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Old 07-22-2008, 05:15 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Salon on the iPhone as an e-reader: Much love little hate

Well, as soon as we heard that 3rd party apps like eReader were to be ported to the iPhone, we knew it's going to be a big hit. Take the latest example, where Mr. Hutsko of the Salon waxes lyrical about the benefits of turning his beloved iPhone into an e-book reading device.

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Seeing the eReader program icon on the iPhone's screen literally brought tears to my eyes. Seriously. Having spent the last decade reading scores of e-books from backlit cover to cover on Palm, Windows Mobile, Nokia and BlackBerry devices, I thought the arrival of eReader to the iPhone was a dream come true ...

... and at the same time, a nightmare, turning the iPhone into the worst e-book reader in the world, which I'll get to in a minute.
Hutsko loves that he can read at night without a reading light, and that he doesn't need to carry an extra clunky device. So where does the "nightmare" part fit into this? Nowhere, apparantly, unless you consider having hundreds of other iPhone applications to toy with a major disadvantage.

You disagree? Join the Apple missed the boat discussion.
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Old 07-22-2008, 10:32 AM   #2
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I guess it shows different people like/hate different things. He can't stand the blinks of an eInk screen or lack of backlighting. I can't stand the size of a iPhone screen and I found the readablity in bright sun horrible. He also said he likes tiny fonts so maybe he just had fantastic eyesight. Different tools for different needs. There is no one size fits all ultimate reader.

Last edited by TheJohnNewton; 07-22-2008 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 12:56 PM   #3
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I found the readablity is bright sun horrible.
Thanks for that info, it's the first I've heard it mentioned.
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Old 07-22-2008, 03:09 PM   #4
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Reading on a small lcd display isn´t my idea of convenient reading.

Well, Apple users spend money for all kind of c**p ...
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Old 07-22-2008, 03:18 PM   #5
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Thanks for that info, it's the first I've heard it mentioned.
To be fair I do not own an iPhone but several friends of mine do so I've used theirs on occasion outside at Starbucks and other restaurants usually at lunch so in full sun. I'm in sunny California btw. When trying to use it in bright sun I found it pretty much impossible to read. I did not attempt to increase the brightness (not knowing how) but then neither did any of my very geeky, very Apple fan, friends who I would assume would know how. Perhaps there is a way to make it at least useable?

Edit: I just asked my geekiest of all friends and he said:

"it is hard to use in full sun without an anti-glare screen protector and i don't care for the anti-glare screen protectors because they mute the colors a little bit"

Last edited by TheJohnNewton; 07-22-2008 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 05:15 PM   #6
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Setting the brightness on the iphone is simple but I doubt many people mess with it. Tell your friends that they should take a look at the SETTINGS icon. Within you will find 1) Airplane Mode 2) Wi-Fi 3) Fetch New Data (for the push addicts)....4) Sounds (another way to say ring tones, also vibrate, yum) 5) Brightness **** 6) Wallpaper 7) General (Network and lock stuff) 8) Mail (all your boxes) 9) Phone (International/Fowarding and a few others) 10) Safari (internet settings like history, cookies and pop-up blocker) 11) ipod settings (sound check and TV out) 12) Photos (slide shows anyone) and last 13) APP store settings. Some need login PW or other additional info you may like to keep handy.

I myself have been reading Moby Dick on my iphone. I find the changing my font to mid-range and dark green saves my eyes. Yes you can change font type and color on the iphone, even reverse the background to white on black if you use the STANZA App.

