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What I’m Reading On – June 2014

Kobo_Arc_colors_610x529[1]This Sunday morning finds me in between trips.

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.

Table of Contents

Kobo 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.

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Chris Meadows June 1, 2014 um 4:46 pm

You do realize that, grammatically speaking, the headline really ought to be "That on which I am reading," right? You know about not ending a sentence with a preposition, right? 🙂

I’m currently reading on my Republic Wireless Moto X phone (mainly with the Aldiko and Moon+ apps), my 2013 Nexus 7 (ditto), and the Kindle you sold me. 🙂 Using Calibre to keep everything synced. I do like the Kindle for when there’s sufficient light by which to read, and the other things for when I’m not or when I’m not where I can readily use a Kindle so easily.

(At one point I read from the Kindle while I pushed a pushcart to a grocery store a few blocks away and then pushed it back loaded with groceries. Direct sunlight and LCD don’t mix.)

I’m also piddling around with my Nook HD, which I lately upgraded to Kit Kat. (And you can, too! I wrote a guide.) It’s still an entirely decent little tablet, and it doesn’t seem to burn through its battery as fast as my Nexus 7. Easier to adjust the screen brightness on it, too, so I often keep it by my bed instead of the Nexus for middle-of-the-night email checking, social networking, and RSS reading.

I do practically nothing with my 1st-gen iPod Touch and 1st-gen iPad anymore. Well, I use Find My Friends on the iPad to keep track of my brother when he’s going to visit me, and to lull myself to sleep at night with EZ Relax Ultimate. But apart from that, nada.

Will O’Neil June 1, 2014 um 8:59 pm

"You do realize that, grammatically speaking, the headline really ought to be 'That on which I am reading,' right? You know about not ending a sentence with a preposition, right?"

That’s the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put.

Nate Hoffelder June 2, 2014 um 6:23 am

LOL. Churchill never actually said it but that is the perfect rebuttal in this situation.

TheGreatFilter June 2, 2014 um 8:21 pm

The rule has long been proven wrong. Hoisted by your own petard.

Paul June 1, 2014 um 5:10 pm

On my last trip I had a iPad mini, a MacBook Pro, and a Nokia Lumia 920 phone. I ended up reading books on all of them. I also found (through wire cutter) a great cable that’s a lighting cable and a micro-usb plug, both on the same cable (you stick the lighting on top of the usb and its attached via a anchor so you won’t lose it). That turned out to be the best purchase of the trip.

LS June 1, 2014 um 5:25 pm

I sometimes read on my old Sony PRS-600, but mostly on my iPad3.

Rebecca Allen June 1, 2014 um 5:59 pm

Feel free to keep that preposition.

I read on a paper white (previous gen, not current), and sometimes my iphone 5. Recently I found myself reading something on my laptop on google’s reader, but I was doing genealogy so sort of a special case. Very occasionally I read on my iPad mini, using the kindle app, just like the phone.

Basem June 1, 2014 um 6:31 pm

I use the Nook HD+ (it’s great value for money), Icarus eXcel (I recently got it at a knocked-down price, otherwise I wouldn’t buy it for 300+ Euros) and Kindle Paperwhite (previous generation). I use the larger devices mainly for pdfs and the Kindle for e-books. Since getting the eXcel, I use the Nook HD+ less for reading and more for multimedia.

I find it surprising you don’t use an e-ink device? It seems you often travel and an e-ink device is more convenient for long journeys.

Nate Hoffelder June 1, 2014 um 6:45 pm

I know that I am a champion of ereaders, but to be honest I have never really been a heavy user.

My first ereader was a Tapwave Zodiac (a PDA), and aside from a 7 month period between July 2007 and Feb 2008 (when I read on a Sony Reader and then a Kindle) most of my ebook reading has been done on devices with LCD screens.

This is something that i only realized in retrospect, but it’s true. I am one of those people who reads on a tablet, and before that I read on an HPC and a PDA. Heck, I sought out older devices running Windows CE just so i could read on them. I also like reading on my laptop – no joke.

Does that make me a betrayer of my own kind?

Sturmund Drang June 1, 2014 um 8:35 pm

Snap 🙂 My favourite reading device for years was my Casio E105. But you couldn’t read from the screen anywhere near sunlight. I would have stuck to my netbook for reading except … I usually am not self conscious but it does look, or at least feel, clownish reading from a netbook in almost any public place outside of a Starbucks.

