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Old 01-22-2011, 09:12 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QU2C371FcY View Post
My dad loves his kindle, and is never without it. He get's all his books in an FB2 format, converts them to text and then moves them over to the kindle. A few of his friends got an iPad, and he's considering getting it to replace his kindle.

My question is this. If he downloads his books in FB2 format, which reader would make it easiest for him to download and read those books? I know that both the iOS and Android have apps capable of reading FB2 books, but which tablet will be best for downloading the books? He would like to avoid having to sync the tablet to something like iTunes.

The three tablets I have in mind are iPad 2, Notion Ink Adam and Motorola Xoom.
First a caveat - the following is just my €0.02 worth, and my opinion only!
I use an app for €1.59 ($1.99) on iPad called readMe (http://unrealmojo.com/en/readme/) and find it very good for FB2, as well as ePub. Some features, with varying degrees of usefulness, include:

# Beautiful text rendering and formatting
# Support for popular file formats FB2 and EPUB
# Sort books by author, name and date when it was added
# Built-in HTTP-server to load books from your computer, Mac or PC
# Upload many books to readMe at once by archiving them in ZIP format
# Download books from the popular e-book sites

(plus many others in their promo/marketing blurb).

From my point of view, the text rendering is pretty good, but not beautiful - Bluefire reader is better, and the font choices in readMe are plentiful but poorly chosen for eBooks (much like the lame iBook choices, only more of them!). I have found using Georgia is probably best at the moment, but I have written to the developers to try and get them to allow users to add fonts, or if this is problematic, then adding a bunch of the great free fonts that a lot if users use on eInk device sand are better suited to eBook rendering (such as Fontin, DejaVu, etc.). IN addition they need to tweak their font kerning as it doesn't always adapt well when transitioning from italics to normal text.

Supports FB2 and ePub, which for me is what I need! In addition, iTunes-haters like me can often avoid that crappiest of programs by using the in-built WiFi HTTP server to transfer books, including transferring a ZIP archive of multiple books which will be expanded upon transfer and added to the library - nice! I also use GoodReader, which has a similar HTTP transfer method, and then do an 'Open in...' to get them to readMe. Basically, most of the good apps out there have ways around using iTunes!

And BTW...
Quote:
Originally Posted by jocampo View Post
Any reason why your dad sticks to that format? It's an old format and lacks of a lot of features.
...
An iPad would be overkilling and unnecessary, in my humble opinion.
An interesting opinion on FB2, but I suspect from someone who's never really used the format in earnest (my apologies if I'm wrong).

FB2 may be an older format, but in many ways it is still superior to most of the formats currently being used. It is pure XML, allowing the content of the eBook to be displayed on any device with a suitable app (FBReader on m,any eInk devices, readMe on iPad, Stanza and others on Mac/PC, etc.). ePub may be all the rage, but in many aspects it is far too complex for simple eBook reading, and many features are unused.

For text books, and books with many footnotes/links, tables, graphics, etc. ePub has a clear advantage when properly implemented, but in many cases the poor formatting efforts of the publisher combined with the low standard of reader app (in most cases ADE, which offers users very poor reader support on most devices IMHO) have made my ePub reading experiences less than stellar.

And let's face it, Mobi has never been much good - Amazon and Mobi deserve one another!...

Reading basic eBooks/novels, I still prefer FB2 as a format - perhaps because it was the format I started with and I'm used to it. There are many creation/edit tools available, and as I said, it focuses on content rather than format, leaving the reader app to worry about device particulars, screen sizes, etc.

And in addition to all that, it is easy to use Calibre to convert to/from FB2, allowing you to use ePub (then Bluefire reader is well worth checking out), or if you really must, to Mobi (which can be rad on the Kindle app).

Plus an iPad so many other uses, I cannot live without mine now! I have three other eInk devices (BeBook, PB360 and iRex DR1000), all with great FB2 support, but they are all in the drawer since I got my iPad!

So if you ask me, I would say go iPad. But if battery life and compact size are truly important (and they are valid requirements) then I would advise looking at some other options such as PocketBook devices or BeBook-type devices. These alternatives have excellent FB2 support, as well as usually ePub and Mobi capability, plus many others (HTML, DOC, TXT, CHM, PDF, etc.), giving maximum flexibility.
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:03 AM   #17
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Without engaging in the "format war" discussions and being strictly technical, epub can do basically the same. But like you say, for pure text books you will not notice major differences between that and epub or even mobi.

