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Old 06-01-2009, 09:58 AM   #1
emellaich
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Ergonomics for Hardware?

I'm starting this thread in hopes of influencing the manufacturers who visit this forum. Earlier we had a discussion embedded in the Astak thread about the best design for a reader from an ergonomic viewpoint. Although the trend is for thin readers, many of you mentioned the comfort of gripping the thicker edge of the older REB1100 book reader.

My issue is that current hardware is not really well designed for one handed reading. For example, I have the K2. In order to hold it you grasp it by the thin edge, but not full on the button for page advance. I've also owned the Cybook (Netronix). This unit is grasped by the bottom right corner because that is the location of its page advance.

In either case, you end up pinching the unit by an edge/corner and attempting to keep a firm grip on it. This might be fine for two handed reading and/or reading while sitting down. However, I'm someone who reads too much . I read while waiting in line, and while walking. Keeping a secure and comfortable grip on the reader can be an issue.

I would suggest the possibility of placing buttons in a way that lets you get a firmer grip. In this (admittedly poor) mockup, I put the buttons at the top across the device. This would let the back of your hand lie under the body of the reader and allow your thumb to rest naturally across the top. Both of the blue buttons would be page advance buttons for left/right reading. The previous page button would be located elsewhere.

Any other ideas?

p.s. I would suggest that Amazon's TTS (text to speech) is an ergonomic plus (when its not disabled). It lets me 'read' when I drive my car and lets me go back to regular reading when I finish my trip.
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Old 06-01-2009, 01:46 PM   #2
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eb1150

I think the ergonomics on my little eb1150 is actually pretty good, it could be lighter but hey it was designed a few years back.

I think that ebook designers are making a mistake that some cell phone manufactures made, making things too small. There is a point at which being small is a hinderance.

It seems like many of the turn page buttons are a bit on the small size, which for someone like me, who has little hands, could be a problem, it could also be a problem for someone with bigger hands too. I find that reading on my iphone is a bit annoying because of how I have to turn the page (swipe finger across the screen), especially since I have to turn the page more frequently.

I think that the ereaders are still in their toddler years and that companies have not found the perfect combo of ergonomics yet.

I would say think of keyboards and mice, they have to have a large variety of options because people have different hands and some keyboards work for some people and not for others.

Amy
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:14 PM   #3
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Although I returned my Franklin eBookman a long time ago because of Franklin's false advertising (don't even go there), I have to say the ergonomics of it were great. In my left hand, the page turn button was under my thumb, in my right hand it fell under my index finger. Either way, just click, click, click. Great one-handed viewing.

I love my Sony 505, but it's not great ergonomically. Oddly enough, it's better in the case than out of it - either the case it came with or my M-edge Executive cover. Either one changes the center of gravity enough that I don't feel like I'm going to drop it, although the ergonomics could still be vastly improved.

The ergonomics of the upcoming Pocketbook 360 look great. Big simple buttons - if the center of gravity is right, that one could be the winner.
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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I think this just goes to show how difficult it is to come up with a device that pleases the majority of people. You will never please everyone. Ergonomics are so relative. Your mock-up is obviously what would work best for you but it looks dreadfully uncomfortable for me. I naturally grip my Kindle (version 1) on the left side with my thumb between the screen and the keyboard. It's the most comfortable position for me. I occasionally grip the same way with the right, but it's usually on the left. Page turns are just a mindless flick of the thumb. I think this is what the designers had in mind. I'm lucky that it coincides with my natural usage. My husband likes to grip about half-way up but he can't because of the buttons. He's gotten used to it, but it's not ideal for him.
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emellaich View Post
I put the buttons at the top across the device. This would let the back of your hand lie under the body of the reader and allow your thumb to rest naturally across the top.
I can't picture this. If the back of my hand is under the reader, my thumb and fingers curve away from the reader, so I'm not holding it at all. If the unit lies on my upward-facing palm, my fingers can curl over the top edge, but my thumb would need a button on the edge.

I agree that the eb1150 is probably the best ergonomics. It's made so you can hold it with your fingertips and the base of you fingers, no thumb required. You can even hold it up above your head as a light (which isn't applicable to most e-ink units, but could be useful with a 3Qi one). The battery bulge could be addressed by having a rubberized plastic bulge that one could snap/screw on or remove, as desired. Or a piece that folds out to make a gripping ridge.