Last edited by pagansoul; 07-22-2008 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:35 PM   #7
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Your correct pagansoul, the settings on the iPhone (and the iPod Touch) are usually ignored. I just started using the brightness settings when reading and it makes a big difference! I find the iPod touch a great little extremely portable reader for the times when I don't want to take my Kindle or Sony reader.
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Old 07-22-2008, 06:36 PM   #8
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How can he miss the one feature that makes the iphone2 a truly deficient reader, namely the poor battery life? My wife played with one two days ago for a whole afternoon, with 3G on, and got barely three hours of battery life. You have to carry your charger all the time and be sure you are near an outlet. Not for me! And for me there is no comparison between reading a backlit lcd and eink, eink is far superior. I was all set to charge into the Apple store to buy the new iphone, when I started reading all these complaints about battery life. It's beautiful hardware, but I'll stick to my (far from perfect) MotoQ - with Skyfire beta installed, it can definitely hold its own as a browser. The RIM people must be delighted, this device will never make it as a business tool.
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Old 07-22-2008, 07:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJohnNewton View Post
To be fair I do not own an iPhone but several friends of mine do so I've used theirs on occasion outside at Starbucks and other restaurants usually at lunch so in full sun. I'm in sunny California btw. When trying to use it in bright sun I found it pretty much impossible to read. I did not attempt to increase the brightness (not knowing how) but then neither did any of my very geeky, very Apple fan, friends who I would assume would know how. Perhaps there is a way to make it at least useable?
I have no idea whether you can do it on the iPhone, but what I do on my Palm OS device (a Tapwave Zodiac 2) is turn the backlight completely off. That makes it quite readable outside in sunlight.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:01 PM   #10
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Radleyp,

My iPhone geek friend mentioned the poor battery life as well. He had a first gen and just upgraded to the new one and was quite dissapointed that the battery life is shorter on the new one. He also seems a little underwhelmed by the 3G speed but I assume that can vary.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheJohnNewton View Post
To be fair I do not own an iPhone but several friends of mine do so I've used theirs on occasion outside at Starbucks and other restaurants usually at lunch so in full sun. I'm in sunny California btw. When trying to use it in bright sun I found it pretty much impossible to read. I did not attempt to increase the brightness (not knowing how) but then neither did any of my very geeky, very Apple fan, friends who I would assume would know how. Perhaps there is a way to make it at least useable?

Edit: I just asked my geekiest of all friends and he said:

"it is hard to use in full sun without an anti-glare screen protector and i don't care for the anti-glare screen protectors because they mute the colors a little bit"
Well, my wife and I used Nokia tablets (770&800) for ebooks, but we spend a _lot_ of time in our FL pool and found them useless outdoors. I took the plunge first with the Sony 505, then bought her one. Honestly, had the Nokias been usable in full sunlight we wouldn't own 505s. <Shrug>

Thanks again for the report!
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:38 PM   #12
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Well ... if the author of the piece is really bothered that much by the eink screen refresh ... then that format is certainly not for him. I really don't notice it, and I find it easier on my eyes to read with a booklight and no backlighting.

So ... for those who like a backlit book ... it sounds like one way to go. I'll stick with my Kindle.
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Old 07-22-2008, 11:12 PM   #13
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to be fair, any phone you leave on with the light on for the entire time of use is going to have 3 hours or less. to some of us (me included), that's one of the big reasons to use an ebook reader instead. and since i get eyestrain when reading anything lit, that's another reason. the small screen seems like a good reason to use an actual ebook reader instead of a phone, too.

since everyone has different needs, wants and preferences, some people can love the iphone as an ebook reader while some of us can't even imagine using one to be anything but a pain.
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Old 07-23-2008, 06:29 PM   #14
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JohnNewton, your friend is right to be underwhelmed by the 3G speed, it's only twice as fast as EDGE, and that's because of the poor battery life. AT&T's HSDPA can in fact be 5 to 6 times as fast as EDGE, but if the iphone allowed that you wouldn't get 2 hours of battery life, so Apple imposed a limit of just twice as fast.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:07 AM   #15
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First people blamed Apple for not adding 3G in the first model - and Apple responded: Battery-life of 3G is not great, that's why we didn't included it.

Now people have 3G and they now blame Apple for bad battery life... Isn't that ironic???

Anyway: Currently there is no single 3G phone with great battery life...
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