Archive for November, 2007

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Details on Amazon’s Kindle Reader (updated)

November 18, 2007

Newsweek cover on Amazon Kindle(updated with additional details from the Kindle User’s Guide)
Newsweek.com has posted a lengthy piece on ebooks and digital reading focusing on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the upcoming Kindle, entitled The Future of Reading.

Amongst prognostication about changes in the process of writing, distributing and reading books were a few facts about the Kindle:

display 6” E-Ink, 4 gray levels, 167 dpi
(like the Sony Reader)
weight 10.3 ounces
battery life 30 hours reading
2 hours recharge
storage 200 books onboard
additional via SD memory card
input keyboard, scroll wheel
connectivity EVDO cellphone-style broadband, USB2
Windows PC required for activation
file compatibility Kindle (.azw), unprotected Mobipocket (.mobi, .prc), HTML, text, MS Word (.doc), Audible (.aa), mp3
price $399

The wireless connectivity is used to connect to the Internet and the Amazon ebook store, where New York Times bestsellers and recent titles can be bought for $9.99, with older books priced lower. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions are also available.

Notably, the device cannot open Adobe PDF or any other common ebook formats, including DRM’d files from Amazon’s own Mobipocket ebook store.

The Kindle is a bold entry in the dedicated reader field, with the always-on wireless connection and periodical subscriptions being the most intriguing twists. Comparisons with the iPod/iTunes ecosystem are inevitable. However, unlike the iPod, which could support content from users’ existing cd and mp3 collections, book acquisition is limited to Amazon’s own Kindle store and existing personal documents such as Word files — ebooks from all other sources are essentially excluded. With a steep $399 entry price and a largely closed supply of content, it remains to be seen whether a mass market really exists for this device…

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Ars Technica’s Read on the Sony PRS-505

November 15, 2007

Ars Technica takes a detailed look at the latest iteration of Sony’s dedicated ebook reader, the PRS-505.

Their bottom line: “… if the Reader sounds like the sort of gadget you can’t live without and you can live with its quirks, it’s a superbly built device with a screen that will blow you away. It comes highly recommended, but only to those certain they have a use for it.”

This is largely in line with my own continuing experience with the earlier PRS-500 model. I still gawk at the e-ink screen with wonder, though I am at times frustrated by the device’s limitations. For example, during a trip my wife and I took to Las Vegas last weekend, I tried to use the Sony as a reference tool to access an ebook version of the excellent Avant-Guide Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the Reader’s slow paging and navigation made it a poor choice for non-linear, jump-around-and-find-stuff reading. For reading fiction and other works read in a linear fashion, however, I agree with Ars Technica’s assessment — the Sony Reader “…is a beautiful device that excels at what it was designed to do: display e-books.”