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Steve Jobs was right about 7″ tablets

Apple had their quarterly earning call earlier this evening, and of course the rumored 7″ iPad came up. Here’s what Wired reported Steve Jobs as saying:

Presumably referring to Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion’s PlayBook — two 7-inch tablets hitting stores soon — Jobs said these devices were too small for a pleasant touchscreen experience.

“7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad,” said Jobs, adding that competing manufacturers were struggling to meet the price point of the iPad, which starts at $500. Both Samsung and RIM have not announced pricing on their tablets.

“These are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA — dead on arrival,” Jobs said during the earnings call.

I’ve had my hands on enough tablets that I agree with him.

As I see it, the 7″ tablet isn’t as useful as a 9″ tablet and it’s not as portable as a 5″ (and smaller). I currently have a 7″ and 10″ tablet in hand, and I’ve tested several other 7″ tablets. Trust me, the extra 2″ (for the iPad) is worth it. It makes the screen significantly more usable and the tablet no less portable. Why do you think the iPad debuted with a 9″ screen? They had to have tested this.

And if you go the other way and remove 2″, you’ll end up with something like the Archos 5IT (4.8″ screen). I can hols the 5IT comfortably in one hand; I can’t say the same for a 7″ tablet. When you have a one handed device, you have the opportunity of walking while using it. That’s just not possible with a 7″ tablet.

I actually made a similar prediction during a presentation last Thursday. I didn’t have the guts to post it, unfortunately; I was afraid the iPad Mini rumors were true. My prediction, actually, was that eventually everyone would figure out that 7″ tablets were less useful and they’d be dropped from the market.

I’m not saying that the 7″ tablet will die immediately; I’m expecting to see something similar to what happened to the 7″ netbook. People eventually realized they didn’t like it, so manufacturers simply stopped releasing new models. I expect the existing 7″ tablets will age out of the market and not be replaced.

Archos have an e-reader? came across this odd looking device in Hong Kong. It has the Archos brand on it, but I’m certain this is a knock-off (for 2 reasons). I’ve seen the menu on other generic Chinese gadgets, for one. And my other reason is that this doesn’t look like Archos hardware. Get it at your own risk, folks.

Right now all I know is that it runs Android and has a 7″ screen. I would strenuously urge you to avoid it.


Introducing – a new way to read Epub in your (Kindle) browser

A few weeks back I posted a video that showed an Epub file being read on the Kindle. I just got an email and that Epub reader is now ready.

It’s called, and I love it. It works on your Kindle (it might not work on the K2 or K1), but it also works on just about every modern browser. It reads Epub and Zhook (a form of HTML5) files. BTW, this is the second browser based Epub reader from Inventive Labs, an Australian developer. The first was Monocle, and it was much simpler.

It’s great. I like it because it’s cross platform (apps are _so_ 2010). But I also like it becuase of the formatting options. has 3 line space options, 5 font sizes, justification, 3 font choices, and it has a night reading mode.

The fact it uses pagination is also a plus. You don’t scroll to see more content; instead you turn the page. It’s a must have feature, IMO; any app that lacks it is incomplete.

Is WHSmith’s iPad app costing them £200k a year?

WH Smith launched their iPad app today. You have the option of buying and downloading their selection of 25,000 ebooks.

But how much is the app costing them? I have a source who gave me a heads up on the launch, and also told me that:

Sources report that … annual Adobe fees to be estimated at other £100,000 per year and the maintenance fees at over £100,000 per year.

I’m not sure if it’s true, but it would explain why it took so long for someone to develop an app that used Adobe DRM. This might also explain why Kobo went with their own DRM system instead of Adobe’s. Just think what it would mean if that fee were per app per year. The maintenance fee sounds plausible. It’s high, yes, but still plausible.

P.S. I’m waiting to see if Adobe or WHSmith will comment on this.

Huawei launch an app store

PC World are reporting that the Chinese cellphone maker Huawei have just launched an app store with 80k titles. They’re calling it a Digital Shopping Mall.

The Digital Shopping Mall is being built with a larger scope than other app stores, such as the iTunes Store which is solely meant for Apple products like the iPhone. The Digital Shopping Mall features apps for different mobile operating systems such as Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian. At the same time, Huawei is aggregating apps from countries across the world. Telecom operators will be able to customize how they wish to offer the Digital Shopping Mall to their users.

What’s most interesting about this app store is that it was built so Huawei’s telecom customers could offer their own branded app store. Not word yet on who is using it, but I did find a hint that Vodaphone SPain might be. The story is behind a paywall, so I’m not sure.

Borders finally figured out how to do free ebooks

Mike Cane just tweeted:

Borders just changed their system so you don’t have to give them a credit card in order to download a free ebook. This is a big deal. It shows that Borders actually thought about this and realized what they were doing wrong.

