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Old 07-15-2007, 04:30 AM   #1
lloydt
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An Owner of iLiad and Sony Reader's Personal Experience

I wanted to start a new thread here to share my observations as an owner of both the iLiad and the Sony Reader. I bought my first iLiad last August, and when a bag I had it in was stolen in late May, I took the opportunity to buy a Sony Reader for comparison--knowing that my wife was going to take it for her own on a very long trip she's now on.

I used The Reader for about five weeks, reading about 2000 pages of books. And I have some interesting observations about the two devices.

Direct hardware comparisons aside, the most surprising difference to me was that there was a significant difference in what I read, much more than in how much I read. With the Sony Reader, I read almost exclusively books. I came to regard it as a book, and I would almost automatically turn it on and resume the book-reading where I had left off. With the iLiad, I had always found that I would tailor the item (news article, newsletter, or book) to the individual occasion. If I was waiting on a food take-out order, I'd read a couple of articles from the Wall Street Journal. If I was reading over lunchtime, I'd read news more often than a book. And at home, before dinner or before bed, I'd generally use it to read articles or books--whichever was more on my mind.

The iLiad seems to want to be a newspaper, more than a book reader. I realize that this may now be changing with Mobipocket and the ability to buy modern, current books. But everything about the iLiad--its size, its superior graphics capabilities, its ability to annotate files, and (probably most importantly) its use of a full directory structure and ability to rename and delete files--seems to specifically tailor it to news reading.

Ultimately I realized that, for me, the iLiad was the right device. Together with a small bag I carry it in, it has allowed me literally to replace my briefcase and my Franklin Planner. When I do business or pleasure travel, I'm able to travel dramatically more lightly, even if I do bring a notebook computer as well. The fact is that a computer is awkward and imposing in most face-to-face meetings, and the iLiad (with the speaker turned off, please!) strikes up just the right balance between good old fashioned paper and a full-on computer; it really doesn't interfere with my thinking or communicating, which a notebook somehow does. And while traveling, it allows me to do away with reams of hand-written notes and just-in-case reference items.

Of course all of this is far beyond the intended application of a Sony Reader. Having spent now nearly a year working continually with e-ink readers, I want to offer this. If you want a device to read books, to carry a bunch of books, and to do it very practically and efficiently, get the Sony Reader; it's a no-brainer for $150 after the book credits. But if you've always had dreams of replacing a hundred stray articles laying around your house, if you want to be able to use your daily minutes of down time to catch up on your pile of guilt and pleasure reading, or if you can't stand reading 3-to-6-page items on your computer screen, the iLiad is probably your baby.

Last edited by lloydt; 07-15-2007 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 07-15-2007, 04:41 AM   #2
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That's a very interesting comparison - thank you for making it.

As a fairly long-term (since December) Sony Reader user, I completely agree with you about the Reader's suitability for reading books. With its long battery life and instant "switch on and read" it really does make a perfect substitute for paperback books, and that of course, is precisely what it's intended for. It does that job very very well indeed.

People who are disappointed by the Reader tend to be those who buy it with false expectations - most notably that they're going to be able to use it to read A4/US Letter PDF documents. Trying to read an A4 page on a screen that's 1/6th the area is an exercise in futility.

As you say, the Iliad and the Reader really are very different beasts, aimed at different markets. I'm pleased that you've found that the Iliad is right for you - I feel just the same way about my beloved Reader .
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Old 07-15-2007, 05:00 AM   #3
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I might mention one other thing, the thing that first led me to start forming these conclusions. I had been reading a very long novel for probably two months on the iLiad when it was stolen. Less than a week into owning the Reader I had finished the book.

And it wasn't just a fluke. I then began reading another old book I had never gotten more than halfway through in its large hardback form. I was most of the way through it when I was finally shamed into turning the reader over to my wife.

I really think the Reader is an interesting device if your goal is to read books, and to finish them quickly.
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Old 07-15-2007, 06:30 AM   #4
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Hey everybody !

Thank you for your account, lloydt, I found it confirming my views on the Sony Reader and the Iliad. I have Sony Reader, and besides buying books from Connect, I find myself re-reading old French litterature which I had to read when I was at school, but didn't enjoy. Now that I am older (wiser ?), and living out of France, I find ebooks are the perfect way of getting these oldies easily, via Gutenberg and the like. Really, nowadays, with all the communications means we have, living abroad starts to be a piece of cake !

As for the Iliad, a friend of mine let one to me 3 months ago for a week-end, and I see the potential of the beast, owing mostly to its bigger screen and wider format compatibility. A no-go for the "daily minutes of down time to catch up on your pile of guilt and pleasure reading" you're referring to would be the boot-up time, though. I just too used to grabbing my Sony Reader and get back into a book after 4 seconds, as opposed to 45 in the case of the Iliad.

