Tag Archives: tablet

Is the Sony DPT-CP1 ereader/writing tablet a tool for writers?

2018-04-23

People who read a lot tend to find ereader devices useful because the screen is visible even in sunlight and it doesn’t flicker. Writers have to read plenty of books and other texts. If an ereader existed that would allow using it for writing as well, wouldn’t it be a perfect tool for writers? Let’s see – Sony has introduced a device labeled DPT-CP1 that does exactly that.
Sony DPT-CP1 e-reader / writing tablet
Two key features make the Sony DPT-CP1 different from other ereader devices: it has a large 10.3-inch screen and it is possible to write and draw directly on the display using an included stylus. Well, there is a third factor that makes it different: the device can only open PDF documents.

How could writers make their works easier with a device like this? Nothing beats a keyboard when writing, but during the research phase of a project, Sony’s device could help.

My experience is that research activities produce documents that are saved on a computer’s hard drive, handwritten notes, photos, audio files, email messages, paper documents, and books. If I would use some time to convert all those text-based documents into PDF files, and transfer them to the Sony DPT-CP1, I would have a beautiful research library in one place. Then, reading and annotating the documents would be easy.
writing with stylus on Sony DPT-CP1 ereader
Sony has positioned the DPT-CP1 as an office device for professionals who can carry stacks of documents along in the device instead of carrying physical papers in a briefcase.

Other products that have been designed to be used in a similar way – reading and annotating documents – are the Sony DPT-RP1, Remarkable paper tablet, Onyx Boox Max 2 and Onyx Boox 96.
Sony DPT-CP1 as a large screen ereader (10.3 inches)

Sony DPT-CP1 key features and specifications

– 10.3 inch grey-scale screen. Touch sensitive (capacitive).
– Stylus for handwriting or drawing directly on the screen.
– Screen resolution 1404×1872, 227 dots per inch (DPI)
– Wi-Fi
– Bluetooth
– NFC
– Marvell(R)IAP140 64-bit Quad-core IoT Applications Processor
– Storage space 16GB
– USB port.
– Opens PDF documents only.
– Digital paper application for Windows, Macos, Android and iOS.
– Dimensions 174.2 × 243.5 × 5.9 mm
– Weight 240 gr.

The Sony DPT-CP1 ereader/writing tablet is available in Japan in June 2018, and after that it is expected to ship to other markets. The price in Japan is about USD 650.
Sony DPT CP1 for reading and annotating PDF documents

Publishing year 2017 in review: trends, analysis, developments

2017-12-16

It is not business as usual in the world of digital media. Ebooks and other digital media content products are still taking their first steps in the global and local markets. Many things in book business and digital technology changed in 2017 and will change in the coming years. It is only 10 years since the launch of Amazon Kindle, but 500 years from Gutenberg’s invention.

Book as a concept has proven it has its place – independent of the format. Year 2017 didn’t challenge that, although new ways of enjoying a book became more popular. The following key development points in publishing are reviewed primarily from the digital side of book publishing.

a speaker and audience at Frankfurt book fair

Ebook markets continue to grow

One publishing industry expert claims that the ebook market is shrinking, whereas another expert says it is growing. Both experts can be right when they only look at their own data sources. Big US publishers have lost ebook market share to small publishers and self-publishers. No one knows the actual sales numbers of indie publishers and self-publishers, but one can always estimate, and it looks like a large, growing market that is eating market share from big publishers.

Data collected from other than English-language markets indicate a healthy and innovative digital market development, for instance, in Continental Europe, Spanish-language markets and China. Even France is accepting ebooks and ereaders.

Audiobook is the fastest growing format

Book lovers in English-speaking markets are familiar with Audible audiobooks, but in many others parts of the world, Swedish startup Storytel is the reason for rapid growth of audiobooks. Storytel has been so successful that it has acquired traditional books publishers in order to secure rights for as many books as possible.

A key development that will have an effect on audiobook market is computer applications that can read aloud texts. They may be individual applications running on a tablet or smartphone, or voice assistants, like Alexa or Siri. The technology is pretty good already, and as it develops, it may lower product prices.

