A better mobile eBook reader?

It’s been a while since I took a look at what’s cool in the mobile eBook reader space, as I’ve been quite satisfied with my current reading apps (GoodReader for PDFs, Stanza for ePubs) and their use with Calibre (a must-have eBook library management program).

So today I’ve installed ReadMill — a ‘social’ eBook reader that works with both open ePubs as well as open and DRM protected PDFs (a valid Adobe ID is required). The blurb from the developers states:

Readmill is a unique ebook reader that lets you read share and discover great books. Available as an iPad and iPhone app, Readmill works with ebooks in ePub and PDF format. It’s all about sharing what you read, and all of the highlights and comments you make between the pages. It’s also a great place to discover new books through friends, and find out what’s most popular in your social graph. Welcome to a world of reading.

So I’m just getting started with it. Feel free to check out my ReadMill profile https://readmill.com/bradblog and follow me.

I’m thinking the ReadMill experience will be similar to GoodReads, but will update my experiences here as I use it more.


Three essential PDF readers for iPad

A while ago I wrote about ways to read PDF files on your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Well that post is showing it’s age, so rather than completely redo it, I thought I’d discuss my current three top PDF readers, and why.

GoodReader is my first choice, go-to PDF reader on my iPad.

First off, getting files into GoodReader. It’s simple, and supports iTunes file transfer, Network transfer via WiFi, or downloading from shared services such as;

  • DropBox
  • Google Apps
  • Mobile Me
  • SugarSync
  • FTP servers

Next, it’s under active development, with frequent new features, updates and bugfixes.

As expected GoodReader supports PDF and TXT files, but it can also display all of the most popular file types including:

  • MS Office – .doc, .ppt, .xls and more
  • iWork’08/’09
  • HTML and Safari webarchives
  • High resolution images
  • Audio & Video playback in some formats

Yes, GoodReader is my PDF reader of choice. But, there are cases where an alternative is important. Enter…

This is a more simplistic app that I use primarily for reading graphic novels and comic-book files. Some are in PDF format and others in CBZ or CBR format.

CloudReaders allows WiFi upload by running a small server that you connect to using your desktop computer. Here’s some of the cooler features of CloudReaders:

  • Multi-task support
  • Rotation lock
  • iPhone/iPod/iPad touch support
  • Automatically add books when files were transferred via iTune application
  • Auto page alignment (on iPhone/iPod touch)
  • Smoothing (from Settings app)
  • Default page-orientatin (from Settings app)

As a free eReader and PDF reader, it’s a bargain. There’s also an in-app purchase that allows you to share (via P2P) with other local CloudReaders users. Very neat.

This is my go-to eBook reader on the iPad, and has been one I’ve used on the iPod Touch previously.

I’d written about it here, and it’s still a solid app you should check out, especially since it’s free!

Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!


Recently I had an opportunity to put one of the new Brother multi-function printer devices through it’s paces, and overall, I liked what I saw.

Priced as an entry level unit, the Brother MFC-J615W (that’s a mouthful, why can’t they just use names) is a solid home and light-duty small business document centre.

The first thing that impressed me was the packaging — no styrofoam. Now I know that’s minor, but I appreciate it when companies make the effort to design their packaging with the environmental impact in mind.

Judge me by my size, do you.
This is a fairly small unit, and very well designed. Once it’s set up and ready to use, the unit is smaller than most toaster ovens. Unlike my current printer, which when in print mode has a huge paper ream support rising out of the back and another finisher support out the front, the Brother has an internal paper tray and feed system that keeps the footprint small — great for small home-office situations.

Continue reading “Print? Scan? Copy? Fax? It’s covered!”

It’s the iPlatform, not the iPad

Steve’s just announced the iPad (not the best name selection in the world, but it’ll do), and after watching the announcement event being reported by various online media, including our own Future Shop Techbloggers, I’m struck by the impression that the hardware is cool, interesting and looks great, but the iPad hardware is not the story here with the implications. …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.

