Having just gotten back from BEA 2014 yesterday and leaving for SID Display Week (a screen tech conference) tomorrow, I thought I would take a few minutes and post a “what’s in my gear bag” type of post.
In addition to my laptop and rarely used iPad 2, my main reading devices at the moment are a Kobo Arc (2012) tablet and a Kindle Fire HD (2013). For reasons which I will explain at the end of the post, I am mainly reading on the Arc.
Kobo has a trio of tablets named the Arc, and the one I have was released in 2012. It was a mid-grade premium tablet when it launched, but now it can be had for $99 from Kobo and a few other retailers.
The Kobo Arc is a very adequate budget tablet which runs Android 4.1 a dual-core CPU with front-facing speakers (with audio enhancement),16GB or 32GB of internal storage, a 1.3MP camera, and wifi. It lacks a card slot, is running short of RAM (< 700MB), and doesn’t have Bluetooth, but it also has a high quality, high resolution 7″ screen (1280 x 800).
It comes preloaded with a lot of Kobo stuff, but once I replaced the execrable home screen I was able to ignore the other apps and simply use the Arc as a generic tablet.
I originally got the Arc at the prompting of a reader, who pointed out that it had good specs for a $99 tablet. (I was going to post a review, but then I noticed few people were really reading or commenting on the reviews so they stopped being worth my time.) This tablet is currently my leading choice for best value under $99, but that will likely change as new $99 tablets (in particular models with Atom CPUs) are launched.
Right now I have 4 reading apps on the Arc: Kobo, Kindle, Aldiko, and Baen. The Kobo app came with the tablet, and I added the Kindle app because a fair number of my ebooks are found in the Kindle Store (and I am too lazy/busy to load over the DRM-free copies found on my laptop).
The Aldiko app was added largely in response to the Baen reading app. That last app is Baen Books’s own branded app, and it lets their fans download purchases, follow podcasts, log in to the Baen’s Bar webforum, read ebooks, and so on.
Baen Books was perfectly positioned to release an app. They have a well established ebookstore with decent organization along the lines of author, publishers, series, and more, and much of the existing work went into the app. Baen Books also has an online version of their ebooks, and unfortunately those went into the app as well.
For reasons I won’t go into here, the reading experience in the Baen app is so disappointing that I switched to downloading Epub files and reading them in the Aldiko app. It’s extra work but I just can’t stomach Baen’s design.
Kindle Fire HD (2013)
In 2013 Amazon launched a new budget tablet under the name Kindle Fire HD. It’s not the same device as the model released in 2012. it lacks a camera and HDMI port, and it is also running the newer version of Kindle Fire OS.
It might strike you as strange to pack long a generic tablet to use as a reading device instead of Amazons tablet, but I have good reason for that.
For one thing, I like to keep the KFHD as a media device, mostly because the Kindle Fire HD simply stinks at basic tasks like email, twitter, etc. Also, Android still can’t multi-task adequately, so it makes sense to have 2 tablets in use; the added battery life is also a plus.
But the primary reason the KFHD (2013) isn’t my main reading device is that it is incredibly unreliable. I first got one of these in March 2014, and as I sit here today I am about ready to file a warranty request with Amazon – for the second time. The tablet I bought in March died over the course of 6 weeks, and the replacement Amazon sent is showing many of the same symptoms. The battery mysteriously discharges, the tablet often won’t turn on, and the Wifi regularly forgets to stay connected.
I can’t explain how I managed to get two defective tablets in a row, but it is almost enough to turn me off of this tablet. But I am also addicted to the free streaming, so I keep gritting my teeth and putting up with the issues.
Yes, I know I could simply request another replacement, but I am not sure whether Amazon would give me another tablet. And frankly, the thought of setting up yet another tablet is simply not that appealing.
But once I am back from the trip I will revisit the replacement option. I frankly don’t have the time or energy right now.
So that’s what I am reading on; how about you?
Are you reading on a tablet, smartphone, or ereader? The comments are open.