Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kindle News: Lighted Kindle Touch may be delayed. Lighted Nook vs current Kindles. Updated for informational comments from readers.

DigiTimes says lighted Kindle Touch may be delayed.

(Original blog article dated 7/13/12 updated 7/14-15 for more information.)

Taiwan's DigiTimes has a report today by Sammi Huang and Alex Wolfgram that Amazon is "currently facing problems with mass production due to problems with the device's front light design, which may delay shipping of the device until later in the third quarter, according to industry sources."

There's an error in the article in that they say Amazon's been working on this 'since' B&N launched its Glowlight model, but Amazon acquired a company specializing in this technology quite some time before that and was reported to be working on a new Kindle model that would use a built-in front light.  However, they've still not produced one yet.

  "Recent reports" indicate to DigiTimes that Amazon has "stopped certain parts shipments" for that new e-Ink Kindle and these may be stopped "throughout July and August in order to tackle issues with the device's front light."

Information from an earlier article in May included here

  Includes an UPDATE for forgotten recent features added to Kindle Touch
  mentioned by blog commenter Tom Semple, plus some added details and comments.

Amazon may be trying to avoid some of the mild contrast issues mentioned.

  Oldtimers to this blog may remember that I did a few blog articles about the lack of sufficient contrast in the Kindle 2 screen display for many, and although my own Kindle 2 was okay, the Kindle 1 and the Kindle 3 were quite superior to it in darkness of font and contrast perceived.

  At one point, I talked about Kindle 2 screen contrast in connection with a article, so I'm sensitive to a relative lack of contrast and had a problem with the original Nook Touch for that reason although I had bought the NookColor on sight and enjoyed that mode.

All reviews on the new Nook GlowLight are very positive.  More than a few mention, though, that some will see less contrast in the screen display relative to the older Nook Touch and the current Kindle.  But you never need to add a light attachment and many have been looking for that feature with E-Ink.

(I use the Beam N Read 3-Led light, as that works well with everything and not just e-readers.)

A fairly detailed review posted by Gotta Be Mobile's K. T. Bradford include many photos plus a video also
The positives presented include:
  Lights up screen evenly, doesn't drain battery too much, responsive touchscreen,
  speedy performance
The negatives include:
  eInk display contrast not as good as original Nook, doesn’t support documents other than PDF.

  [Note that the Kindle supports WORD docs, HTML, txt, Mobi, and Prc, as well.]
  Bradford writes:
' If you place them side by side, you can tell that the GlowLight version is a shade or two lighter.  Same with the Kindle Touch.  Even without the comparison, I noticed that the new Nook’s text isn’t as dark as I’m used to.  The lighter contrast isn’t as noticeable with the GlowLight on.

 It looks like Barnes and Noble made a choice to sacrifice the level of contrast in order for the best performance with GlowLight.  They also claim that the anti-glare screen protector is a best-selling accessory, so many Nook users already experience this.  The resulting quality isn’t a dealbreaker, but will be a consideration for buyers.
. . .
 It comes down to which is more important: the darkest text or the lighted screen?  If the latter is a bigger deal, then the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight is for you. '

Some reviewers consider the Nook GlowLight the best e-reader, for the one feature, the built-in front lighting, as well as its being easy to hold.

  I've noticed that those who do this omit from the article the many other features that have become important to Kindle Touch owners such as audio, music, a very decent web browser, annotations kept for for each book on the owner's personal Amazon web page, very effective sync'g of reading between devices, and the ability to send Word Doc, Text, Mobi, Prc books or documents AND web pages direct to the Kindle for reading offline, while none of the above is doable with the Nook.  With the Nook, attempted sync'g between devices is notably weaker, per reviews.

  So, the oddly one-feature reviews concentrate only on the Nook light, although a few also mention the Nook never having ads (even though the Nook home page has 'recommended for you' books (which I personally consider ads and I often don't want to see those on my personal e-reader home screen).

