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Old 06-30-2008, 10:27 AM   #1
tomliversidge
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Best for Microsoft Word - potential University evaluation

Hi,

I am interested in the use of e-readers for a project I am currently involved in with the University of Manchester. We have developed an online system for students to submit their assignments electronically and for markers to mark these assignments. However, the markers have commented on the discomfort of reading assignments on LCD computer screens, so I am looking into the possibility of using e-ink based e-readers.

I was hoping the community could recommend the best device for working with Microsoft Word documents (.doc). This is the format students submit their assignments in. By the research I have done, it appears that only the HanLin v3 natively supports the .doc format. However, the iLiad seems the most appealing due to the ability to make comments on docs via the stylus. The iLiad seems to need (and please correct me if I am wrong!) either a conversion to the mobipocket format or the installation of AbiWord. Is it possible to batch-convert word docs to mobipocket? Is there a web-service for this? I am wary of the extra work involved in using converter software if it is on a per-file basis. I'm not convinced AbiWord is the solution for this either, as I dont want to give markers the opportunity to edit the word docs themselves. Is there a stripped down version of this program that just displays word documents?

Your help is appreciated!
Tom
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:45 AM   #2
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My reader easily accepts Word docs and allows markups, including drawing, highlighting, and inserting blank pages for longer notes. This is done via stylus on the touch screen. It won't handle images well at all, but is excellent with all-text documents.

Last edited by DixieGal; 06-30-2008 at 10:45 AM. Reason: And it's inexpensive enough for college students.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:52 AM   #3
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I know of a couple devices that can view MSWord, but they are not currently available. Both devices have an Eink screen, and they both have Windows CE as an OS.

Soribook This one is still in beta. I know for a fact that it runs WinCE 5.0 and has a MSWord viewer. And yes, they can flash the device with an English based menu.

Netronix This manufacturer has several models coming soon, but none are available yet.


P.S. I know this won't help you immediately, but you should be able to get at least the Soribook in time for Fall classes.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:20 AM   #4
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P.S. I know this won't help you immediately, but you should be able to get at least the Soribook in time for Fall classes.
i need to put a bid in for funding before mid-july!
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:47 AM   #5
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i need to put a bid in for funding before mid-july!
I'm sure they'll quote you a price for the Soribook. They might even offer a sales contract. What I don't know is when they will actually ship the device. I've been waiting close to 2 months now to even get beta device.

Here is the email I've been using with Soribook:

web soribook.com

There is an at in between.
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Old 06-30-2008, 04:51 PM   #6
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well the sony's do support Rtf natively, and it would be pretty easy to have them submit the assignments in rtf, or do a batch convert from .doc

however, you cant mark it up directly, so it may not work out.

but if they just need to read the assignments, this may be the easiest to use and get a hold of.

Its probably also the cheapest of them all.

Last edited by bbusybookworm; 06-30-2008 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:05 PM   #7
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Actually, the Sony Reader will read doc -- it automatically converts it to rtf.

I'm an academic and I do receive essays via email and the electronic Blackboard system. A new problem is that some students submit coursework in docx. This will require conversion. (And some colleagues have had difficulty with this.)
I prefer to print the essays, so that I can put ticks and comments directly adjacent to the relevant paragraph. I've got colleagues who make comments on a pc and email/print them. This may well work for some topics, but I'm not convinced that it's the best for all types of essay. I teach philosophy and often have essays consisting of detailed analysis, where it is important to highlight exactly which step in an argument is debatable.
Also, I like to correct grammatical errors and typos. This is quickly done on paper but could take a lot longer if I were to note and correct each one in a separate document.
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:13 PM   #8
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Actually, the Sony Reader will read doc -- it automatically converts it to rtf.
The eBook library software does this, and it requires that Ms Word is installed in order to do it.

If you are just dragging files from your PC you must have already converted it to .rtf.

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Old 06-30-2008, 06:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomliversidge View Post
Hi,

I was hoping the community could recommend the best device for working with Microsoft Word documents (.doc). This is the format students submit their assignments in. By the research I have done, it appears that only the HanLin v3 natively supports the .doc format.
How complicated are these research papers? Are they text base only or do they have pictures and links?


