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Old 01-29-2008, 04:16 PM   #1
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Any one handed readers out there?

I've been reading on Palm and Psion devices for about ten years now, but my latest device -- a Palm Tungsten|T3 -- seems to be on its last legs and I've been thinking about a possible replacement. I was hoping to get some ideas from the forum because the big name readers from Sony and Amazon don't seem to fit my use pattern.

I find that although I read lots of CBRs and web content on my laptop and desktop, I never read full length books on either them. I read novels on the Palm instead, usually to fill in little spaces of time.

The vast majority of books I read are text or HTML from Project Gutenberg, Black Mask, Baen etc. so being able to see the occasional illustration is nice, but I don't need or want full PDF-style page layout. As far as formats go, I have bought many books from Baen, but I have never paid for any content that is locked to a proprietary or DRM'ed format and likely never will.

The following is a list of the features I care about, roughly in descending order of importance:


Must have (deal breaker if missing):
  • loads my own content
  • pocketable --if I don't carry it with me, I won't have it to read from
  • one-handed operation -- I read lots while standing on the bus or while eating etc.
  • instant startup and shutdown -- no time to wait for boot and look for books if I want to read for a few secoonds while standing in line
  • remember where you left off each book -- I read a few books at a time depending on mood

Nice to have (things I need to make reading convenient and/or enjoyable):
  • useable with either hand
  • layout (see below)
  • easy search and navigation (eg jump to top/bottom/chapter/page)
  • understands native HTML and text -- even better if RTF, PDF, chm etc included) -- but I'll settle for easy conversion
  • can change orientation (assuming non-square screen)
  • speedy page flipping
  • editing -- to fix up typos in the sources
  • backlight and colour
  • wide enough to read CBRs without panning
  • converged device (eg PDA, phone, mp3, general computing etc)
  • web spidering

Regarding layout:
  • it would be best if I could load my own fonts (at least fixed vs proportional, nice if serif vs sans) and choose what size to view my books in
  • need fixed width font and no justification/line breaks (eg understand <pre> tag) for programming texts etc.
  • can render tables
  • being able to choose justification, line spacing, paragraph spacing, indentation and so on would be nice


Explicitly don't care:

- dictionary
- e-ink
- on-line stores
- wireless capability
- annotation, bookmarks or highlighting
- publishing meta-data


From what I can tell, the Sony isn't for me because you essentially "compile" a book into a PDF-like fixed format. I usually switch the font larger if I'm on the bus and switch it back when I can sit down.

The Kindle has multiple sizes of font, but you can't change the typeface. It also seems too big to me.

Right now, my Palm falls down on fonts and tables and the screen isn't quite wide enough. I'm willing to consider any device that does what I want; it doesn't need to be specifically an ebook reader.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by radius; 01-29-2008 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:24 PM   #2
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The eBookwise 1150 meets all of your requirements and most of your desires. Whether it fits in your pocket depend on the size of your pocket. It is the smallest of the dedicated readers I believe. PDA's are smaller and also meet your requirements but they are more difficult to read on.

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Old 01-29-2008, 04:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radius View Post
Right now, my Palm falls down on fonts and tables and the screen isn't quite wide enough.
What reader software do you use?
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radius View Post

From what I can tell, the Sony isn't for me because you essentially "compile" a book into a PDF-like fixed format. I usually switch the font larger if I'm on the bus and switch it back when I can sit down.
No you dont compile the book into a fixed font size format. You compile the book into a reflowable format. SONY's reader software supports increasing the font size to two levels (+2.5 pts each). The Kindle to six levels.
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:50 PM   #5
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why not a smart phone?
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:58 PM   #6
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What reader software do you use?
Plucker and Mobipocket mostly. I might have some leftover DOC and PeanutPress/eReader files lying around.
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:01 PM   #7
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why not a smart phone?
Because Palm keeps disappointing me with the phones they release. I'm waiting for a GSM version of the Palm Centro to make it to Canada... But that would have a slightly small screen for reading and it would still have issues with fonts.

Plucker with Alex Pruss' font generation is mostly a good solution, but I find that Plucker isn't focused enough on longer length texts.

I considered a RIM Blackberry Curve running Mobipocket, but the phone plan you have to get with one of those is pretty expensive.

Any smartphone in particular that you recommend?
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:05 PM   #8
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No you dont compile the book into a fixed font size format. You compile the book into a reflowable format. SONY's reader software supports increasing the font size to two levels (+2.5 pts each). The Kindle to six levels.
Oh, I didn't realize that. I read posts about people making versions of books that fit the Sony's screen size so I thought that meant it wasn't reflowable. It still sounds like you don't have much freedom to change around the fonts?

