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Old 08-07-2011, 08:13 AM   #1
rlm80
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E-book reader with best dictionary look-up feature ?

Hi all, new here, looks like a very lively community.

My mother tongue is French. I read lots of novels in English to improve my knowledge of the language. But I find the process of looking up words in a paper dictionary very tedious. So tedious I don't do it anymore. I just skip the words I don't understand. That's a waste.

Hence the idea to buy an e-book reader with a good dictionary look-up feature.

Two questions :

- Do you think I would benefit from an e-book reader in this regard ? If the process is just as tedious as it is with a paper dictionary, I won't bother.

- Which e-book reader does it best ? Ideally it would be e-ink based, not a tablet.

Thank you.
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:27 AM   #2
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The Kindle has very good dictionary functions and is possibly the all around best. Kindle dictionaries are user changeable and there are a number available, both free and commercial. Also, the Kindle's "back" button makes returning to your reading a simple one button press operation.

On the Kindle word lookup is done as follows:
  • use the direction buttons on the 5-way controller to move the cursor to the beginning of the desired word.
  • wait 1-3 seconds for the lookup and display of the first short section of the dictionary listing
  • either press "back" to clear to dictionary window (if the short section provided the desired info) or press the "enter" key to jump to the full dictionary page.
  • page through the dictionary as desired.
  • press "back" when done to return to your place in the book you are reading.
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:36 AM   #3
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If you're looking for an English-French dictionary (you can't change them) I think the best are the Sony readers. The touchscreen makes very easy to look for a word and, if you don't find the word you can easily look for in the En-En dictionaries without leaving the book. And yes, I think it can help you a lot in your readings (Spanish speaker reading mainly in English )
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:43 AM   #4
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What has been said before is all true, however the Cybook Bookeen specializes in foreign, non-English languages. I know you are learning English and need the books to learn however the bookeen, given that it will also understand your native tongue is a better option since it can associate the french and the English for you so that you can see the association and learn the translation.
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbcohen View Post
What has been said before is all true, however the Cybook Bookeen specializes in foreign, non-English languages. I know you are learning English and need the books to learn however the bookeen, given that it will also understand your native tongue is a better option since it can associate the french and the English for you so that you can see the association and learn the translation.
I don't understand. Are you talking about Orizon? Because I have had a Gen3 and an Opus, and now I have a Sony and I don't find any advantage related to what you are mentioning. If you are talking about menus, you can have them in Frech in Sony, too.
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:20 PM   #6
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Thanks for the very informative replies. So it seems the kindle and sony readers do it best.

In the meantime I've been watching some reviews of e-readers on youtube. Dictionary look-ups involve interactivity, and thus responsiveness of the device is important. This is a known weakness of e-ink based readers. So now I'm considering LCD based ones, that are hopefully more responsive.

I've been impressed by the Nook Color. Looks like the brightness can be set very low, and it has a night mode where text appears white on black instead of the opposite. Hopefully it might alleviate eyestrain problems.

What do you think of my reasoning ? Are LCD based e-book readers likely to perform better for dictionary look-ups than e-ink based devices ?
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:42 PM   #7
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Personally, I wouldn't choose an ereader based on just how easy it is to use the dictionary. I just don't use the dictionary all that much. All e-ink devices will have some sort of lag when looking up words. However, my Kindle more than makes up for the weakness in that one area. It is less expensive, battery lasts longer, it is lighter, it is smaller, there is no eye-strain.
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlm80 View Post
Do you think I would benefit from an e-book reader in this regard ?
Simply, YES YES YES! That is at the very top of the list of huge improvements in reading quality for me in switching to an e-reader as opposed to paper books. I absolutely LOVE being able to tap on a word to look it up in a dictionary, and I use that feature all the time, as it sounds like you would too. I strongly suspect that you will gain much by acquiring an e-reader with a good dictionary feature.

I would recommend Sony as a quality e-reader brand with very good dictionaries. In fact, as mentioned by Terisa de morgan, Sony also has built-in dictionaries in other languages, including English-French. But if you'd rather the definition in English as well, it has two choices of dictionary, the New Oxford American and the Oxford.