I thought the matter was simple but given that several ebookstores still don’t understand, perhaps I should explain why Borders changed their system.

The point of free ebooks is to give people a reason to come back to an ebookstore. (Obvious, I know.)  But there is a corollary that seems to have escaped some ebookstores: you need to make this as easy as possible for the customer.

Borders used to require a credit card number before you could download a free ebook. (B&N still do.) I would have thought that forcing a customer to fill out a form in order to get a freebie would not count as making the process simple. It also irritates some customers. I, for one, won’t give out personal info to get a freebie, and I’m probably not alone in that.

I didn’t have an account at Borders and I don’t have an account at B&N. But I did have an account at Kobo. Do you know why? It’s becuase Kobo didn’t require a credit card. And becuase I already have an account with Kobo, it’s now the second place I check for ebooks (after Amazon).

P.S. I’m going to go download some freebies from

My Lookbook e-reader has arrived

Do you recall the CVS paper work that Engadget got a couple months ago? It showed a netbook and an ereader that CVS planned to carry this Christmas season. I’ve been keeping an eye on CVS, and the product page went up a couple days ago.

I bought one and it arrived today. BTW, I’m pretty sure it won’t be carried in stores; I checked the 4 stores within driving distance and they don’t have it.

You probably know that this is a Kindle clone with a 7″ LCD screen, Wifi, and support for Kobo ebookstore. What you don’t know is that this is a close relative of the Literati. The Lookbook is trademarked, copyrighted, and so on by Merchsource, the company behind the Sharper Image Literati.

Sidenote: I went and found the FCC paperwork. I don’t know how I missed it when it was posted back in September.

I still have the white Literati, so I’ll compare the 2 ereaders. The Lookbook is slightly shorter and wider than the Literati. It has the USB, power, and SD card slot on the bottom, the Literati has the SD card slot on the upper edge. The Look book has a curved silver back; the Literati’s back is beveled.

For the most part they have the same keyboard, but the Lookbook has an extra button: "/". If it had a web browser, that button would come in handy.The Lookbook has page turn buttons, not swipe pads. And the keyboard on the Lookbook is very shiny (that’s why the photo looks odd.)

I’m really not impressed with the build quality; it has a cheap feel to it. Look at the picture, and you’ll see that the buttons don’t line up. It doesn’t look any better in person.

The 2 ereaders have the same library setup, ebookstore, and are running the same reading app. But they share the lack of decent annotation and formatting options, unfortunately.

One important difference is that the Lookbook doesn’t have the brightness control of the Literati. It also is having trouble finding the ebooks on my SD card. No, wait, it can’t find the card at all.

The support page is finally up (the site was down last I checked). They really need to rewrite the user manual; the font is ugly and it contains incorrect details.

That’s all for now; I’m going to go play with it for a while.

Cherrypal starts their scams again – this time with an Android tablet

The problem with the internet is that it has such a short memory. This unfortunately makes it necessary to dredge up old news and remind people.

Cherrypal just announced a 7″ Android tablet for $188. Don’t order it; you"ll never get it.

I was scammed by Cherrypal and Max Seybold last December. His business is nothing but a scam, and I’m surprised he keeps getting away with it.

I first came across Cherrypal back in December 2009. They had just announced "grab-bag" type laptop for $99. The idea was that the laptop would be made from whatever parts that could be found cheap and that would have certain minimum specs. I bought one, and that was my first mistake.

Here’s what I wrote about Cherrypal back on 13 January 2010. When I wrote it, I hadn’t yet figured out that Cherrypal was a scam.

First, let’s cover the lies told to me. I ordered a Cherrypal Africa laptop on 21 December. I waited a couple days for an email about when my order was shipped, but received nothing. I did not get a response from Cherrypal until after the 4th email I sent. The email I received on 30 December said that I would get a tracking number the next day, and that I would receive my order soon. Needless to say, neither event occurred. I still do not have my laptop, nor have I gotten a refund.

Second, let’s consider what I had to say to get a response at all. My first 3 emails were ignored. In order to get a response to the 4th email, I had to include my concern that this was a scam. When I sent a 5th email to point out the broken promises, it was ignored as well. My 6th email did get a response, but that may have been because I asked "Where is my F***ing laptop"? It was questionable, yes, but I am very angry about the treatment I have received. Four weeks had gone by without a word from Cherrypal other than when I poked them.

My last response from "Max Sebold" was that I would get a refund by Wednesday (today). It has not happened.

Third, there was supposed to have been a blanket email sent to all outstanding orders. I did not get it. Other than when I poked them, I did not receive any emails from Cherrypal. According to this PDF, which was supposedly sent to all customers, my order should have been refunded on 2 January. I did not get the PDF, and I still do not have my refund.

