use of the "Big Eye" and so removed it and put in the microfiche reader.

I thought that the "Big Eye" had been disposed of but when I looked in the back corner there it was. I didn't know whether it still worked, as a matter of fact I have never seen it work. Nonetheless I decided that it would fit nicely on the book cart. I rolled the cart to the back of the room and picked up the TV and it did fit on the cart. I wheeled it to the front of the room then realized that all of the device had not come with the TV. The "Big Eye" is actually two separate devices, the TV and the projector. I brought the projector up and slid it in place under the TV then plugged both units into the power block.

There was one cable coming from the projector that obviously should plug into the TV. It turns out the yellow, video, input on the TV is where the projector connects. I plugged it in and turned everything on and sure enough, when I placed a book on the tray under the projector the TV showed the page in very large and easy to read form on the screen.. The tray moves right and left and in and out. The only problem is that the magnification does not allow a small enough setting to show the whole page without scrolling.

I drew up a chair in front of the TV and showed the man how to use “Big Eye.” He sat down and began to use it to easily read the Volusia History he was interested in. He seemed to like it although he didn't say anything at all.

I went about my business and was at the off-line computer when I saw him walk by the window on his way out! No thanks, no goodbye, nothing ;-) Such is the life of a public servant I guess, he probably had a back ache.

Anyway I thought I'd write up what I learned in case anyone else is asked for help with a visually impaired customer. I don't know who built and donated the "Big Eye", probably someone like one of our departed members, Herbert Price.

I worked with Herb near the end of his life. He was nearly blind from macro degeneration and had torticollis which caused his neck to be bent forward to where he had a hard time raising his head to look at the computer screen. He had a braille-like overlay for his keyboard. I was impressed with his tenacity in pursuing his genealogy although he was suffering greatly and kept messing up his FTW database.

Herb could have used this device.