Attempts to automate writing may be more common than we are aware of

For years, we have heard of projects that have tried to automate the reporting of sports results and simple news reports. Meanwhile, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) software has reached a level where it can be applied to simple writing tasks. The Washington Post is already using a robot writer, and clever programmers have created an algorithm that can imitate Harry Potter fiction.

Should a writer be worried? No. Someone must produce the source material for writing robots and review their output, among other things.

Ereaders are still here and still wanted by avid readers

I am the first one to admit that I expected tablets and large screen smartphones (phablets) to replace ereaders as ebook reading devices, but it hasn’t happened. In some markets, like the US and the UK, people who want an ereader already have one or two, and the market is saturated. In many other large markets, such as Germany, France, Spain and China, the market for ereaders is growing because the market for ebooks is still growing.

A key development during 2017 was the emergence of large screen ereaders. Devices from 7 to 13 inches are now available. Some of these have a stylus for making it easy to jot down notes on documents and books. A development path from one purpose device (reading ebooks) to a device that is designed for working with documents maybe going on.

Reading has moved to mobile devices

An ereader and a tablet is a mobile device, but the big hype of recent years has been reading on smartphone screens. Wattpad, a reading and writing community of young generations, says about 90% of its users read on mobile devices.

Digital reading is most popular from 5-inch smartphone screens to 10 tablet screens. It means that fixed layout ebooks still face challenges that reflowing ebooks can manage.

EPUB3 didn’t take off (and probably won’t next year, either)

Two ebook formats dominate the digital book markets: Amazon’s proprietary Kindle format and the industry standard EPUB. The advanced, multimedia-enabled EPUB3 ebook format was announced years ago, but is hasn’t made a commercial breakthrough. In February 2017, the organization behind EPUB, IDPF (International Digital Publishing Forum), was merged into the W3C (the organization that sets the standards for the World Wide Web). New working groups, committees and strategies have been formed, and the result is that a high level agreement for the next standard EPUB4 is in the works. EPUB4 is defined as a subset of Portal Web Publication that merges HTML and EPUB.

The euphoria of self-publishing is settling down

In large English-language markets, a small number of self-publishers have made it big. Their books have been produced into successful Hollywood movies and publishers are competing for their next manuscripts. The laws of economics haven’t changed, however, as indie authors are discovering that it is just as difficult to write a bestseller as it was before. Interest in self-publishing may be settling down in the US, but in many other large markets, such as Spanish-speaking countries, Continental Europe or in China, self-publishing is only beginning to take off.

Newspapers and magazines that have reinvented themselves are making it

Attempts to turn a newspaper or magazine web site visitors into subscribers who pay for the digital content on a web site have largely failed. Only a few strongest brands have become successful when they have started to charge readers for digital content. Newspapers and magazines, like The New York Times and The Economist deliver so much value to readers that visitors are willing to pay for news stories, and especially, long reports, analysis and background stories of major events. Some other publications have discovered their own strategies for thriving in the digital era while maintaining their valuable printed heritage.

Amazon managed to make the low-cost 10-inch Fire tablet just right

2017-09-25

For quite some time, the price range of 150-199 has been the level where it is possible to find 10-inch tablets from major manufacturers. Since it is the lowest price point for 10-inch devices, tablets often lack features or have too restricted resources. Amazon, however, has managed to create a 10-inch tablet that has every key feature in place at $149 price point.

Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet
The Fire HD 10 tablet, its October 2017 edition, is an improved, upgraded version of earlier models. This one is a complete product that makes you wonder why pay more for an Android tablet or even more for an Apple iPad?

The bottleneck of low-cost tablets (and phones) is often too small RAM memory size, very limited storage space, low-resolution screen, and so-so camera. The Fire HD10 avoids these problems and still manages to keep the price low.

The Fire HD 10 comes with 2 GB of RAM memory which is fine for Android based devices. Also the amount of storage space 32 GB is sufficient. The 10.1-inch display has high resolution 1920 x 1200 pixels which makes dot density of 224 ppi. It is a nice display for reading ebooks, and of course, for watching movies and tv shows. The cameras on the Fire HD 10 are something that you can forget about, and take photos with your smartphone instead.
ebook reading on Fire HD 10 tablet
For ebooks, the Fire comes with Blue Shade feature in its reading app. It can automatically adjust and optimize the backlight for comfortable nighttime reading moments.

