Kobo brings the Forma form factor to a cheaper model

I’ve long had a soft spot for Kobo for a few reasons. First is the simple fact that the company (now part of Rakuten) was one of the last few competing with Amazon in the e-reader market. Second is features like Pocket integration. Third is the device’s openness to file formats like ePub that don’t require the device to be tied to a single store.
Kobo’s also never been afraid to experiment. Last year’s Forma was the perfect example. A direct shot against Kindle’s high-end Oasis, the reader combined a contoured form factor and physical page-turn buttons with an 8-inch screen. That last bit was probably enough to keep the device firmly in the niche category, even without the $280 price tag.
The new Libra H20 is a far more utilitarian product, applying the Libra’s form factor to a 7-inch screen device that retails for a more reasonable $170. It’s still not


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Kobo debuts Libra H2O e-reader, updates software with more tools for readers

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)
Nearly one year after releasing the Forma e-reader, Kobo returns today with a new slab dubbed the Kobo Libra H2O. The $169 e-reader retains the skeleton of the Forma, but is actually a smaller device. It has a 7-inch, 1680×1264, 300ppi E Ink display, down from the Forma’s 8-inch display, but it has the same side-chin with page-turn buttons. Notably, Kobo moved the power button from the edge of the e-reader to the back of the device, and it’s now a slightly indented circle that’s easy to discern from the device’s slightly textured back.

At 6.7oz, the Libra H2O is also a hair lighter than the Forma, and it comes in both black and white color configurations. In contrast to the Forma, the Libra H2O comes with 8GB of storage (the Forma has 32GB) and it doesn’t use Mobius screen technology, which gives the Forma’s display more durability.


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1556503

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Kobo’s Forma e-reader takes on Kindle Oasis with an asymmetric design and premium price

Kobo’s latest e-reader is a complete about-face from its anonymous, cheap and highly practical Clara HD; the Forma is big, expensive and features a bold — not to say original — design. It’s clearly meant to take on the Kindle Oasis and e-reader fans for whom price is no object.
The $280 Forma joins a number of other e-readers in using a one-handed design, something which is, we might as well admit up front, isn’t for everyone. That said, I’ve found that my reading style on these devices has been able to adapt from one form factor to another — it’s not like they made it head-mountable or something. You still hold it like you would any other small device.
It uses an 8-inch E-Ink Carta display with 300 pixels per inch, which is more than enough for beautiful type. The frontlight — essentially a layer above the display that lights up


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Walmart and Kobo launch Walmart eBooks, an online e-book and audiobook store

In January, Walmart partnered with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten on online grocery in Japan, as well as the sale of audiobooks, e-books, and e-readers in the U.S. Today, Walmart is capitalizing on that relationship with the launch of a full e-book and audiobook catalog on Walmart.com, alongside its assortment of physical books.
The new site, called Walmart eBooks, includes a library of over 6 million titles ranging from NYT best-sellers to indie titles and children’s books.
And similar to Amazon’s Audible, Walmart will also now offer a monthly audiobook subscription service.
However, Walmart is undercutting Amazon on pricing. While Audible subscriptions start at $14.95 per month for one audiobook, Walmart’s subscription is only $9.99 per month for the same.

In addition, Walmart aims to capitalize on its brick-and-mortar stores to help boost Walmart eBooks.
The company says it will sell nearly 40 titles in stores by way of digital books cards. These cards will be


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Kobo’s new entry-level Clara HD e-reader has a crisp, color-adjustable display

Kobo has announced a new e-reader, the Clara HD, which won’t set the world on fire but will be a perfectly good option for e-book readers who don’t want to spend a fortune. It basically revives the well-liked but discontinued Glo HD with a better frontlight and more memory.
The screen is 6 inches and 300 PPI, which is comparable to Amazon’s latest Kindles and high enough that you shouldn’t notice pixelation in the type. More importantly for some, it has the company’s improved frontlight, which can be dialed from the now-familiar cool LED tone to a much, much warmer one. There’s 8 GB of storage inside, more than enough for hundreds of books and comics — but no MicroSD card slot, which some do love to have.
I’ve been using the Clara HD as my daily reader for a week or so and I can vouch for the type quality and


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Calibre 2.65.1 update: Kobo Aura One, Aura Edition 2 now have a driver