I’d like to mention here that I last said I was an Aldiko user, but a dissatisfied one. The evening I posted that I switched to FBReader and I’ve been really happy with it.

Sherri June 1, 2014 um 7:21 pm

I primarily read books on a Kindle Paperwhite, using my iPhone 5s to continue the book when I’m out somewhere without the Kindle. If the battery runs down at an inconvenient time on the Kindle, I’ll switch to reading on an iPad Mini. I read magazines on the iPad Mini.

I also have a Kindle Fire HDX, but I use that mostly for video. I can download video from the free Amazon Prime video library onto the HDX and take it to the gym with me. I can download purchased video from Amazon to the iPad mini but the free stuff can only be download to the Fire.

So, Paperwhite for books, iPad Mini for magazines, Fire for video, iPhone for games, and all of them travel with me (though I’ve stopped taking my laptop with me when I travel.)

Hayden June 1, 2014 um 8:11 pm

If I am on the road I take my Samsung galaxy tablet. This is their original 10.1 tablet. It is still going strong and all the essential tools (wifi, email, facebook, twitter) work very well.

I read through whichever app comes with the bookstore that I bought me ebooks from. So I have the Kindle, Nook and Kobo apps as well as the Moon + reader app. I prefer the Kindle app but the there is only a small difference between them all.

Anne June 1, 2014 um 8:25 pm

I prefer to read on my Kobo Aura HD, Aura, or Mini. I have tablets and sometimes read on them, but I find the Kobo reading experience to be preferable.

Will O’Neil June 1, 2014 um 8:57 pm

Paperwhite. Bought latest version on sale (thanks for the tip about the sale), replacing my good old Keyboard. When I’m reading for reference while writing I use Kindle PC in one window while working in another. Every so once in a while I’m in situation where it makes sense to use a tablet as an e-reader, but I always find it cumbersome, inconvenient, and not a great reading experience.

Always Kindle. I hear all the arguments about the evils of DRM (and Amazon) but find buying Kindle books too convenient (and economical) to forego. So does that put me at risk that Amazon will no longer support the DRM files? Global warming will get us first, and I’m too old to be very worried about either.

ucfgrad93 June 1, 2014 um 10:25 pm

I am reading on a Kindle Paperwhite 2.

Rob Siders June 1, 2014 um 11:52 pm

Paperwhite 2 for most book reading. Kindle HDX 7 for news reading, movies/TV, social media and sometimes book reading. I have access to email and productivity apps on other things and feel I’m too connected as it is, so no email or work-related things on the HDX… it’s built for fun and I keep it that way.

DeeDee June 2, 2014 um 2:42 am

I read on a pocketbook basic – it’s 2 years old but it does the job, and I recently found out how to install Cool Reader 3 on it, and it’s awesome. I recently got a smartphone (Sony xperia z1 compact) and I use it for facebook and blog posts – I never thought I’d be "one of those people", but it’s more convenient than a laptop.

Syn June 2, 2014 um 9:12 am

My main reader is a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It can multitasking two things at a time. I use the pen to copy a page or passage I want to annotate in the book I’m reading. Or I may write notes while I listen to the audio book on the Note. I can capture any screen I’m on so the app I’m in doesn’t matter. I use the Kindle app and Moon+Reader the most.

Back up device is my first generation Kindle PW.

Jude June 2, 2014 um 9:57 am

All of the above… I read on a first generation Kindle, a Kobo mini, a Samsung Galaxy 10.1, a Samsung cell phone, an ancient iPad Touch, and even sometimes on my computer (under duress). I find the Kindle easiest to use, the Kobo most clunky (every time I sync it, I lose all my bookmarks, etc.). But it is really lightweight, has a long-lasting battery, and lives in my purse, so it’s always with me in waiting rooms, on the bus, etc. I usually read 2-3 books simultaneously, different ones on each device.
I have BlueFire, Aldiko, Nook Reader, Kindle Reader, and Kobo Reader all installed on the tablet and the phone, prefer BlueFire (which syncs nicely with my Dropbox account). I’ve tried Moon+Reader, but didn’t like it. And I really wish I could find a way to get ebooks from Dropbox (where they live) to the Kindle Reader.
The only things I’ve ever found better than the old Kindle (with keyboard) for making notes on something I’m reading, were my Rocket eBook and my REB 1100, although to be honest, I haven’t worked very hard to figure out how to do so on the tablet.
Incidentally, my first ereader was the Rocket eBook, way back in 2001.

