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Old 06-25-2007, 08:59 PM   #1
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backlight, ebook conversions and 3rd party software

Hello,

I would welcome any help understanding some of the features of the 2nd gen ebooks from the comparison matrix.

First -- do any of the e-ink devices come with the backlight? I don't think it's too hard to cram a little LED inside, but then I found out that the 3rd gen Bookeen devices is only "day readable, no backlight" -- is it the case with the 2nd gen readers? If not -- which ones do have the backlight?

Then, since I'm on a Mac (and generally hesitant about adding hardware manufacturers' software on my computer) I'd rather avoid converting books on the computer before loading them on the SD-card. So from the matrix in wiki -- all the formats "supported" mean that they can be read directly on the device or do they have to be converted first? I'll be reading russian TXT/fb2 files and english chm/pdf files about 50/50 and that leads me to the last question.

From what I understood, all the ebook readers do not allow the 3rd party software (well, reader software) to be loaded and ran there -- am I correct in this understanding? If not, what's the most open (not in terms of the OS source, but in terms of the SDK and documentation available for the 3rd party developers) device and which device currently has most 3rd party apps developed?

If anyone has practical suggestions on which hardware should I get to read fb2/pdf/chm, I'd be grateful for tips.

PS. I can wait until September if there's a hope for a much better device by then, but wanted to buy something within a month or so, please help!
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Old 06-26-2007, 01:00 AM   #2
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eInk cannot have a backlight because it is opaque.
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Old 06-26-2007, 04:36 AM   #3
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As answered, with the current Eink technology backlighting is not possible. You're pretty much stuck to reading lights for now.

As for document conversion, it really depends on the type of documents and the reader you want to buy. The iliad has a larger screen so things are more readable.
PDF can be read, although at a lower contrast. You can go to here for some example pics and reviews http://hightech.afmag.net/

The iliad is more "open" and has more programs available for it.
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Old 06-26-2007, 09:46 AM   #4
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But also remember, that the iLiad costs as much as a laptop. It's $750.
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Old 06-26-2007, 10:38 AM   #5
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I can elaborate on the iLiad. While it is pricey, I believe it's the only device that will read your formats (well) without conversion. And even then, you need to install FBReader on your iLiad before you'll be able to read CHM files. I'm not familiar with fb2, but it says it's supported on FBReader's page as well. The iLiad is very open, and with enough work (or begging to a developer ), you can put just about any linux program on there you'd like.

To Sum it up:

Downside: Cost, Bartery life
Upside: Open, Only ebook device that supports your formats without conversion.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:30 AM   #6
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What I would love is a reader with the 2nd gen E-Ink, A4 (if it'll do A4, letter is no problem) size screen for PDF at A4, the openness of the ilIad, the battery life of the Sony, the price of the Sony, and properly placed buttons for page turning. Then we'd have something there for sure.
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Old 06-27-2007, 12:53 AM   #7
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Also remember that PDF documents are fixed so all of the e-ink devices will scale the document to fit on the screen. While there are 3rd party conversion programs like PDFrasterfarian (if I spelled that correctly) that can help in making PDFs more readable, all e-ink devices currently operate best with PDFs designed for their specific screen.

For Russian on the Sony (I cannot speak about it for the iLiad) you are limited to PDFs and specially created LRF files as the installed fonts are western only. There has been some discussion about loading additional fonts in the Sony but that route seems to have been closed with the last firmware upgrade.

There are no additional 3rd party reading applications for the Sony. The iLiad is more open and Adam is one of the most experienced people around here in understanding the internals of the device so his comments have a lot of validity.
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Old 06-27-2007, 04:52 AM   #8
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Thank you guys for replies, to be honest I didn't expect to receive so much feedback/advice so fast!

While iLiad is certainly a winner on features, I don't see myself spending so much on a new gadget before I can get my mom a new laptop.

The Sony PRS-500 is currently sold at $299 ($50 price drop) and while I realize that the new vizplex devices are going to be coming to the market this fall, without the certain release date an price, I'd rather get a current device now than wait.

Regarding reading russian books, from what I could understand at www.the-ebook.org/forum, there're still options to load the russian fonts on PRS-500 and read russian texts on them.