Owners of the new water-proof 7.8-inch Aura One from Kobo will be able to download Calibre 2.65.1 and get a driver that recognize their ereaders.
Hooray! Calibre can convert regular ePub to KePub, the tweak which runs more smoothly on Kobo machines than regular ePub.
Of course, I’d rather that this complication not exist.
What’s more, U.S. users can’t legally convert formats of DRMed books since it’s generally against the law to strip DRM. Root for an EFF lawsuit and also oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty extending this outrage to a bunch of countries without it!
Other features of the update
The update will also get Calibre on speaking terms with the six-inch Aura Edition 2. Like the Kobo One, this ereader will hit the stores next month.You can preorder both devices starting August 30.
Before the update takes effect, you need to do your homework within the Device menu at the top of Calibre and


Original URL: https://teleread.org/2016/08/27/calibre-2-65-1-update-kobo-aura-one-aura-edition-2-now-have-a-driver/

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E-reader and tablet prices are getting amazingly low

If you’re looking for a cheap device on which to read those cheap e-books Amazon and others have on sale today, and $50 is still too much for you to pay, Amazon has a couple of used 7” Fire tablets available for about $30 each, with free Prime shipping. One of the least expensive e-readers you can get can now be had for even less. And a used Fire HD 6 can be had for about the same $50 price as a new 7” (or you can get a new one for just $20 more). And those are far from the only used Amazon devices available. (Add $20 to these prices to get rid of Special Offers, of course.) I don’t think these are one-day rates like the e-book listings, but they’re listed under the same “Gold Box deals” section.

When you get right down to it, Amazon has some great used and refurb deals even on its own competitors, such as the Nook Glowlight deal I mentioned yesterday. There are plenty of deals on Kobo readers, too—a $35 used N905, a $34 used Kobo Mini. I suppose it makes sense, since Borders isn’t around to sell them anymore. And I’ve discussed all the cheap non-Fire Android tablets you can find there in another post, though not all of them are necessarily any good.

There are plenty of other sources for cheap tablets, too. Groupon puts the Nexus 7 on sale from time to time. Ebay has some good prices on used kit, though you have to be careful and read the descriptions closely. Surplus and salvage places like GearXS have possible bargains, though they’re another caveat emptor case. Wal-Mart, Fry’s Electronics, Best Buy—there are lots of possibilities.

It honestly amazes me when I look at these prices just how cheap e-reader and tablet technology has gotten in just a few years. Even leaving aside all the off-brand and competitor stuff available, a $30 used Fire tablet might not be much of a tablet compared to more expensive Android devices, especially when you take into account the annoying restrictions on what software you can run. But it’s still a major-brand-name product that I’ve found to be pretty reliable.

It can still access the Internet, send or receive email, socially network, and so on. And, of course, it can read plenty of e-books and other material. (More so if you finagle the Google Play applications onto it.) Is an end to the digital divide just around the corner?

The post E-reader and tablet prices are getting amazingly low appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.


Original URL: http://www.teleread.com/e-reader-and-tablet-prices-are-getting-amazingly-low/

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What can you do with a first-gen iPad?

ipad-requires

It’s tempting to scan that question to the sea chanty “What can you do with a drunken sailor?” When you get right down to it, a first-gen iPad is just about as useful as a drunken sailor.

I actually happen to have a first-gen iPad myself—sent to me in April, 2010, by NAPCO, shortly after they bought TeleRead. I’m just a couple weeks away from my six-year anniversary with the device, in fact.

Though I haven’t used the tablet regularly in a while, Nate Hoffelder reminded me of it the other day. He called my attention to a Washington Post story on the problems the government’s new Open eBooks program is running into in poorer school districts:

When librarian Jennifer Nelson arrives at the tiny library at Crewe Primary School each morning, she is confronted with a cart of first-generation iPads. The detritus of attempts to infuse technology into one of the poorest and most rural schools in Virginia, the tablets are hopelessly obsolete, worth little more than the cart on which they reside.

Is it really as bad as all that? I dug up my old iPad, plugged it in, and took another look.

By today’s standards, the first-generation iPad seems ridiculously clunky. That big old brushed-aluminum case is pretty heavy by comparison to the models that came after, but at the time there wasn’t anything like it to compare it to.

ibooks-fiveIt’s funny to consider in this era of cheap and plentiful Android tablets, but at the time this iPad came out, there wasn’t anything else in its league. Tablet-makers had tried for years to cram Windows, Linux, or whatever else they could fit into a tablet form factor, but the iPad was the first ever tablet that was actually any good. It was also the impetus for Apple and the Agency Five publishers to illegally impose agency pricing on Amazon—and, Steve Jobs expected, the key to a new Apple-driven domination of the e-book market.

