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Old 02-12-2011, 07:03 PM   #1
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Does an ebook reader matching all these criteria exist?

Hi everybody,

I am thinking about getting my first dedicated ebook reader and I need your expert advice.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I am a self-confessed GNU/Linux geek (FSF and EFF member) which, at a minimum, means that

1) my future ebook has to work well with the GNU/Linux operating system (at least recognized and mounted as an external storage device) - in my case Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

2) I will never read any DRMed books - on principle.

So far, I have been reading my ebooks on my Nokia N800 Internet Table and my Nokia 5230 smartphone.

Other than that, this is what I would like to see in my soon-to-be-purchased ebook reader.

3) the capability to read ebooks in Russian, including in UTF-8 encoding

4) A high quality screen - size matters less than the ability to display a text in a crisp, high-contrast, and no e-ink "flutter" page turning manner.

5) This is not crucial, but I would be really delighted if I could read my books in the dark (when my wife sleeps next to me) so a back-light capability would be immensely appreciated, but not crucial (I can always use my N800 or N5230 for that)

6) Most of my ebooks are in EPUB, FB2 or TXT format, but it would be nice to be able to read PDFs too.

7) ALL I want to do is read books and I don't need an mp3 player (got that already), a games console (got that too), a photo viewer (got that), an Internet browser, a movie viewer, an agenda, calendar or toaster (got all of them already). I don't *mind* extra capabilities, but I just don't need them. I want a device to read books.

8) Since I spend roughly 80% of my time on my computer anyway, I really don't need a wifi capable device. Sure, I would not mind it, but I really don't need it.

9) From what I have read, TFT is really better than E-Ink. The ideal screen for me is what I see on my Nokia 5230 - bright, clear, high-contrast black an white screen - I just love it.

10) So far, but only from reading reviews, the closet thing to my criteria I have seen seems to be the ETACO Jetbook mini. However, this ebook reader seems to have major quality issues with a screen-freezing problem which is yet unsolved. Also, the ETACO Jetbook mini does not come with a sturdy case or a screen protector. Lastly, the ETACO Jetbook mini cannot be read in the dark which, as I mentioned, is not crucial for me, but would be a major "nice to have".

I purchased an Ematic 7-Inch TFT Color eBook Reader for my daughter and its ok, but I am not impressed by the quality of the screen. Neither to I like the fact that it does "everything" (radio, recorder, movie-viewer, mp3 player, calendar etc.). At $89 it is cheap though. But it really does not feel solid at all, and the reviews on Amazon indicate that it's battery is of poor quality. I would much prefer a unit running on exernal AAA or AA batteries (like the ETACO Jetbook mini).

Anyway, sorry for the long post. What ebook reader would you recommend for me? I suspect that my ideal ebook reader would be a laptop/notebook running calibre under Ubuntu GNU/Linux, but I think I want a dedicated ebook reader too. So which one would come closet to what I want?

Thanks a lot for your pointers,

Farhad
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Old 02-13-2011, 04:51 AM   #2
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Because you want to read in low light conditions and want something faster than eink, I believe you need an Android device. By design, Android is modified Linux so will mount normally on Ubuntu (I can confirm this, I have an Android Device and my laptop runs Lucid Lynx)

Which specific Android device? That's the question. If budget is not a problem I would recommend a Galaxy Tab: light, full Android Market out of the box, awesome LCD screen. Because you have access to Android Market you can download whatever Android ereader application is available for Froyo, including B&N, Kindle, Sony, Kobo, Aldiko. It comes with ThinkFree but there are other apps. that read PDF documents really well too.

Now, not sure about Russian but I'm assuming that with any of the Market apps. you should be able to read your ePUb book on that particular language.

A Nook Color satisfies most of your requirements too but I'm assuming you're not in USA, so shipping and book's availability could be an issue. Also, you need to root the Nook Color if you want the full Android Market access and be able to download similar Android apps. The interface has been customized by B&N.

Last edited by jocampo; 02-13-2011 at 04:54 AM.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:04 AM   #3
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Have you already have a look at the Pocketbook IQ? They are very versatile and hackerfriendly.
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Old 02-13-2011, 10:55 AM   #4
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Dear friends,
Thanks for the pointers. Yes, Android is the way to go, and the PocketBook 701 looks really fantastic for a very reasonable price. Frankly, a PB701 with a 16GB card seems like a fantastic solution. The processor is an amazing 800MHz (!!) while my beloved N800 Internet Tablet only had a 330MHz CPU. I will wait to hear for other opinions/suggestions, but that looks like one fantastic candidate. Thanks a lot for the pointer!
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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IQ is ok. I checked that one before getting my Galaxy Tab but the resistive screen push me away from it. Some people can live with it, but was not good for me.

The good thing like Poppaea said is that they are very hackable.

I suggest checking in a local store close to you. if you cannot, keep in mind that resistive screens are suitable for stylus instead of pinch and zoom with your own fingers. They are not so responsive as more modern LCD screens like Nook Color or iPad are and the cost of making them is low, hence the reason for a more affordable price.

Last edited by jocampo; 02-13-2011 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:25 AM   #6
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The Nook Color is a step up in hardware from the PocketBook IQ (for more money - both are good value). Jail break it to get access to other android reading apps.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:39 PM   #7
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it's easy to buy a nookcolor if you live outside the USA.. use this service comgateway.com just have the nookcolor shipped to them and they ship it to you, very reasonable price
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:55 PM   #8
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can't believe you never took a hammer to your N800. I grew to loathe mine every time I turned it on. Perhaps it was the cliquish and child-like community over on the now maemo.org site, big egos in a tiny pond who only wanted those expert in the OS200x OS to even participate in their forums.

