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Old 11-13-2006, 10:06 AM   #1
kahm
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Hi everyone!

I'm pretty new to these forums, but I've been mobile reading for years. I'm a 30-yr old hardware geek, living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

I started out with a Palm Professional, back when they were state of the art, then a Palm Vx, then a Sony Clie TJ35. After the Sony I moved on to a Sharp Zaurus 860 - a clamshell PDA from Japan, running Linux with an absolutely *gorgeous* 640x480 screen and a qwerty keyboard. My current Z is a 3100 - which added a 4gb HD and USB Host - essentially a true "palmtop" computer. I've also since upgraded my phone to a Treo650, so I still have a palm device around.

I've also got a few "regular" mini laptops - Libretto 50M, Libretto 110CT, Panasonic Toughbook M34 mk1 (the Fully Armoured version). My current every day carry is a Libretto U100.

As far as readers are concerned, I've always read ebooks, sometimes on Palm, mostly on the computer. The Zaurus, with the screen rotated into tablet form, makes a very good reader (3.7" VGA display).

I first came across the Librie in October 2004 on a trip to Japan, and was absolutely blown away by the screen. I almost brought one home with me, despite the fact that I couldn't do anything with it yet. (Turns out it would take over 7mo for the unit to be cracked ) With the announcement of the Sony reader in January I was ecstatic - finally I'd get to get one. Or not, as Sony decided to tie the reader to their store, and only distribute in the US.

All of the flurry of reader news got me itching anyway, so I broke down and ordered a Librie - which, for me, has the bonuses of Japanese support and better availability to Canada. It's in the mail as we speak, and I'm chomping at the bit to see if it lives up to my 2yr-old memories of what it was like
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Old 11-13-2006, 10:17 AM   #2
Bob Russell
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Welcome kahm! What a distinguished gadget pedigree you have. Those devices you listed are enough to make any geek drool.

Hope you enjoy your Librie, and glad to have you with us.
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Old 11-13-2006, 02:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for coming. I would love for you to expound on your use of the Zaurus as a reader.
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Old 11-14-2006, 02:20 AM   #4
kahm
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Originally Posted by tcv
Thanks for coming. I would love for you to expound on your use of the Zaurus as a reader.
Sure! Any chance to babble about my toys.

I'll talk about the latest generation Z - the cxx0 series (1000, 3000, 3100, 3200) The Zaurus is a clamshell PDA with a nice qwerty keyboard, and a 3.7inch VGA touchscreen. (The Z was designed as a showpiece for Sharp's screen technology - it is one of the brightest and nicest LCD screens you've ever seen.) They have a 4gb HD, and run linux from the factory - they are essentially mini laptops. Best of all, you can see between 5-8hrs battery life on them pretty easily. Not bad for a PDA.

Weight is about 300g. It's a bit thick at 25mm. The earlier models were thinner, and could be MUCH thinner with the small battery.

(Gibbled translations of specs for the 3200 here.)
Photos here.

The screen rotates and folds flat like a convertable tablet, so you can use it as a widescreen clamshell or a handheld pda/reader. There is a rocker switch on the back (left side in tablet mode) that, when held in the left hand with the screen folded flat, falls naturally under the left thumb. That makes it a very good format for reading, scrolling through the document using the rocker. In clamshell mode, there is a circular pad on the right, surrounding the "OK" button, that acts as arrow keys that you can use for scrolling. I prefer to read in tablet format, though. All of the software I use also allows you to "drag" the document by pressing and dragging anywhere on the touchscreen. If I'm holding the reader in my right hand I usually use my thumb to scroll through that way.

Software wise, there are a lot of choices. For text and HTML, I use the web browser (Opera). It is a very good web browser, even for content that isn't meant for a small screen. It also has built in zooming (by several hundred percent both ways) and a fantastic "small screen" mode - It strips ALL formatting from the HTML page and shows it as text. Combined with the zoom function, I find it to make a very comfortable reader and regularily read full novels this way.

There is a pretty good PDF reader, with full scrolling, zooming, font rendering, and text only modes. Great in a pinch - PDF isn't necessarily the best format for this size of screen.

There is also an excellent dedicated reader program called Opiereader. It supports a whole dog's breakfast of formats: (from the homepage at http://www.timwentford.uklinux.net/)
* "Doc" format - also known as the original Aportis or AportisDoc format.
* Weasel or ztxt format.
* Plucker format.
* gzipped text.
* ppms text.
* iSilo 3 (unencrypted)
* Mobipocket (unencrypted)
* Rocket EBook (unencrypted)
* Plain text with special handling of PML or HTML marked-up text.
It has full support for fonts, font sizing, font/background colours, fully customizable keys, full screen mode, and screen scrolling support. You can even customize handling for codepages and formatting on the fly. It is widely regarded as "Must Have" software for the Z. (It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure that markup formats have fully supported links, etc as well)

Many people also read comics on the Z - there are a couple of graphic viewing programs well suited to the task, including one called Comicreader, which was specifically made for it. (Although I haven't used it personally.)

As befits it's customizable nature, there are other ROMS available for the Z as well. The version from the factory is pretty ugly, and runs Qtopia. There is a replacement rom running Qtopia called "Cacko" that's much prettier. There is a rom that is a fully open source replacement for Qtopia called Opie (or openzaurus - I don't follow it much). There is PDAXrom which replaces the Qtopia environment with a full X-windows based system - you can run Firefox and Open office on it, as well as pretty much any X windows program you can cross compile all the requirements for. There's even an OpenBSD port for it. I know one fellow who runs OpenBSD on his Z, and synchronizes his palm pilot to the software running on the Zaurus. I've personally done everything from watch movies to author and burn a CD directly from my Z - they're pretty fantastic and versatile little things

*Gasp*

So...Any questions?
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Old 11-14-2006, 09:45 AM   #5
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I owned one of the them for a small amount of time. I bought it from Dynamism, played with it, and sent it back. I just wasn't sure I was going to use it for anything much. But it was a very interesting little machine.

What would be very interesting, if you're so inclined, is for you to take a couple of pictures of the thing displaying ebooks and post them. I would like to see the font rendering and what not.
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