The Sony's hardware looks pretty sweet to me...
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:08 PM   #9
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You can embed whatever unicode enabled fonts you like, set the base size to whatever size you want, etc. If you want to read primarily non DRM content, the SONY reader is the reader for you. It has the best, cross platform content conversion tools of any reader.
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:10 PM   #10
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Oh, I didn't realize that. I read posts about people making versions of books that fit the Sony's screen size so I thought that meant it wasn't reflowable.
They were probably referring to making Sony friendly PDF's as opposed to LRF's, both of which the Sony can display.
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:18 PM   #11
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The eBookwise 1150 meets all of your requirements and most of your desires. Whether it fits in your pocket depend on the size of your pocket. It is the smallest of the dedicated readers I believe. PDA's are smaller and also meet your requirements but they are more difficult to read on.

Dale
I look at the EB1150 every once in a while (I used to know some of the guys that worked on the hardware for it) and its nice to see that you can now load your own content onto it, but don't you need to buy their proprietary software to do it? I also find the screen resolution is a bit low. Its 320x240 on a 5" screen right? I have 320x480 on a 4" screen right now.
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Old 01-29-2008, 05:27 PM   #12
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Because Palm keeps disappointing me with the phones they release. I'm waiting for a GSM version of the Palm Centro to make it to Canada... But that would have a slightly small screen for reading and it would still have issues with fonts.

Plucker with Alex Pruss' font generation is mostly a good solution, but I find that Plucker isn't focused enough on longer length texts.

I considered a RIM Blackberry Curve running Mobipocket, but the phone plan you have to get with one of those is pretty expensive.

Any smartphone in particular that you recommend?
theres microsoft based smart phones too. youre not locked into palm software. unfortunately im not up on the phones themselves, so i cant really make any kind of educated recommendation. id like to get one some time, but i dont yet NEED one ...
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Old 01-29-2008, 07:04 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by radius View Post
I look at the EB1150 every once in a while (I used to know some of the guys that worked on the hardware for it) and its nice to see that you can now load your own content onto it, but don't you need to buy their proprietary software to do it? I also find the screen resolution is a bit low. Its 320x240 on a 5" screen right? I have 320x480 on a 4" screen right now.
It is 320x480 which is ok with the fonts they supply. The software is a free download from the ETI site or you can convert using their online bookshelf for free. the screen size is 5.5"

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Old 01-29-2008, 07:25 PM   #14
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I've had a bunch of ereaders. At present I have a Sony Reader and a Nokia n800. I got a Kindle, but hated it and sent it back (should have sold it on eBay). I am finding, rather unexpectedly, that the Nokia is easier to deal with than the Sony. Its positive points: 1. it's backlit, 2. its screen has very high resolution, 3. it's smaller (but not lighter) than the Sony -- which means the print is smaller and it's easier to hold in one hand, 4. it's very easy using Book Designer to create fb2 files for it, 5. it's easier to organize material than the Sony, as you can make your own folders from your PC, 6. it's a lot faster than the Sony at everything (especially turning pages), 7. it has color, which is nice for illustrations. It has Russian built in, but you can't add your own fonts as you can on the Sony. But it's smaller, easier to hold, and you can read it at night. On the other hand, the Sony has larger print for the same material on the screen and may be easier on the eyes. It's all pretty subjective, but I'd suggest you not confine yourself to epaper. A very high res backlit display like the Nokia seems to be as readable as epaper. Note that the successor to the N800 (I forget the model number) is smaller, though the screen is just about as big and is supposed to be readable in sunlight. The n800 does lots of other things -- has a browser, mail, etc. But compared to the iPhone, those features are pretty useless. I only use mine only to read ebooks. One other note: you can buy DRM'ed ebooks, decrypt them with ConvertLit GUI, and then make a FB file for the Nokia with Book Designer. You can also use Book Designer or Kovid's wonderful program libprs500 to make Sony Reader lrf files. This is perfectly legal, I believe, as long as you don't distribute the files.
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:02 PM   #15
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The N800/N810 is a good choice. Note that it runs FBReader, which also reads Plucker and DRM-free MobiPocket e-books. So most of your existing files will work as is.

You can try out FBReader on any Desktop computer. There is also a two part screenshot tutorial made on a Nokia 770 (essentially identical to N800 for e-books): Part I and Part II. Click on any of the images to get a full sized version (which will be bigger on your screen than on the Nokia). FBReader is highly customizable, but this has the downside that you will probably have to customize it because the defaults are often not what you want.

From your list, FBReader does not handle tables and you can't edit e-books within FBReader. The Nokia's come with about 10 fonts. I have never added any new ones, but apparently all you need to do (as usual with Linux) is copy a .ttf font file to ~/.fonts.
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