Archive for the ‘e-Reader Reviews’ Category

The Trials of Apollo Book One The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan is the start of a new Greek mythology series from middle grade staple Rick Riordan.  This new series centres around the god Apollo, who has been stripped of his godly powers by his father, Zeus.  Naturally, adventures and shenanigans ensue.

For me this read a little younger than the Heroes of Olympus series, more in line with Percy Jackson.  Apollo’s human persona is aged 16, but he spends a lot of time hanging around with 13 year old Meg which naturally makes the feel of the book somewhat younger.  Also, there is no emphasis at all on romantic relationships.

What I liked

Riordan’s writing style.  After many series including Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Riordan’s light, witty style should be familiar to most readers.  If you enjoyed the earlier books, you will certainly enjoy this one.  They are very funny.  I breezed through The Hidden Oracle in an afternoon.  While it is not necessary to have read the earlier series, I would strongly recommend doing so before picking up this latest one.  There are many references to characters and events from previous entries that, while not necessary to enjoy the story, are enhanced by knowledge of both of the other Olympian series.

The protagonist. I was amused by Apollo – his attitude and the circumstances he kept finding himself in.  In theme it’s very similar to Marvel’s Thor movie in which a god becomes mortal but takes some time to adjust to his new situation.  I enjoyed Apollo’s character development and how he changes throughout the course of the adventure.  I do have some concerns if that level of character development can be sustained through the other four planned books in the series, but time will tell.

Catchups on our other favourite demigods.  In this book we touch base with our heroes from the previous series.  It was good to hear how Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo and the others are all getting on with their post Gaea lives.

What I didn’t like

Perhaps because this was aimed at a younger audience, at times it was a little formulaic, especially if you know the previous book.  Still, it’s more than made up for by Riordan’s wit and humour.

In summary, if you’ve enjoyed the previous books, you will certainly enjoy The Trials of Apollo.  I gave it four stars out of five.

four-stars

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan – Review was originally published on Canadian eReader

Last night Amazon’s new Fire HD 6” arrived on my doorstep.  Here are my first impressions of the new budget tablet.  I will direct you to Amazon’s main Kindle page to get the full specs.

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The good

The 6” format is darned cute and practical.  Here are some pictures comparing it to the Fire HDX and Kindle Paperwhite.

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The format is going to be very practical for sticking in a handbag or pocket to take around.  It is blockier than the Fire HDX or Paperwhite – no tapered edges but it is very compact.  In terms of weight though, there is very little difference between the 6” HD and the 7” HDX – a mere 0.6 of an ounce.

The Fire HD 6” comes with the new Fire OS 4 Sangria, which will be sent as a free update to existing Fire devices according to the note on my Fire HDX this morning. There are some really neat features to Sangria.  A backup feature worked well.  This will allow you to restore your device to a previous state if there are any issues.

The new About the Book feature which you can setup to open as you read the book could be very useful. It tells you brief information at a glance – author, number of books in the series, order in the series etc.

There are also badges in the Audible app again! Yay!  I am kind of a badge collector when it comes to my Audible listening.  What will be even better is when they sync badges across devices.  I also like that they now show the estimated download time when downloading an audiobook

GoodReads is more tightly integrated with your being able to add the book to your Want to Read/Currently Reading/Read shelf from within the book. Nice. It will still be even better when they allow you to access your own shelves from within there.

The bad

The Fire HD 6” is a budget device as you might expect from the price.  It has single band WiFi compared to the HDX’s dual band.  it has mono speakers – forget about listening to the device without headphones. Its processor is Quad Core up to 1.5GHz rather than the HDX’s 2.2 GHz.  It also comes with 8GB or 16GB of storage which is not great if you want to store content on the device rather than rely on Amazon’s Cloud.  My requirements for a Kindle tablet are pretty basic.  I need to be able to read my Kindle books, listen to my audiobooks, pick up my email, some basic web surfing, play the odd game.

When I was checking it out last night, I really felt it was struggling to meet those basic requirements.  I found the device to be at times unresponsive, with multiple taps being necessary to do something.  Browsing on Silk was painful.  It’s never been great at the best of times – often I will reach for my iPhone and use Safari on the small screen rather than deal with Silk – but last night it was particularly laggy.  Typing on the device was slower than on my Paperwhite.

However, I found this morning that it was much more responsive.  Maybe the device was doing some update in the background.  I will try using it as my main tablet for the next week or so to see how it performs.

That being said, it would be unwise to expect iPad like performance from a tablet costing $134.

The ugly

Fire OS 4 Sangria is very new.  While there are a few great new features, I have found my experience with it to be rather buggy.  The registration process when I first opened the device threw up errors.  It subsequently went through, but it was worrying.  I found the GoodRead apps crashing forcing a restart of the device.  I also found I couldn’t get Immersion reading to work.  For me that is a real deal breaker.  The issue is now with third level support at Amazon/Audible.

