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Old 12-05-2006, 09:51 AM   #1
iprofs
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I am brand new to Mobileread and not very technical, so please be gentle!!

I am overwhelemed with all of the information! I am not technical, but am an avid reader. I purchased the Sony Reader, but have not opened it and am about to return it. What I really wanted was a lightweight, portable reader that I could use to read in the car or in bed without using a clip-on book light. I didn't know that the Sony Reader has no backlight. Therefore it would be no different than having a paperback and using the clip-on light!

Is there a reader designed to be lightweight, portable, with a light that you can purchase well known novels for? Also, do any come with color? I've heard about ebookwise, but I'm so confused, I don't know which to turn to!
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Old 12-05-2006, 11:44 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iprofs
I didn't know that the Sony Reader has no backlight. Therefore it would be no different than having a paperback and using the clip-on light!
Well, aside from the other features that make an electronic reader worthwhile (lots of content in a compact package, etc.), you're right. But then again some folks actually prefer the more paper-like display, and consider "no different than having a paperback" to be high praise indeed. It's a matter of priorities, and what works for each person, of course.

Welcome to MobileRead, iprofs.

I can see that you are in a genuine quandry, unfortunately, the answer to it is research. There are a number of readers discussed here (as well as other places), and the Wiki might help you wade through the info more easily.

Since you're interested in popular books, one way to narrow the list of devices you'd want to look at, is to look at some sites like Mobipocket, Fictionwise and eBooks (there are others, those are just off the top of my head). Go through what they have to see how the books you're interested in are available, that is, what sorts of devices will the offered formats work on. Once you do that, you can start eliminating devices based on the features you want. For example, if color is important to you, and there are enough to choose from that have color, eliminate the B&W ones, and so on. If you want some suggestions to consider, I'd offer battery type/life, display type/size, weight, internal memory, expansion media (memory cards) type & size limits, extra features that might matter to you like search, annotation. Stuff like that.

Once you get it down to 2 or 3 that look like they might be good candidates, then you can come back here and search those particular devices up and you'll have a lot less to wade through, and you can ask questions about particular devices (the ones that your search didn't answer already).

And of course you can do general web searches (google/yahoo/whatever) to find info in other places.

That ought to get you started.

Last edited by NatCh; 12-05-2006 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 12-05-2006, 01:31 PM   #3
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iprofs,

Allow me to suggest that, if you haven't looked at handheld computers or smartphones, you might do that. These devices will read e-books... you can download multiple e-book readers, so you can read books in many different e-book formats... and you get color screens.

The issue with handhelds and smartphones tends to be size... not everyone can get used to reading on a 2x3" screen. Also, some are uncomfortable with long-time viewing on a handheld screen (though I've never had a problem, plenty of others in this site don't like it).

On the upside, handheld PCs and smartphones have a lot of other uses, and entertainments, available to them, and you might like that. And they can cost significantly less than an e-book reader.

Do the same kind of comparisons with handhelds that NatCh suggests for the other devices/services.
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Old 12-05-2006, 01:44 PM   #4
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A little further information.

Ebook readers come in two types: "dedicated" readers, such as the Sony, and multi-purpose units, such as a Palm or Windows Mobile PDA. An advantage of dedicated readers is that they have large displays and generally are about the size of a book we all are familiar with. A disadvantage of these readers is that they generally will only read a book in one format (see below).

The dedicated readers are fairly new. Generally, all they do is read ebooks and have limited, in any, secondary functions. Most of these readers are limited to reading one type of book - that is a book that is formatted for that particular reader.

The multi-purpose units, such as what I use, are not really ebook readers, but are personal digital assistants, such as a Palm or Windows Mobile unit, or even a Smartphone (such as the Cingular e62, which I use) that can run many programs - and among those programs are programs that will read ebooks. The multi-purpose units have smaller screens then the dedicated units, but they are all back lighted and can display color. An advantage is that they can read ebooks in several different formats.

Formats: ebooks come in several different formats. First, there is whatever format the dedicated ebook reader can read. Second, there are formats for the multi-purpose units.