  I haven't included a couple of those when they ignore (for the person reading) other important features in favor of just one feature while not informing readers of differences.

  I also saw that a CNN reviewer compared the current Nook to his Kindle 2 (from 2009!, from fully 3 years ago, and wished the old Kindle 2 were a Touch device ! and then said the Nook is definitely better than that.  That stood out.

TIME Techland's Harry McCracken at least mentions that Kindle has other features even if he minimizes them and he finds the Nook GlowLight the most useful for him.

  In their comments area, Adam Ritchie commenting via his Twitter ID, writes:
'just purchased a nook with glowlight, and am really hoping they do a firmware update that addresses the loss of text contrast.  it’s substantial.  it doesn’t have that “ink on a page” look you had with the basic nook, that made you forget you weren’t reading a real book.  i asked @NOOK_Care about this a few days ago and didn’t get a response. '

MacWorld/PCWorld's Melissa Perenson loves the new Nook Glowlight, and it's definitely 'the one' she recommends alhough she doesn't compare features at all otherwise.  Many do just want an e-reader to read a book and don't want to have to deal with a night light, especially one that annoys a bed partner.  Features like audio (for podcasts or audiobooks or music) don't matter to many nor does fairly easy web access to news and email.

  Even then, Perenson does mention the following also:
' One other nitpick: The contrast is not as good on the GlowLight version as on the plain Nook Simple Touch.  This problem appears to result from the antiglare protector on the GlowLight model; the background of the display is a darker gray than on the plain Nook, and that in turn causes black text on the GlowLight version to lack the same omph as on the ordinary Nook.

  I hold out hope that the contrast might be adjustable via a future firmware update.'

Digital Trends's Jeffrey Van Camp roots for the Nook ("Keep it up, B&N") while going for balance in his review although, like many, he believes the B&N marketing which claims that access to the scanned Google Books makes B&N richer in number of books, but the latter is available in multiple ways for Kindle too as are now, literally, millions of other free books.

  He points out that both e-readers have their advantages and includes this about the contrast concern that some have:
' There are a few tiny downsides to having the light. The tablet appears to have ever so slightly less contrast and E Ink consistency than the last Nook, though only geeks like us are likely to notice.  However, a new anti-glare screen should help its readability ever so slightly outdoors.'

The Verge's David Pierce also really likes the new Nook and writes what commenters say is one of the more thorough reviews they've seen, with one commenter saying, "Reviews on the Verge are amazing.  Love the quality and detail of video reviews."

  So check out the video review there as well as the written one.  His 'bottom line' is that the GlowLight is "incredibly comfortable to hold and use, even in one hand, and even after hours of reading my arm didn't get tired."

  He also mentions, that the glowlight is "a wonderful addition to the device" and prefers the Nook's hardware to the Kindle's.

  On the contrast issue (which is not an issue for most who much prefer the convenience of an always-readable e-Ink reader), he has this to say:
' The GlowLight Nook has a screen protector on top of the display, though, which makes text appear slightly softer and lower-contrast than on last year's model.  I didn't notice until I held the GlowLight Nook next to last year's Nook and a Kindle, and even though all three use the same display technology the GlowLight Nook's text didn't look quite as sharp.  It's a fine screen, but it's nothing remarkable anymore, and I'm starting to wish for a slightly higher-res display that renders text a little more sharply.

  I wouldn't describe the light as uniform, though.  It's really bright at the top, right next to the LEDs, then there's a dark stripe right below.  It evens out considerably by the time it's illuminating any text, but it's still inconsistent enough to make certain lines of text look slighty darker or lighter than others.  None of it really impedes the reading experience, but it's not as nice-looking as a cool, even glow would be.