And when the OS2008 update broke the camera I just gave up. And right after then Nokia completely abandon that branch of the platform. Were it not for Xword and Fbreader I would have really taken it out into the shed and beat the crap out of it with a mallet. Lots of promise but never delivered in an organized fashion and was a complete beta test device from the get go.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:10 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by snipenekkid View Post
can't believe you never took a hammer to your N800. .
Oh but you are really unfair to the little guy. Every since I put OS2008 on it I absolutely love it!

First, with Opera Mini I get a very good browser.
Second, I get Internet radio streaming.
Third, with Quiver I get a terrific photoalbum viewer.
Fourth, the N800 is a decent mp3/ogg player.
Fifth, with Mediabox and MPlayer I get a fantastic multimedia player
Sixth, with gPodder I get an excellent podcast client.
Seventh, with gFTP and VNC viewer I get some decent networking
Eighth, with XChat I stay in touch with my fellow geeks
Ninth, with Zenmap I can diagnose networks
Tenth, With HP42C I get an excellent calculator
Eleventh, the Weather applet gives me an excellent weather forecast
Twelfth, the Tide Predictor lets me know when to go the the beach
Thirteenth, with Pancci I listen to audiobooks
Fourteenth, with my Bash terminal emulator I can use lots of CLI utilities

and, fifteenth and last but definitely not least,

With FBReader I always have my books with me!!

I would say that this is pretty amazing for such a small unit! Bottom line for me, is that the N800 is my smallest GNU/Linux box and I absolutely love it for that. A *real* computer in my pocket - what else can I ask for?!

I have not tried Android yet (I should get my first Android based device in a day or two, the PocketBook 701 IQ) but I can tell you that Maemo OS2008 is way better than Symbian, that's for sure. Android might well be better - I hope so - but at least until now the N800 is one of my most beloved toys

Cheers!

Last edited by Farhad; 02-16-2011 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:52 PM   #10
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Excellent points about those apps. I just gave up was all...when I needed it the thing had a fantastic display. Best of breed when it was new. I still tended to read on my old Sony PDA though as I likes the scroll feature in Mobireader that you could control with the dial on the side.

I just ran into too many probs keeping apps updated or refusing to update for my taste. It was about then I was pretty much burnt out on fiddly devices so I likely made the mistake in buying the beastie to begin with. But to me Nokia took the fun out of it. Really GREAT you have kept after yours though, it really is a spiffy gadget and those TWO D+SD card slots was beyond cool as well as the FM radio. I also loved the kick-stand to both hold and prop up the thing. Not sure why more companies have not added something like that to other devices. I can't believe Nokia has a patent on that idea, it just does not seem like something they could patent as i remember OLD transistor ratios that had something like it.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:32 PM   #11
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I had an n800 also for about half a year. Pretty cool gadget. Sold it when I needed some money. It used to get really funny looks from people. "Is that a phone?" I did hit once where it wouldn't reboot after having a dead battery and I had to stick it into the freezer..the two full size SD slots were very cool.

If you love the n800 you might want to start looking into the OpenPandora if you haven't heard of it. They're still shipping in limited quantities, but I think it's really the successor to the n800 (given that Nokia is dropping Meego and pretty much the n900).

I'd agree on the Nook color if you want to spend the money. It's getting a ton of custom ROM work. Over at XDA they got Ubuntu up and running on it also, which is pretty cool. Hopefully they get USB host support working eventually - it'd be awesome with a usb keyboard or a gamepad.

That said I prefer e-ink for reading.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:23 AM   #12
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Having heaped praise on the N800, just to speak up for my favorite toy, I have to be honest and also describe some of its most irritating shortcomings:

First the built-in camera which is an *absolute piece of garbage*, there is just no other way to put it - useless. Second, my built-in mic soon stopped working. Not that it was ever that great, but it would have been useful for VOIP.

It is sad to see Nokia essentially dumping Maemo and Meego and going down the Windoze road. If they think that this is what will help them beat back the Android based devices, they are SO wrong...

I guess that with Maemo and Meego pretty much dead, Android is the way to go. But I wish they made an ebook reader and tablet which would simply run on Ubuntu, with a deb -based package manager and the Unity desktop. Why reinvent the wheel?! All it would take to install patches and updates would be a GUI fronted for 'sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade". No more using SD cards, not more firmware vs applications issues when upgrading - it really would make life easy and yet as far as I know, Android wants to keep its fork separate from the rest of the GNU/Linux world. Too bad.

But I hear so much good stuff about Android that I really look forward to my soon-to-be-delivered PocketBook 701 IQ.

As for e-ink, I have to say that two things bother me about that: the flicker when changing pages and the fact that I cannot read it at night (which is when I do a lot of my reading). I wish somebody did an e-ink device with zero flicker when changing pages AND with a switch to add a back-light when needed. But I am sure this is in the making somewhere :-)

Kind regards,

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Old 02-19-2011, 01:36 AM   #13
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Have you considered the Velocity Micro Cruz R101?
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:45 AM   #14
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Have you considered the Velocity Micro Cruz R101?
Yes, and I like what I read about it. But after some hesitation I chose the PB IQ 701. But thanks for the pointer, I will keep that in mind for the future
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:54 AM   #15
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Yes, and I like what I read about it. But after some hesitation I chose the PB IQ 701. But thanks for the pointer, I will keep that in mind for the future
Let us know how you like your PocketBook IQ 701 when you get it.

Also, during your research, if you liked any constructively positive or negative reviews on the IQ 701, please pass them along. I'd be interested in adding them to the HowToDecide™ Quick Decide Guide™ on best ereaders.
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