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Old 11-22-2012, 08:43 AM   #1
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My Japanese Paperwhite just got delivered today!

It finally arrived!

Since my Sony PRS-T1 was Japanese-only, I was first of all very interested in whether the user interface language could be customized. The PW-J lets you set the UI to 9 languages: German, English-UK, English-US, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Portugese-Brazil, and Simplified Chinese. There's no option for Traditional Chinese, which seems odd. The same 9 languages get keyboards.

English has two dictionaries: The New Oxford American Dictionary (English-to-English), and the Progressive Eiwa Chuujiten English-to-Japanese dictionary. Japanese has only one dictionary, the Digital Daijisen. Additionally you can download these dictionaries from the cloud: the Oxford Dictionary of English, Portugese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, English-Chinese, and what I believe is Chinese-to-Chinese.

For Japanese books there are 2 font choices, one kaku-gothic (think the equivalent of sans-serif) and one minchou (think serif). Interestingly enough, when you open an English book, you instead get the 6 fonts that non-Japanese PWs have. I'm impressed! (My Japanese PRS-T1 has one font. One. Not impressed, Sony!)

Japanese text is very prettily displayed vertically, with page taps going forward to the left just like you'd expect. The kanji pronunciation guides ("rubi") are displayed when available, and look great. A very good job.



As of today the Japanese Kindle store has 1,548,195 books, of which 1,475,772 are apparently western books, for a grand total of 72,423 Japanese books in all genres. Well they're working on it, maybe the Kindle will be the one to open up the Japanese ebook market...


I bought some free books and successfully transferred the AZW3 files into calibre. The three onboard dictionaries failed to convert, but the Japanese user's guide and Welcome letter transferred fine. I'm guessing the free books weren't DRMed, and I haven't verified that my settings for the relevant plugins are correct, so there's more experimentation to do there.


I then side-loaded the AZW3s onto my Kindle 3/KK (after informing calibre that the KK likes AZW3 format in its settings panel).

The KK displays the Japanese text horizontally instead of vertically, but the AZW3 format is still smart enough to display the rubi above their words. So that's nice. At large font sizes the rubi get scrunched into their words, and at tiny sizes they're too far away, but this is still perfectly readable, heroically so for a non-Japanese machine. (I also tried converting the AZW3 to the old mobi format, but the rubi are then all just confusingly shuffled into the text so that's not a realistic option; AZW3 it is.)

Perhaps surprisingly, there seem to be two japanese fonts available on the American KK, an acceptable maru-gothic (sans-serif-ey, but rounded) and a ratty minchou (see the screenshots). I'll happily read with the maru-gothic font.


Converting the Japanese AZW3 to ePub worked fine, and opening this up in Sigil revealed that the vertical text is apparently part of the way they've got the CSS set up in the file...except that the characters are all rotated clockwise...there's a screenshot of this too. More experimentation to do here as well.

I used an online conversion tool to convert classic public-domain texts to ePubs, then loaded them onto both the PW-J and KK as AZW3. Although the texts have the rubi embedded within the text, the conversion tool plucks them out and reformats them into the correct places above their respective words. These files worked fine though their text was horizontal on both devices. Presumably more CSS fiddling will eventually take care of that. calibre plugin anyone?

The conversion tool I used is here:
http://naoki.sato.name/epubunco/bookmarklet.html


So... It looks good! And I've got a lot of playing around to do!
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:48 AM   #2
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Forgot the Sigil screenshot.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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How you make the sentence vertical? I have a bunch of Chinese books that I would love to read in vertical form.
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Old 11-22-2012, 10:49 PM   #4
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I'm glad someone has come forward to review the PW-J (jap version). I'll be heading down to osaka in 2 weeks time to get one set for myself!
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by morrow View Post
How you make the sentence vertical? I have a bunch of Chinese books that I would love to read in vertical form.
It's apparently part of each book's CSS encoding, not a setting on the device like I thought it would be. Other books I formatted myself are still horizontal.