Alexa voice control system, the brain behind Echo, is a new feature on Fire tablets. You can use your voice to give commands to the tablet. For instance, you can tell Alexa play a video, music, or an audiobooks. It is also possible to ask Alexa questions, see your calendar, get news, and view sports scores. The hands-free mode lets you wake up the tablet (and Alexa) even when the screen is asleep.

Fire HD 10 October 2017 model specifications

Alexa on Fire HD 10 tablet

Display 10.1 inches.
Display resolution 1920 x 1200 (224 ppi).
Processor: Quad-core up to 1.8 GHz.
2GB of RAM.
0.3 megapixel front-facing camera, 2 megapixel rear-facing camera with 720p HD video recording.
Dual-band a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.
Location based services via Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth. A2DP compatible stereo headphones can be wirelessly connected.
Storage: 32 or 64 GB (expandable up to 256 GB) + unlimited cloud storage for Amazon content.
MicroSD memory card slot.
Micro B USB port.
Dolby Atmos audio technology, Dual stereo speakers.
3.5 mm stereo headphone jack.
Built-in microphone.
Voice control: Alexa can be used in hands-free mode.
Colors: Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red.
1-year limited warranty.
Weight 17.7 oz (500 grams).
Dimensions 10.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches (262 x 159 x 9.8mm).
Battery life: up to 10 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.

Let your iPhone or Android phone or tablet read that ebook aloud to you

2017-09-20

Listening to a book while doing something else is a fun and useful way to enjoy a good story or learn from a nonfiction book. Audible and other stores let you purchase audiobooks that have been narrated by professionals, often actors. Most book lovers already have a selection of ebooks, and it is not very tempting to re-purchase them as audiobooks. Here is how you can make your mobile device (iPhone or Android) read an ebook to you for free.

Android smartphone or tablet

Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio

For Samsung, LG, Nokia, and all other smartphones and tablets that are powered by the Android software, there are many voice reader apps available at the Google Play Store. At the store, you may search, for instance, “voice reader” or “text to speech” for applications to download.

I have been using @Voice Aloud Reader on my Android tablet and phone. The way it works is that you specify the folders where you have your ebooks or any other texts stored. The app can also automatically scan the folders for ebooks.

Open the app, browse the ebooks and documents that are available for reading aloud. Choose anyone, and the app will read it to you. Play controls are available at the bottom of the screen.
Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio
For EPUB ebooks, Voice Aloud Reader works really well. You can view the table of contents, jump to a chapter you want and the app will read it to you.

The app doesn’t come with its own voices, but it relies on voices that come with Android. It is possible to download additional voices from the Play Store as well.

The free version displays ads that can be removed by paying for an upgrade.

Apple iPhone and iPad

The app that can read text aloud to you is already on your iPhone and iPad. You just have to find it – it is well hidden into the iOS operating system’s menu system.

1. Open Settings.
Select General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle on Speak Screen.

2. Open the ebook you want your iPhone or iPad read to you.

3. Swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.
It will take a moment before the audio starts, and a pop up window with buttons to control playback appears.

4. Change the reader’s voice.
Go back to Settings – Accessibility – Speech section, and open Voice. You will get choices for voices that read to you.

The feature works best with the iBooks application, but it works on any screen where you have texts. Just swipe down with two fingers. So, you can use it in the Kindle app and in the web browser, but it may read some irrelevant text, too.

This is a travel writer’s most important tool on the road

2017-06-13

When any professional, for instance, a digital nomad or a remote worker, who is working while traveling, packs for the next assignment or destination, there is always the question if something could be dropped from the travel kit. The number of electronic devices seems to be gradually growing in my travel bag, at least. Which tools are the essential ones to get the job done, if the assignment is to write on the road?
digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia

Here is the set of key tools for a travel writer according to my experience.

Maps.

Both digital and paper maps are crucial for planning. For navigation on the road I use offline digital maps, but I have good printed map books as a backup.

