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How eBooks and e-Readers Fall Far Short of Dead Trees

eBooks have been a great thing for me- I rarely think to carry a book along with me or have a bag for carrying one, but I always have a smartphone on me, plus an iPad at times. When I was in Spain in 2009, I read a novel on my iPhone that’s over 1000 pages long in paperback form. No, a 3.5″ backlit LCD screen isn’t the nicest reading experience, but I’d like to borrow a saying from the photography world that I believe applies here:

The best way to read a book is the one you have with you.

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Jan. 5 CES Highlights & Analysis : Android Goes Slate, Windows Goes ARM, and an iPad 2 Tease

It’s that time again: CES, the annual consumer electronics convention in Las Vegas where companies show off their gadget game plans for the upcoming year.

This is usually the biggest time of year for gadget news – tech blogs and Twitter feeds are overflowing with information, which can be too much for even those paying attention all day. These are the most significant things I noticed from today’s announcements:

LTE smartphones barrel forward while American carriers slap a “4G!” sticker on their 3G networks

Phone after phone gets announced, almost every one of them having the same specs: 4.3″ display, Android 2.3 “Gingerbread,” dual-core 1GHz ARM CPUs, front- and back-facing cameras. The only development here over that of one year ago is the extra CPU core, really- HTC’s EVO 4G and Incredible of yesteryear are almost identical to their HTC ThunderBolt, which only adds LTE to the mix.

Sadly, this year’s announcement of 4G phones doesn’t live up to the hype being generated by the phone carriers. The reason: most of the phones marketed as “4G” run HSPA+, which is actually just the fastest revision of current 3G GSM technology. The real 4G phones have converged on the LTE standard, except for Sprint, which bet its chips on WiMax to get a years’ head start. AT&T today followed T-Mobile’s lead in deceptively rebranding their existing network as 4G. The reason? Their own LTE 4G transition won’t be complete until 2013, while Verizon’s antennae lit up in December 2010. If you’re buying a phone in 2011, take the time to find out if it can even take advantage of these next-generation networks that offer incredible speed boosts.
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Legitimized by consumers as a new device format, slates turn to Android

Last year, manufacturers flooded CES with slate devices in anticipations of the rumored Apple iPad. Without exception, they all sucked, being low-cost devices with Android 1.5 or 2.0 haphazardly tacked on without any considerations to changing a UI designed for 3.5″ phone screens.

This year, everyone knows the iPad is a bombshell at around 10 Million sold, and wants to get in on an obvious growth market. Google today announced the Tablet-specific version of Android 3.0, “Honeycomb”:

(Stay tuned to ZekeWeeks.com or @ZekeWeeks for my in-depth reactions to Android 3.0 Honeycomb – to be posted soon.)

A possible iPad 2 tease on the show floor

Dexim's purported iPad 2 metal mockup

image credit: Engadget / AOL - click to see their article

Engadget’s bloggers were trying to fit their iPad into a vendor’s unique iPad case on the show floor when they were told it wouldn’t fit, as it was designed for the next iPad. Better yet- the case included a metal mockup with the supposed form for the iPad 2. Is it real, or just a clever PR exploitation of the Apple rumor mill? Read Engadget’s great post about it all, including a photo gallery, here.

Microsoft takes desktop Windows to the mobile ARM platform, while Nvidia takes ARM to the Desktop format

After enjoying moderate success from the Atom-powered netbook boom of 2008-9, Microsoft has obviously read the tea leaves that all the cool kids are building their devices on ARM-based System-on-a-Chip (SoC) silicon, instead of the traditional IBM PC setup that’s been shrunk down to miniature form on netbooks. In an effort to make Windows avoid complete irrelevance take advantage of current ARM innovations, Microsoft has announced that the next version of Windows will run on ARM in addition to x86/AMD64. But all Windows executables will need new ARM-compatible versions, unless Microsoft has a Rosetta-esque dynamic translator up its sleeve. That Windows would even consider this route on consumer devices is interesting, as Windows apps are have been forwards compatible since the 1980s. Perhaps it’s a telling sign of Windows’ ability to compete in the future. (And perhaps I’m looking to far into this.)

On the other side of this coin, chipset maker Nvidia announced “Project Denver,” their adaptation of the mobile ARM architecture to high-power desktops and servers. (Jon Stokes writes more about Project Denver at Ars Technica.)

Yet again, a big web property’s new feature makes independent developers’ products irrelevant; This time, it’s Twitter

This isn’t really CES news, but it still got buried in all the CES coverage: TechCrunch secured confirmation on reports that Twitter will release a first-party Mac application during tomorrow’s launch of the Mac App Store. If it’s free, and even more so if it’s ad-free, third party developers are not gonna be happy (though one could argue that they have ample opportunities to innovate beyond “cookie cutter” Twitter clients.)