If you search on the web for EPUB 3 and vertical text, you'll find people out there who are working on it. The free book I showed seems to do it right, so theoretically dissecting its CSS should provide a template for other book makers.
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Old 11-23-2012, 11:02 AM   #6
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@Snorkledorf: If you got a 3G version, I'd be very glad to know the S/N prefix of this device .
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:24 PM   #7
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Do all PW support those japanese fonts mentioned? Maybe the american and japanese versions are identical, just tied to a different store?
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Old 11-23-2012, 08:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiLuJe View Post
@Snorkledorf: If you got a 3G version, I'd be very glad to know the S/N prefix of this device .
if the store has a 3G on display, i can check it for you in dec when i'm there. =)
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Old 11-23-2012, 11:01 PM   #9
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Mine's the WiFi version, sorry. I went to a Joshin yesterday and they had one display model, but I didn't see whether it was WiFi or 3G.
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Old 11-24-2012, 09:57 PM   #10
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Snorkledorf, I am dying to see what the soft keyboard looks like on the PW. Can you post a picture of that? Is there a shift key between katakana, hiragana and kanji, and how in the world do you squeeze all these characters into the same space? I know in theory you double/triple tap one key, but still find it hard to picture.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:56 PM   #11
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Sorry, 1 question.. isit easy to set the language to English the moment you turn it on for the first time? Cos I can't read kanji at all... =(
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silverspear View Post
Sorry, 1 question.. isit easy to set the language to English the moment you turn it on for the first time? Cos I can't read kanji at all... =(
Yes, when you first turn it on it gives you a list of all its languages, and it uses the one you select for the rest of the setup procedure.

This apparently also regionalizes your bookmarks in the eternally "experimental" browser, so setting it to Japanese gives you an amazon.co.jp link, while English instead gets you both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xendula View Post
Snorkledorf, I am dying to see what the soft keyboard looks like on the PW. Can you post a picture of that? Is there a shift key between katakana, hiragana and kanji, and how in the world do you squeeze all these characters into the same space? I know in theory you double/triple tap one key, but still find it hard to picture.
Here's a screenshot!

It handles it similarly to the way it works on iOS: You have a qwerty keyboard where you enter e.g. "nihonngo" which appears in hiragana in the input field: "にほんご". Then above the keyboard you have a suggestions bar that gives you your options for transforming the input into kanji or katakana or whatever.

One nice thing is that since there are often many transformation options, there's a little icon that expands this bar to fill the screen. So you can select say the 47th option without scrolling for five minutes...

The second image is my best attempt at taking a screenshot of this mode: the multi-tap to take the screenshot kept dismissing the full-screen mode, so you see it here in mid-refresh. It only shows a few lines of what was a screen filled with options for "nihon." But you should be able to get the idea anyway.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:47 PM   #13
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Super like this thread.. very helpful! thanks!!
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:44 AM   #14
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Wow, that is different from what I imagined. I did not realize they had Roman characters at all on Japanese keyboards. Thanks for the pictures. I took Japanese for 2 semesters and always wondered how they squeeze so very many characters and three writing systems into a single keyboard.
How in the world did they do it on the old typewriters?!
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Old 11-26-2012, 01:59 AM   #15
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Well, you asked! Here comes an educational, if post!

There was an episode of "Project X," a TV show that documents small developments that made a big difference in people's lives, that showed the people in 1978 who made the conceptual jump from the typewriter model (select from all available characters) to the phonetic-conversion model (develop software to do the work of suggesting likely candidates from the user's phonetic input). That totally changed everything.

Up until that light bulb came on, most everything was hand-written just because Japanese typewriters were so impossibly clumsy to use, not to mention expensive, that people were like, "Screw this, give me a pen!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFFl6AMUF-4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHJhah1c-K0

It then took years to gradually filter through the business world as computers got cheaper. So unlike the western business world where there was a generation or two of typewriters between old handwriting and modern computer use, Japanese business worked on handwritten documents right through the 1980s, before computers finally took over.

As a side note, this is one reason that fax machines are still in common use even today; they established a serious foothold during that decade.
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