Tag Archives: review

Ebook news digest: blockchain for publishing, pirate site for academics, the fear of second book

2017-08-13

News on ebooks, writing and photography

digital nomad's office on an outdoor terrace in Italy
Jenni L. Walsh’s Three Tips for Book Two
The Debutante Ball

I think many authors are making a big deal out of the difficulty of writing your second book. It can be a little scary, because now you know how much work it requires, but on the other hand, you also know how to do it. My opinion is that the second book is easier than the first. In any case, the article has good tips for overcoming the fear of the second book.

The Internet Made Information Free: Now It Has Come For Academic Research
Forbes

A pirate site for academic literature, Sci-hub, just may be the force of change for the traditional business models in academic publishing.

Traditional or indie? Hybrid author Nick Spalding looks at publishing from both sides
Publishing Talk

A successful author shares a few tips how he made it. Spalding says he never gives away his books for free, which is contrary to the common mantra that authors should give their books away for free in order to sell their other books.

Blockchain and digital publishing – The disruption has begun
Ryan Jorgensen

A view how the blockchain technology used in cryptocurrencies could affect the distribution of digital media products, such as ebooks.

5 Tips for Better Travel Photography
Digital Photography School

When a photographer shares tips for travel photography, the images shared with the article should be really, really good. In this article, they are.

5 Cities Where Remote Work is On the Rise
Workfrom

I would choose number 3 or 4 for my next destination out of these 5 cities, and avoid number 1. Every time I read a story where someone is praising Bali as a paradise, I think he or she has never even visited the island.

The Future of Peer Review
Scientific American

The author of the article suggests a formal process, tools, registers and rewards for ensuring the tradition of peer reviews of scientific and other documents continues.

Free download: Traveling in Scandinavia
Klaava Travel Guide

Tips for understanding Finland, Norway and Sweden, and for planning a trip to this large region in North Europe.

“A thesis is written for examiners, an academic book for scholars in general” – the basics of writing a book from your PhD
LSE Impact Blog

In other words, repurposing content.

The best smartphone for travel photography

2017-05-27

Smartphones, especially high-end models, come with so good cameras that even some professional photographers admit they use camera phones for photography. It is, after all, the one camera that is always with you when traveling, commuting or visiting friends. Different phone manufacturers use different camera components, and most importantly, different software algorithms that create an image from the captured bits of light. So, there are differences, but which smartphone camera is the best?
Google Pixel XL smartphone
Android Authority ran a test for high-end smartphones in order to find out the best camera. This time, they did not ask the experts, or measure the various aspects of digital images, but they asked the public. Anyone could vote for the pictures taken on each camera. The pictures can still be viewed on this web page.

The pictures of a camera that received the most votes was the winner. If professional photographers and camera experts had evaluated the sample images and chosen the best camera, the results would have been different. The public and the experts simply look for different things in images.

I remember when Sony was the number one television manufacturer in the era of CRT tubes, and everyone competed against Sony telling how natural the colors on their TV sets were. Many tests were organized where the public could choose the TV set whose colors they liked the best. Usually, the TV set with the brightest colors won. Having the brightest colors doesn’t have anything to do with image quality, but if that is what the public wants, that is what the public will get.

Anyhow, this is a refreshing way to rank cameras. High-end LG and Samsung camera phones have done well in all types of tests, and this test confirms it hasn’t been for nothing. The Apple iPhone didn’t participate in the test because it was meant for Android phones alone.

The results – the best smartphone camera is:

1. The winner was Google Pixel XL
2. Samsung Galaxy S8
3. LG G6
4. Sony Xpera Xzs
5. OnePlus 3T
6. Huawei P10

Google Pixel XL smartphone by HTC
View the test images and detailed results on the test page.

It would have been wonderful to have Nokia in this camera test as well. Recently, the company has introduced Android phones, and it had the best cameras when it was still the king of mobile phones in the 2000s.

Review: Low-cost, high value 10-inch tablet from Acer

2015-12-08

Many ebook lovers like to read on a 7-inch tablet because the device is compact and light. That is true, but the compact size is not a perfect solution for many other applications. We have always liked the reading experience on a 9.7-inch Apple iPad. Additional reason for using the iPad is that it can be used as a productivity tool as well. Would it be possible to replace the iPad with a low-cost 10-inch tablet that could be used for reading books, following news, watching TV series, for email and for writing? We tested the Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet.
acer b3-a20 tablet, watching youtube video
The Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet has a 10.1 inch display. The screen resolution is 1280 x 800 pixels. The resolution is at the low end in the 10 inch tablet category, but the display is really readable and sharp. We didn’t detect any jaggedness or blurriness with books, videos, photos or news sites. Our benchmark tablet was a retina-display Apple iPad.
acer b3-a20 tablet, ebook reader
The form factor of the Acer B3-A20 tablet resembles a wide-screen tv, as opposed to the iPad’s ordinary 4:3 screen ratio. There are a couple of benefits in the Acer’s wide-screen solution:
1) In landscape mode, all web pages display properly. There is enough width on the screen for the whole page. Some ebook reading apps can display two pages at a time when in landscape mode.
2) In portrait mode, some applications like Twitter work better than in landscape. This is also true for some apps that originally were designed for smartphones, but run nicely on the tablet in portrait mode as well.

We have been using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad, and the same hardware keyboard worked with the Acer tablet right away. Bluetooth has to be switched on in Android settings and hardware keyboard with the correct language must be specified and that is it.

