Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What? CNet's Carnoy says small touchscreen Kindle likely in Fall. ? NEW Nook & Kindle 3G.. UPDATE2

At the Barnes and Noble "Simple Touch Nook" announcement today, reporters were not allowed to touch anything but the frame, if that, and definitely not the touchscreen yet, though it will be shipping in 10 days.  The Nook has no 'buttons' (except the power button) that would comprise a physical keyboard (they count the ~30 Kindle keys as buttons) but will have touchscreen access, and it'll be nice if reporters CAN touch and review it before the shipping date.

  The new Nook is promising -- smaller and lighter than the Kindle 3, WiFi-Only, but with no 3G cellphone model alternative anymore, and promises a longer battery life at 1/2-hr day reading plus a shorter black-flash time (though PC Magazine's Dan Costa could not tell and thinks it was because this may have been a pre-production model).

That's the new Nook in the picture at the top-left, by CNet.  I liked the look of the earlier form factor better, but this new model is said to be easier to hold.  But does it really look particularly pocketable as has been described?

  Also, as a NookColor owner, I'll mention that interested parties might want to google 'customer service nook barnes' (without the quote marks) if interested in that aspect or click this link for the general Google search results on Nook customer service.
  And, here's the same search for 'customer service kindle.'
  I was reminded of this when reading a Comment to the CNet live-blogging page.

  Amazon's response to this, apparently, was the release of the Kindle 3G/WiFi "Kindle with Special Offers" for $25 more than the Nook price.

  The Kindle's 3G "with Special Offers" model can be used internationally, and the ads are on screensleepers that come up when you're not reading and when the Kindle has gone into sleep mode, which doesn't use battery power because it's a static image.  There's also a line at the bottom of the Home screen for a small ad.

  In return the Kindle Owner of ad-supported Kindles gets a slightly lower price and special offers similar to GroupOn and LivingSocial deals on Amazon products.

  The 3G Kindle also has slow but reliable free 3G web browsing and look-ups at no additional cost in over 60 countries and the ability to download books from almost wherever you may be, in over 100 countries.
  The the slow but reliable free web browser is useful when you need to look up something, and there are no data charges for checking the web and your email.

  If you have data plans on your smartphone, you won't need the web-data feature except that internationally, the smartphone data costs can be very high but the slower access is free with the Kindle.

 I use my 3G Kindle to get step-by-step directions almost anywhere I am, as I'm somewhat direction-challenged.  Since I don't need a monthly smart-phone data plan, I save money with the Kindle's 3G cellphone network access.

  The latest e-Ink Nook will no longer be offered with a 3G cellphone-network access feature.  They're discontinuing that older $199 Nook without replacing it.

  Also, no Nook books are buyable even by U.S. residents when they're not in the U.S. The B&N books are purchasable only if you're currently in the U.S. or Canada.

  The new Nook lists NO web browser anymore either, not even to use with the WiFi connection [updated: there is a hidden one that is not correctly functioning even with google.com searches].
  The old Nook did have a decent one, but B&N removed the web browser feature.  They also removed the music player.
 That's one way of simplifying the new e-Ink Nook.

  There is No Landscape Mode for Nook books, except for children's books.  This can be sort of huge if you need to read PDF guides, manuals, or documents with illustrations in PDF format on a 6" screen.  PDFs with anything but single-column layout are often unreadable on small screens.

  Though the new Nook has a touch screen, you can't increase or decrease the size of text or an image using the finger squeeze or expand movement.

  With the Kindle, any photograph in a book can be zoomed (via a click in the center of the image) to fill the screen, to quite good effect if the image is a high-resolution one as it is with this Beatles Kindle-book.

  With the new Nook, you can't zoom a photograph in a regular book at all.  The lack of image zoom and of landscape mode for Non-children's books is true for NookColor too, much to my disappointment, since I enjoy my NookColor otherwise.

  The new Nook has no WORD support.  Amazon supports WORD documents in that you can send them to your Kindle (via WiFi) via its servers and the document will be converted to Kindle format for you.  This is a very useful feature.  I often highlight passages from webpages and combine them into a Word doc and then send them to my Kindle via Amazon servers.

  In other words, the use of a touch screen was apparently quite costly, since so many features in the first Nook are not made available with the newer Nook.  For reading books, I actually don't like always having to clean fingerprints off the screen to be able to use the touchscreen reliably.