So there you have it. Tons of stuff today! Stick around on ZekeWeeks.com or just follow me on Twitter, as I’m sure to post on anything of major significance that emerges amongst the thousands of announcements made at CES. Coming up next is my in-depth analysis of what is to come of Honeycomb, Google’s slate-specific version of Android OS.

Aweditorium: Great Music Discovery for iPad

Aweditorium for iPad Screenshot

Devs keep on cranking out top-notch apps for the iPad that simply wouldn’t happen on another platform. This time up, we’ve got Aweditorium, an app that takes great music and supplements it with good (yet minimalistic) visuals to make for a great music discovery experience. Aweditorium supplies music, biographical information and photos on new artists, all streamed from their servers. The app has the ability to share a full stream of a song on Facebook or Twitter, and also encourages users to buy songs they like most straight from the iTunes store. (It should be noted that most indie artists get 70% of all revenue from the iTunes store.)

Aweditorium tickles me in all the right places:

  • An excellent example of iOS apps’ capability to let technology help us experience art in new ways
  • A fun and easy way to find and share great music
  • Yet another channel for independent artists to get serious exposure without an evil music label

Yeah, my Apple Fanboy quotient is off the charts today. Blame Aweditorium, they’ve made a first-rate app.

WikiLeaks needs to clean up their public face.

I really believe in WikiLeaks’ cause. It’s a kind of journalism that wasn’t possible with older communications media, and as such is definitely forcing us to reconsider our values when it comes to reporting, openness, bias, source reliability, censorship, confidential sources, and more. I’m convinced that it will serve as a great benefit to democracy.

It’s also under plenty of threats from those whose power is threatened by WikiLeaks. It’s still a budding tool, and has yet to become a major journalistic establishment with its own protections and stability. Powers are certainly working to compromise it before it can attain such success. They’ll go after anything they can in order to interrupt WikiLeaks’ operations or tarnish their reputation. In the meantime, WikiLeaks publicly spouts tons of arrogant, self-congratulatory, and tactless content online, instead of protecting their own reputation with an air of professionalism.

A few bits from their Twitter feed that keep setting me off:

US media end times: Boston journalism Prof. (former Pentagon hack) calls for WL prosecution (FOX, video) http://is.gd/gGPLU

Calling anyone a hack is not Journalism.

NYT ran a tabloid profile on WL trying to “balance” itself. Case study in bad journalism. Wrong from top to bottom.

Ethics101 for mainstream media: Ask not what llegal & illegal but what is moral & immoral. Recall that slavery was once legal.

WikiLeaks apparently thinks that not only should the media be judging morals, but that they’re in a position to lecture their peers on it!

If any publication says anything about us, unsourced, you can be pretty much bet that it is a falsification.

I don’t even need to point out the irony in WikiLeaks telling others not to trust unsourced claims.

I feel like WikiLeaks risks sabotaging its own cause by its lack of PR tact. I am not at all surprised that so much of the media is criticizing WikiLeaks. Hey, guys, other people want to smear you, yes, but you need to stop inviting it with your own tactless behavior.

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New York Times for iPad: Legitimate heir to the Newspaper?

NYTimes 2.0 for iPad

From paper to pixels: The Times and other media have yet to find an economically sustainable replacement for their paper-based products.

The Internet has shaken up the status quo for many incumbent economic leaders – and newspapers have seen this effect more so than any other industry. Since the Web hit the American household in the 1990s, print media has been experimenting with strategies for digital distribution and revenue streams, with few conclusive results after well over a decade. The Web has moved the audience’s attention from monolithic news outlets controlled by publishers in favor of social links (Facebook and Twitter) and aggregators (The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and Drudge Report.)

This year’s announcement of the iPad seemed to change the publishing industry’s outlook on doing business over the Web. Instead of the hyperlinked, non-linear, short-attention-span, copy/paste-friendly nature of a desktop Web browser, the iPad offers a publishing platform similar to their paper product – with an iPad app, the publisher has verticalized control of available content, its layout, navigation experience, and – most importantly – revenue generation methods.

On October 15, the Times released “NYTimes for iPad,” (iTunes Link) labeling it “free until early 2011.” In testing it, I’ve decided it’s an excellent application in its own right, and could potentially be a great sign for the future of print journalism, but it could be yet another business fumble if the company doesn’t execute the proper balance between advertising, consumer pricing and usability.

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