Monday, December 13, 2010

NEWS: NookColor, Kindle Roundup. 'Millions' of Kindles just sold

Haven't been around the last two days and now that I'm back, I see that the news seems to be almost entirely about the holiday lists all the newspapers and 'zines are making.   I drew attention to one very popular list the other day, but on the Amazon review areas and forums, there are still many people wondering which e-reader to buy or whether or not they should upgrade their prior Kindles, so I'll go again with what's in the news.  Since I missed a couple of days, this will be extra wordy.  I miss a day and you get punished. :-) That's A Kindle World.

In the hot, color department you have LCD tablets like the Apple iPad , Samsung Galaxy 7", Archos 70 at 7" and Archos 101 at 10", and now the 7" Barnes & Noble NookColor].  As I've written, I may get a NookColor eventually as a secondary or supplemental e-reader because I would like a color e-reader for SHORT-session reading (magazines, travel, history, and art reference books), and others want color for their children.

  The trade-offs are battery life, ability to read easily in sunlight or near a window, possible eye fatigue from long-form reading (books) on a backlit screen, weight, and expense.  The iPad starts at $500 w/WiFi Only ($629 w/3G also); the Samsung Galaxy 7", quite a bit smaller but more portable than the 10" iPad, is about $600; the Archos 101 10" tablet is sold out already everywhere at $295, as it has many features the iPad doesn't, at a considerably lower cost (HDMI connector, USB port, micro SD card slot, webcam), and the NookColor e-reader (which is $250 and wisely being marketed as mainly an e-reader since it's officially not intended do what a full Android tablet can).  According to reviews the NookColor has a beautiful display and functions pretty well, especially for those who read mainly magazines (rather than many books a month) and who want to surf the web in color on a portable device.

  My main reason for hesitating, since I do have so many Kindle books with color illustrations, is that a full Android tablet (like the Archos) can actually have ALL the online bookstore apps on it (Nook, Kindle, Sony, Kobe) and there is a new Android app supporting library book rentals as well.

  So, instead of having two devices which don't allow other online bookstore apps, I'm intrigued that a full Android tablet actually could become a device that can read books from all the online bookstores, even those with proprietary e-book formats.  And we are about to see a flood of full Android tablets with price competition.

  For best information on what the Nook can and can't do right now, visit the Barnes & Noble Nookcolor forums and for best how-to information, its Nookcolor Technical Support forums.

  Also, be sure to search each bookstore for your favorite authors.

  Here are some news items for others who are also trying to decide between the new Kindle with high-contrast e-Ink screen and the new NookColor e-reader, starting with recent appraisals of the NookColor after a few days spent with it.

  There is a rave review, in-depth, at the thorough MobileTechReview (with 23-minute, 2-part video near the bottom) and an ultra-positive review from Consumer Reports, with video also, saying it looks like a Winner.
  Those were the two standouts as far as practically 5-star reviews that have thorough pro's and con's.

Mild Caveats in the rave reviews:
MobileTechReview: "If you read indoors, especially in rooms with poor lighting, the Nook Color is a good choice.  If you read outdoors at lunch time and on vacations at the beach, get an E-Ink reader.  E-Ink displays look their best under bright light and require reading lights or ambient room lighting indoors."

  Those who "root" devices like this to get at the full Android features should know that "key Android hardware buttons (menu and back) are missing."

  PDFs: "The bad news is that you can't bookmark a page and it doesn't remember where you left off; incredibly annoying if you're reading a library novel in PDF format.  Another caveat: we tested 5 PDFs and internal links didn't work in any of them.  As a consolation, there is a "go to page" function."

Consumer Reports: "One con, though, is its weight: at 15.8 ounces, the Nook Color is relatively heavy compared with other e-book readers such as the (black-and-white screen) Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi, which weighs about 8 ounces.  There's also no 3G version for people who want to download new content on the go.  And the Nook Color costs about $100 more than the black-and-white Nook Wi-Fi, which remains on the market, or the Kindle Wi-Fi, though both are black-and-white models with slightly smaller screens that lack touch capability."

MSNBC review by Wilson Rothman -- (Commenters who have the Nook don't agree with his assessment.)
The VIDEO there illustrates his main caveats.  The one I agree with is about children probably finding the text in the children's books too small on a 7" screen.

