Thursday, December 23, 2010

EA game apps at 50% off / 8M kindles sold 2010 / My NookColor - a report

  Electronic Arts is offering their games at 50% off through January 2, for SCRABBLE, MONOPOLY, Solitaire, Sudoku, and Texas Hold’em.   Also:

. SCRABBLE was UPDATED on 12/15 and it now features "improved graphics and enhanced contrast."

  If you bought this earlier, go to that page and there should be an "Update" button for you to get the newer version.

. I had not posted about the now-popular MONOPOLY game either, though you have to make the actual moves for the computer after it's calculated them (!) and I hear there are repetitive features involved.

. Texas Hold'em is another newish one, and I have resisted it since the title reminds me of all the spam ads that used to come at us on the original game.  It's not quite as well rated as MONOPOLY (the name is capitalized and is not my doing) but still gets 4 stars from Kindle owners who have bought and rated it.

From Bloomberg Businessweek comes the headline that " Kindle Sales Are Said to Exceed Estimates"
December 23, 2010, 10:34 AM EST (updated story)   Italics in some excerpts that follow are just for emphasis by me.
' Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Inc. is likely to sell more than 8 million Kindle electronic-book readers this year, at least 60 percent more than analysts have predicted, according to two people who are aware of the company’s sales projections.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated, on average, that the company would sell 5 million Kindles in 2010. Last year, Amazon sold about 2.4 million Kindles, said one of the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the company doesn’t disclose Kindle sales figures.
. . .
Amazon has disclosed few details on Kindle sales.  In October, the company said that sales of the lighter, faster Kindles, which were introduced in July, had surpassed total Kindle sales in the fourth quarter of 2009, the company’s busiest time of year. Sony and Barnes & Noble don’t disclose sales of their e-readers either.
. . .
Amazon’s sales demonstrate that the market for stand-alone e-readers is growing even as Apple Inc. builds demand for the iPad tablet, which lets users read books, watch videos and carry out computing tasks. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, sold 7.46 million iPads from their April debut through September. '

  About a zillion competing tablets are due in mid January :-)  The iPad itself is due to come out with an improved do-even-more tablet in Feb/March, per multiple rumors of probable features tweeted the last two days.  I'm hoping it has a USB port and an SD slot instead of a kludge adapter kit that's extra.

I now have a NookColor for magazines and travel/photoshop books.  The Nat'l Geographic magazine is just stunning on it, and I would like to keep it just for that.

  The web browser is smoothly fast for a small tablet, thanks to the 8-bit IPS LCD technology and capable processer used, but while the high-resolution image is just amazing (and mesmerizing for me), I am frustrated that it's very hard to read in a strongly lit room in the daytime, and I do tend to like light coming through the windows.  Today I was relieved to find my neglected Kindle (couldn't even find it for awhile) after a couple of days, when I wanted to read in daylight, inside.

  More serious for me, is the oversensitivity (and sometimes it doesn't react) on the touchscreen, which means that if my hand or a finger just hovers over it while I try to decide what I want to click, I see a link suddenly highlight without my help and I'm whisked there, which is something I really do not want happening.

 As is my wont, I then did read heavily about this, using the NookColor's web browser (this device was like a physical appendage for two days because I didn't want to put it down), wondering whether I should get a replacement or if this is just a problem with the NookColor or with Android 2.1 in general (the Nookcolor will get a 2.2 'Froyo' upgrade sometime in January and I can decide at that point whether to keep it or not, since B&N has extended its 14-day trial period to a holiday one of January 31).

I've been somewhat addicted to the magazine reading on it and the webbing as well, because it's fun, but then I find I have an additional frustration in that I have a desktop pc, a great 10.2" screen netbook, and a 3G Kindle and have no trouble getting on the Net so why would I web on the NookColor at home after my initial truly fun-explorations of it on the couch, which is where I also use my 2.7 lb. netbook, on which I can actually type an email reply and know that the letters I type are the ones that will show up.

(See B&N forum reports, Google'd reports, and B&N Tech Support forum for other reports on problems mentioned.  Also see the B&N Nookcolor general-discussions area for a wider range of feedback.)

Then I decide I want to show people my new NookColor and out I go before I realize I can't show the Web to them because it has only WiFi and, no, I do not want to spend time outside my home at Starbucks or McDonald's or even B&N to be able to show anyone my new color webbing device or to use it for myself when out.  But, at 7" it is an ultra-attractive little unit and I spent 2 full days with it.

I bought it despite wanting to wait for a full Android device (which I wouldn't have to root and re-root everytime there is a vendor firmware update), because a full Android tablet would let me have -- on just one device -- ALL the online-bookstore apps and then I could read the books I've bought from any of them.

  Barnes and Noble could allow this but would lose control over what goes on the NookColor and of course they might not love a Kindle for Nook app on it, but wouldn't it maybe be a smart thing to do and then everyone would just get a NookColor and Amazoners would start buying from B&N also?  Maybe not, just a thought.

 Problem is, I am more apt to get an all-in-one eventually, and they are all coming out in January.  I'd like to keep the NookColor just for what they did with the images AND text in National Geographic. It's just beautiful.  As a result I've read more stories in it that I normally would.  An ereader for night and one for day would be great.  But I'd still want an all-in-one in addition to my calming Kindle, and in the meantime I cannot type an email reply on the NookColor, much less do a quick blog entry while away from the house.