The main problem with FB2 is that is an old format and the best ereaders on the market do not support it natively; you depend of Calibre to convert, that's an extra step and not an advantage in my opinion. Most commercial online bookstore do not sell books on that format either (commercial, not free stores)

Images are also converted to to base64 making the end file size bigger. For technical books or manuals with lot of images you will produce a much bigger file per book. Multiply that several times if you have hundreds of books and your internal ereader memory or SD card won't hold the same amount of books, something you can avoid since the very beginning when using one of the common formats. Paragraphs are also heavily indented.

FB2 is also slow for big books (I tried already, long time ago) freezes when loading a book or takes too much when turning pages. This is because FB2 is a monolithic format, so the whole book needs to be loaded into RAM to read.

To be fair, reading basic eBooks/novels, specially if they are not too big or filled with graphics FB2 is more than enough, you are correct. And for you, the reader that you own, your needs and the type of books you like, the best format is the one that works best for you!

Last edited by jocampo; 01-22-2011 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 01-22-2011, 12:17 PM   #18
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I agree, no format wars. Although the 'best' format in anything is often not the one chosen by the commercial providers (Beta vs VHS, NTSC vs PAL, GSM vs whatever).

I can't find fault with any of your statements, and it really comes down to personal situation and preferences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jocampo View Post
...The main problem with FB2 is that is an old format and the best ereaders on the market do not support it natively; you depend of Calibre to convert, that's an extra step and not an advantage in my opinion. Most commercial online bookstore do not sell books on that format either (commercial, not free stores)
But for me, the 'best readers on the market' were the ones that did supported FB2 natively (Hanlin clones such as BeBook, PocketBook variants, etc.). These handled FB2 out of the box, as they came with an FBReader integrated into their firmware (usu. FBReader or CoolReader).

I specifically stayed away from Kindle and Sony as they did not handle FB2, and in fact handled primarily their own format (Mobi = Kindle; LRF = Sony), wlthough Sony have since adopted ePub as their format of choice.

I also stayed away from these 'big' names as they were too Ameri-centric for me. That is to say, they limited sale of their hardware to the US, and even if you got around the system and imported one elsewhere, their bookstores refused to sell you the books! I believe the Sony store is still extremely geo-restricted, and officially Amazon is, but there are reasonably easy ways around it. B&N, the newcomer, is also heavily restricted and difficult to circumvent.

So even when Sony and Kindle opened their reader market to sell the hardware to other regions, I was already so p***ed off with their earlier sales policies that I took a voluntary boycott on all their products. I no longer will even consider Kindle or Sony, or their respective stores, for any eBook-related purchase.

I think you'll find some non-English language bookstores offer material in FB2 - primarily Russian, as the format began there. In fact, I first got into FB2 when I improvised an eBook solution back in 2004, using an Acer n10 PDA running Haali Reader. The fact that FB2 provided a great solution when Sony and later Kindle refused to sell me an eInk device has coloured my view and left me with a (perhaps irrational) love of FB2 and an irrational hatred of Mobi/ePub.

Your points on large books and books with graphics are well taken - FB2 is ideal for novels, but text/technical books, or books with lots of images and/or formatting are not as well suited. FB2 files tend to be larger in size because they are uncompressed, although any reader that can handle FB2 usually also handles FB2.zip files, allowing them to be compressed. And as for text books, even in ePub I find 5" or 6" eInk devices inadequate as you usually need a larger display to make use of the info. Again, iPad provides this (as does DR1000 and now other larger-screen devices). Also, PDF is often the format in these cases, again supporting the need for a larger display.

As for conversion, Calibre is one option, but to be frank it is not the best. It produces an output (usually) but it is often too simplistically formatted. I prefer BookDesigner, and there is also the FBTools plug-in for Open Office. But if you know XML you could also produce an FB2 book with any XML editor, as the schema is relatively simple and available online (FB2 Wiki pages, etc.).

Unfortunately, FB2 will probably die off, although there still seems to be plenty of non-US/non-English support and ongoing development for readers, conversion tools, etc. The fact that it is XML, and well-established in the Russian language eBook world, where so much of the cutting edge eReader and firmware development (non-Kindle, non-Sony, non-Apple) seems to be happening. As I said, just check out things like PocketBook and BeBook to see the firmware options, and the fact that FB2 is supported 'out of the box'.