Laptop.

Most writers type their manuscripts on laptops, and so do I. Nonetheless, it is quite amazing how little laptops have developed if you compare them to tablets and smartphones that have gone so far in such a short time. Where is the touch screen in laptops? Decent battery life? Protective cases for taking them on the road?

Smartphone.

The ultimate communication tool for keeping in touch with collaborators or calling tourist information offices of the world. The camera on the phone is also a very useful and important tool for a writer.

Tablet.

I use tablet a lot for planning (maps, distances between distances, routing) and researching background information on destinations. On the road, it is the in-car navigation device instead of the dashboard GPS. Tablet is probably the first tool that many other travelers drop from their toolset, but in the future, I may even choose tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop.

prepaid SIM cards for internet access
Local prepaid SIM card.

Some travelers rely on Wi-Fi hotspots to get online, but the best way to have Internet access when you need it is to buy a local prepaid SIM card with data plan. Insert the SIM card to your smartphone, 3G/4G Wi-Fi router, tablet or laptop.

Backup disk.

The next backup disk I am going to get is a portable, wireless SSD disk. In the office, I can continue using USB hard drives that can store terabytes worth of data.

Camera.

I write and take photos for books, but even if you wouldn’t take pictures to be published in an upcoming book, camera is a vital tool for a writer. Photographs have many functions: they show how a place looks like, they help a writer to remember details of a place, and they can document objects.

I just realized that paper and pen are not included in the list of key tools. It is very rare that I use the trusted and reliable note taking technology, but occasionally I do. Pen and paper are usually somewhere near to make notes, for instance, during a phone conversation, but they are not vital tools anymore. Another thing I realized is that occasionally I need help. Hubstaff Talent is a service for finding remote talent.

mirrorless SLR digital camera with zoom lens
If I had to choose only one tool from the list above, which one would be the most important for a travel writer? Camera.

Yes, a camera. I am slightly surprised by my choice, but if I had to select only one thing I can take along for the next trip, it would be a camera. By taking a photo, I can document details of things I would have to write down. Overview photos of landscapes and city streets help me remember how a place really was. I can quickly document information boards that highlight the key points of a sight or a protected park. Video clips of local markets, main squares and pedestrian districts remind me of the buzz and feel of the place. A camera is also a handy note taking aid: I can record a video clip with a note to myself. If it is my job to take the photos for a book or an article, those images have to be taken as well.

Naturally, when the time comes to start actually writing, a camera won’t help anymore. But the photos and videos will.

What is the difference between the Kindle ereader and Fire tablet if I want to read ebooks?

2017-05-18

The Amazon Kindle ereading device and the Fire tablet have been designed for different tasks. Nonetheless, there is one application in both products that lets users to do exactly the same thing: read ebooks. If reading ebooks is the most important task you are going to do on your device, here are a few tips for choosing the right product.
amazon fire hd 8, 3 tablet colors
In June 2017, Amazon starts deliveries of new improved versions of two popular tablets: the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8. Since they are priced very competitively at $49 (7 inch model) and $79 (8 inch model), and both can be used for ereading, the question is: should I purchase the Fire or the Kindle for reading books?
Amazon KIndle Oasis
Lets forget about the price for a moment and study the three key differences between the Fire tablets and Kindle ereaders.

1. Display.
The display on an ereader is designed to resemble paper and ink. It is black and white only and can’t display moving images. The amazing thing is that the E ink display commonly used in ereaders is actually better than paper and ink. For instance, in sunlight, it is difficult to read a book printed on white paper, but ereader screen is fine even in direct sunlight. You can change the text size on an ereader, but not on paper. A typical display size on an ereader is 6 inches. A tablet display has colors and it can show videos, but in sunlight there is not much hope. Common display sizes in tablets are 7, 8 or 10 inches.

2. Multipurpose product vs. single-use product.
You can only read on an ereader – and listen to music or audiobooks, but the whole purpose of an ereader is to give the best possible reading experience, nothing else. A tablet is a multipurpose computer that can be used for almost the same tasks as a laptop. If you will be using your device only at home, think of the way you are going to use it, and choose accordingly. If you will take the device along for your travels, which one is more useful for you: single-use or multipurpose product?