  Its keyboard unreliability for typing characters makes the very-klunky Kindle3 keyboard a relief.  B&N customer reps in person at the store have been just great, I must say.  Flexible, friendly, helpful.  And the one who sold it to me (because she knew I could not resist it) even keeps up with the technical support forums and has been a big help (Mihiro).

  I had WiFi dropouts and found that when I released the reader from its "N" case with the heavy clamping on the side bezel, my WiFi would reconnect.  Same thing when I could not input into a field box.  I released the NookColor from that clamp and I could then type into the input box.  There's something about the pressure of that clamping on most of the bezel width at that not-small area.

  I was at a restaurant, the Bistro 1491 in Albany, showing off the NookColor (I like it a lot despite the caveats), when the waitress asked if that was the new Nook and asked to look at it.  She then told me that she owned a Kindle and didn't think she could read on that kind of backlighting for long.  But --- I have the brightness set at only about 5% !  I like backlighting way down.   I tried to convince the waitress to give it a longer look but they were pretty busy.  A friend told me it probably is just a novelty for me, but it's been a pleasurable one except I cannot type even half-accurately on it.

 Since I love to blab in writing, that is a non-starter.  BUT their forum folks have said that they are working on a firmware fix for the keyboard woes, which may be partially caused by some chargers or charging mechanisms and the usb port placement under the virtual keyboard area (some find it very hard to insert the USB charger and fear breaking something).  This problem with the keyboard action has been termed 'possessed Nook' or 'runaway screens' BUT some people don't find much trouble with it.  I don't know how much they try typing on it.  Many don't use the Kindle keyboard either, never using the dictionary or annotations even, I've found.

At any rate, some smart B&N folks have shown there is a place for a 7" LCD screen'd e-reader that can include the features we normally enjoy.  For now, youtube is no-fun on it (low resolution if a video runs at all, and the unit takes us to the mobile version of youtube), but the next version may provide flash support, which would be great.  Yes, I would like some distractions on my e-reader :-)

Nevertheless, they did a beautiful job on the display and the unit feels good, if a bit heavy at almost 1 lb but definitely very solid.  The quality seems very high, outside of the keyboard oversensitivity and has been a joy to use except for the typing and if trying to read a book or magazine in daylight.

  Turning the brightness all the way up in strong light light can help a bit but not enough and will run the battery down faster; the battery does about 7 hours in my normal usage of it which is heavy on the WiFi-On status for web-browsing.  I think that's pretty good.

I'll know when the NookColor update is ready (January) whether I'll keep it or not.  The display resolution is better than on the current iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tablet (the latter sometimes calls to me at $400 + $20/mo 3G access at Sprint but I've been spoiled by the NookColor's superb display).

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   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 highest-rated 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. Just a quick note to say I really, really appreciate that you cover other products and that your reviews are always forthright, comprehensive, honest and engaging. I just bought a K3 and that I had read your posts on the non-lighted cover issues allowed me to address the issue without stress or panic. Today's particular review (non-Kindle-related) is another example of why I have your blog permanently bookmarked. Thank you. You are a hero.

  2. Paddy,
    Thanks for this Christmas gift :-)

    It actually IS nice to know that the ramblings are sometimes enjoyed and are even helpful! That you took the time to write it is really appreciated.
    Happy holidaying with the new K3!

  3. It will be interesting to see if Amazon's web ereader will work well on NookColor - it should, as long as they support netbook sized screens well.

  4. I was shocked you thought the Kindle keyboard was better than the NookColor. I hadn't tried the NookColor, but had assumed that with its larger screen, an on-screen keyboard would be a vast improvement over the Kindle's lentil-sized keys.

    I may have to stop by my local B&N for a closer look at their keyboard implementation. Is it the ergonomics (ie, size/spacing/arrangement) or the responsiveness that gave you problems?

    I seem to have a hard time even finding a web image of their keyboard. As a software guy, I love doing implementation post-mortems.


  5. Tom,
    I imagine Amazon will support Kindle sized screens very well as long as they support them better than they do with the current K3 web browser which defaults to normal sites and TINY print and makes you zoom instead of increase font.

    The NookColor is just a whiz with most websites of any type. As long as one has WiFi, that is. I miss the 3G capability and will be investigating the new coming tablets that offer 3G and 1 gig of web data/month for $20.

    The keyboard is, as I said oversensitive, and I mentioned I can't type on it easily for that reason without getting extra characters or brushing a key I didn't intend to touch, and sometimes hovering over a key will activate it when I'm too warm. It's also heat sensitive apparently. Or, at least mine is.

    With the Kindle 3, klunky as it is, I can hold onto it and type slowly w/o making any mistakes and as a result it is FAR faster for me to use that keyboard whereas I can't do email or blog on the NookColor as it stands now, which is a BIG flaw for me though I love reading magazines and even webpages on it, so I intend to keep it, probably, but will see what happens as I may try to exchange it as I can until January 31 with the holiday extension. It's just that I have it configured nicely and am too lazy to redo it but I should try another one.

  6. Yeah, I use the Kindle keys all the time to search on the dictionary and Wikipedia. A tad challenging tho when I'm on the elliptical machine at the gym going up and down!


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