Monday, 21 February 2011

Smart Phones, Tablets and Readers

As Jane Austen could have said, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of an iPhone. But except to report the not infrequent faults on our fixed telephone line, we hardly use a mobile phone. We don’t own a tablet and we certainly don’t use a smart-phone for browsing the web. The costs of mobile data connections here are ridiculous!

Archos 101 - click to enlarge
So when we met Geoff and Lisa last week, and Geoff was enthusing about his newly purchased Archos tablet, it was almost my first contact with such things. I decided to see how long it would take to browse to a particular website and I was pleasantly surprised. The touch screen was very intuitive and using the device was very agreeable. The on-screen keyboard worked without too many errors and it even played Youtube videos quite well.  Lisa said that Geoff likes to read his downloaded books on it in bed at night, and look at the news whilst he is still in bed in the mornings. She also said that she sometimes thinks that, as far as Geoff is concerned, the sun shines out of his Archos! Geoff was advocating throwing away all of his paper book collection. I am not sure whether he intended to replace some of them with electronic versions or not!

iPad - click to enlarge
The next day I fished out a recent copy of PC Pro magazine, which had a review of most of the tablets on the market. Whilst the Archos came out quite well, the review put the iPad first and I knew that Liz had one, as well as a Kindle and an iPhone, so I decided to ask her for her opinions. To my surprise she said that whilst she liked her iPad, she would not be without her Kindle and really enthused about it. She also said that the weight of an iPad (680gms) as against the Kindle (290gms) was a major consideration, particularly for reading in bed. She was frustrated that Kindle downloads usually cost more than the paper equivalent and are not discounted, which is apparently a form of madness promulgated by the publishers and not by Amazon! Another example of publishing insanity is that the Harry Potter series is not available electronically! I think that more than five centuries of tradition are causing publishers to see the world through a glass darkly, fogged by inky fingers.

Kindle - click to enlarge
It seems that, very quickly, the current generation of young book readers, by the time they reach my age, will no longer be concerned about accommodating shelves full of books. If they are sensible they will be worrying more about how to back up their Kindles onto something secure enough so that their books will still be there after the next couple of technological revolutions.  Perhaps onto a "cloud" based data service. Long before then Kindles and their competitors will no longer be in black and white text only, but will have colour and be able to include pictures and diagrams. That would mean that I could read books about science, art, gardening and photography on them.

So! Is it perhaps a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a modest fortune must be in want of a Kindle?


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