Although I have not had an altogether positive experience with the device so far, I do feel it has potential as a budget tablet if you set your expectations accordingly and wait a couple of weeks for Amazon to get the kinks worked out.

 

Last night Amazon announced its 2014 lineup of Kindle ereaders and tablets.  I will direct you to Amazon’s main Kindle page to get the full specs.

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Looking at the eIink ereaders first Amazon announced that the basic Kindle now comes with a touch interface.  This will retail for CAD79.  This looks a really nice entry into the ereader market and you could do a lot worse.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the new Kindle Voyage, which is smaller, lighter and with a higher resolution than ever before.  It includes page turn functionality in the bezel – something many people seem to have been requesting – as well as enhanced reading features such as an expanded X-Ray, greater integration with GoodReads.  This all seems excellent, but it does come with a hefty price tag.  The Kindle Voyage retails from USD 199.  It has optional 3G.

However, for us Canadians, we’re out of luck.  The Kindle Voyage is not yet available on the Amazon.ca store.  I asked customer service and was told that they had no timeline for when it might be available.  It is available in the UK, Germany and Japan so why not Canada?  I seem to be asking this question each time.  In any case, it looks like I will be obliged to undertake my regular pilgrimage across the US border to pick one up.

http://rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?t=scotbookinq03-20&o=1&p=48&l=ur1&category=kindle&banner=03P504H7KH1CGWSMW7R2&f=ifr&linkID=MI5R2FS5UQMRNEQ4

In terms of the tablets, Amazon brought out a low end 6inch model, the Fire HD6.  This will retail at CAD 134.  This is actually of great interest to me personally.  I have a Fire HDX, but I like the idea of the smaller form factor to take with me. I have an iPad 3 which lives at home for larger tablet needs.My needs for a tablet on the go are pretty basic; books audiobooks, internet, email, basic games.This might do the trick as long as it plays audiobooks and I can still play The CATch to which I am addicted. I will see though how it compares to the HDX.  I have placed an order and I will let you know.  I find lately that I’ve been doing more and more of my reading/audiobook listening on the Fire rather than the Paperwhite, so maybe this smaller entry level tablet will replace it.

It appears that Amazon isn’t upgrading the hardware of the Fire HDX 7inch this year, although it will get a software upgrade to the new Fire OS 4 named Sangria. One of the key features of this software is the addition of profile support so that various family members can use the same device and family library so that they can share content.  That will be a nice to have.

They mention some UI enhancements, too, but they have not specified these yet.

I’m not certain if Firefly will be coming to the HDX – the information is a little unclear.  In any case, while that’s a nice to have I’m not worried about not having it.

The final Fire announced by Amazon was the HD Kids’ Edition.  This is a specially toughened version of the Fire with inbuilt Kindle Freetime and a two year guarantee.  This is again not available in Canada.

So, what are your thoughts on the new releases?  Any of them catch your eye?

Let me know in the comments.

Today Sony announced that it is closing its Reader Store in the US and Canada.  It will be closing on the 20th of March 2014.

The press release indicated that existing libraries will be transferred over to Kobo.  To be honest the news doesn’t surprise me; Amazon and Kobo have long been dominant players in the market.

For those of you affected by this, it’s good to know that you won’t lose your libraries and that arrangements have been made for a handover.  My biggest fear is that one day Amazon will close its doors (very unlikely) and that I will lose my entire digital library.

Good morning readers.  I have just spent a very frustrating morning and am hoping my experiences will help some of you save some time and irritation.

A few days ago, I borrowed an ebook from the library, via Overdrive.  Overdrive uses Adobe DRM (digital rights management) as its system to prevent your copying/sharing the books you’ve borrowed.  What it means, essentially, is that you must go through the Adobe Digital Editions software to transfer your books to your ereader.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Download Adobe Digital Editions to your PC or Mac
  2. Authorise ADE with an Adobe account (on the Mac it’s under the Help menu) – you may need to set one up if you don’t have one
  3. In ADE authorize each device you wish to use (it’s one of the right click menu items)
  4. When you borrow (or in some cases buy) a book it will download an ACSM file which when clicked will open the book in ADE.
  5. Transfer the book via ADE to your device via USB.

Once it’s set up, in future steps 4 and 5 are all that are needed to read the book on your device.

Anyway, when I borrowed the book yesterday, it worked without issue and I was happily reading the book this morning on my Kobo Aura.  Suddenly, my Kobo decided it needed a reset.  Annoying, but no big deal until I realised it had lost the ADE authorisation.  I tried to go through steps 1-3 but got the error E_ACT_TOO_MANY_ACTIVATIONS, meaning that I had too many devices registered under my Adobe ID.  I had forgotten to deauthorise my old ereaders when I rehomed them.