All this to say, that although I am fully satisfied by the Reader, I will probably get an Iliad as well, since I see the two devices as being complementary... But ONLY when Irex will have ironed-out their battery life problems and put proper power-saving in the thing. Unless Bookeen beats them to market a larger-screen device with a wider range of format compatibility than he Sony...

Let's hope that Irex will get its acts together wrt the Iliad 2 this year, still.
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Old 07-15-2007, 08:55 AM   #5
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I do like my Sony Reader. I use it to read books. I'm not looking for it to deal with PDF properly. It really can't without zooming and scrolling.

What I am doing now is waiting to see what these new devices are going to be like. I'm in no rush to go out and get a second reader. The Sony works for me. If something comes along down the road that does something I really want or need that the Sony does not, maybe. But for now, the Sony is where I'll stay.

The other major difference with the iLiad is the price. I can't justify it at the moment. If I had $750 to spend, I'd probably look at maybe getting a new laptop,
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Old 07-15-2007, 01:33 PM   #6
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Lloydt - I think your analysis is correct for the iLiad. It is more of a magazine/newspaper that a straight book reader.

I got mine in January to read philosophical & theological journal articles and it basically is used as a replacement for the copy machine. If there is an article that has to be read for a class or for my thesis, it is either scanned, or if the journal is available online, it is PDFed using Open Office.
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:08 PM   #7
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What an excellent and succinct summation, lloydt.

I'm one of those who loves his Reader, and wouldn't trade it. But I also can see that when the iLiad, or something like it, progresses a bit further, it could easily become something I would want for business/professional purposes. At the moment, I expect that the new TabletPC that I've gotten via work will fill my needs in that area. Since I can convert it to a slate, I can use it to take meeting notes without it being as obtrusive as regular notebook (plus MS OneNote is shaping up into a tool I'm going to love -- it might as well have been designed for the way I work, as nearly as I can tell), so I'm good for the moment, but down the road a bit, the iLiad 2.0 might be just the thing.

I appreciate you sharing your insights in the matter, you've helped me get a better grasp of my own thinking on the two devices, and, I think, offered those who are still trying to decide which way to go some excellent food for thought!
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:36 PM   #8
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There's also the issue of RSS feeds. Although the Sony Reader offers them, it needs to be pointed out that they have an extremely limited implementation. You can add them only through their Connect Reader Store, and you get, literally, exactly 20 feeds to choose from. And what are they? No, not Reuters, the New York Times, or ABC News. Here is a sampling of what's available:
  • The Huffington Post (2 of the 20 choices)
  • Gizmodo
  • Wonkette
  • Engadget
  • Seth Godin's Blog
Now to be fair, they do also offer Slate and Salon, which I might actually have picked on my own.

But compare this to what's available on the iLiad through Mobipocket. The 50 Most Popular items at the eNews Store include CNN, ABC News, and the BBC's World News. There's also USA Today, Time Magazine's Top Stories, and a number of French and German offerings. If the top 50 aren't enough for you, there are ten readily-accessible categories with additional feeds:
  1. Top Stories
  2. Technology
  3. Entertainment
  4. Business News
  5. Science
  6. Movies
  7. Sport
  8. Weather
  9. Horoscope
  10. Religion
Don't like any of those? Click "Add a Feed," and a box comes up saying "Please enter the URL of the eNews (RSS, RDF, or ATOM feed) you want to add." For me this has worked flawlessly, even with one provider of paid online content, which I already pay for (the Wall Street Journal).

I'd like to be the first one to announce that with the Mobipocket RSS implementation and the iLiad, the eBook newspaper is now a reality. It's no longer a question of when material will be made available: it's here now, and it couldn't be easier.
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Old 07-15-2007, 03:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aleandre View Post
As for the Iliad, a friend of mine let one to me 3 months ago for a week-end, and I see the potential of the beast, owing mostly to its bigger screen and wider format compatibility. A no-go for the "daily minutes of down time to catch up on your pile of guilt and pleasure reading" you're referring to would be the boot-up time, though. I just too used to grabbing my Sony Reader and get back into a book after 4 seconds, as opposed to 45 in the case of the Iliad.
I think the key is that you only had it for a short period Aleandre. You develop little tricks, like switching on the iLiad when you get into a food line or head for the rest room (yes, another place to get some quick catch-up reading done).

But there's no doubt that the Sony Reader is a dream compared to all that when it comes to just switching it on and having your page all ready to go. Even when the iLiad is done booting up, you still have to select the topmost item and open that before you can resume your reading session.
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