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Some initial reflections on using an ebook reader

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Great overview, and I agree completely.

I purchased the Pocket Sony from a sale at Woot at just over $100. It is bare bones (no dictionary or annotations; just reading) and simply love it for fiction and sequential reading (I'm going through the Bible right now). I find myself reading much more than I did before, as I can easily pick up the eReader on my way out the door to walk the dog, and don't have to worry about losing a bookmark, etc.

For PDFs, I'm saving up for an iPad.


I haven't seen the new Kindle DX, which sounds promising, but I have played with the Nook and various Sony models, and was not at all tempted by them for many reasons, not least of which is the low resolution relative to size (most are 600x800, the Sony Daily Edition 600x1024) and the (to me) highly distracting page flip blanking.

I've only seen the iPad briefly, but I can't really imagine reading anything for long on it - I own an 8 year old Panasonic Toughbook CF-R1 running Windows XP, which weighs 2.2 lbs and has one of the best screens I have ever seen on a laptop, with the same size (9.7") and resolution (1024x768) as the iPad. I use it frequently for reading PDF documents and web browsing, but I wouldn't really want to read a book on it, mostly because I find it too tiring to read on an LCD screen for any extended length of time.

That said, a couple of months ago, I traded my 4 year old Treo for an HTC Droid and to my great surprise, find it quite usable as an e-book reader.  It has an extremely sharp 3.7" 480x800 screen, which is not much less resolution than most e-book readers.  I had thought that I would find it hard to read on because of the small size, but to the contrary, find that I can hold it close enough to read without glasses, and because the screen is so sharp, not be distracted by resolution effects. It isn't really usable for technical documents in PDF format, but the free Aldiko reader handles ePub texts beautifully  with more flexibility than dedicated e-book readers (font, size, line spacing, color themes, layout, navigation, brightness, etc.).

It also helps that my Incredible has an AMOLED screen, which has greater contrast and less glare than the LCD screens on most smart devices, including the iPad. It's not a good choice for reading in bright sunlight, but indoors, and especially in bed at night, it is great. Unfortunately, because Samsung has decided to keep its entire production of AMOLED screens for its own devices, the newer Incredibles supposedly have SLCD screens. Samsung is expected to introduce a 7" Android device with an AMOLED screen later this year, which sounds interesting.

some very useful comments on this blog entry:

I have often been frustrated by my inability when using the Kindle to get a sense of just how long the riffs are. It helps to know whether this is going to be a relatively brief one or whether it will go on for pages: having that knowledge enables the reader to adjust the quality of his or her attention accordingly. Again and again while Kindling my way through IJ I have been forced into awareness of how much my reading practices rely on this spatial awareness: not just knowing how far I am into a book (since the Kindle always shows you where you are in percentage form), but knowing when the next chapter or section break is coming. It turns out that that kind of knowledge has always been very helpful to me, especially when I am reading a difficult or otherwise challenging book — but I never knew how helpful until now.
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I'm currently reading a novel with many parallel plot lines, sometimes 6 or more. It sometimes happens that I would like to go back and re-read something, to pick up where a plot line left, or just to clarify something. While this is quite easy with a real book, it's virtually impossible with the kindle, it's just too slow to skim through pages.


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