  That much-discussed battery advantage: The Nook Simple Touch is said to have the same amount of battery life as the Kindle when wireless is 'On' but B&N claims "up to two months" if you use the e-reader 1/2 hour a day.

  As of Tuesday, Amazon revised their Kindle battery specs to say "up to two months" probably because it never occurred to them earlier to claim battery use based on so little use of the reader in a week.  Apparently Amazon feels comfortable doing that now, as that basis is used for the new Nook.

  Re that touchscreen:  I use the Nookcolor for reading color magazines and picking it up to do portable color web at home.  With no 3G on it, I don't take it outside.  I have tried for half a year to type email replies on it, but the touchscreen is so oversensitive (no matter how often I clean it with microfibre cloth) that I make typos half the time and then when I press on something to Send a message, the calibration is such that it erases the email.

  So I'm not as keen as others on the Nook virtual keyboard, and I'm not alone, as many have reported at the NookColor TechSupport forums that the keyboard has a mind of its own.

  CNet live-blogged the announcement, and the following certainly caught my eye.
' From a live blog of the B&N announcement of the simplified Nook with touch screen and no keyboard

7:48 a.m. PT (David Carnoy): I just asked about whether B&N would do a Nook with Special Offers. Lynch said, "No ads on Nooks."
  [Blogging in his own voice]

7:50 a.m. PT (David Carnoy): Everyone should be aware that Amazon will [likely] do this same device within the next few months. Just an FYI. There will be a smaller Kindle this fall IMHO (with a touch screen).

7:51 a.m. PT (David Carnoy): OK, that's it folks. Going to try to shoot a video now. Thanks for participating.

7:52 a.m. PT (John Falcone): David's hands-on impressions (and video!) of the new Nook will be live on CNET soon... stay tuned. '

Well, that is the first time I've heard THAT rumor.

And we'll definitely stay tuned :-)

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  1. I'd love to see a smaller Kindle, but I'm skeptical that a touchscreen keyboard will work as well with ePaper as it does on an iPhone. In the later, as soon as you touch a key, and enlarged version of the letter that'll be typed appears. If you've typed wrong, you can slid over before releasing. With ePaper, I can't see that quick a response time when touching. People will be touching almost blind and making more mistakes. That said, the screen is bigger, so the keys should also be bigger.

    I am glad B&N is keeping the heat on Amazon, but their unwillingness to allow reporters to play with that screen has me wondering if it's not so great or if there are still a few bugs to be squashed.

  2. It only makes sense. After all, the Sony reader, Nook, and even Kobo all have touch screens now. Imagine an even smaller form-factor Kindle 3 (4?).

    When I was first showing off my Kindle 2 and Nook to my coworkers the first thing they all tried was touching the screen. It's a natural instinct with gadgets these days.

  3. It's almost June. Within a month, two at the most, major retailers will have their Christmas 2011 plans locked in, pretty much everything they will be selling for the holiday season will need to be in the production pipeline. If Amazon or B&N plan to sell an e-reader for $99, which I think they will, and especially if they plan on selling a couple of million units, they'll need to start making them pretty soon.

  4. One of the reports on a new nook specifically indicated WIFI access in BN stores and with ATT hotspots(??), not saying anything about other possible WIFI connections. It would seem silly to not allow to connect to home WIFI networks, but who knows?

    Thanks, Don Lloyd

  5. Peter,
    I think the stores will be flexible on this kind of thing. The scene's shifting too much to solidify things in May.

    Don, the SimpleTouch Nook will automatically connect to any WiFi network (where the router is compatible with it) and at AT&T hotspots...

    Judging from my NookColor experiences and others' one's experience will vary...

  6. hello,
    you wrote: I use my 3G Kindle to get step-by-step directions almost anywhere I am, as I'm somewhat direction-challenged."
    so my question is: is kindle able to be used in google maps or similar?

  7. ilfakiro,
    It's useable with google text directions, step by step.

    See http://bit.ly/kdriving.

    With the Kindle 3, the text is quite small.

    You can try pressing Menu and selecting "Article Mode" to see if that'll make it more readable. Otherwise I zoom but I don't like that.

    Good luck on it!

  8. ilfakiro,
    I double-checked and while the text is reallllly small when you fill in your From and To addresses (city, 2-char state is needed unless you set your location under google.com -- faster on your computer) -- once you get the to/from directions, you can press Menu and choose Article Mode and it'll make the text larger and more readable.

    When through with it, press Menu again and select Web Mode to get back to normal web use.


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