Apple Tablet prediction as a game

So, tomorrow’s the big day that Apple lifts the veil on projects under development and ready for release in the next year.

The mythical Tablet is likely the biggest announcement tomorrow, and technology pundits have not been shy in predicting what the device will have (or not).

This all sounds too serious to me, so let’s have a little fun with it. Thankfully I don’t have to do the hard work, because David Weiss launched his Prediction Scorecard .pdf.

…as an Apple Event approached work conversation would take second place to speculation about what Apple would announce. Lunch time conversation was consumed with a battle of predictions and the white board in front of my office became the location for people to publicly make their claims. After the event we would gather around the white board and collectively determine who did the best.

I’ll be following along, and will post my score after the dust has settled — why don’t you do the same? Fun for all, for free 😉

Awesome free iPhone app creates sales for other iphone apps

Yep, it seems odd, but a very cool crowdsourced recommendation engine for iPhone apps is creating a bunch of sales of other iPhone apps. Which is good, because when there’re a lot of apps to choose from — a solid tool (not tied to the Apple Store recommendation system, which has been gamed in the past) that generates a second opinion is always a good thing. …more

This post is an excerpt from one of my weekly posts on the Future Shop Techblog. Check out the full post here.

How the Apple Tablet can really succeed

Given that Apple isn’t really paying attention to my musings, I’m rather free to go on about things I *think* they can do to make their products, and make them better.

I’ve been following Apple’s tablet designs since the Newton Message pad. An interesting device, yet not very practical.

I’m completely smitten by my iPod Touch. It does what I expect it to, and will likely do things I can’t even conceive of yet due to the development program and App Store marketplace.

But that brings us to the next big thing, the Mythical Apple Tablet.

On the Future Shop Techblog, I wax poetic about the 6 Things I want to see in an Apple Tablet, so I won’t repeat them here, just go read that post and come back — I’ll wait 🙂

Ok, now the main things I think Apple can do to make the Tablet a staple of every household is to:

  • Keep the price down
  • Don’t tie it to one mobile data provider
  • Open development up — make this sucker Jailbroken from the outset

Let’s take these one at a time, starting with price.
The Tablet is likely going to be competing in the space currently occupied by netbooks and laptops.  Currently, netbooks are the entry-level unit for casual computing, but if the Tablet is priced competitively, they can own that space from day one. Sure, you can’t run PC apps on it, but wait, maybe you can. Given improved horsepower, why wouldn’t a PC emulator be available shortly.

Buh bye netbooks.

Mobile data providers
Contracts suck, especially in Canada. Mobile browsing via cel-data contracts are convenient, but expensive. Wi-Fi hotspots are more prevalent these days, but not ubiquitous. So Wi-Fi will be in, but so will cellular. Which means there will be an arrangement with a provider, of course. It’s simply too profitable for Apple to not consider this type of arrangement.

But if they did ‘unlock’ all the Tablets, that would really change the landscape for the data providers. There would be the opportunity for real competition, because you know that these devices will be data pigs, reading magazines, daily newspapers, album art, movies etc.

If I had the ability to choose the plan that best fit my needs, you can bet I’d not have bought an iPod Touch but an iPhone back when I made that decision. But we’re in Canada, and things don’t really work that way.

Open Development
Well, this won’t happen either, but it would be nice if it did. The homebrew development community is creative and motivated — that’s how the iPhone got Jailbroken in the first place. Apps for Jailbroken iPhones are quite creative and really push the edge of mobile tech…but they also expose the device to worms, viruses and privacy breaches. Not good if you’re brand is built on a rock-solid ‘appliance’ like user experience. So this really won’t happen.

Ok, well that’s them then, the three things I think Apple could do that would really make the Tablet succeed. I’m thinking the last two won’t happen, but if they could somehow keep the price down, say at the level of a good-quality netbook, that alone would make strides in getting the Tablet into households, given the Tablet has all the rest of the awesome Apple goodness behind it. We’ll find out on Wednesday.

What say you?