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Halo 5: Guardians is probably the biggest Xbox One game of the year. Microsoft's Halo series has been beloved ever since the first game debuted on the original Xbox console way back in 2001. Along with each new game in the mainline series comes a variety of ancillary products. Prima Games offers two strategy guides for Halo 5 enthusiasts: a softcover standard edition and a hardcover Collector's Edition. Bothinclude a free digital guide, but the hardcover guide packs some enticing bonuses as well. Read on for our full review of both guides and a look at the Collector's Edition physical and in-game bonuses!

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It looks like this is the third week in a row with no new Xbox Windows Phone game. That officially makes this the second drought of the year. Now, last week I complained about the lack of release and some people felt I was being too harsh. So this week we’ll look at the bright side of a new game not coming out.

The most obvious advantage of not having a new Xbox release is that it allows us to catch up on our reviews! We published our Tiny Plane review today, and last week our Monopoly Millionaire review ran. If Microsoft bothered to keep publishing a new game each week like gamers want and expect, we probably couldn’t have finished those reviews. What can I say? It takes me a while to play a game and then give it a lengthy and detailed review.

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Enjoying a good book on your Windows Phone

Windows Phone Central App Roundup: eReaders
Windows Phone Central App Roundup: eReaders

We have a mixed bag of Windows Phone reader apps for this weeks Windows Phone Central App Roundup. We have one of the cornerstones in electronic reading, an audio book centerpiece, one that doubles down, and one that is more genre specific.

These apps not only come in handy for those who like books but also for those looking for something to pass the time with other than games. There's a healthy selection of readers in the Windows Phone Store and we tapped four that stood out by name, reputation and ratings.

If we've overlooked your favorite Windows Phone reader app, feel free to spill the beans below in the comments.

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Bookqueue updated, more features well on the way

Bookqueue was only recently bumped to support Windows Phone 8, but now the app has been updated again with some minor improvements. For those who are unaware of the app's functionality, it enables Windows Phone owners to quickly jot down books that are of interest. Synchronising with SkyDrive, Bookqueue keeps the user updated even if multiple devices are used, and supports the purchasing of titles.

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Reading Lens for Windows Phone 8 is a simple app that will help you read small text, much like a pair of reading glasses would. The app makes use of the Windows Phone camera to magnify small print so it can be easily read.

Even if you aren't needing to go get your eyes checked, Reading Lens will help you read the tiny print on medicine bottles, coupon expiration dates,  contracts and other documents where fine print is prominent.

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Bookqueue has been updated to take advantage of Windows Phone 8. Enabling users to save book titles and other information for future reminding makes the app invaluable to those who happen to come across a number of books but simply do not have the time to order and read through each and every one. It's a must-have if you enjoy reading books and require a companion to keep track of new titles for you to purchase.

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Nokia has announced on their blog today that the manufacturer is looking to start rolling out the Nokia Reading app for Windows Phone in a number of launch countries. We previously took a look at Nokia Reading back at Mobile World Congress.

The app, which enables Lumia owners to browse, purchase and read ebooks, will be launching on a country-by-country basis. The first batch of markets that will be able to download and use the app include France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the UK. Remaining countries will follow throughout the remainder of 2012.

As for the catalogue itself, the store will feature numerous localised books as well as major English titles including The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; One Day; and The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes. More will be added to the catalogue over time so fear not if you can't locate a specific book. As well as purchasing ebooks, there are also 'thousands' of international titles freely available for download.

Genre categories coupled with filters including 'top ebooks' and 'new releases' make it more convenient for users to search through the store and available content. It's positive to see Nokia tackling ebooks with its ClearBlack display used on Lumias, not to mention Microsoft's ClearType technology more effectively rendering fonts. Should you enjoy reading at night the app will use a black background with white text instead of black on white - this mode will also be more battery-friendly with AMOLED Lumias.

Updates for Nokia Reading are already on the horizon with features to bring a virtual magazine with RSS support, as well as provisions for audio books. Check out the following video for a visual representation of the Nokia Reading. Be sure to look out for Nokia Reading which should pop up within the next few weeks should you reside in one of the launch countries.

Source: Nokia Conversations

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Here's another iPhone app that's landed in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Free Books delivers 23,469 classic e-books to your Windows Phone.  With Free Books you don't have to pay per download for the books you want to read.  The price of the app gives you full access to the complete library of titles.

Free Books sorts the titles across three main pages.

  • Featured Page highlights popular titles from the book collection
  • Collections Page that offers title categories such as adventure, classics, drama, etc.
  • Authors Page that lists all the authors (Abraham Lincoln to Thoreau to Shakespeare)
  • My Library is where your downloaded books will appear

In addition you can search for titles by keyword using the magnifying glass button that appears throughout the app.

Once you find a title, you can view a brief description of the title, read any reviews from other readers, and view a list of any related titles. From there all you do is tap the download button, choose the book from your My Library page and start reading.

Free Books has support for night mode reading, adjustable font sizes, and the reader will save your stopping point automatically.

The only downside is that the book collection may not appeal to everyone. You may not find the current best sellers but the selection isn't too shabby. Especially if you're a fan of the classics.

