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Old 11-02-2007, 08:32 AM   #1
lisazilla
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Reader for Mountain Climber

I'm a mountain climber. We work at altitude in the snow and ice, in bright light and dim, in sub-freezing temperatures, with no electricity.

I need to minimize my boredom when we get snowed in at high camp for a few days, but I also need to minimize weight that I'm carrying up the mountain. I love to read and I read very quickly. I could go through 6 or 7 books on a 3 week expedition, but I don't want to carry the weight and bulk of 6 or 7 books. Nor do I want to carry the weight of a lot of extra batteries.

I think a digital reader would be a good investment, but I need one that uses lithium batteries (operate at low temperatures) that can be recharged with a solar charger or one that batteries can be replaced. I'm less concerned with picking the lightest reader out there, they only vary by a few ounces; but I am concerned with how many replacement batteries I'd need to carry, how the batteries operate at low temperatures, how long the batteries last, and how good the backlighting is.

Does anyone have a suggestion of a product that would be good for me to look at?
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:44 AM   #2
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I bought a pda for when I go mountainbike touring. I can use this both for reading and I also use it to store routes on digital maps.

If you need backlighting then a pda probably is the best bet (although of course reading an 'eink' reader with a head torch could be an option).

I'm afraid I don't know what battery life in the cold is like, but spare batteries are reasonably cheap and light. Normal battery life is about 8 hours reading on the lowest backlight setting. Haven't yet had got a solar charger or used it with one.

You probably don't need more than a ziplock plastic bag to keep it in, but you can get ruggedised waterproof casings from 'Otterbox'.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:14 AM   #3
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I'd probably use 'ruggedised' versions of PDAs like those used by Police and Ambulance personnel. Eink readers do not like water and extreme environments. Condensation risk is also a great concern.
Other points for those versions of PDAs would be GPS and Mobipocket.

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Old 11-02-2007, 12:22 PM   #4
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People have gotten the Sony Reader to recharge from a solar charger, but it's a bit fragile for the activities you're talking about, and I don't know how well it would handle sub-freezing temperatures. I know LCD screens can have trouble displaying when it gets cold enough, which probably rules out the eBookwise 1150. That's too bad, because otherwise the eBw is fairly sturdy and the batteries last quite a long time. I'd say the ruggedized PDA yvan suggests is probably the best bet for a very challenging environment, if you can enjoy reading enough on a screen that small.

Otherwise... maybe the OLPC? That has a number of off-grid power options and is meant to be highly durable. You could also use it for many more purposes while you're traveling, like keeping a journal. But it would take up more pack space.
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:43 PM   #5
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See A Question of Temperatures! for E-Ink specs. The battery of both the Cybook and the Sony might last through ~5 books on a single charge if you turned them off between times, see Battery Life vs Sony 505. The USB-based charging of the Cybook should be more compatible with a solar charger than the Sony, but the Cybook is brand new (so there is not much direct experience with it yet).
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Old 11-03-2007, 05:24 PM   #6
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I have successfully charged a Sony prs 500 with a solar charger. Or you could just take a Power Monkey. They are very light.
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Old 11-03-2007, 05:46 PM   #7
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There are solar chargers made especially for hiking that install on top of your packsack.
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Old 11-03-2007, 07:39 PM   #8
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e-book reader is ideal for trips where you do not know how many books you are going to need. With a reader you do not need to make compromises. You can take 100 books with you.

A friend of mine sells specialized computer equipment to various state agencies, army, police and such rich clients.

Last time I visited his company he showed me a beautiful PDA. A big, ugly looking rugged brick. Green army-like color, metallic ribbed shell covered with rubber, with a clip-on battery that can be attached in heavy gloves, well protected screen, big, metallic connectors protected by a screw-on caps, connector for external supply in a very wide range of voltage. Good resolution for screen.

There are suppliers for such computers.
The only thing I disliked about that PDA was ... yes, you guessed right .... PRICE.
Something like
http://www.windowsfordevices.com/news/NS6725751481.html
or
http://www.engadget.com/2006/07/08/r...rything-proof/

Another option would be something cheap, third hand, something like my dear Cassiopeia A-20, or an old Palm and a good case. Like this: http://www.otterbox.com/products/otterbox/
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Old 11-03-2007, 08:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kacir View Post
Another option would be something cheap, third hand, something like my dear Cassiopeia A-20, or an old Palm and a good case. Like this: http://www.otterbox.com/products/otterbox/
Where the device is old or new an otterbox is a great solution to ruggedize it. http://www.otterbox.com/products/pda_cases/
The PDA version has the ability to view the screen without taking it out of the box.

Dale
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Old 11-09-2007, 07:05 AM   #10
lisazilla
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Thanks for all the info. I'll take a look at those suggested, and I'll take a look at Otterbox.
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Old 11-22-2007, 03:06 AM   #11
nairbv
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I'd look at the hanlin v3 by jinke. I also do a lot of backpacking, mountain climbing, sailing, etc, and it's what I'm thinking about buying. Most companies don't seem to care about the kinds of things that I consider important.

My motorola phone for one died just from going in and out of airconditioned rooms. they wouldn't fix it because it was "water damage" even though that water came from normal condensation.

The hanlin v3 specs actually specify acceptable operating temperatures, which most devices don't even bother advertising. They specify operating temperatures from 0-40 Celsius, and (battery removed) storage temperature from -20 - 55 Celsius. That's pretty impressive I think. It's probably usually above 0 in your tent when you're reading right? at least once you've been in there a while? I'd hope it's usually above negative-twenty-celsius in your backpack...

Another nice feature is that the (user replaceable) battery is the standard and widely available lithium ion nokia phone batteries (there are plenty of third party knock-offs too, they were ~$3 in the Philippines)... so you just buy a spare phone battery anywhere, and make sure you keep it above zero degrees somehow... and it's li-ion per your requirement.

With the eink technology, it won't hurt your eyes, and one battery will last a long long time.

I haven't bought one yet, I'm trying to decide between the hanlin and the cybook, but I haven't decided yet. One issue you might have with the jinke/hanlin is that you can't buy DRM books. you can copy txt files and html files and mp3's and images and rtf and pdf and most other formats you can think of, ... but you can't buy books with encrypted content management in them (yet.. hanlin is working on mobipocket support).

I'm sort of thinking it might be better to resist the temptation to buy proprietary formatted encrypted books anyways, ... because if, for example, you bought a sony or kindle and froze it, and then you wanted to be able to read your paid-for content again on some other device, you'd be limited to buying only the exact same device. If that device isn't produced anymore, then you lose all the books you paid for.

At least with the mobipocket DRM format (supported by cybook, and planned for support on the hanlin), you can read those books on multiple kinds of devices.

Unencrypted non-drm books include pretty much every book where the copyright has expired, you can download them from the gutenberg project or other places. If you like reading classics then they're freely available. If you want to read new york times best sellers released last month (and don't care how long you get to keep them), then having the proprietary DRM content will be more important to you.

Or you could go with the ruggedized PDA's, but those will hurt your eyes more and take up more batteries.
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