They've partnered with Verizon to allow free direct wireless connection to the Barnes & Noble E-Book store and to newspapers at Newspapers Direct, which offers more than 1,100 periodicals and presents them onscreen "largely as they appear in print form." That is a BIG selling feature if pricing is reasonable.
See UPDATED INFO on 9/24/09 also.
Stone writes that the iRex will "link directly" to both stores which implies that, like the Sony Daily Edition (PRS-2121) which will link only to the Sony store, the iRex will not be allowing direct free access to the entire web as the Kindles do.
That's a distinction to remember. The big news last week was In-stat's finding that per their most recent consumer survey,
' "...current e-book owners desire e-mail capability in the next e-book they purchase," says Stephanie Ethier, In-Stat analyst. “Longer battery life and Internet connectivity are the top two desired features among respondents who don’t currently own an e-book but plan to buy one in the next year.” 'At $400 without the mentioned web-browsing or e-mail capability, this would make a difference to many, as then a device does becomes more of the oft-described one-function gizmo (which the Kindle is not). I think the chosen size is somewhat iffy since it's too large to pocket and too small to present PDFs that well.
There are many PDFs that I have to look at on the (larger) Kindle DX in landscape format, to read easily in larger font, or convert to MOBI formats so I can see larger overall text
And, at the moment, while most people do not realize that the Kindle has a basic web browser using Sprint's cellular 3G spare bandwidth, with direct (but slow) access to all web sites, the other e-readers being released or announced weekly just don't offer that apparently desired capability.
So, Amazon sits on that lead in top-two desired features but doesn't advertise them because too much use of those would cost them money as they pay the Sprint charges for now.
What the iRex will offer is a size that's
1. larger than the cute and eminently pocketable new Sony's, PRS-300 and PRS-600, and
2. larger than the Kindle 2 with its real-estate hogging keyboard (useful for quick searches and short notes) but
3. almost 2 inches smaller than the Kindle DX (already a bit small for PDFs in original sizes)
and with a touchscreen (popular) and stylus likely and greater file-format flexibility (their current large models support PDF and EPub formats as well as HTML).
On their current 10" model they charge an extra $100 for the ability to write notes to be added to your book files. No word on that for the new, smaller U.S. model until later today, for the $399 price.
In addition, by next month, you'll be able to buy the iRex at a few hundred Best Buy stores, where they'll vie for display space with the newer Sony readers.
Stone adds that "Best Buy is training thousands of its employees in how to talk about and demonstrate devices like the Sony Reader and iRex, and adding a new area to its 1,048 stores to showcase the devices."
iRex and Barnes & Noble didn't reach an agreement on a house-branded iRex, and B&N may be working on its own reading device, as hinted at by a filing that made the news last week.
An important consideration will be whether or not its customer support has improved over what is described in a long review posted on the Net from someone with a year's experience with a iRex. Amazon is providing unusually responsive customer service with its Kindles.
Stone further points out an important wireless detail - "It contains a 3G Gobi radio from Qualcomm, the wireless component manufacturer, which will allow iRex owners to buy books wirelessly when they travel abroad. By contrast, the wireless modem in the Kindle works only on Sprint’s network in the United States..."
Also, as detailed earlier, they're not quite equivalent in the "unlimited" wireless feature in that the Kindle currently (and for the last 2 years) gives 24/7 free wireless direct access to the entire net, albeit with a clunky web browser, and ability to (slowly) use gmail and other web mail while the iRex will go to two stores. This is of high value to some of us, less so for others.
As most who pay for web access on their phones know, that Kindle feature is worth between $30-$50/mo. The many mobile-optimized site versions available today are best for quicker browsing.
Verizon says it has no plans to subsidize the cost of the iRex reader with 2-yr type subscription fees (as is done for smart phones and for netbooks now).
Analyst Allen Weiner cautions that consumers may wait to see what Apple does with a general-purpose tablet device rumored for the Spring, which will be in color and do video, but most recent whisperings are that it might cost $800.
In my case, I am awaiting what I hope will become my secondary e-reader, in color, for LIGHTER use with materials requiring color, as it would be LCD technology, which brings words and images to our eyes via light, bringing more eyestrain for most. That would be the Asus EReader with dual-screens in color (LCD) that they hope to sell for about $163.
At that price cellular wireless would not be included for free, but if it has WiFi capability (as opposed to cellular everywhere-wireless) and we could use it in home or office settings), then I would get it as a supplementary reader for books with color illustrations.
Here's a fanciful mock-up of one. Note how impossible it would be to read the small print on that kind of layout on it though it looks very nice. But I'm looking forward to that one.
In the meantime, the Kindles and Sony's can't be equaled for fantastic ease of readabiity with those e-Ink screens and features (except by the Astak Pocket Pro EZReader, which is orderable from the San Jose company and has a 5" screen, a faster processer than its 6" screen model, is able to read Adobe-rights-protected PDF files, normal PDFs, ePub, and has text-to-speech function, probably through headphones, but NO search/dictionary/highlighting/note-taking). It also takes a 16G SD card and a has a "promotional" price of $199.
If not able to afford a Kindle or a refurbished Kindle for $219, I'd take a good look at that one, although I have no idea what the functioning is like, which is important.
In the meantime I am waiting to see what ASUS comes up with --per multiple reports they will offer two models, one inexpensive (see above) and a version with more features.
See UPDATED INFO on 9/24/09 also. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.
(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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