Why is it that text-to-speech services so often come with that cool-yet-sexy synthesised female voice straight out of a male fantasy?
Ivona, a Polish company, is no exception, judging by this avatar from the company’s website. She is likely to be coming to more Kindle devices soon, following Amazon’s acquisition of the company on Thursday. The most tantalysing question, though: Is Ivona also Amazon’s answer to Siri and a sign that it will soon be in the smartphone business? Read more
Amazon has taken on Apple with a range of new Kindle Fire tablets in different screen sizes that claim better performance and significantly undercut the iPad on price.
At a media event in Santa Monica, California, Jeff Bezos, chief executive, announced an 8.9in 32Gb Kindle Fire HD tablet (pictured left) that would cost $499 and feature 4G LTE connectivity when it ships on November 20.
An upgraded version of the original Kindle Fire sets a new low $159 price point for a 7in tablet from major manufacturers. The Fire undercuts Google and Asus’s $199 Nexus 7 and challenges Apple, which is rumoured to be launching a mini-iPad in October. International availability for the Fire was announced for the first time. Read more
Tech news from around the web:
Apple has said in a statement that it has found a few bugs that are affecting the battery life of its latest iPhone devices running iOS 5, AllThingsD reports. Apple has said it will issue a software update in a few weeks.
Amazon is launching a book lending service for Kindle and Kindle Fire owners who are also subscribers of Amazon Prime, ReadWriteWeb reports. Read more
Amazon entered the tablet battle this week, unveiling the Kindle Fire, a $199 tablet that will run on Google’s Android operating system.
While news of Amazon’s tablet was long-rumoured, the unexpected price point caused quite a stir with some commentators. Others saw the Fire as a game changing device for media consumption. Read more
The Kindle Fire looks to have the price, services and marketing muscle to take significant share of a US tablet market thus far dominated by the iPad.
Amazon, with its music, video and eBook services in the US can capitalise on the key usage of tablets as consumption devices, although its weaker offerings abroad would be one reason the Fire will have no international launch this year. Read more
The release of Amazon’s Kindle DX black-and-white eReader a year ago was also meant to presage a new era of colour for the devices. E Ink, provider of the screen’s technology, had improved the contrast by 50 per cent with this new “Pearl” display to ensure viewing would not be dimmed too much when it laid a filter on top to add colour to eReaders. But, a year on, it seems device makers are sticking to black and white due to dissatisfaction with E Ink’s solution. Read more
If you’re thinking of taking a pile of books for your holiday reading, think again, and consider the featherweight Barnes & Noble Nook 2nd Edition eReader instead. I am a big fan of the larger $250 Nook Color, which mixes tablet functionality with great eReader software on a colour screen, but I like this new $140 Nook even more for its smaller size and pure and simple functionality focused on digital books. Read more
One feature I have been waiting for in eReader software, which is a little obscure but would be a killer one for me, is the ability to click or tap on a word or phrase and get an instant translation (I would thus spend less time using the dictionary when reading French novels). You can’t do it with Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color and add-on dictionaries for each language have to be bought for Amazon’s Kindle and are limited in their capabilities. However, Google has finally come to the rescue, with word and passage translations between a multitude of languages being one of three new free Google Books features. Read more
Trouble at bricks-and-mortar book retailers has combined with booming sales of e-readers and tablet computers to make e-books the biggest-selling category of the US publishing industry for the first time, according to data released on Thursday.
Sales of e-books in February tripled over the previous year to $90.3m, the Association of American Publishers reported, exceeding adult paperback sales of $81.2m. Read more
You can play Scrabble on Amazon’s Kindle now, but the double-word squares are still a shade of grey rather than pink.
Colour is coming next year to E Ink devices, but you can enjoy it now with the NookColor, the new LCD-based eReader from Barnes & Noble, reviewed in this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section. Read more
The Kindle is finally being taken a little more seriously as a games platform with Electronic Arts releasing a version of Scrabble for the eReader on Friday.
To date, there had been few diversions from the act of reading on the Kindle and its capabilities as a games platform, with its grayscale screen and lack of touch control, seemed limited. Read more
Amazon has just updated the Kindle, giving the world’s most popular e-reader a much-needed facelift just in time for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.
The new device is sleeker, stronger and faster than the previous Kindle. Its body is 21 per cent smaller and 15 per cent lighter at 8.7 ounces. It has double the battery life at one month, plus double the storage capacity — enough for 3,500 books.
At $139 for a wifi only version and $189 for 3G, the new Kindle puts e-readers firmly within reach of mainstream consumers. For those looking for a cheap way in to digital reading, the Kindle is a compelling package. Read more
Amazon’s new Kindle DX, available on July 7, is the first eReader to feature E Ink‘s Pearl technology, enabling a contrast ratio 50 per cent better than the previous DX.
The improvement is a necessary upgrade in order for E Ink to produce its first colour screens by the end of the year. Read more
Personal View: Marc Benioff
This is the latest in our series on what it would take to turn Apple’s impending tablet computer into a true breakthrough product – and prompt gadget lovers to actually go out and buy one. Scroll down for earlier posts.
“Anyone with a Kindle knows that getting a book in ten seconds is an incredible experience. But the Kindle is a pioneering product, not a great product. I have several: it’s not an Apple quality product. The Kindle is the IBM PC of tablets.
That’s really the opportunity: for Steve Jobs to wave his magic wand, twinkle his eye, stomp his feet, and deliver the magic product that is cool and fun and easy. Read more
Amazon is clearly concerned about the Apple tablet, judging today’s news.
Though it has yet to be unveiled, the impending arrival of the iPad, or iSlate, or whatever it may be called, is likely to shake up the market for digital books in a big way.
Apple is in talks with the major publishing houses in an effort to secure content deals for the tablet. If it succeeds in working out deals, integrating e-book sales into the iTunes store would be a cinch. Add to this that the tablet is expected to boast a large colour touchscreen, and you have an e-reader on steroids. Read more