This was the point at which my frustration started.  A quick Google search suggests you need to contact Adobe to resolve this issue.  Most information directs you to this page.  However when you click on Chat now, ADE is not one of the options listed.  Choosing Adobe Reader (which seemed the closest one) tells you politely that it’s a free software and to take a hike and check out the forums.  The forums redirect you to Contact Adobe…

I tried everything I could think of, including deauthorising and reauthorising my Mac (Cmd Shift D) to no avail.  In the end I went into the chat and chose Adobe Services as the option.  Very quickly I got through to an Adobe rep who understood the problem immediately and fixed the issue.  Within a minute or two I had reauthorised my Kobo and as a bonus my Kindle Fire.

As I had reauthorised my Mac I had to repeat steps 4 and 5 again, but I was finally back reading my book.

So dear readers, the moral of this tale is, don’t forget to deauthorise your devices from ADE if you rehome them and don’t wait to contact Adobe to have this issue resolved.

Good luck.

As most of my regular readers will know, I have a tendency to keep up to date with my eReading devices.  I currently use a Kindle Paperwhite second gen, Kindle Fire HDX and a Kobo Aura.  This means that I have a bundle of perfectly good older models just sitting on my bedside table, so it’s time I sold them on to good homes.

I have:

Kindle Paperwhite First Generation WiFi version

Amazon’s first gen eInk eReader with front lighting technology.
Comes with original box and USB cable.
Used, but in excellent condition.

$40

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Kobo Touch WiFi

Original Kobo Touch non front lit device.
No original packing, comes with USB cable
Used but in excellent condition
Lilac backing

$15
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Kobo Glo WiFi front lit reader

Kobo Glo WiFi eReader with comfort light
Comes with original box and USB cable
Comes with grey cover
Used but in excellent condition

$30

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Kindle Touch Wifi Non Frontlit eReader

Amazon’s Kindle Touch non front lit eReader WiFi version
Comes with original box and USB cable
Used, but in excellent condition
Provided: Amazon burgundy leather cover – cover scratched.

$25

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I will be posting these on eBay, Craig’s List and Kijjiji shortly.  However, I’d love to see these go to a reader of my blog. if you are interested, please mail me at evelynne@scottishbookworminquebec.com or leave a comment.   I will throw in a $10 Amazon or Kobo gift card for the first person to purchase one through my blog.

This could be an excellent opportunity to get into eReading or to give that special someone a gift!

Today was release day in Canada for Amazon’s latest tablet, the Kindle HDX and mine was delivered as anticipated.  As always with Amazon, the setup was very easy.  Find and enter my WiFi details and the device recognised me.

It is a lovely device to look at – it is a little more compact than the original Kindle Fire HD which I have. The HD screen is gorgeous.  It has a warmer tone than my the original and text is very crisp and clear.  One thing I noticed which really made me happy is that the earphone jack now is fully compatible with my Apple EarPods so that I can start and stop my audiobooks/immersion reading with those.  The placement of the volume and on/off buttons are different and that did take a bit of finding.  I’m sure I’ll adjust quickly though.

I added the origami cover (in purple for those who are interested.)  While it’s cool looking, I discovered that unless you fold it up even when you’re holding it in your hand, the buttons are all but inaccessible.

I will say that the Fire 3.1 OS did take a little getting used to coming from the original Fire.  It took me a bit of time figuring out where everything was.  The device is very very responsive to the extent that the Silk browser may actually be usable.  I almost never used my original Fire HD to surf the web because it was painfully slow.

It came with the latest updates of Cloud Collections and GoodReads which are both excellent.  Navigating my way around my enormous Kindle library is no longer a chore on the Fire.  I’m still not 100% convinced that they are fully synchronised – I’m pretty sure they don’t match on my Kindle Paperwhite and new Fire HDX.  All in all though it’s a huge improvement in content management.

For those of you with an account on Amazon.ca, MayDay isn’t available.  My account is linked to Amazon.com so I was able to test this out.  It worked pretty much as advertised.

One feature I could not get to work at all was the screen mirroring with the Playstation 3.  I have both but for the life of me I couldn’t get them to pair.  After using MayDay, it appears because my PlayStation is registered in Canada, there is no Amazon Instant Video application available.  So it seems that is yet another feature unavailable to Canadians.

It’s still a very nice device although for Canadians I suspect the more open Nexus 7 may be a better bet.  We certainly don’t get the full value of the Kindle in the way our US cousins do.