Again, just my €0.02 worth...
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Old 01-22-2011, 01:50 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocampo View Post
The main problem with FB2 is that is an old format and the best ereaders on the market do not support it natively;
actually- all the best readers support it natively. PocketBook , Bebook, Onyx, Bookeen, ALuratek all support FB2. If you meant best known then you are correct. But best known doesnt make them the best reader.

FB2 is a great format that gives allot of control to the user. If you are looking for a LCD device that you can read fb2 on then have a look at the PocketBook IQ.
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Old 01-24-2011, 09:46 AM   #20
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orwell2k, thanks for a very detailed answer. And as a matter of fact, my dad does only read Russian book, which are all in FB2.
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:44 PM   #21
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I'm very interested in the Notion Ink Adam. I am also waiting for reviews to pop up. Its just been unboxings lately.
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Old 01-25-2011, 09:09 PM   #22
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Android. Cool Reader. Period.

After using Cool Reader and its 2-column mode in my Advent Vega, there's no way I'm using anything else.

Last edited by Logseman; 01-25-2011 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 01-26-2011, 01:04 AM   #23
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I have FBReader installed on both my rooted Nookcolor and on my rooted Nook e-ink and it displays fb2 format very well
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Old 01-26-2011, 11:58 AM   #24
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the Jetbook Mini also reads FB2 natively, no need to convert.
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Old 02-01-2011, 04:18 AM   #25
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I usually use LBook (Hanlin) to read fb2-books in Russian, and I often buy the books from Litres.Ru. Now I have bought an Android tablet (Advent Vega clone), I'd like to use FBreader on it as it is integrated with Litres.Ru, but I can't get FBreader to run, it just shows a FAQ text and I find no way to get past that instruction and get the app running. Anybody else with this problem? Downloaded the app from Market, it says it installed without problems, but now what? Shuld I use some other reader?
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Old 02-01-2011, 11:53 AM   #26
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Android. Cool Reader. Period.

After using Cool Reader and its 2-column mode in my Advent Vega, there's no way I'm using anything else.
One other very nice thing about CoolReader 3 is the way it overcomes the drawback of FB2 being a monolithic file format. Opening a very large FB2 book on CoolReader 3 is only slow the first time the book is loaded because CoolReader caches the parsed version of the file when it is initially opened. Any subsequent opening of the FB2 file is read from the pre-parsed cache, so opening and paging are very fast. The cache also means that the whole FB2 file does not need to be in RAM, as would be the case without the cache.
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:04 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QU2C371FcY View Post
My dad loves his kindle, and is never without it. He get's all his books in an FB2 format, converts them to text and then moves them over to the kindle. A few of his friends got an iPad, and he's considering getting it to replace his kindle.

My question is this. If he downloads his books in FB2 format, which reader would make it easiest for him to download and read those books? I know that both the iOS and Android have apps capable of reading FB2 books, but which tablet will be best for downloading the books? He would like to avoid having to sync the tablet to something like iTunes.

The three tablets I have in mind are iPad 2, Notion Ink Adam and Motorola Xoom.
I know nothing about the format so I won't comment on that.

Has your Dad had a chance to play with an IPad for a long period of time? Has he held it while using it for 30 minutes to an hour? I ask because the IPad is heavier then a Kindle. It has a ton of additional functionality but it might not be something he is as comfortable using.

What type of additional functionality is he looking for?

When my parents ask for a new tech toy I normally ask them what is it that they want, why they want it, and what they want it to do. Sometimes they get what it is that they wanted but more frequently there is a different device that they didn't know of that better suits their needs.

We went through this at Christmas. My Dad asked for the smallest IPod available. I asked him what he wanted it for, they already have an IPod, he said to listen to music and that the current IPod was just hard to find. He wanted a touchscreen. I asked about the ITouch, he said no an IPod. I bought him a Nano. He was shocked by the size of it and he really wanted to be able to search more easily. We traded it in for a ITouch.
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Old 02-01-2011, 12:08 PM   #28
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I think the PocketBook IQ is what you're looking for. It has the Android operating system and accepts a wide variety of formats. That model just went on sale today in the US for $139.99. You're not going to find a better price for an e-reader with Android anywhere else. There are 2 US locations, Seattle WA and Independence MO. You can also order the device and have it shipped to you. Simply email christi.gibson@pocketbook-usa.com if you'd like that option.
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