Saturday, April 16, 2011

Experiments w/ Beatles 50 Fabulous Years book & a mobile scanner. Update

Testing a Flip-Pal mobile scanner on my Kindle.

The one-day sale on the Kindle DXG ended at midnight last night of course, but I suspect there'll eventually be another sale on it.  In the meantime, I used mine today as an item for testing to see what kind of job the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, which I received this week, can do.  Better than expected.   The Flip-Pal is a very portable scanner, which scans photos or documents in place -- in albums, magazines, etc.

  Clicking on the image at the left will get you the larger, clearer version.   Many have asked whether Kindle books include photographs and, if so, what to expect in quality.

  I also wanted to see how effective its scanning is, relative to the drawbacks of taking photos close up and doing screen-captures, the latter not displaying what the screen looks like to us in ambient light and showing only a screen-capture 'gif' file.  I use these images in the blog quite a bit, and that's why I'm writing about it.

  Other Kindlers may be interested in the Flip-Pal's capabilities, as it averages 5 stars out of 25 reviews so far.

  Most of us have snapshots going way back, for which we've lost the negatives or we don't want to fuss with them.  And some are glued onto pages in albums, so taking them off and putting them back on later can be a drag.

  I didn't think of doing a scan of a Kindle screen itself until today.
It's difficult to get a good, representative photo of the e-reader screens, and even this type of scanning doesn't get the text as well as it might, as the text display in 'real' life actually looks etched and is thinner, sharper, and darker, but it gives an idea and doesn't warp the image the way taking a photo with a camera close up can.

  The photos in this book on the Beatles, The Beatles: Fifty Fabulous Years, look as good on the Kindle 3 (UK: K3) also, but of course they're smaller on the K3.

  More details about the scanning are at the PBase page if anyone's interested in other aspects of this easy-to-use portable scanner.

  You can get a free Sample of the Kindle book, which is generous with photos, to get an idea of what the photo quality can be on a Kindle, though many publishers don't use higher-resolution photos in their e-books.

Images in Kindle books
As mentioned, forumners have asked about the quality of photographs, in general, in Kindle books.  This varies widely, depending on the person's expertise with image files and with Kindle formatting, but many use lower-resolution images because earlier Kindles didn't handle images that well.
  The new Kindle 3 screen (August 2010 - Pearl display) does.  High resolution photos are denser and will take longer to load though, so some might wonder if their Kindle just froze if the photograph is a bit too dense.

  The Kindle 2 display is not bad, but the newer Kindle 3 screens have considerably more contrast.  The Kindle 1 uses only 4 levels of gray while the Kindle 2 and 3 models use 16 levels.

  Here's a page of what that means to your eyes when viewing photos with only 4 levels of gray or 8 (previous e-Ink Sony) and those with 16.  Of course, color images are in the millions of shades, but the Kindle display is an e-Ink one and uses only black and white, with shades in-between displayed by combining those.

  The Beatles Kindle book itself is a fun read, but it's not a long book although superfans of the Beatles find it quite good, judging from reviews.  However, the print version (twice as expensive) has a DVD with videos and interactive menus, while the Kindle-edition of course does not.

Update - Found another book about the Beatles, pre-Beatle days, and receiving raves from long-time Beatle fans for new information.  This one is only $2.99.

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   K3 Special, $114   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. 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.

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  1. Hoho...really interesting story.... "Ooohh..Darling...please belive me..." hehe ....
    Best regards and have a nice day....

  2. The problem with flatbed scanners is that they are inherently SLOW. With the right software, they can make up for some of this in convenience (and in the case of Flip-Pal, at least it doesn't require a computer connection). In principle, a digital camera that can capture an entire page in the fraction of a second is a better starting point, but such an approach suffers from the lack of turnkey solutions.

    Most of the material I want to digitize and convert is in the form of out of print and often delicate books. Flatbed scanners are too slow to handle more than a few pages at a time, and scans often result in warping next to the binding edge (especially when you are trying to avoid damage to the binding). That can throw off accuracy of OCR and greatly increase the effort required for a quality result.

    A solution optimized around this specific requirement is particularly attractive to me. So I'm waiting for this gadget to become available:

    It is supposed to sell for $189 MSRP, hopefully closer to $150 at retailers like Amazon or B&H. The bundled software is likely to be crap, but since Book Saver is probably just capturing JPEG one can use any number of other tools for post processing the images. I hope it will allow you to adjust the JPEG compression to suit the project at hand, or offer lossless capture (TIFF) as an option where the material has photos and images.

  3. My Firefox 4 wiped my response somehow. 2nd time it's happened when I switched to another page.

    Re slowness, the Flip-Pal takes about 7 seconds to do an image using 600 dpi scanning. NOT something you'd want for full pages (though you can do full pages with it, even posters, on a one-at-a-time basis).

    Have you seen the Canon CanoScan 9000F ?

    Faster than most home level scanners and a great price for what you get, at $180 or so, but you'd need good OCR software added.

    The Book Saver looks very intriguing but I'd be surprised if it was that inexpensive and effective at the same time! Let us know when you see more on this.

  4. Also, I'm certain I've seen tabletop camera rigs that let you mount a camera above media that is laid flat on the table. With good lighting, USB tether, you can capture directly to a laptop. Very fast, with resolution sufficient for OCR. But I must have spent half an hour looking for such a thing at B&H.

    As for Book Saver, I hope it is not just vapor. One does question the wisdom of inventing a product name with the initials 'BS' however... :)


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