If the screen rotates, it works for both left- and right-handed users. On buttons, I like the two big ones. Equal size, too, since some might like to reverse functions. I might add some small ones on that single overwide bezel, too. Say a sequence of 1 ABCD 2 EFGH 3 down the side, where the letters are the big page-forward and page-back buttons, and the numbers smaller buttons. Labels should be icons that make sense from any direction.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sassanik View Post
I find that reading on my iphone is a bit annoying because of how I have to turn the page (swipe finger across the screen), especially since I have to turn the page more frequently.
Most apps (including the Kindle with the latest update) allows you to turn pages with a single tap. With Stanza, a tap on the left side of the screen goes to the previous page and a tap on the right to the next page. The small screen actually makes single-handed operation (using either hand) possible since your thumb wouldn't need to travel far to switch pages.

I made an extremely simple mock-up of what I'd like in a reader. Basically, I want both left and right sides to have next/previous buttons since I tend to switch hands while reading. It's not really the most ideal mock-up and I didn't include any other buttons. Also, I think I should have made the sides a little bit wider so they're easier to grasp.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:25 AM   #7
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I've been thinking a small remote page turner (wired through the headphone jack or wireless for the newer devices) would be a nice accessory to have. I don't always hold my reader the same way, and a lot of times I need my other hand to turn the pages. A remote wold be a lot more convenient.
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemon lime View Post
I've been thinking a small remote page turner (wired through the headphone jack or wireless for the newer devices) would be a nice accessory to have. I don't always hold my reader the same way, and a lot of times I need my other hand to turn the pages. A remote wold be a lot more convenient.
I had the same thought some time ago, and mentioned it a couple of times. I'd like a "detachable" control device that you could place in any edge of the reader or detach it and use it without touching the reader. Wired is better than wireless for the battery.
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Old 06-02-2009, 06:29 AM   #9
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There's not really one right answer - and as Apple showed with the click wheel, a product designer can come up with a completely new way of interacting with a device and it'll completely change the landscape. Sadly so far it looks like a lot of readers have been designed by industrial designers and are more technical exercises, rather than product designers with an eye on user interaction. There are very, very few people and companies that have that particular skill set.

It's not just a question of moving the buttons around, but let's be honest you can see ebooks are still in their infancy when even that detail is weak in current devices.
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:55 AM   #10
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the Kindle, the PRS 700 are the easiest to hold and turn the pages, the Kindle takes a bit of getting used to for some people though

Next up is the kindle 2, the Jetbook, the 500 and the 505, they are all very easy to turn pages.

and for the horroble ergonomics, anything by Netronix.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:09 AM   #11
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I'm a left-hander and for me the PRS-505 is the easiest to hold and turn the pages because of the additional navigation "wheel" in the bottom left corner. I can hold the device in the left hand and use the thumb to turn pages.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:16 AM   #12
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I'm a left-hander and for me the PRS-505 is the easiest to hold and turn the pages because of the additional navigation "wheel" in the bottom left corner. I can hold the device in the left hand and use the thumb to turn pages.
Kindle works great in the left or right hand.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:25 AM   #13
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Kindle works great in the left or right hand.
I have tried PRS-505, PRS-700, Bebook and Cybook so far and the PRS-505 is the best for me. I can use it easily in the left or in right hand too. It feels like it was made with left- and right-handers in mind. Can hardly wait to try a Kindle2 though...
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Old 06-02-2009, 11:59 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
I want both left and right sides to have next/previous buttons since I tend to switch hands while reading.
If you can rotate the screen, you can get by with one wide bezel with buttons, and three slim bezels with none. I'd make the paging buttons two or three times longer, as well. If you have three buttonless edges to grip, you can fill the wide bezel without losing pickup-ability. If the unit lacks a touch screen, then a menu button and some choice-navigation buttons are a good idea.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:30 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Jadon View Post
If you can rotate the screen, you can get by with one wide bezel with buttons, and three slim bezels with none. I'd make the paging buttons two or three times longer, as well. If you have three buttonless edges to grip, you can fill the wide bezel without losing pickup-ability. If the unit lacks a touch screen, then a menu button and some choice-navigation buttons are a good idea.
As I mentioned, very simple mock-up. I know there should be a menu button, etc, somewhere (for me, likely below the screen). Also, the design was so I can turn pages using the same hand holding the device. As much as possible, I'd prefer the buttons to be within easy reach of my short stubby thumb. It might even be better if the buttons were shorter. I'm also thinking the buttons should be moved slightly higher since balance will be off if I'm gripping the reader below the buttons. That design is what I want. Different people would choose different layouts based on personal preference.
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