Oh, if anyone has a hands-on experience with the lBook products and how do they compare to Sony, I would greatly appreciate any comments on that!

Thanks again!

PS. Adam, you're my hero for porting KeePassX to iLiad, almost made me buy one
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:37 PM   #9
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I just purchased a DT375 PC Tablet for reading. It has a 8.4" screen and can read just about any format. With the right tuning you can get it to look very close to eInk using the uBook program (an ebook reader that works on this device).

More info at:

http://www.dt375.com
http://www.ubid.com/Web_DT_Web_DT_37...601921318.html
http://www.dt375.com/ureader.htm

I've only had mine for a day now. So far I am very impressed with the quality of the device. I've had problems getting the wireless networking to work because I don't know what I'm doing, but ebooks look beautiful. It can even read PDFs. The buttons are customizable as well.

EDIT: The reason I posted this is because I really wanted a backlight due to reading in many low-light situations (in bed, in theatres, etc).

Last edited by ColdSun; 07-04-2007 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Forgot Something about why I posted this!
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdSun View Post
I just purchased a DT375 PC Tablet for reading. It has a 8.4" screen and can read just about any format. With the right tuning you can get it to look very close to eInk using the uBook program (an ebook reader that works on this device).
I'm a huge fan of uBook - far and away my all-time favourite book reading software.

It is perhaps worth noting, though, that the one thing you certainly won't get with a Tablet PC is the battery life of an eInk device. The Sony Reader, for example, requires recharging about once every 3 weeks for most people.

The real benefit of a Tablet is, as you say, the backlighting. If reading in the dark is important to you, it's a clear winner. If you read in conditions with reasonable lighting, though, I'd say personally that eInk devices win out both because of the clarify of the display and the excellent battery life.

You really have to look at what your personal requirements are and choose accordingly. There's no device that's a clear winner for everybody.
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Old 07-05-2007, 01:15 AM   #11
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@stangri, see if you can find an iLiad used. I got mine for half price, which is close to the Sony price, and I know there are people reading Russian on it. Otherwise, if you can wait just a little bit, the Bookeen reader will likely be very open with a lively development community, as the Baen group (a bunch of science fiction fans) is getting a batch of them as a group, and I think they will be willing and able to develop and port many applications to the unit. The Baen group is getting theirs with the ability to read many common formats natively -- I think they're using FBReader, which would handle fb2 files, though I'm not sure.
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Old 07-05-2007, 10:33 AM   #12
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the Bookeen reader will likely be very open with a lively development community, as the Baen group (a bunch of science fiction fans) is getting a batch of them as a group, and I think they will be willing and able to develop and port many applications to the unit. The Baen group is getting theirs with the ability to read many common formats natively -- I think they're using FBReader, which would handle fb2 files, though I'm not sure.
It isn't clear how open the Cybook will be, but Bookeen is supporting multiple formats and NAEB has expressed a desire for FBReader support (which won't be in the initial software suite). FB2 isn't currently on Bookeen's list of supported formats though.
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:16 PM   #13
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eInk cannot have a backlight because it is opaque.
But they could be front lit, like the old Gameboys. I expect the next generation of eink readers to be front lit.
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Old 07-06-2007, 12:31 PM   #14
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I expect the next generation of eink readers to be front lit.
'Tis devoutly to be hoped.
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Old 08-06-2007, 07:17 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ColdSun View Post
I just purchased a DT375 PC Tablet for reading. It has a 8.4" screen and can read just about any format. With the right tuning you can get it to look very close to eInk using the uBook program (an ebook reader that works on this device).

More info at:

http://www.dt375.com
http://www.ubid.com/Web_DT_Web_DT_37...601921318.html
http://www.dt375.com/ureader.htm

I've only had mine for a day now. So far I am very impressed with the quality of the device. I've had problems getting the wireless networking to work because I don't know what I'm doing, but ebooks look beautiful. It can even read PDFs. The buttons are customizable as well.

EDIT: The reason I posted this is because I really wanted a backlight due to reading in many low-light situations (in bed, in theatres, etc).
How long does it hold between each charge?
Is it really comfortable to lie in bed and read around 100 pages of a book ?
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