  Still, all things considered, the light works really well.  Rather than a backlit screen that seems to glare out at you, the Nook's screen really does glow a bluish white, which is both easier on your eyes and just generally a nice effect.  The light's intensity is customizable, and will go from just-barely-on to blind-you-immediately levels of brightness.  Reading in bed, I was able to use the Nook with the light only slightly above the minimum level, and still read comfortably. '

He also does point out out something which isn't mentioned by the other writers who are reviewing primarily one feature rather than looking at the feature-set of each -- and that's the ability of the Kindle to work with personal documents and information from websites:
' The really frustrating omission, though, was something I didn't even consider until I started using the GlowLight Nook and not my Kindle.  My Kindle has a dedicated email address, and services like Instapaper and Readability make it easy to send an article (or your whole queue) to your Kindle for reading.

  It's also easy to send PDFs, ebooks from other sources, and just about any other document you can think of.  You can sideload content onto your Nook, too, but it's a much harder and kludgier process involving a lot of ePub files and card readers.  My Kindle is basically my Instapaper reader, and the Nook's not nearly as good a device for that kind of use.'
  His wrap up:
"The Kindle does better with outside content and syncing, but if you're buying an ebook reader to replace your huge paperback collection, the Nook does a great job.  The Nook Simple Touch plus a good, useful light is a pretty great combination — but we've heard Amazon's working on something similar, if Bezos and company already have their hooks into your collection."

One thing The Verge's Pierce didn't mention was that the Kindle, with WiFi AND a web browser, can directly download non-Amazon books - and again, we're talking more than a 2.5 million available.  Also, the refresh only every 6 page turns has been a Kindle feature also, for awhile.

Amazon tends to be behind B&N Nook when it comes to hardware features, but its effective work on the many complex and very useful software features and special server-assisted connectivity of these e-readers is what has kept Kindlers enthusiastic about their e-reader, including trading info with other owners on their more unique or creative uses of the Kindle.

And, as you've seen, I've had one particular bias, and that's the relative clarity of e-Ink screens.  If there's a trade-off with clarity as has been expressed even by the enthused quoted above who are hopeful, in the reviews, for a future fix for less sharpness of display, I'm still more likely, as I said on April 8 about the probably-coming Kindle 'lit' screen, to continue to use my Beam N Read light, which I just wear around my neck at night for convenience.  It's also helped me when out at night, during outside walks, where light isn't great.

For those still wondering about differences in connection with other features
I list the long-time differences between Nook and Kindle touch e-readers.

  Since that last features-comparison in late March, Amazon has released Kindle Touch software update v 5.1 with new features that:
  • allow web pages to be read on the Kindle with no website Ads or side-columns, showing instead just the article in readable fonts and with working hyperlinks
  • provide language translation of words in a book or a personal doc
  • added support for reading books or personal docs in landscape mode
      (especially good for PDFs on a small device)

  Reminders about the most recent Kindle Touch features, most of which I hadn't remembered, were added by Tom Semple in the Comments section for this blog article (along with Tom's additional thoughts as a Nook Touch owner):
' Since the 5.1 update, which added the 'missing and bonus features' (KF8, multilanguage support, landscape [orientation], [word] Translation, Report Content Error, multipage text selection, NCX navigation), I have been in ereader heaven. '
These new capabilities are gravy.

 Reviews don't mention (because almost all reviewers don't know) that
  • Amazon Kindle customers have 5 free gigs for their personal docs (the space is for NON-Amazon media not rights-protected)
  • have sync'g, between various devices, of even one's personal docs, and
  • are provided another 5 free gigs for other non-Amazon data files.

Sending web articles to the Kindle
This is not doable with any other e-readers, and this week it became easier with the new feature added to SendToReader, which allows you to be reading on your pc OR your e-Ink Kindle, Kindle tablet, or Android tablet or smartphone, and just add 7 characters in front of a web-link, which will then send the web article you're viewing TO all your Kindles via Amazon's servers, which store and sync them in the same way they provide sync'd access to Kindle books.  It not only works from a desktop browser but sending of web articles to your Kindles or Kindle apps works with every mobile browser I tried on my mobile devices as well.