I never got my refund and I never got my netbook. I was scammed.

P.S. I strongly urge you to go read the accounts of other people scammed by Cherrypal (here, here, here, here, and here). Note that some of the stories date back to Christmas 2008. This scam has been going for a long time.

P.P.S. If you’ve been scammed by Cherrypal, please post a comment with your story. I want to hear from you.

Augen to release 6 tablets

I think they may have learned from their mistake with Gentouch 78.

Augen just announced that they will soon sell no less than 6 Android tablets ranging in size from 7″ to 10″, with retail from $199.99 to $599.99. All the tablets run v2.2 and all will support Adobe DE DRM.

First up are a pair of 7″ tablets, the Latte, and Latte Grande.   Both have Wifi HDMI out, 2GB Flash, and a SDHC card slot.

  • The Latte has a 7″ WVGA resistive touchscreen (800×480), a stylus, and retails for $199.
  • The Latte Grande is a big step up for only $50 more. It has a 800 MHz CPU, 7″ multi-touch capacitive touchscreen (800×600), accelerometer, compass, and light sensor.

Next is the Espresso series, and these babies will support Android v3.0. All have Wifi, Bluetooth, a 3MP camera, accelerometer, compass, and light sensor.

  • The base Espresso model has a 7″ multi-touch capacitive touchscreen (800×600), 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU, 8GB Flash, microSDHC card slot. All this for $349.
  • The Espresso Dolce has a 10.2″ multi-touch capacitive touchscreen (1024×768), 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU, 8GB Flash, microSDHC card slot. Retail is $429.
  • The Espresso Doppio is the tablet convertible I showed you in the first image. It’s a dual boot system with Android/Ubuntu as options. It has a 10.2″ multi-touch capacitive touchscreen (1024×768), 1GHz Cortex A9 CPU, Wifi, Bluetooth, 8GB Flash, 2 USB ports, trackpad, and a 160GB HD. All this for $599.

And then there is the Espresso Firma. This baby has a 7″ resistive touchscreen(800×480), a 600MHz dual core CPU, Wifi, Bluetooth, and 2GB Flash. Retails is $349. It also has this odd pen that’s supposed to let you write on paper, and the strokes will be transmitted to the Firma. I’ll believe it when I see it.

My first augmented reality book: The Search for Wondla (video)

search for wondlaOne of the authors of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tony Diterlizzi, has just released his latest book, The Search for WondLa. He’s done something rather interesting with the paper edition of this book. If you have the book and a computer with a webcam, you can use the book to access a map of the world that the book is set in.

While the demo video looks cool, I want to see how well this works with a smartphone.

Watch the video, and you’ll see it doesn’t work quite so well with a webcam. A smartphone would put the camera and screen in between the user and book, and I think that would work better.

The Search for Wondla via Password Incorrect

Joe Konrath earns more from self published ebooks than from his Big 6 publisher

He just posted some interesting numbers over on his blog:

Since 2004, Whiskey Sour has sold about 60,000 copies in print and ebooks. That’s earned me about $54,000 not including foreign sales. (Not bad considering I got a $33k advance for it.)

Compare those numbers to The List.

In six years, I’ll have sold 108,396 copies. Almost double what Whiskey Sour has sold. And I’ll have earned over $200k–almost four times what I earned with Whiskey Sour.

I’d hope that this has the Big 6 worried. He’s a solid mid list author who can prove that he’s better off without them. They’d better come up with a pretty damn good reason why other mid list authors actually need a publisher. Otherwise, they’re screwed.

Ehon – ebook viewer/library for OSX

I just came across a new ebook library that’s (unfortunately for me) Mac only. Could someone try it and tell me what you think? I’m curious how it compares to calibre.

You should probably double check that you have hardware that can handle it. It has pretty high requirements.

Here’s the description:

Ehon is a digital comic book and ebook management program for your Mac. Extremely intuitive, Ehon simplifies your digital library management and lets you focus on what really matters, your books. Painlessly import all of your digital comics, manga and ebooks and let Ehon do all the work for you. When it comes to managing a large number of elements, a well thought user interface really matters and Ehon has been specifically thought to make things really easy.


Review: Sharper Image Literati

I got a Literati about a week ago, and I was 1 of 4 blogs to get it. I’m sitting here right now, watching it fail to load my personal ebooks, and I’ve decided that I’ve used enough to give my opinion.


At the very least wait for a firmware update. I have a number of complaints with the Literati, and I’ll take them one by one. But first I’ll give you a summary of its abilities.