Quote:
Originally Posted by tomliversidge View Post
Hi,
However, the iLiad seems the most appealing due to the ability to make comments on docs via the stylus.
Just a FYI. The annotations are not recorded on the doc but on a separate file. So the annotations would not be visible to that word file.


If your budget is not too tight, you might want to look at touchpad technologies this would give your reviewers a full blown Word application with the ability to read and markup the text like regular book. They are still LCD but at least they can fold up like a book and are easier to read on as a result.


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Old 06-30-2008, 06:20 PM   #10
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If using the iLiad, files would have to be converted into PDF (*not* mobipocket) in order to be able to mark with the stylus. This could be done by installing one of those programs that "prints" from a Word document to PDF. There may well be a batch system of converting, but I don't use Windows myself, so I wouldn't know what to recommend. Mind you, a document saved as A4 PDF would be quite difficult to mark on an iLiad screen, because the text would be so small -- the marker's handwriting would need to be equally small to fit between the lines! If a batch program could reformat the pages to fit the iLiad screen better, it would be easier.

I definitely wouldn't recommend the use of Abiword for anything serious -- because of the slow screen update, it's very difficult to use in any practical manner. I think your tutors would be throwing their iLiads at you fairly shortly!

I don't want to disappoint you, but I've been using an iLiad as a student for the last six months, and I really don't think it's ready for use as a device for marking essays on. I like my iLiad -- I read books on it all the time, and often use it for making notes in lectures. But A4 documents at full screen have very tiny writing, and while it's possible to turn a page sideways and look at half a page at a time, trying to mark a manuscript like this would require constantly shifting between the mode where you move the page with the stylus, and the mode where you write on the page with the stylus -- it would be very easy to forget to switch modes before moving the page and accidentally draw a line across the entire page! In case you're wondering why you can't use the flip bar for moving down the page, I've found it very difficult to use the stylus for writing without locking they keys first, because I'll be scribbling away in a lecture, accidentally brush against one of the keys, and suddenly find myself in the middle of the last novel I was reading

Personally, I think the technology needs to mature a bit before it's ready to be a fully-fledged academic tool. I think the potential's there, but it's not been realised yet. Sorry to sound so negative, but I hope this helps!
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Old 06-30-2008, 08:19 PM   #11
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If your budget is not too tight, you might want to look at touchpad technologies this would give your reviewers a full blown Word application with the ability to read and markup the text like regular book. They are still LCD but at least they can fold up like a book and are easier to read on as a result.


=X=
Actually, tablets have dropped in price enough that you could get Tablet PC's for about the same price as the Illiad.

The Hp TX2051 if I remember correctly is retailing in the US for around $850-900 after rebates. Outside its about $1200-1300 and is quiet a powerful machine.

And older models are even cheaper

And while they are full fledged windows machine, adlibt with the ability to make handwritten notes, they are still very mobile, so if the markers don't want to tied to a desk, pretty handy.

However it is still an LCD screen, and will be heavier then any of the e-ink reader.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:47 PM   #12
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Actually, tablets have dropped in price enough that you could get Tablet PC's for about the same price as the Illiad.
I always liked Motions slate form tablets. But, they are alot more than an iLliad. The LE-1700 with a 12inch screen is about $1600. http://www.motioncomputing.com/buy/index.asp

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Old 06-30-2008, 11:45 PM   #13
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I always liked Motions slate form tablets. But, they are alot more than an iLliad. The LE-1700 with a 12inch screen is about $1600. http://www.motioncomputing.com/buy/index.asp

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Unfortunately, All the Slates are much more expensive then the convertibles.
Probably because they are aimed more at vertical markets and not consumers, and as such are not that price sensitive.

Personally, I feel that convertibles while heavier are the best compromise, especially if you don't have another computer or a proper desktop docking setup.
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Old 06-30-2008, 11:51 PM   #14
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Unfortunately, All the Slates are much more expensive then the convertibles.
Probably because they are aimed more at vertical markets and not consumers, and as such are not that price sensitive.
Hmm... doesn't make sense. Why would a machine with no keyboard or fancy swivel hinge be more expensive?

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Old 06-30-2008, 11:56 PM   #15
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Unfortunately, All the Slates are much more expensive then the convertibles.
Yea, I'd love me a new Mac Tablet... nice, but pricey.

http://axiotron.com/

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