3. Battery life.
Typically, battery life of an ereader is weeks rather than days. A tablet has consumed the energy stored in its battery in a couple of days. Both times of course heavily depend on the way the devices are used. Both can be recharged via USB from a laptop, wall socket, or from a portable power bank.

Now, let’s consider the price. At the moment, Amazon has priced the products as follows.

The Kindle ereaders start from $79 and up to $300. All models have 6-inch black and white screen designed for reading.
The Fire tablets start from $49 and go up to around $100 depending on the configuration. You may choose between a 7-inch and 8-inch color display. If you are interested in differences between the Fire tablet models, here is a page that lays out all the details.

Don’t forget that the Kindle is not the only ereader in the market. For instance, Kobo ereaders are used across the world by book lovers who shop in other stores than Amazon, and read EPUB-formatted ebooks.

In addition, if you already have a tablet or smartphone, you can try how reading ebooks feels on it by downloading the Kindle reading app on your device. Simply search for the Kindle app from the application store.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, 2017 model

Key features and technical information for the Fire HD 8 tablet

– 8-inch touch screen, 1280 x 800 resolution at 189 ppi.
– HD video playback.
– CPU & RAM Quad-Core: 1.3 GHz , with 1.5 GB of RAM
– 16 GB (11.1 GB available to user) or 32 GB (25.3 GB available to user) of internal storage.
– Battery life up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.
– Battery charge time under 6 hours using the micro-USB power adapter included in the box.
– Wi-Fi Connectivity.
– USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to a computer, or to charge your device with the included power adapter.
– microSD slot for additional storage space.
– Compatible with content formats: Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, and many video formats.
– 640×480 pixels front-facing camera. 2.0 megapixel rear-facing camera
– Location-based services via Wi-Fi
– Colors: Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red, Canary Yellow
– External volume controls.
– Bluetooth, A2DP compatible for stereo headphones.
– Speakers
– Microphone.
– Size: 8.4″ x 5.0″ x 0.4″ (214 mm x 128 mm x 9.7 mm)
– Weight : 13.0 ounces (369 grams)

Travel photography application shows where to take that perfect tourist postcard picture

2017-01-11

Accidental travel photographers tend to take photos at the same places where everyone else is taking pictures. If you want your travel pictures to look better than 99% of all photos taken in that same spot, you may want a little help from an expert. The travel photography expert is called Snapfindr, an app that runs on your smartphone or tablet.
snapfindr app screen shot
Snapfindr is a free application that shows you the exact locations of major sights in the most popular travel destinations where to take that perfect postcard image. At the moment, the application covers the top sights of Barcelona, London, New York, Paris, Prague, and Sydney.

Let’s say you are exploring Paris. You find the famous Notre Dame cathedral, and want to take a memorable photograph of the place. Snapfindr shows you exactly where to stand and which direction to point your camera. If you have a camera where you can adjust the settings, the application gives you tips on them as well. Notre Dame is only one of the locations in Paris the app covers. You can navigate from destination to destination using an online map or embedded sample images.

All right, that is what Snapfindr can do. Then, there is only a question of how and for what you use it for. Maybe you don’t want to take the same images as everyone else is taking during sightseeing tours. Perhaps there are even better ways to use Snapfindr?

One of the best use cases for this application is learning travel photography. The persons who have taken the images included in the app and written the notes for camera settings and related remarks are very skilled photographers. Anyone who wants to learn the first steps in classic travel photography can get many valuable lessons in Snapfindr:

– How to position yourself and your camera.
– How to frame the subject.
– Timing: what is the time of the day when you get the most spectacular images.
– Camera settings for that perfect picture.

Snapfindr even features sample images taken on the spot for you to compare your snapshot with the teacher’s mastershot.

For more travel photography, take a look at our writers’ galleries.