I will admit, iBooks was one of the best EPUB readers I had ever used at the time, and it’s still pretty darned good by my lights. But Apple never did anything more with e-books than put a store of its own out there for iOS devices. It never pressed its advantage, nor did it even try to expand to other platforms. By now, in the aftermath of the Supreme Court declining to hear Apple’s appeal, the idea of Apple dominating the e-book market with this expensive tablet seems ridiculously quaint.

nook-dilemmaSix years on, the iPad still works. It has a decent display (though nothing on the order of Apple’s later Retina models) and it can still run apps and show videos. The fundamental problem with it is Apple’s usual planned obsolescence. The first-generation iPad never got any version of iOS later than iOS 6, whereas Apple’s current devices are up to iOS 9.

As I understand it, the iOS app development process is not built with backward compatibility in mind. Apple requires new apps to be submitted using the latest version of the iOS software development kit, which will only make apps compatible with current versions of iOS.

However, Apple did come out with a feature that lets devices running iOS 4 or later download the most recent compatible version of a given app. So, my first-gen iPad isn’t necessarily as useful as a more recent tablet, but it’s not entirely useless. It’s got a sort of zombie-like undead quality to it.

imageI can go to the iOS app store and download the most recent compatible version of any app that’s been around for a long time—e-reader apps like iBooks, Kindle, Nook, Kobo; social network apps like Facebook and Twitter, and so on.

The apps seem to work all right, for the most part. The Facebook app doesn’t have Facebook’s new emoticon reaction feature, but it still displays current Facebook posts just fine apart from that.

kindle-ipadAs for e-readers, I tested both Kindle and Nook, downloading e-books from my online libraries. The Kindle app doesn’t have the Bookerly font, but Georgia looks just fine and is perfectly readable. It doesn’t have X-Ray, either, but then, what do you really need that for anyway if you’re just interested in reading?

ibooks-mozartI checked out iBooks, too. It still reads sideloaded EPUBs as well as ever, and it will even download some of the fancy multimedia e-books from the iBooks store—the Beatles Yellow Submarine book, or that Mozart e-book I mentioned in December.

But that only goes so far. For apps that don’t have versions that old, such as Google Hangouts—or, apropos of that Washington post article, Open eBooks—you’re effectively out of luck. Likewise, if the cloud backend for the old app has changed enough that the old app no longer talks to the online version of the new app, you’re out of luck.

As far as I know there’s no way any new apps could be developed for an older version of iOS—as I already mentioned, they have to be developed using the latest SDK, which isn’t backward compatible. Hence, there will never be a version of Open eBooks that runs on iOS 6, so librarian Jennifer Nelson is out of luck in that respect.

But with as many older e-reading apps as still do work with it, she could find other uses for them. iBooks could still open EPUBs from Project Gutenberg, the Baen Free Library, or other free sources. The web browser could still access cloud-based resources like Wikipedia. They aren’t completely useless; they’d be a lot better than nothing, used properly.

And one aspect of the digital divide that Washington Post article didn’t mention is that, thanks to Android, there are now a lot of cheap device options for Open eBooks out there. As I mentioned earlier this month:

Speaking of cheap hardware, the Open eBooks app will absolutely install and run on both my $10 LG Sunrise Tracfone (no longer available for $10, unfortunately, though the Straight Talk variant of it is currently $20 on Walmart.com) and the $40 RCA Voyager II tablet. The Open eBooks app isn’t available on the Amazon Fire store, but I just checked my $50 Fire that I’d patched to include the Google Play store and it didn’t object to installing the app either. Of course, I can’t get any use out of the app without an access code, but it’s gratifying to know it would run on one of these cheap devices for kids who had one.

Open eBooks will run on devices that cost a tenth or even a fiftieth as much as a new iPad. They may not be very fancy or look very great, but they’ll absolutely work. Perhaps these low-income schools should look into ways of obtaining some inexpensive tablets and phones for such a use. They could apply for grants, run fund drives, ask for donations, and so on. Even a small amount of money would be sufficient to obtain a good number of cheap devices.

The post What can you do with a first-gen iPad? appeared first on TeleRead News: E-books, publishing, tech and beyond.


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