The Acer B3-A20 comes with 1GB of RAM memory which is enough, for instance, for running two web browsers, Twitter and a notepad application. The system resources monitoring application has a low threshold for warning of low memory. If you know what you are doing, you may ignore the warnings or you can install an app that helps you closely monitor and clean unnecessary apps. Android Assistant is one such application that lets you clean memory from applications that reserve RAM memory and also clean data and cache files from storage (flash memory).

GPS and memory card slot are normal features on Android tablets and smartphones, but not on all Apple devices. GPS lets you navigate using Google Maps or any other map application you may download from the Play Store. If you take the tablet along on the road, you can also use GPS for recording your travel route.

acer b3-a20 tablet, microsd memory card slot

Acer B3-A20 tablet, microSD memory card slot.


Memory card slot on a tablet is a truly valuable feature. It can be used as storage space for data and for installing applications that take a lot of space. Not all applications can be installed on a memory card, but large apps, like web browsers (e.g. Opera, Firefox) can run from a memory card. Another nice thing is that you can take a memory card from your camera or phone and insert the card into the tablet and view photos on a large screen.

Few people buy a tablet because of its camera. The five megapixel camera on the Acer B3-A20 captures ordinary images, but we don’t believe anyone will be using it as their primary camera.

The performance of the B3-A20 tablet was fine. Videos, photo galleries, large PDF documents, cloud services (like Dropbox), ebooks, maps, writing all work smoothly. We didn’t experience any hick-ups.

The tablet runs on the latest version of Android (5.1) which is important for application compatibility that you may download in the coming months and years. As such, Android 5.1 doesn’t provide new exciting features if it is compared to Android 4. A dedicated soft key for multitasking and greatly improved alerts at the top bar are the most visible and useful improvements.
acer b3-a20 tablet with Bluetooth keyboard

Conclusion

The Acer Iconia One 10 B3-A20 tablet fulfilled all our requirements for reading books, for news, for entertainment and for productivity, even for writing.

The tablet feels nice when you hold it (because of the surface on the backside), but it also feels like you want to hold it very carefully so that it doesn’t break. It is not a solid piece of engineering like high-priced tablets that may have metal cases. Another negative feature is the small amount of RAM memory. The built-in system health monitor app regularly warns of low memory.

Nonetheless, the tablet does what it is supposed to do, comes with a decent display, has a good battery life, and has valuable features that, for instance, the Apple iPad doesn’t have (memory card and GPS).

At the moment, when the Acer B3-A20 is priced at 150 dollars/euros, it provides very good value for the money.

Acer Iconia Tab 10 B3-A20 key features and technical specifications

– Screen size 10.1 inches
– Screen type active matrix TFT Color LCD, LED backlight, multi-touch
– Screen resolution 1280 x 800 pixels
– Android 5.1 operating system
– Back camera 5 megapixels, full HD (1080) video capture
– Front camera 2 megapixels, 720 video recording
– GPS
– Processor MediaTek Cortex A53 MT8163, 1.30 GHz, Quad-core
– RAM memory 1 GB
– Built-in flash memory 16 GB
– microSD memory card slot
– Wireless LAN Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
– USB-port, micro-USB 2.0 type B
– Bluetooth 4.0
– Microphone
– Stereo loudspeakers
– Headphone jack
– Battery Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), capacity 6100 mAh
– Maximum video watching 10 hours per charge
– Dimensions: thickness 0.4″ (9.5 mm) x height 6.6″ (168mm) x width 10.2″ (259mm)
– Weight 1.21 lb / 550 gr.

acer b3-a20 comparison with Apple ipad

Acer B3-A20 on the left, Apple iPad on the right.

Review: the best drones for travel video

2015-11-12

Drones are one of the hottest product categories in photography and video recording at the moment. As consumer products, drones are still a new gadget category that is going through an extensive technology development phase. Two major technologies require development: image quality and ease of steering. Are any of the most popular drone brands ready for the big time? Here is a review.

Le Monde picked up four popular consumer drones that are available in the US, Europe and in other regions: 3DR Solo with GoPro camera, DJI Phantom 3 Standard, Parrot Bepop and Xiro Xplorer Vision.

dji phantom 3 drone

DJI Phantom 3


Le Monde tested the drones for steering, reliability and safety, quality of images, stability of images, automatic flying capabilities, flying indoors, ease of use and price. After tallying up the scores for the tests, the winner drone was DJI. Based on technical features and usability, here are the best drones:

1. DJI Phantom 3 Standard, score 79 (price in Euros 820)
2. 3DR Solo with GoPro camera, 75 (price 2200)
3. Xiro Xplorer Vision, 74 (price 1000)
4. Parrot Bepop, 63 (price 460)

What is the best drone for shooting travel video?

It is not necessarily the same one that won the test because other factors come into play. When we travel, we have to make choices what we can take with us. It doesn’t matter if we fly, travel by train, by car, by motorcycle or by bicycle, the space for clothes, supplies and electronics is always limited.

The size and the shape of the drone is a key factor for determining if it can be taken along for a trip. DJI Phantom, for instance, is relatively large and shaped in a way that makes it very difficult to pack it in a backpack or in any kind of bag. The dimensions of the DJI Phantom are 18 x 13 x 8 inches / 46 x 33 x 20 cm.

parrot bepop drone, blue

Parrot Bepop


Parrot Bepop, on the other hand, is relatively small and it has a low profile which makes it easy to carry along in a bag. Additionally, the drone is designed to be disassembled for transportation. Its dimensions are 28 x 32 x 3.6 cm without the hull and 33 x 38 x 3.6 cm with the hull.

Parrot Bepop can be complemented with an app titled Flight Plan that runs on smartphones and tablets. The application lets you create a route that drone must fly and camera angles that it must use to take still images and shoot video.

View sample videos for each drone and plenty of useful details (in French) at Le Monde.