Snapfindr screen shots:
screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

Amazon Kindle Oasis reassures ebook lovers that ereaders are here to stay

2016-04-16

Many people don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) how much the original Kindle ereader cost when it was introduced in 2007. It was priced at $400 (and strangely, it had a keypad). Nonetheless, it was popular because Amazon had created a perfect system for shopping and downloading ebooks to the Kindle. Since then, ereader prices have fallen, and a fine Kindle ereader costs less than $100 today. Amazon’s 2016 ereader model Kindle Oasis is priced at $290, and we have to ask why? What is the point?
amazon kindle oasis ereader with cover
Everyone who reads ebooks knows that tablets and ereaders are the best devices for reading. Many people prefer tablets, because they have color screens and let you do many other things, like email and web browsing as well. Others prefer grey-scale ereaders exactly for the opposite reasons: you can’t do anything else but read and you focus on the text because lack of colors don’t make images shine on the screen.

We have always argued that heavy readers – people who really read a lot, several books a month – are the most likely users of dedicated ereader devices. Occasional readers, and people who read a book or two in a month favor tablets (and perhaps increasingly, large screen smartphones).

Even if you are an avid reader, why would you read your ebooks on the Kindle Oasis instead of, say, Kindle Paperwhite that costs significantly less and has more or less the same features and provides the same reading experience than the Oasis? What is the key difference between the Oasis and the previous Kindle models? Is there a compelling reason to buy the Oasis instead of the Paperwhite?
amazon kindle oasis, side view
The Oasis is somewhat thinner and it has longer battery life than the previous Kindle devices. The Oasis also comes with a stylish cover that charges the ereader battery. That’s about it.

Because new hardware, software or service features don’t explain the price difference between the Oasis and the older models, it comes down to the strategy. Amazon has created a product range called Kindle. It has multiple products. Each product must be positioned as low end, high end or something in between. A product range should always have a flagship product even if it doesn’t sell well. Customers can choose the flagship product or a lower priced product, but they always get the brand name they wanted.

The Ebook Reader blog has created a nice comparison video of the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite version 3 ereaders. Take a look:

Key features and technical specifications of the Kindle Oasis ereader

– 6-inch Paperwhite display (E Ink Carta). Touch screen, backlight, 300 ppi pixel density, 16-level grayscale.
– Wi-Fi connectivity: 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with WEP, WPA and WPA2 security.
– Optional 3G mobile network connectivity.
– Storage space for ebooks 4 GB, and free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
– Dedicated buttons for turning pages.
– Charges in less than 3 hours from a computer via USB cable.
– Content formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG.
– Size: 5.6 x 4.8 x 0.13-0.33 inches / 143 x 122 x 3.4-8.5 mm.
– Cover size: 5.7 x 4.9 x 0.07-0.18 inches / 144 x 125 x 1.9-4.6 mm.
– Weight: 4.7 oz (133 g); Cover: 3.8 oz (107 g).

The differences between Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch and iPad Air tablet are in computing power and camera

2016-03-22

When Apple introduced the iPad Pro 12.9-inch tablet, many thought it was taking away something from the MacBook laptop computers. Maybe, maybe not, but Apple definitely sees tablets gaining more laptop features, and tablets as a future computing platform. The new iPad Pro 9.7-inch tablet is almost the same as the iPad Air, but there are two key differences: the Pro has more computing power and better camera.
apple ipad pro 9.7 smart keyboard
The ordinary 9.7-inch iPad and iPad Air have been around for awhile, and everyone knows the key features: 9.7-inch screen in 2048 x 1536 resolution, slick processor, so-so camera, huge selection of applications in the App Store, and very robust build quality.

The iPad Pro 9.7 has exactly the same shell casing as the iPad Air, and the Pro looks exactly the same as the Air, but there are dome differences between these two tablets. The major differences are:

1. The iPad Pro has more powerful processor: A9X third-generation chip with 64-bit architecture. It is the same processor as the iPad Pro 12.9 has inside it. The iPad Air comes with previous generation A8X processor.
2. The camera on the iPad Pro can capture 12 megapixel photos, whereas the iPad Air has 8 megapixel image sensor. The big improvement and novelty on the iPad Pro 9.7 is that it can record 4K video. It means video image resolution of 3840 by 2160 (and really large video files). The iPad Air can capture 1080p video.
3. Minor differences, like TrueTone color adjustment and number of speakers on the iPad Pro are featured as well, but they hardly make anyone run to an Apple store.
4. Optional keyboard and pencil for the iPad Pro (that are priced surprisingly high, even though they are Apple accessories).
5. Price: the starting price for the iPad Pro 9.7 is $599, whereas the iPad Air is $399.