There is a free trial version available for Free Books to let you try before you buy. The full version will run you $1.99 and you can find it all here at the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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Microsoft recently restricted the amount of apps developers can submit to the Marketplace to 10 per-day. This was in response to a continued injection of spam, some apps being completely useless. As one can see in the above video, captured by SolidSnakeSK, ScrollMotion Inc. has been able to submit more than 10 apps (or books in this case) to the Marketplace, which were approved. While this isn't spam as such, it does prove to be an issue with scrolling through "new" apps etc. and one can only assume that certain developers can bypass the restrictions depending on what they're submitting. 

It would make sense for one app to be used as a gateway (or digital book shelf) where books can be purchased and stored inside the app itself. Having books published separately will clog up the listings, but will increase total Marketplace numbers of course.

Source: YouTube, thanks Snake for the video!

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Here's a cool little update: Microsoft has pushed out, seemingly in addition to the AppHub features, changes in categories to the Marketplace for Windows Phone.

Simply launch your Marketplace and head to Apps. You'll see a few changes including replacing "and" with "+" signs, making things surprisingly easier to read. In addition, we now have a dedicated "Books" and "Business" category (we're not too sure if the latter is new).

We bet this has something to do with the AppHub's "private beta market" launching tonight as well as MS just wanting to further divvy up their 26K apps they have available. Let us know if you find any other little changes that we missed in comments!

Edit: Games too, have new, more detailed categoreis as well, including things like "shooter" "classics", "strategy + simulation", etc. Very nice.

(Thanks, Tahiti Bob, for the heads up!)

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OverDrive modernizes Libraries on WP7

While we have access to Amazon Kindle and whatnot on Windows Phone 7, what about free access to local libraries and books from schools? Many public libraries are now offering downloadable eBooks and now you can take advantage of this growing service with OverDrive.

This free app helps you locate libraries, find books (including audio books) and download them, not to mention the ability to read through each and every page. You must note however that you may need a library card and the downloaded eBooks will expire within a set time and will automatically be deleted. You can download OverDrive from the Marketplace.

Source: OverDrive, via: ChipChick

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Already being available on iOS (with Android 'coming soon' too) TouchyBooks is developing for Windows Phone 7, which will provide younger users with a large array of ebooks to download and read. While we already have the likes of Kindle on-board, it's great to see this type of addition to the availability of ebooks for reading.

They're a pretty small publisher so an advance onto the new platform is a bold, but welcomed, move. It's good to see even the companies/publishers without huge fund backing is looking at WP7.

Source: eBookNewser

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JOJO Mobile has created a rather interesting app that might be appealing to Windows Phone users with small children. Funny Stories is an interactive book for children that might come in handy on road trips, waiting at the restaurant, doctor's office or any where else a child's attention span might be tested.

The interactive books in the Funny Stories series includes (links are to the Marketplace) Funny Vehicles, Animal's Farm, Colorful Vitamins, and Under the Sea. Each book has both female and male narration as well as picture/word association where the words zoom up and are spoken when pictures are touched. There are three ways the books can be read.

  • "Read to Me": Stories are narrated with pages manually advanced by the reader.
  • "Read it Myself": Books are read by the child with pages advanced by the reader.
  • "Auto Play": Stories are played like a movie with pages turned automatically.

The stories are billed as educational as well as entertaining.  Funny Stories' graphics are well done, the animated page turns is a nice touch and the books should spark the interest with any toddler.  Funny Vehicles is free with the additional books running $1.29.

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Comic books! Everyone has read a comic book at some point in their lives. Comics were a fundamental part of many kids' lives and are still very much a part of some adult lives. I loved comic books as a kid and still do. The format has changed a great deal since I was a kid though. I rarely read a graphic novel on paper anymore. Digital delivery applications across dozens of platforms and superb net-based readers have become the industry standard. Scans (literally meaning a scanner was used to make a digital backup of a comic book) and drm-free fan-produced e-books have become the anti-industry standard.

I have a fairly decent sized digital library of comics and graphic novels but I never get to read them when I'm well and truly bored. Like when I'm stuck on a train with just my phone. You guessed it, "Until Now!" Read on to see the ins and outs of not just reading comics on your WP7 device, but how to get 'em on there.

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This is some pretty big news: it appears that HTC is getting in on the e-Book business. Watch out Apple iPad?

The latest version of Manila/Sense 2.5 (2012) features a tab dedicated to reading e-Books that can be purchased by Boarders or, evidently, though Adobe. No word on at this time.

HTC Reader 1.0 is the name of the program that will render the e-Books and overall it looks pretty great. It follows the usual UI/UX that HTC has laid out with their other tabs, which includes a directory for browsing, book art, and of course reading the book. There does seem to be some scrolling action needed, in addition.

The other big news is that this latest ROM comes from a Chinese Rhodium Shipped ROM.  To translate and as we mentioned in the last podcast, this is coming from a Touch Pro 2 ROM that is ready to market. That HTC, they never rest.

Does this mean the reason for the Sprint WM6.5 ROM update is taking so long is so they can get their hands on this version? We have no idea and zero indication that is the case, but that notion has at least entered the realm of plausible. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the mean time, you can expect some custom ROM action to start including this latest build as it spreads through out the community.

[Big thanks to tek818 for the screenshots & info!]


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