If you plan to be using the dictionary a lot, I wouldn't recommend the Kindle. You have to manually press buttons and scroll with buttons to the word each time to look it up, which I haven't tried but seems like it would be more cumbersome for someone who uses it often. On a Sony, you can use your finger or the included stylus and tap on the word and the definition will pop up.

I cannot comment on the Cybook Bookeen as I don't know much about it.

However, if you don't mind LCD, perhaps one of those screens may be better for you given your concern about responsiveness, if by less responsive you basically mean slower when being interacted with. I love my e-ink screen and my Sony, but there it can be slow in responding which from what I hear is the same on any e-ink screen. To give you an idea, once I tap a word it usually takes a few seconds for the dictionary definition to pop up. On an LCD it may be faster. The responsiveness on e-ink is not a deal-breaker for me at all, even using the dictionary, highlighting and note-taking features often, but I can see how others may prefer an LCD screen.

The biggest drawback for LCD is battery life. You will have to recharge much more often (as in hours instead of days). Also, some people don't like reading for too long on an LCD screen, as you mentioned your'e not sure about. But if you decide that you are OK with both those, then I'd suggest looking into one.

I haven't used one, but I've heard good things about the nook colour and I'm sure others will be in here to comment on it.

So in summary, if you decide to go e-ink, I'd suggest considering a Sony. If you decide to go LCD, you seem to be looking in the right direction by considering the nook colour.

Finally, there are new e-readers coming out soon. Sony is apparently coming out with new ones sometime soon (maybe this month or next). Also, I think Kindle may be coming out with a touch model sometime soon as well. I'm not sure if nook is coming out with any new ones anytime soon. So depending on what you decide, you may want to see the new models first.

Good luck deciding, and if you do decide to buy an e-reader, I hope you enjoy the dictionary functions on it as much as I do!
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by sun surfer View Post
If you plan to be using the dictionary a lot, I wouldn't recommend the Kindle. You have to manually press buttons and scroll with buttons to the word each time to look it up, which I haven't tried but seems like it would be more cumbersome for someone who uses it often. On a Sony, you can use your finger or the included stylus and tap on the word and the definition will pop up.
In the Kindle you don't have to press any button, just place the cursor before the word you want to look up and the definition intermediately appears at the bottom of the screen. It is an easy and fast process, although the Sony readers, because they have touch screen, use a relatively faster way. The only problem with the Sony is that you can't add new dictionaries; with the Kindle you can and there is a lot of them (free and not) to choose from. For example, the Sony doesn't have any France- France dictionary and you can't add one; however, with the Kindle you can download for free the dictionnaire_academie_francaise_1932-35_8e_edit..pr or buy another one in the Kindle Store and use them as a primary dictionary.

Last edited by thebestjeter; 08-07-2011 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 08-08-2011, 08:56 AM   #10
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Hi rlm80,

I was in the same situation 2 years ago as you are now : French reading novels in English and tired of looking up words in my 8 pound English dictionary.
I lingered for a few month, disappointed by a test of the PRS-600 (glare, difficult to use the touchscreen and inability to change the dictionary).
Then I waited a few more months for the iRex DR-800 which was promising but they finally dropped the dictionnary support at release time, sold it at 500€ and finally went bankrupt...
Tired of waiting I finally I bought a Booken Cybook Gen3 because of a good discount price (cf. this thread http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75280)
I've been happily reading on the Cybook for 18 months now so here's what I think is important about dictionary support :
  • You want a touchscreen for a seamless lookup. The Cybook has a D-pad, so the lookup is cumbersome and too disruptive in the reading experience. I still use it maybe once every 50 pages when I'm desperately curious about a word, although actually need it maybe once per page.
  • Be careful that the touchscreen doesn't decrease the screen quality, maybe a transductive screen with a stylus is the way to go if you can bear reading with a stylus in your hand ! (something like the pocketbook Pro 603)
  • You want to be able to chose your dictionnary. I guess many disctionaries are not suited to your own needs. For example I want a good fat en-en dictionary, I don't care about a small en-fr one that knows less words then myself
  • You want either a clever dictionary or a clever device for plurals or word variants: for example my Cybook loaded with both the Webster's and Wordnet cannot find "apples"
  • I can't speak for yourself, but you really don't want an LCD !
  • One last thing to consider : it's very difficult to be honest and buy ebooks in English because of those stupid geographic restriction, so be prepared to get around those (e.g. having a friend in the US buying them for you)