apple ipad pro 9.7 apple pencil
If you want more computing power for your iPad, a better camera than the one on your old iPad, or need the Apple keyboard or Pencil, you should consider the iPad Pro. If you read ebooks and other documents, surf the web, follow the news, and watch videos on your iPad, the ordinary iPad is still an excellent choice. The good news for iBooks lovers is that the new release of iOS comes with night shift mode to adjust eyes to night reading.

If you are a writer, you can use a Bluetooth keyboard with any iPad for writing. Very good Bluetooth keyboards can be purchased for $30 from any electronics store.

Hands-on video of the iPad Pro 9.7:

Key features and technical specifications for the iPad Pro 9.7 inch

– 9.7 –inch multitouch display. LED backlight.
– 2048-by-1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) density.
– A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture, M9 coprocessor.
– Storate capacity: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB.
– 12-megapixel camera: Panorama images (up to 63 megapixels), Auto HDR, Exposure control, Burst mode, Timer mode, ƒ/2.2 aperture, Auto image stabilization, Photo geotagging
– Video recording: 4K video (3840 by 2160) at 30 fps, 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps. Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps. Time-lapse video with stabilization. Video geotagging.
– Front camera: 5-megapixel photos, 720p HD video recording.
– Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac).
– Bluetooth 4.2.
– Configurations with cellular functionality: LTE Advanced, UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+, GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz), CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz), for Data only with Embedded Apple SIM.
– Apple Pay.
– Siri voice recognition.
– Stereo speakers.
– 3.5 mm headphone jack.
– Lightning Connector and Smart Connector.
– Sensors: Touch ID, Three‐axis gyro, Accelerometer, Barometer, Ambient light sensor.
– Dimensions: 9.4 inches (240 mm) x 6.6 inches (169.5 mm) x 0.24 inches (6.1 mm)
– Weight 0.96 pound (437 grams) without 3G/4G.
– 27.5‐watt‐hour rechargeable lithium‐polymer battery.

Word processor for writers who love typewriters, but want modern features

2016-02-24

There is something romantic in old mechanical typewriters that make a loud noise when a writer types a book or an article with one. Computers and word processing applications make writing a manuscript faster and more convenient, but a computer offers distractions that may attract some authors away from their actual work. What if these authors could get a single-purpose machine like a mechanical typewriter, but it was equipped with modern conveniences? That’s exactly what the Freewrite provides.
freewrite typewriter, word processor, woman
The Freewrite is a remarkable hybrid of the old and the new: a merger of a mechanical typewriter and a cloud-connected writing app. The key features of the Freewrite are:

– E Ink screen. Black and white screen that is commonly used in ereaders. It is sharp and very battery-friendly solution. The Freewrite has added front light to the screen, allowing typing in poor lighting conditions.
– Full-size mechanical keyboard.
– Wireless connection (Wi-Fi) for backups.
– Documents can be saved on a cloud service: Google Drive, Evernote, or Dropbox.
– More than one million pages can be saved in the device storage space.
– Aluminum body and stowable handle. Writers who travel or like to go out to write want ruggedness.
– Multiple languages supported.
– 4-week battery life.
– Instant start.

freewrite typwriter, cloud connected via  wifi
The Freewrite costs $449 (plus taxes and shipping). You can order it here.

It is easy to find a decent Windows laptop for the same price that has more than enough processing power for writing, photo editing, communications, following the news and web surfing. Research carefully, and you may find a laptop with a full workday battery life as well.

An alternative – which we have been trying out on our recent trips – is a good 9- or 10-inch tablet and a wireless keyboard. We have been using a $30 Bluetooth keyboard that we have connected to the Apple iPad or Android tablet, and we have absolutely liked the typing experience. It is instantly on, and we can save our work on the device and copy it to the cloud for backup. Tablets have a long battery life when used for typing.