Following on from yesterday’s announcement of the latest update to the Kindle Fire HD operating system, Amazon and GoodReads announced an update today to the Kindle Paperwhite second generation software which brings Cloud Collections and GoodReads integration as well as Kindle Freetime.  Both Amazon and GoodReads have posted press releases on the update.  Note that this is only available at this point for the second generation of Kindle Paperwhite released earlier this year.

As with the Kindle Fire update, you can choose to wait until the update is sent to your device automatically, sometime over the next few weeks, or you can go to the update page, download the software and install it manually.  I chose to install manually, and the instructions are very clear and very easy.  It took me all of about 10 minutes to update my device.

GoodReads Integration

This was announced along with the Fires and Paperwhites and was something I was particularly looking forward to.  I’m very active on GoodReads (check out my profile) and was excited about a tighter integration with Amazon.

When you update the software you see the new G GoodReads logo on the top menu and when you click are prompted to connect your accounts.  You then have access to your GoodReads account on your Kindle.

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When you share a selection it is shared to GoodReads too as well as Facebook and/or TwitterScreenshot 2013 11 19T13 37 28 0500

One of the most useful features is the ability to add books purchased from Amazon to GoodReads if you have not already done so

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Unfortunately at this point, the only shelves you can add them to are the Want to Read, Currently Reading and Read shelves.  I hope that integration to your other shelves is provided in the future.

When you finish a book you are invited to rate it on both GoodReads and Amazon.  This is something I’m really happy about – it saves rating the book twice on two different applications.  What I’m not certain about is if this will automatically switch a book from the Currently Reading shelf to the Read shelf.  I have asked GoodReads the question and will keep you posted.

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This is an excellent start to the Amazon/GoodReads integration.  I would like to see it go further with full integration of user-defined shelves to the application.  It will certainly save me some time when I am rating books. What would be even better would be to synchronise your GoodReads shelves with your Cloud Collections.  Whether it’s worth upgrading to the second gen Paperwhite for this update (it’s unclear if this update will come to the original Paperwhite) is probably a matter for personal consideration.

Cloud Collections

I’d not paid much attention to Cloud Collections as I do most of my reading on the Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire.  Until yesterday there was no way of managing your books on the Fire so I was content with the collections on the Kindle Paperwhite.  However when both are synced I can see this being a very powerful tool.  You can see here on this screenshot that the faded grey books are ones that I had put in this collection on another device but had not yet downloaded to this Paperwhite.

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All in all this is a wonderful update to the Kindle Paperwhites, and well worth downloading and installing, especially if you’re active on GoodReads.  If you have just the one Kindle device and are not on GoodReads it’s less exciting.

Are you excited about this update?  Let me know in the comments.

So Amazon has finally released the new Kindle Fire HDXs internationally, including Canada.  It will ship in late November.  While it’s great that we only had to wait a month after our US cousins, I did notice however that one of the major new innovations for the HDX is not available in Canada – there is no mention of the MayDay button…  MayDay is available in the UK.  Presumably the French language requirement is preventing its being available in Canada.

There are still no movies available to Canadians, no Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and no Kindle Freetime, which is now being offered to other international purchasers.  Still at least we Canadians now have the opportunity to check out the device.  I will, of course, report back on it once I receive it.

My Kindle Paperwhite second generation arrived today so I decided to take a moment to share my thoughts.  My initial reaction is that this second generation of Amazon’s popular eInk eReader is more evolutionary than revolutionary.  The improvements to the screen and processor, while noticeable, are not overwhelmingly so.  I, personally, was not particularly bothered by some light shading at the bottom of the screen, but I know that many people are sensitive to this.  That is improved considerably on the second generation of Paperwhite.

Here are some screenshots:

The new Kindle is on the right.  The new version does seem to have a warmer sense about it.

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and with the new Kobo Aura

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The new combined Dictionary/X-Ray/Wikipedia screen seems really useful:

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(Note – the shading at the top of that screenshot is not a faulty screen – it’s decorative shading on the book itself)

Probably the most useful is the new page scrolling function – you can now move about easily within a book with a new navigation tool.  

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The feature that I am most excited about, GoodReads integration, isn’t yet here – it is “coming soon” via software update.  This takes me back a few years when we were all anxiously awaiting the update that brought Collections to our eInk Kindles! I’m curious though.  Amazon’s Paperwhite info page says Cloud Collections is also coming soon – I thought we already had that on the Paperwhites? I wonder if they’re doing something new or if it’s referring to the Kindle Fires.

All in all the new Paperwhite is a very nice device – I’m not 100% certain that it’s worth upgrading from the original Paperwhite, which was already excellent, especially if it also gets a software update to allow GoodReads integration and the other new features.  As a first eReader though, it’s hard to beat.