The Washington Post's succinct Rob Pegoraro has a video also.  He lists what he likes what he doesn't.

  . The text was sharp enough for easy reading of e-books but the resolution wasn't high enough for him for e-magazines that mirror print versions; he had to do "a lot of zooming in and out." [My own problem with great-looking layouts on a 6-7" screen is that they are images and therefore the text is not searchable and harder to read unless you choose the 'drab' straight-text mode.]

    Text magazines can be dull in e-ink but if you can search them, that's better for an information hound -- but most people probably browse and toss.

  . "With its screen's brightness turned all the way up from the default 30 percent and the Pandora app playing non-stop, it ran for about five hours."
  [ That's good or bad depending on one's needs. ]

  . Sometimes sluggish browsing of photos (less slow than e-ink, I imagine).

DailyTech does a good summary of what it describes as "mixed reviews" so if you want more detail for your decision, take a look at that.

  It references Engadget and Gizmodo for cautions about the glare despite new lamination technology used.  You "can play movies on YouTube -- but only at the lowest resolution."

  Their Conclusion: "The Nook Color is a jack of all trades and master of none. Its also unbeatable at its price point -- because there are no other tablets at its price point. Thus the value of the device is quite debatable."

  Again, you can read what Nook users say at the B&N forum about certain glitches that are there now but will likely be fixed later.
  "At the end of the day, if your main goal is to read books digitally the Kindle (or original Nook), seems a better buy.... If you only have $250 and you have to have a tablet, the Nook Color is really the only solution out there, so it's your best bet for now.

The best tech gadgets of 2010
abc27's Rob Enderle report provided by DigitalTrends...
Well, here's something unexpected.  Remember the Kindle DX? They continue to sell but not much is heard about them in the news.  This report echos what was said in the technically advanced Mobileread forums not long ago when people formerly not high on Amazon or its Kindles received theirs.
  Enderle writes:
' I picked the Kindle DX up to review thinking it was too big, and that it would end up on my shelf unused after a couple of days.  Instead I fell in love with it, and it goes with me wherever I go.  The larger screen allows me to put more text on the page, so I'm not flipping as often, and allows me to use larger text so I'm not straining my eyes and can work in low light.  While I do miss a cover with a built-in book light like the regular Kindle, I can't give up the extra size, and for me, the iPad just hasn't been a real alternative.  I have the latest model in black, and it did cost $379 but I really don't know what I'd do without my Kindle.  It is the one product I don't go anyplace without. '

Nerd Chick Adventures
Nerd Chicks give an appraisal of several e-readers Dec. 12 when color tablets are bursting out all over:
' ... we think Amazon’s Kindle Free 3G + Wi-Fi is the sure bet over the Barnes & Noble Nook Free 3G + Wi-Fi.  Kindle’s internal memory is the largest on the market (4 GB) — holding a whopping 3,500 books, audiobooks, periodicals and documents in store.  Its battery life is up to 1 month with the wireless disabled compared to Nook’s 10 days.

  The 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities allow you to wirelessly download books from practically anywhere.  It’s lighter than the Nook by 3.4 ounces and has the best high-contrast screen of any other e-reader, allowing reading in bright sunlight without glare and e-ink display is the most like reading from a traditional book.

Kindle gives you access to 1.8 million free books, and we find Amazon’s online store easier to navigate than Barnes & Noble’s. '

This is a quite funny article.  A few exceprts:
' And so, I reluctantly took possession of a Kindle.  And like all great affairs, initial antipathy rapidly grew into fierce passion.  The Kindle is – and I say this [with] a mixture of delight and dismay – really rather fabulous.

Astonishingly, the screen is entirely free of glare and so it’s not in the least like using a computer. With an absence of backlit glare, reading the “e ink” technology is (and look away if you don’t want me to spoil it) exactly like reading a book.
  More crucially, I was able to figure out how it worked within about a minute and a half, and that’s without recourse to the leaflet it came with.

  After my husband refused to even countenance opening it, I took the Kindle along to my Book Club, although slightly warily lest I be chased out into the street and crushed to death beneath Harry Potter first editions. But the response was overwhelmingly positive, and indeed I flushed out an existing Kindle user who hadn’t like to mention it before.
. . .
Like all modern wizardry however, the devil is in the detail – does the Kindle remember your place in a book? Yes. Can you re-read books? Yes, they are automatically archived after you buy them. You can also read them on your iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC and what are called “android-based” devices, which conjures up bizarre images of CP30 and R2-D2 reciting chunks of Chaucer.

