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Old 06-06-2008, 07:02 AM   #1
Mindy
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Tech Query: Mentor v. Litebook v. Cybook

I've been following the Astak info thread with great interest, but some of the tech stuff is a bit over my head and I would like to try to understand it better so I can make a 'good' decision about what device I buy (whether it's Astak, Cybook or something else entirely). So, I'm going to outlay my understanding and hopefully you kind bods will correct me if I'm wrong and fill in the gap.

I've seen a lot of the threads around proprietary formats and I can understand that; you want to be able to read all your books/documents and not just the ones that are the right 'type'. Because Mobipocket have got a bit sniffy, Astak are going to produce one device - the Litebook - that will read Mobipocket books (only Mobipocket books?) and another, the Mentor, that will be 'open format' (?) and therefore read other types of format like ePub (?) (but, presumably, not Mobipocket). I'm not sure where .pdf's sit in this - only on the Mentor, or on both? (I know there are issues about DRM and about viewability of pdf's, but am treating those as separate issues) What about .txt or RTF files?

Whereas the Cybook can handle a variety of formats already - correct?

And, from a practical point of view, which is going to be the 'best' (and I use the term very loosely) option? Will a device that only reads Mobipocket be too limiting? Will a device that doesn't read it at all be too limiting? Obviously all info to date on the Astak is subject to change, but I'm very interested to hear what peoples opinions on this aspect are at present.
At this rate I could be an expert by the time I actually get round to buying a device!

P.S. We need to mozzle something for tech-related confusion. I'm nominating techombobbled (mutation of technical + discombobulated)
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:28 AM   #2
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PDFs are not really an eBook format and should be perhaps be excluded from the discussion.

It basically boils down to whether or not you want to read commercial eBooks. If you do, MobiPocket is (arguably) the best format to use - it has a very wide range of stores selling the format, and also a very wide range of other formats that can easily be converted to MobiPocket using freely-available tools.

I would strongly suggest getting a device which can support MobiPocket format. Whether that's a CyBook (which I like a lot myself) or some other device which support Mobi (or which there's a wide choice) is really down to what other features are important to you to have.
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Old 06-06-2008, 12:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
PDFs are not an eBook format and should be excluded from to the discussion.
While I think it is a very poor ebook format, as lots of stores sell ebooks as PDFs, I don't think you can factually say it is not an ebook format.

Mindy, as to your question, while you may want to exclude DRM from the discussion, DRM is rather tightly bound to the question. Mobi have gotten 'sniffy,' as you put it, only about DRM protected formats. So, for instance, you can include Mobi on a device that will read unprotected PDFs (as the Cybook does), but not if the device can read protected PDFs.

I don't think we have enough information on the LiteBook to know that it will only read mobi books. Personally, I had thought it would also include the other unprotected formats (RTF, HTM, and text), but I don't think it has been clearly stated anywhere.

As for the 'Best' -- that would depend on if you already have any ebooks you intend to keep in any protected formats. It could also depend on your computer, if you are not using windows, as the conversion tools can be rather limited on other platforms. On my Mac, for instance, I can convert files to mobi, but I cannot use the actual Mobi desktop software, or some of its features, for instance. On the other hand, eReader desktop software is available for Mac.

Personally, I am more concerned with the ergonomics and features of the hardware, as I rarely reread old ebooks, so I can just switch my new purchases to whichever hardware I end up taking a liking to. When I can match hardware features I like to good conversion software for my computer, and a format supported by multiple stores for new ebooks, I will have my next ebook reader.

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Old 06-06-2008, 12:18 PM   #4
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Mindy, as to your question, while you may want to exclude DRM from the discussion, DRM is rather tightly bound to the question. Mobi have gotten 'sniffy,' as you put it, only about DRM protected formats. So, for instance, you can include Mobi on a device that will read unprotected PDFs (as the Cybook does), but not if the device can read protected PDFs.
My understanding is that Mobi insist on "exclusivity" as far as DRM-protected books go. ie, if a device can read DRM-protected Mobi books, then it can't support (built-in, at least) any other DRM format.