Nighty June 2, 2014 um 10:00 am

Depends on what I’m reading. Books I mostly read on my Kobo Aura though sometimes I wish it had the bigger screen and res of the HD. I also use the pocket integration for articles sometimes. Rarely do I read books on my tablet, 10.1 is too big for comfy pleasure reading.
I DO use my galaxy note 10.1 to browse web pages and read PDFs and documents thanks to its note taking prowess (the note taking abilities are more the apps' features but the wacon pen is great for that purpose).
Honestly I want a seven incher for magazines, books and occasionally games. I considered the Fire HDX but I want the play store, especially since I’m not in the US so there’s no point in prime, be it for the shipping or the other multimedia perks.

I also browse on my phone and occasionally read books. The few times I read bookson my phone I actually prefer to do it on the Kobo app. The other ereading apps haven’t won me over (andI tried them all before having any Kobo device or book), so I just import the epubs and read them there.

Alison June 2, 2014 um 10:41 am

I read on my Kindle Keyboard – I have 2. I don’t know what I will do if/when they fail because I really prefer the page turn buttons to the touch screens.

Victor June 2, 2014 um 12:41 pm

I borrowed a Samsung Galaxy S Wifi 5.0 from my father-in-law, just to test it. I happened to like very much the size and the colors of that old LCD screen… What left me with a problem: I found very annoying keeping both this strange media player and my cell phone with me all the time – it makes my pocket very bulky – but I can’t avoid the ideia of how much useful would be a phablet to me. And these things are so expansive in Brazil…

I also use a Samasung Galaxy Tab P-1000, with Cyanogen Mod 9. Unfortunely, it’s battery lasts only two hours or so, and that is far too short for my daily routine…

Anyway, the apps I use more often are Kindle’s, Cool Reader and – sometimes – Moon+ Reader.

Well, sorry for the broken english! I hope I’ve made it at least a bit intelligible!

Marta June 2, 2014 um 1:27 pm

I read on my Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Aura everyday and for read blogs and news online I use my Ipad mini. I can’t survive without my e-readers. 🙂

Dan June 2, 2014 um 1:30 pm

Read books on my phone, Galaxy Note 2, everything else on my Thinkpad Yoga. I have an iPad in a cupboard somewhere, and an old Kobo wifi.. I don’t know where, don’t use either at all.

David Gaughran June 2, 2014 um 1:47 pm

K4. Had it since Dec 2011. Have been planning to upgrade to a Paperwhite, but this is still in perfect nick, despite dragging it all over the place, losing my cover ages ago, and generally not looking after it. Sturdy little thing.

I bagged a free Kobo at LBF last year, which is very swish (Arc HD) but I never use it. The store drives me crazy tbh.

Nighty June 2, 2014 um 8:04 pm

If your only problem with the tablet is the store you could try installing another launcher (like nova for example) our if you’re talking about the experience of buying books you can always just sideload them.

Of course, if you only read books without graphics many people prefer e readers due to no backlighting.

Andrew June 2, 2014 um 2:07 pm

I have a Sony T2 and a Kobo Arc 7. The T2 is a fantastic ereader, and has the best PDF support I have seen on any mobile device – it lets you break them into 2×2 or 3×3 grids and page through, perfect for two and three column layouts. I buy my books from Kobo, download them to my PC, and then use Calibre to put them on my T2.

I bought the Kobo Arc 7 to learn Android development (have to practice on something), because it was cheap, and because unlike most tablets it had an SD expanion slot. It’s a good reader, I have no complaints, and it worked out great as a deployment target for my Android apps. I find that the lit screen keeps me up at night though, so I still prefer my eink screen for long and evening reading sessions.

Gunnerp245 June 3, 2014 um 6:57 am

I still use my enTourage eDGe (10″) nearly every day of reading; when traveling it is the Pocket Edge (7″). Meets my needs.

What I'm Reading On: October 2014 – The Digital Reader October 1, 2014 um 11:29 am

[…] I last discussed my ereader tools in June 2014, I mentioned that I used a laptop to keep up on news and work, an iPad (rarely), and two tablets: […]

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