As Blackbeard pointed out in the Comments area, "... buying an e-reader is more than an investment in a particular electronic device.  It's an investment in an entire infrastructure."

If you don't need or want the extra features
  However, if you don't care about the other features mentioned and just want to read e-books and read them comfortably at night without having to worry about getting a light, you'll definitely want to look at the Nook GlowLight.  Many have delayed getting an e-reader at all until there was some kind of built-in lighting that would work with an E-Ink device, and the new Nook has it.
  If the other features attract, then you can weigh the differences and decide.

Gizmodo and TheDigitalReader on fragility of Glowlight light
Gizmodo's Kyle Wagner prefers the Nook Glowlight to any other e-reader but wrote a column titled, "You Really Don't Want to Drop the New Nook Simple Touch." After reading this, Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader did drop tests of keys onto the face of the Glowlight, and other devices, from a couple of feet and found it quite fragile relative to other devices.
  Some commenters to his site felt he was too harsh while others reported they'd had this problem also.  One Amazon review complains, "The slightest bump damages the inner screen allowing rays of light to shine from the screen in spots."
  On the other hand, I've read comments from extremely happy Nook Glowlight users.

Kindle Fire  7" tablet - $199
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $79/$109
Kindle Touch, WiFi
- $99/$139
Kindle Touch, 3G/WiFi - $149/$189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
Kindle DX - $379, Free, slow web
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £89
Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
OTHER International
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB

  For daily free ebooks, check the following links:
Temporarily-free books - Non-classics
USA: by:
   Publication Date  
   Bestselling   High-ratings

UK: PubDate   Popular
The Kindle Daily Deal
What is 3G? and "WiFi"?       Battery Care
Highly-rated under $1,  Newest: $1-$2, $2-$3
Most Popular Free K-Books
U.S. & Int'l (NOT UK):
   Top 100 free
   Top 100 free
USEFUL for your Kindle Keyboard(U.S. only, currently):
  99c Notepad 1.1,   99c Calculator,
  99c Calendar,   99c Converter

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  1. I've compared the Kindle(s) and Nook(s) extensively over the years, and for me, the deal-breaker against the Nook is the lack of an email address. This is huge. I think what many non-Kindle folks don't notice is that Amazon has set up the Kindle environment such that you never have to have the Kindle connected to a computer to manage its content, including personal content. This is a big deal to travelers, and to me. I use Calibre as a news aggregator and never have to plug my Kindle into the computer since the periodicals are mailed to the Kindle. This means I can continue to get my news even when traveling and away from the computer doing that aggregation. In fact the only reason my Kindle gets a plug at all is to charge.

    Which is a nice segue to the Front-lighting issues. I took a look at the Nook GlowLight and thought it was nice. In fact, I like the feel of the Nook in my hands better than the Kindle Touch, but that's a personal, visceral thing in that I don't like the feel of cold metal when I should be feeling a warm book. In that regard, as much as I'd like a touch screen, the Kindle with Keyboard just feels nicer to me. From a design standpoint, I don't like the idea of powering the screen lighting from the internal, not-user-serviceable battery, which only serves to shorten its life. And all of us Kindle owners know how long the Kindle with wireless off can last, and I like that. I personally use a headlamp when using the Kindle at night. It puts the light exactly where I'm looking at all times, takes standard batteries, doesn't deplete the Kindle battery, has color filters if I don't want to disturb night vision, and would be a natural choice if reading a paper book anyway. Although I could see how someone with a "beehive" hair-do might have a problem with that.

    I just wanted to post my personal experiences so others could benefit from them. Observing people in stores, it seems many of them make a buying decision based on appearance and feel, without considering all of the other issues; those issues probably wouldn't occur to a newcomer. But buying an e-reader is more than an investment in a particular electronic device. It's an investment in an entire infrastructure.

    1. Blackbeard, right. The thing almost no reviewers know about and it is really key is "personal docs" -- You know how they like to say you can read ONLY "Kindle books" on it etc.
      It's a huge thing for most who know about it. Recipes, other reference material, not to mention periodicals, work docs, etc. Now they're even sync'd between all the Kindle devices and K-apps.

