Monthly Archives: January, 2014

E-Books Update for Early 2014

Just wanted to give an update on my slow but steady transition to E-Books – a process that took on new urgency when we went from suburban life to apartment renters in downtown San Diego.

As someone who has spent a lifetime collecting, reading, and cherishing physical books, this has been a challenging journey. As the technology gets better, it has become easier though.

With my latest acquisition of the new Nook Glowlight (the one released at the end of 2013, not to be confused with the Nook SimpleTouch Glowlight which was its predecessor) this transition has become even easier to accept.

In the beginning, E-Books were read either on a Mac or PC, and the mobile hardware was pretty clunky. Today we have Retina iPads and very nice E-Ink readers. My latest Nook is E-Ink, and although my original Nook was also, this one is miles ahead.

It’s actually getting to the point where in many ways I’m preferring reading on my Nook versus a physical hardcover. Sure, this was always the case when portability was the main factor. “Hey, I can take ten novels with me on the plane, and it takes up less space and weight than one hardcover!”

But now I’m finding that the technology has improved to the point where even when the weight and size isn’t an issue, the experience is as good or better.

What factors are bringing about this change? Here they are, in no particular order.

  • Incredible reductions in size and weight. My new Nook weighs about the same as a moderate paperback, and about half of what a really think paperback weighs.
  • Higher resolution screen. It’s getting pretty close (~210dpi) to printed resolution. Close enough that it’s not obvious that it’s an electronic page rather than a paper one.
  • Frontlight for reading in the dark. The new Glowlight is pretty good, with only some mild darkening at the very top of the page. Fantastic for low-light situations. And since it’s front-light versus back-light like an iPad etc. it should have less of the sleep-impacting effects that have been reported for LCD displays.
  • No page-flip “flash” that previous generations of E-Ink typical had.

And then there’s the other factors that have been present for a while: The ability to carry hundreds of books, weeks of battery life, and (if reading a book purchased from Barnes & Noble) the ability to read those books on my iPhone or iPad with my place in the book being synced between the devices. Oh, and not having to try and hold a book open when eating lunch etc. is pretty nice as well.

I’m not ready to abandon my physical books just yet – nothing is going to replace that experience. But for my general reading, I think I’m about at the point where I no longer see switching to E-Books as a necessary compromise to accommodate our new less-burdened lifestyle, but as a pretty nice way to enjoy reading.

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Nest acquisition by Google

On Facebook, a friend asked about my take on the Nest acquisition by Google that was recently announced.

(I’ve given Nest thermostats and Smoke Alarms as gifts, and have a Smoke Alarm myself. I’d have a thermostat if we weren’t apartment dwellers at this time.)

Here’s the answer I gave:

Unhappy. While I’m aware of all the positives (e.g. deep pockets to allow expansion of the Nest product line and protection against some of the patent issues they are threatened with), I really don’t trust Google anymore.

Nest has given assurances that the customer data won’t be shared, but that policy is subject to change down the road. Google made similar assurances regarding YouTube and those have weakened over time.

I’m trying not to be too paranoid, and I’m not suggesting that anyone throw away their Nest devices just yet, but I’m definitely concerned.

Really wish it had been Apple. Sure, they want all my money but they get it in an upfront fashion, not by advertising or selling my data.

Oh, I should add that on the bright side, this may kick off the overarching privacy discussions that need to take place as we head further down the “Internet of Things” road.

In an ideal world, the result of the acquisition will be Google realizing that they need to make some serious promises/safeguards regarding privacy for Nest if they expect it to remain a viable product line.

In the non-ideal world they just go ahead and be evil, counting on the sales to people who don’t know or don’t care about the privacy concerns. Sigh.