Ideas Box is a modern library that can be set up anywhere in minutes

2015-10-02

Ideas Box is a practical educational solution for people who have had to leave everything behind and settle in refugee camps, or village schools with insufficient resources. The Ideas Box is a set of industrial strength large boxes that contain books, ereaders, tablets, a projector for movie presentations and a even a generator for producing electricity for the gadgets. The product that is already being used in Syria crisis and Africa is designed by Philip Starck
ideas box, set up at a camp
Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries Without Borders) was the organization that started the program. Others have joined in to help finance the production of boxes and transporting them to places where they are needed.

The Ideas Box consists of six strong boxes that contain:
– Books, ereaders, tablets.
– Information technology.
– Movie presentation facility.
– Management component.
– Tables and chairs.
– Room for a generator.
ideas box components

View a video where some of the gear included in the Ideas Box is shown in action, starting at 2:25 minute mark:

Amazon Fire tablet for the price of two hardcover books

2015-09-18

Even though the Apple iPad and devices running on Android software are the most popular tablet brands, Amazon has built a successful product range of Fire tablets. The key factors that have made the Fire tablets attractive are their low price and easy access to digital products in the Amazon Kindle Store. The new line of Fire tablets continue on this successful path: the starting price for a new Fire tablet is only $49.
amazon fire, family photo
Altogether, Amazon introduced four tablets in September 2015:
– Fire, a 7-inch tablet for 49$.
– Fire Kids, a robust 7-inch tablet for $99.
– Fire HD 8, a 8-inch tablet for $149.
– Fire HD 10, a 10-inch tablet for $229.

Each one of these products is priced very competitively. In addition, Amazon has bundled six Fire tablets into a package that costs only $250. So, you get six Amazon tablets for less than one iPad mini.
amazon fire, 49 dollar tablet
The 7-inch Fire tablet that is priced at $49 must have something missing since it is so cheap, right? No, that is not the case. We have seen many no-name Chinese tablets in the price range of $50-$100. Typically, they have a low resolution display, too little RAM, or something else missing that has allowed the manufacturer to lower the price. The Amazon Fire, however, has all the key minimum specifications in place.

It is, however, worth noting a few things about the Fire tablet:
– Internal storage space of 8GB will allow only a limited number of apps installed. Sooner or later, a SD memory card has to be acquired in order to extend the storage space.
– Don’t expect too much from the camera.
– You have to download apps and digital content from Amazon. Technically savvy tablet owners have ways to use other sources, too, but for the rest of us, Amazon is the place to go with a Fire tablet.

That said, the Fire is fine for reading ebooks, surfing the web and hanging out on social media. We travel a lot, and it makes sense to carry a low cost tablet along wherever we go. If the tablet is broken or lost, the purchased books are safe in the Amazon cloud. From there, they can be downloaded onto a new tablet.

The Fire Kids tablet is built from the same hardware as the Fire. The Kids edition has some padding around it to allow carefree handling by children. Additional software is also preinstalled.
amazon fire kids
The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 are also attractively priced for the features and specifications they include. In today’s standards, the display resolution of the Fire HD 10 is somewhat low (1280 x 800 149 ppi), but those who have the original Apple iPad, have lower resolution than the Fire HD 10 on their tablet.

The Fire tablets come with speed reading feature titled Word Runner (also the $49 Fire). Take a look at a video that the Kindle Chronicles captured on the new feature and the Fire tablet.

Key features and technical specifications for the Amazon Fire 7-inch tablet

– 7-inch screen.
– Display resolution 1024 x 600 pixels at 171 ppi.
– Quad-Core 1.3 GHz CPU with 1 GB of RAM.
– Internet connection via Wi-Fi.
– 2 megapixel rear-facing camera, 0.3 megapixel front-facing camera.
– USB 2.0 (micro-B connector).
– Bluetooth.
– 3.5 mm stereo jack and integrated speaker
– 8 GB of internal storage (5 GB available to user).
– microSD card slot for up to 128 GB of additional storage.
– Dimensions 7.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.4″ (191 x 115 x 10.6 mm). Weight 11.0 ounces (313 grams).
– Battery Life: up to 7 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.