  • HTG, I can’t think of any


  • poor formatting
  • no annotation options
  • slow to load ebooks
  • buggy & unstable
  • page turn buttons are iffy

The Literati is a Kindle clone that doesn’t bother to make use of its keyboard. It has a 7″ LCD screen, Wifi, and supports the Kobo ebookstore.  The library is pretty much identical to the Kobo PC app, so I’ll skip it here and jump straight to the reading abilities.

The Literati has no annotation options (not even bookmarks). This really bugs me. Why put a keyboard on a device if you don’t plan to use it? You have 5 font size, 2 font choices, and you can adjust the brightness (seven settings). There is a dictionary, but you can’t select a word on the screen (you have to type it in).

I also don’t like the joystick, but there are so many other problems that I’ll skip this one.

Page Turns

I’m covering this irritation first because even if you disagree with my other complaints, this one will give you pause. The Literati doesn’t have page turn buttons. Instead it has spots on the case that are touch sensitive. I hate it. You can’t tap and turn the page; only swipes work. The swipe sensor is also incredibly sensitive. I keep having trouble with it flipping forward, and then back to the page I just read. I also have trouble with it not recognizing a swipe, which irritates me to no end.

I can’t load my own ebooks

I took one of my SD cards with my standard Epub library (about 600 titles) and stuck it in the Literati. It can’t find the ebooks. In fact, it can’t find any ebooks (not even the Kobo ones already on it). I tried a second time with a SD card that had only a dozen titles; the same thing happened.

I’ve never actually had an ereader fail to load ebooks before. I’ve sometimes had to reboot, but in the end the books were loaded. This is a pass fail for me.

Kobo formatting sucks

Until I started using the Literati, I didn’t realize that Kobo ebooks had such limited formatting. I’ve downloaded a dozen freebies, and they are all the same. There’s space between paragraphs and no indents. I hate it. If you appreciate a well designed ebook then you will hate it too. I’m also annoyed by the large margins, but that’s really just a minor problem given the rest of the formatting issues.

The Kobo editions are also significantly less pretty than their counterparts. I have several commercial titles in both Kobo and another format. The Kobo edition always lacks the subtle refinements found in other editions. Heck, Kobo ebooks are actually less pretty than Kindle ebooks, and that’s saying something.

And I just noticed that on a couple of ebooks, the Kobo edition doesn’t even have the full TOC. WTF is Kobo doing different from everyone else? It makes no sense.

Here are a couple of photos that show the relative formatting. The same title is on both ereaders. BTW, I’m showing 2 photos because the first shows a section break that the Kobo edition doesn’t have.

(click  = big)

Update: Mike Cane pointed out that it’s not fair to compare the different font size. Well, those are the font sizes I find comfortable on each ereader. Yes, the font is larger on the Literati, but it’s the fault of the Literati. I think the font is bigger because I hold it further away.

I just crashed the Literati again

I tried to bring up the TOC and the Literati rebooted. That’s not the only bug. It also takes a long time to load an ebook every time I open it. This isn’t just the first time; it’s slow every time I open an ebook. The Literati isn’t recognized as a USB drive. This actually isn’t a big deal; I’m sure it will be fixed. But it’s irritating nonetheless.


The Literati costs $159, and the K3  Wifi costs $139. I don’t see any reason to get the Literati over the Kindle.

Hitachi, Pixtronix demo new display at Ceatac

Tech-On are reporting that Hitachi are demoing a 2.5″ prototype MEMS screen:

The company plans to release the display from the end of 2011 to the beginning to 2012 for mobile phones, smart phones, tablet PCs, digital cameras and other mobile devices equipped with a 10-inch or smaller display.

Pixtronix's MEMS display consists of a MEMS shutter, a backlight unit using red, green and blue LEDs, driver elements (TFTs), a reflecting plate, etc. Color tones can be adjusted by opening and shutting the MEMS shutter at a high speed and changing the amounts of the light from the LED backlight unit and natural light,

Pixtronix’s display can be driven in three modes: the transparent mode, the reflectance mode and the semi-transmissive mode, which is a combination of the transparent mode and the reflectance mode.

I don’t think they will have it out next fall.

Marvell, OLPC announce partnership & $5.6m grant are reporting that Marvell will give the OLPC Foundation $5,6 million dollars in grant money so OLPC can take the lead  in developing the new XO-3 tablet. We’ve known since May that they were cooperating, and I’m glad they decided to push ahead . Negroponte also promised that the an early version of the XO-3 would be demoed at CES 2011.

Was this really a good idea? OLPC have lofty goals, but their execution is lacking. They have a history of not making the promised launch date or cost (and let’s just ignore the fact that the XO-2 never shipped at all). It’s not like the OLPC really have to handle all the parts of this program. They’re managing distribution just fine. Let someone else do the hardware design.

I’m deeply impressed with the in house designers at Marvell. I think they would do a much better tablet, if they were given the chance.