For multi-purpose units the most popular formats are Mobipocket and eReader (there are others, but these have the biggest following). To read these formats on a multi-purpose unit you need to have an ebook reading program. These programs will generally read only one format of ebook. For example, the program Mobipocket (www.mobipocket.com) will only read books in the Mobipocket format. The program eReader (www.ereader.com) will only read books in the eReader format. But Good News! Both of these programs are free and you can download them at the websites I mentioned.

To continue to discuss the multi-purpose units: let's suppose you have download Mobipocket or eReader, or both, to your Palm. Where do you get your books? There are a number of sources.

Dedicated sources: you can buy your books directly from the Mobipocket or eReader sites. Of course, each site will have only books that can be read by its particular reader.

Multi-function pay sources: you can buy your books from a site such as Fictionwise (www.fictionwise.com). Fictionwise carries books in many different formats. You buy a book and can choose to download it in any of several different formats carried by Fictionwise - including Mobipocket and eReader formats. Some books are restricted to only one format or another, I guess because of restrictions by the publishers. But most are available in several formats.

Multi-function free sources: the best sources for free ebooks are sites that specialize in books that are out of copyright protection. The most famous is Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) which has thousands of books. Gutenberg is now offering books in several formats. Another site is Manybooks (www.manybooks.net), which takes Gutenberg offerings and makes them available in different formats.
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Old 12-05-2006, 02:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iprofs

Is there a reader designed to be lightweight, portable, with a light that you can purchase well known novels for? Also, do any come with color? I've heard about ebookwise, but I'm so confused, I don't know which to turn to!
Short answer: no

The closest to your requirements comes the Sony Reader but it has no integrated light and the selection of available novels is limited unless you put your own content on, and the Ebookwise1150 sold by Fictionwise through a subsidiary, which has a backlight but it is uglier and most likely the selection of novels in its format is even more limited than for Sony

Right now if you do not want to bother with file converting and finding your own content, just buy and read, I guess only something with lots of software like a pda that suports ereader, mobipocket, mslit, or a tablet will do, and both have their different limitations.

To a large extent it does not make sense to invest in a an ereading device, if you are not prepared to learn how to convert formats, find and put your own content on the device and so on.

Personally, I was almost completely clueless about e-books about a year ago (I would read occasional short fiction online or on my pc, and buy a Webscription once in a while from Baen but print it out on small 8 arial font and read it), but a change in the distribution of my free time pretty much forced me into e-books if I wanted to keep reading as much as before, and I learned quickly what works, what I want, and since then I read more than 50 new full novels, plus short stories, plus partial novels, plus rereads on my 2 devices (Ebookwise1150, and Nokia770) and while I read p-books also due to content limitations, I think that about 65% of my reading is now e, 35% p

So ultimately why you want to read e-books is the most important factor for a decision about what ereading device to buy.

Liviu
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Old 12-05-2006, 02:25 PM   #6
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Thanks!

Thank you everyone for your advice.

Liviu, the main reason I want the ereader is for portability. It seems much easier to carry than a hardcover book and I don't go anywhere without a book currently.

Interestingly, I own the HP Ipaq which has a Microsoft interface and never even considered using it for an ereader. It probably wouldn't work well though, as the battery life on it stinks! Plus my vision is getting worse and the larger size an ereader offers seems to be more appealing.
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Old 12-05-2006, 04:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iprofs
Thank you everyone for your advice.

Liviu, the main reason I want the ereader is for portability. It seems much easier to carry than a hardcover book and I don't go anywhere without a book currently.

Interestingly, I own the HP Ipaq which has a Microsoft interface and never even considered using it for an ereader. It probably wouldn't work well though, as the battery life on it stinks! Plus my vision is getting worse and the larger size an ereader offers seems to be more appealing.
iprofs, you already have some good information. I'll only add that I use both the Sony Reader (most of my reading), a Palm TX (fits in my shirt pocket & has backlight with an acceptable screen size - especially if you have young eyes - I don't), and still read pbooks. All have advantages and disadvantages. E.g., I would not buy the Palm TX just for reading but it has several other things going for it - contacts, calendar, memos, games, etc. I also end up reading at night with the TX.