      Good point about the further Kindle battery drain.

      You and I have a similar solution. While I tried a headlamp (bought it for Egypt), I now always have on a Beam N Read (worn around the neck and it can be reversed to point up more) as it can be used for just about anything and I don't have to feel it around my temples. Nice, even light w/o being over-bright. And the 3-led light one lasts about 120 hours depending on how you use it. Also comes with a night filter or more. I also use it for going down the stairs outside at night and for looking for things or just illuminating them when the light's low. When walking outside w/ friends it can light up the entire path for all of us if worn to face downwards. It has 3 steps or levels in angle.

      Well said, re buying an ereader as an investment in an entire infrastructure!

  2. Re the lighted screen Kindle, I just got a lighted cover for my Kindle Touch (30% off special offer) which is now the 3G model ($109 at Walmart; gave my wifi model to my sister). So I won't be upgrading, assuming it does arrive. Since the 5.1 update, which added the 'missing and bonus features' (KF8, multilanguage support, landscape, Translation, Report Content Error, multipage text selection, NCX navigation), I have been in ereader heaven. Barring some improved reflective display (higher res, better contrast, 'good' color) I will be happy using this for a long time.

    Meanwhile the Nook software has not added any new features over the year it has been out, unless you call removing what little web browser there was initially a 'feature'. They have not fixed the text-selection issues, and it is just plain weird that you have to open a book to archive it, and that you can't just delete side loaded books. PDF is all but unusable without landscape (unless you can live with what PDF reflow generally does). It will be interesting to see if they deliver an update for ePub3 support though it isn't clear what that would really offer beyond popup footnotes, asian text layout modes etc., which is probably something we'll see for Kindle sooner or later.

    Also wikipedia lookup has become an essential reading feature for me; the popup wikipedia preview of Kindle Touch is just perfect, no need to launch the browser most of the time. Not to mention XRay, personal documents service etc.

    To me, then, KT is vastly superior for reading. But tech reviewers don't read, apparently.

    1. Tom, very useful info from someone who really knows the Nook Touch software. Glad you were able to get the lighted cover. I gave mine to a friend, who loves it, but I prefer to travel lighter than the hard cover they made for the K3 keyboard model.

      Thanks for reminding me about the other features that had been added recently. I still find it a pleasure to read the KTouch screen (terrific contrast) but I don't think the software for that is super intuitive.

      That was so funny when people discovered the Nook's hidden browser but it couldn't really return a google search and didn't work well, so B&N quietly removed the backdoor access to it. It's clear they've not put the time and care into the software features, which are much more than frills -- they're extremely useful!

      But e-reader reviewers look only at the surface, as a rule.

      Like you, I love the Wikipedia preview and XRay, which they should explain more in their marketing. It's terrific. I no longer have to do specific searches from what I'm reading when it's available -- just press to open up x-ray and click on anything of interest. It's all very classy software in that they've really paid attention to how people might want to use a book if the book makes them want to know a bit more or is so filled with characters and info you need to refresh your memory. Thanks for all the reminders.

      I'm impressed. I wish Kindle Fire had that feature.

  3. I agree with everything said here. Regardless of feature disparity tween nook and Kt, the big BN downside for me is their lousy customer service for their web offerings, and their poor web store infrastructure as compared with Amazon CS and things like "manage your kindle" facilities.

    The quality problems with glowlight make me chuckle -- as they are so reminiscent of another technology I'm following: edge lit LED Tv's.

    1. Edward, you're right. A *key* difference is the focus on and reality of good customer svc with Amazon and too often the opposite at B&N, which I discovered after buying (and enjoying) the NookColor. And, as you say, their web pages for managing your e-reader/tablet and media products are really confusing.

      Haven't seen or followed anything on edge lit LED Tv's but will take a look at this :-) Thanks for the reminders.


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