This being said, I can't help much more because I'm now in the same situation as you are : I'm looking for the same, without the drawbacks of the Cybook : better dictionary support, a slightly better screen wouldn't hurt, lightweight, I don't care about color, wifi or 3G.
In conclusion I'll follow this thread closely and hope more will pop in !

Cheers,
Vincent.
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:10 AM   #11
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I have had the same experience with Gen3 and Opus, and because of that I recommed Sony (350 or 650). Yes, you can't add dictionaries but their en-en are good (Oxford English and Oxford American), and the en-es (Collins) is OK too. BTW, the fr-en dictionary has been very useful in my travel to France in July and the it-en in my travel to Rome on June . I've recommended it to a coworker because of the same reason and she is glad with it.
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:07 PM   #12
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You guys really know your stuff. Even if I don't reply to all of you individually, rest assured I'm reading all your posts with the attention they deserve.

As sun surfer mentioned, there's a lot of new things waiting to come out this month or the next. There's the new Sony readers and it seems Amazon is planning to release its new tablets in October, including a 7" one (same size as the nook color).

I've been hunting after videos on youtube that show dictionary look-ups in action for various e-readers but I didn't keep the links. It did seem that the Sony readers, with their double-tapping on a word to look it up, were the best. Perhaps from now on I'll post what I find here for reference and for others that might be interested to take a look too.

In the meantime...

Spoiler:

*drools* ...that's an iPad, so probably too bulky to read comfortably in bed, pretty pricey and of course it's LCD. Nevertheless, and although a picture isn't enough to illustrate the whole process of looking up a word, that would be a dream come true. Not to mention a full-blown tablet has many other uses that an e-book reader doesn't (mainly surfing the web).

If anyone's interested, I've found this link that describes how an iPad can be best used for reading with an emphasis on the "night mode" (black bg), dictionary look-ups and the use of Kindle and Nook apps on the iPad.

That doesn't mean I've ruled out e-ink based devices yet.

Edit : here is a video showing the double-tap look-up thing with a Sony PRS-650 *double-drools*
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:15 PM   #13
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iPad doesn't make me drool about reading, seriously I've seen them at the shops, I always try iBooks and always close the app immediately, crying about the awful text. I don't know how they have been able to display so bad the letters. Perhaps K4iPad, Kobo, B&N or Bluefire work better, I don't know.

And about 650... I don't need to drool
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:26 PM   #14
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I'll definitely wait for the new Sony models to be out before I make my choice.

The included dictionary even provides phonetic transcriptions, which is invaluable for anyone learning English. It's tough to guess the pronunciation of a word from its spelling in English.
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Old 08-08-2011, 06:14 PM   #15
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I have both the Sony 650 and the Asus Transformer. While it's possible to put a lot more apps on to a tablet to change the reading experience, there's no way that I would rely on my tablet as a reader. My 650 is like reading a book. The tablet is like looking at a monitor. It's too heavy and bulky to curl up with it and the screen simply doesn't display text as well as my reader does. It's great for internet look ups, full color support, note taking at conferences, especially if I have the PowerPoint slides in advance, and watching video. It's horrible for reading novels.

Just a note to avoid confusion: When Sony came out with the PRS 600 and 900, they chose to put a touch screen overlay over the eink display. The result was blurred, somewhat unresponsive, and had excessive glare. The PRS 350, 650, and 950 use an infrared grid over the screen to provide the touchscreen. This means that the screen is as clear and readable as all of the other Pearl screens on the market. Unless you can see infrared beams, you will not notice any blurring etc. on these latest model. For reasons that escape me, Sony chose to call both the 600 and the 650 "touch edition," and there are still retailers selling the 600s and 900s. You need to be very careful to make certain that you purchase the correct model
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