Whichever device you chose, knowing how to convert files from one format to another will help since it is difficult to find all books of interest in any particular format.

Good luck.
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Old 12-08-2006, 10:59 AM   #8
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There are only two eReaders - Sony and ILiad - which feel like a book and their display is close to paper book. Reading books off tablet pcs or PDAs in not very realistic. I tried it and have given it up and the experience does not come anywhere close to reading it on Sony eReader. However Sony has some of its own issues like I found its page Refresh to be very irritating.
If you are not into PDfs then Sony sounds like a good choice for you and is not botehred by its page refresh.
There is no color eInk based Reader available nor any that comes with backlit. However putting a clip on over Sony is very starighforward and you can take a very small USB based one and it works better than on a Paperback since page turning with Sony reader is a breeze and the Booklight does not come in the way.
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Old 12-12-2006, 10:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iprofs
Interestingly, I own the HP Ipaq which has a Microsoft interface and never even considered using it for an ereader. It probably wouldn't work well though, as the battery life on it stinks! Plus my vision is getting worse and the larger size an ereader offers seems to be more appealing.
Battery life is clearly an issue with many handhelds. My Toshiba can be very temperamental, and I have to pay attention to battery life (or find a charging outlet, or a portable power source) whenever I use it for long reading.

On the other hand, being able to read e-books in 4-5 different formats makes up for the inconvenience. Also, handhelds can resize text, and most come with the "cleartype" option, to make type reading easier on the eyes. And you can't beat the portability.
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Old 12-17-2006, 04:59 PM   #10
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"Battery life is clearly an issue with many handhelds"

This is why whenever I buy a ppc or some other "gadget", the first thing I do is hunt down a much bigger battery for it. Definitely worth it in the long run!
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:20 AM   #11
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This is why whenever I buy a ppc or some other "gadget", the first thing I do is hunt down a much bigger battery for it. Definitely worth it in the long run!
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Old 12-26-2006, 05:27 PM   #12
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I have used my HX4700 successfully for 2 years as an ebook reader. 4" screen, 640x480 res, supports all the readers and formats.

Battery life is about 3 hrs (longer in bed when it's dark and brightness is down).

Can also see video, music, etc etc.

Sadly, HP stopped making these. Big downside is cost, although used ones can be readily obtained on eBay for 300-400$.

Of course, can't compared 4" to 6" of Sony Reader, but backlit screen, very sharp, all the colours you want, and in my hands at least, in teh past 2+ years, a totally stable device (I don't load all sorts of useless programs on it).

Oh, yes, and if you care about that sort of thing.. it's a fully featured PDA. Best of the breed really.
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Old 12-27-2006, 12:47 PM   #13
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I am a big fan of the IPAQ 4700 too. It is my ebook reader of choice even though I own a Sony Reader.
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Old 12-27-2006, 08:08 PM   #14
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I find the Nokia 770's 800x480 screen "good enough" for e-books, even though I like a relatively large font. I'm not sure why more devices don't use this display. However, the 770 can only read books without DRM encription. Most new releases are only available in proprietary formats, with DRM. The advantage of non-encrypted formats is that they are device independent, the disadvantage is the lack of availability of recent titles.

It might be worth waiting for the Amazon Kindle (same screen as the Sony Reader). There is no guarantee that this will ever be released, but if it does then most publishers will want a Mobipocket (now an Amazon company) version of their e-books. Mobipocket has limitations but isn't a bad choice (as proprietary formats go), and in particular there is Mobipocket reader software for many devices. The eventual Kindle might be different from the pre-production device we know about, but the latter had a integrated snap-on reading light (E Ink can't use a back light). It looked ugly in the photos, but it might look better in real life and anyway the outside was not in its final form. Details like the reading light, cell phone network e-book delivery, and the full keypad indicate that Amazon has a different idea of what an e-book reader should be than existing devices.
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