Friday, June 13, 2008

Electronic Readers

So, back in the day, I had an old school e-reader. I had seen it on "Oprah" and loved the idea of freeing up more suitcase space for things like clothes, shoes and souvenirs. I only got it partially set up before leaving on the trip I planned to use it for and then I moved and misplaced the cradle and so on.
So, this year, it seemed time to dive back in to this technology. I did a lot of online research, but found the entries over at Dear Author spoke to me most about the things that I cared about. (I'm linking to this one, but follow the tags, there are plenty.)
So, I purchased the e-bookwise. (The reader is available, through other outlets also.) It's a bit bigger than a paperback, and a bit heavier. It does count as an electronic device so, you are supposed to turn it off during plane takeoff and landing. However, since I am always paranoid that I will be stuck on a plan or in an airport without reading material, having a backup book for those takeoff and landing moments was fine. But I only needed one, since I had ten books on the e-bookwise. The e-bookwise has an adjustable backlight which makes it great for reading in darkened conditions (be it in bed or on a plane where the cabin lights have been dimmed). It is not great in super bright conditions, such as direct sunlight, but changing the angle or finding some shade, helps with that.
I did notice that people on planes or metro are fascinated and ask about it. A couple people asked me if it was really worth the money. (I think so.) You can also write notes in the margin, if you will, and make or remove other notations or highlights. And you can also download your own documents so that you can read papers. And I have a dictionary on mine, so you can look up words. (It will actually look up a word you highlight, which is very cool.) It remembers your place in your book or books. It has in fact turned me into a poly-reader. Reading was bout the only thing I was fairly monogamous on, with some minot exceptions for non-fiction, but no more. Being able to access the next book with a single click has made me a poly-reader.
So, all was sunshine and yarn, until I had an issue. My reader stopped charging when I plugged it in. I contacted the company and it turned out it was an issue with the charging cord, so they sent me another. But that took a while for my impatient self. (The cord has now been received and did resolve my problems).
So I got a pocket PC. The advantage of the pocket PC is that you can download multiple reader programs and you also have a device that does other things*. So, I have tested it out. I am primarily using Mobipocket which does allow for you to read on more than one device, although there are limits.
You can buy a dictionary to use similar lookup functionality with Mobipocket. Also, since Mobipocket works primarily on devices that have internet functionality, it is fairly easy to look it up other ways, should one be in range of a wi-fi signal. Markup and bookmarking functionality works similarly. On my pocket pc, the page background is white on Mobipocket rather than the grey/green of the e-bookwise. This works a little better in bright light situations, but can be a little harder on the eyes. (Kindle and the Sony reader us e-ink, which is apparently nicer on the eyes, but requires a book light in dark situations, so it's trade off.)
The screen on my pocket pc is smaller, so I get about a paragraph less, then on the e-bookwise. But it is also smaller and lighter and fits in a smaller purse. So, again trade offs. Reading the more current formats like mobipocket and such means there are a few more titles available. There are also programs that will convert additional formats to make them readable on the e-bookwise. In the end, I like both. So, we'll see which one ends up getting more use. )They are about neck and neck right now).

*At the time the iphone and ipod touch were not officially allowing for such. I understand there are some good programs that do that for those devices, plus Apple is working with some of the e-reader programs. I might have gotten over my general non-Appleness for that, which is not to say that my pocket pc doesn't work very well for me.