[I especially go along with this serious thought.]
Some people might elect to spend the extra couple of pounds to obtain a physical copy of the book.  But Kindles are aimed at readers whose sole interest is the contents rather than the aesthetics of a book and are perfectly happy for it to be delivered through – and stored in – the ether... '

There's more, and her last paragraph is priceless, but you can go to the article to enjoy it.

Amazon reported, by thanking the Kindle Community in its forums today, unusually high sales of new Kindles, an approach they knew news bloggers would repeat around the world.

I loved Engadget's attempted calculations by Ross Miller as to what this all means, based on no earlier reports of actual numbers from Amazon, and the illustration of the complexity of this with their image of "Einstein and Special Relativity" :-) -- except that they missed that Kindle 2's can't be counted in this, as the announcement cited "millions" of "all-new Kindles" with the Pearl E-Ink display sold in the first 73 days of the holiday quarter, and the 2nd comparison Amazon made referred to the "last 73 days" (higher Kindle sales than in all of 2009).  This may have been a response (ya think?) to B&N's data-drop that they are now manufacturing 18,000 Nooks a day and loading up a jet from China every 4-5 days.  Multiply that by 30 days and that's over 500,000 month.  There's nothing better for consumers than competition.

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.
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  1. Thanks for the great reviews of Kindle and Nook Color, I haven't got any of them yet. But am learning through blogs like yours!

    Read Aloud Dad

  2. Read Aloud Dad,
    You're very welcome! Hope it does help. Tough decisions. Thanks for the feedback !

  3. I'm in agreement that a 'full' Android tablet with the screen dimensions/resolution of NookColor would be preferable (even for $100-$200 more) because of the versatility (including USB host, video output, etc.). NookColor does not even have page turn buttons. However, Archos gets terrible reviews and I haven't learned of any others that look any better just yet.

    In the meantime, iPod touch is my mini-tablet. Recently applications that support library borrowing 'directly' have appeared, and I got a SFPL library card, and my Kindle is getting a little lonely lately.

  4. You're only touching the subject of millions of Kindles sold this year here, but as I am from the unfortunate ;) part of the world that lies outside the US (or the UK, for that matter) I want to ask your opinion. Do you think that the problems with instant availability of Kindle 3 last summer even in the US made Amazon abandon the rest of the world for the Christmas season and switch entirely to the American (and British) market? Do you think global demand is so low (comparing to US) Amazon decided it's negligible or so great that they have actually run out of devices?
    Anyway, you're doing great job here on this blog - reading it is pure joy :)

  5. Tom, I guess the 'swiping' is as effective as page-turn buttons? The Archos received poor reviews until apparently the Archos 70 though?

    Amazon's customer reviews on the latter are pretty good. I've seen pretty good reaction to 101, which is hard to find. Its screen won't be as good, as the resolution is less than the NookColor's.

  6. phelcq,
    I think that recent months' sales must have been higher than anticipated -- and that the need to stock the Kindle in Best Buy, Staples and some in Target too, probably contributed to there being less than needed to meet demand outside the U.S. too. It could also be that the Christmas holiday is celebrated more in a 'gift' type way in the U.S. ? I really don't know.

    Thanks for your generous words :-)

  7. $600 for a Galaxy? Cheapest I've seen them advertised here is some €750 (or $1000).

  8. Anonymous,
    Note that the first article, I think it is, mentions Europe plays a lot more...

  9. There really is a plethora of reading devices coming and I cant wait to see what e-readers will become... personally I am intrigued by the Asus ea 800 - it looks absolutely perfect just waiting for availability and some reviews. Thanks for focusing on kindle but also including other devices and the wider world now and again! Good job!

  10. Thanks, Anonymous. It's a balance since I have received complaints when I mention non-Kindle devices, as some subscribe to the Kindle edition and are of course more interested in Kindle information. But the title is A Kindle -World- (which includes somewhat competing models), so I do want to include more, and while I love my Kindles I'm interested in anything else in this rapidly evolving sphere.

    I don't plan to replace my e-Ink devices though, as I'm addicted to reading that way, for longer sessions and I love the book-study tools that Amazon has made. But I want my supplemental color device too for books/magazines with images.


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