There is no eBook reader on the market that I'm aware of (excluding things like Tablet PCs) which can read DRM-protected PDF files. The iLiad can handle password-protected PDFs, but not DRM-d ones.
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Old 06-17-2008, 07:50 AM   #5
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Hi Mindy,
I own a cybook and find that it does all i need to do. A lot of bought books come in the mobipocket format and if they don't it is really easy to convert them using ABC and then Mobicreator (both free). Most of the reader software works about the same, there's not much else you can do with a book aprt from turn pages, bookmark nd jump to pages! Mobipocket has the benefit of an embedded dictionary so if this is a feature you like i would recommend mobipocket. I don't see why the Litebook wouldn't be able to have non-DRM formats as the cybook certainly does it just doesn't have other DRM software such as ereader etc. They all (cybook, mentor, litebook, eb1200) have the same basic outward design so this is not really an issue either. I would wait if i was you and buy the litebook as the biggest difference i have found is that the cybook is so much more expensive, US$350, AU$570 especially if you live outside the usa as bookeen will only sell with the european price and the exchange rate is disastrous! WOW that was a bit long winded wasn't it. ANyway hope it helps,
Cheers, Gaby
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Old 06-17-2008, 09:54 AM   #6
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If the Mentor only comes with eReader support, then the LiteBook (with MOBI) will be the better choice for most readers. However, the advantage of an "open" device is that it can support multiple reader packages and if the LiteBook also comes with Adobe Digital Editions then the choice will be harder. The LiteBook will then be able to read three DRMed formats (eReader, Adobe Secure ebook, and Adobe Secure ePub), and ePub will be the obvious choice on the Mentor for DRM-free titles. If you don't already have a ebook library, the LiteBook may still be the best choice - because you only really need one DRMed format and any DRM-free ebook can be converted to DRM-free MOBI. DRM-free ePub is a better format than DRM-free MOBI, but the difference isn't enough to make MOBI a bad choice.

The quality of DRM-free PDF support on the Mentor/LiteBook is completely unknown at present, but past experience does not lead to optimism. Only the iLiad is able to display standard sized (US Letter or A4) PDFs well without conversion. Two routes are available for conversion, (a) reflowing and (b) making images of the pages. MobiPocket Desktop Reader goes the reflowing route (essentially: PDF to HTML+IMAGES to MOBI), with mixed success. There are several PDF to image packages which work ok, but you typically loose flexibility and navigation capabilities. Adobe DE may be able to display standard PDFs (as the Desktop version does), but so can the Open Source software on the iLiad (which could be used today on other ebook devices if the vendors chose to do so). This simply has not been a high priority for the other ebook readers. A 6" screen may be too small though, and even mediocre PDF software might shine on a 9.7" screen.
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:07 AM   #7
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Anyone know if there are freely available tools for creating "eReader" books? I honestly can't recall having come across any!
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Old 06-17-2008, 10:29 AM   #8
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Hi

The unique I know, and never used it as I bought the eReader Studio some years ago, is DropBook from the eReader website:
http://www.ereader.com/ereader/softw...opbook_win.htm

Best regards,
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:29 AM   #9
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There are also Mac and Java versions, see Make Your Own Books. However, Palm Markup Language does not seem a very good starting point for conversion. It might be worth producing a html2eReader utility, rather than html2pml (and then pml to eReader).

The non-free eBook Studio software can apparently accept more formats as its starting point.
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Old 06-17-2008, 11:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Anyone know if there are freely available tools for creating "eReader" books? I honestly can't recall having come across any!
Check out this thread where poxi1023 announced a macro to export eReader files from OpenOffice. Haven't tried it myself, but it seems to be getting some positive response. You still need DropBook, but this looks to simplify the PML process.

Jack

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Old 06-17-2008, 03:45 PM   #11
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My understanding is that Mobi insist on "exclusivity" as far as DRM-protected books go. ie, if a device can read DRM-protected Mobi books, then it can't support (built-in, at least) any other DRM format.
The "built-in" is key - as you can obviously install more that one application on a PC or PDA to read DRM'd ebooks (Mobipocket, eReader, MS Reader...).
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Old 06-17-2008, 04:54 PM   #12
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Hi

The unique I know, and never used it as I bought the eReader Studio some years ago, is DropBook from the eReader website:
http://www.ereader.com/ereader/softw...opbook_win.htm

Best regards,
There is also a Macro for Word. It is available from http://pwp.netcabo.pt/Gorod/PublisheBook/

Dale
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