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Old 08-11-2008, 11:17 AM   #1
rachaelandrews
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My new iLiad and me - first thoughts.

Well, it arrived this morning. I was up early, eagerly awaiting the new addition to the family. The postman didn't disappoint and by eight o' clock I finally had my iLiad in my sweaty little mitts. I almost slammed the door in the man's face after signing for it, I was that eager.

Nicely packaged - cute how the box opens out like a book. A nice touch. The unit itself and the packaging smell like the first flat I lived in when I moved out of my parents house years ago - does that say more about the flat (crummy basement thing with a nasty landlady, a kitchen you could barely turn around in and a leccy meter which maliciously ran out every time I was under the electric shower with my hair full of soap, with no fifty pence pieces left to feed it) or about the iLiad unit itself ? - No idea, they just smell oddly the same.

The unit is slightly rubberised and thus warm to the touch. It fits nicely in the hand. The little well in the back that contains the reset button, presumably shaped for some sort of stand ? - is a nice place to put the tips of my fingers when holding it.
The e-ink display truly is a thing of wonder - it's like no display I have seen before. It looks like paper, it doesn't glow like a backlit display (of course, as it isn't backlit) and it looks organic and strangely ethereal to me.
The buttons are nicely placed - the flip page bar is a work of art. Yet the power on / off switch must have been designed by someone with a grudge to bear against people with guitar playing calluses or those who bite their nails - my fiance (who is both of those) couldn't feel it at all. Good job I've got fingernails.

The whole thing gives off an air of quiet, polite, obedience. Turn it on and it says, "Welcome". The set up wizards and user manual are polite and calm and obviously well brought up. Although I did notice an incorrect use of "off" instead of "of" somewhere in there, can't recall where exactly. Really, iRex. One hundred lines for you, see me after class.

Turn it off and it says, "The iLiad is preparing for power down."
Not "Please wait whilst windows shuts down your computer" or "Shutting down" or a spinning gear whilst it shuts up, but "The iLiad is preparing for power down." How much more lyrical could you get, whilst maintaining a polite level of courtesy and accuracy ? I envisage little twinkling star like jewels going out one by one, so sad to be leaving your service but resigned that it is your request and must be obeyed - yet hopeful that soon it will be called upon again.
Or maybe the mushrooms I had yesterday were a little gone over.

Getting it connected wireless to my network was a breeze - yet getting it to wirelessly sync content with my mac not so easy. Grr. But thanks to the numerous forum posts here and at the iRex site I figured it out in the end. Gleefully I fed it some books. It was happy. I was happy.

Then I decided to get shell access by asking the iRex Powers That Be to allow me to have access to the developer package. Signed into myiRex. Clicked link to send developer bumpf. Link doesn't work in Safari, -- dammit - open VMWare and windows xp intead. Click link again. Right.

Press top right button on the iLiad to sync. Choose IDS. Downloading - download complete.
And there is where it stopped. For ten minutes.



Search web. Have I bricked it already ? Fiance asks what's up. I tell him. He sez, helpfully, "Sounds f*cked to me darlin'." (Long haired rocker that he is - the only culture he has is in the bottom of left over coffee cups !)
Thanks for that, my love, you always know just what I want to hear.
Pressed reset button followed by on / off toggle. Nowt happens. Very disconcerting, for some reason, that the image is still on the screen, as if all is fine. But we know that underneath something is wrong. Tell me, oh iLiad, please ! Have I offended thee ?
Plug the power adapter in (though the battery had a full charge). Reset again, press power toggle.
A-ha - it lives ! Phew.

Install mrxthingy - run it, it works. Install FBReader, and Calibre on my mac so I can convert some of my pdfs to rtf, as I just cannae see the pdf fonts as they stand, and zooming, although useful, isn't quite the same for me as huge fonts.
And here we are, about to convert stuff for FBReader. Later we may install dillo and see how it copes with the web interface for my media centre (Plex - or osxbmc-that-was -on a mac mini connected to a 50" plasma tv in the lounge). If we're successful in this it will mean that the little iLiad will be fully integrated into my wifi home. Yes, I want to read books on it. But we are all multi-talented in this house - there are no single use items here. Even my fiance's guide dog thinks he's a guard dog (thankfully the two pet / guard dogs don't think they are guide dogs, else we'd probably be in trouble the second we walked out of the door !) I want more than books from my reader - I want all the other stuff too. That's why I chose the iLiad.

Am I in love yet ? Well, it's like any new relationship. You like the look of them from afar, you maybe ask some friends about them. Then you get to meet and you have to get to know each other. You find each others quirks, and you get to know what each other wants out of the relationship, and what you expect of each other. Only then can you know if it's going to last a lifetime, or a lunch time.

So far we're doing ok.


Rachael

Last edited by rachaelandrews; 08-11-2008 at 11:18 AM. Reason: Additional points
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Old 08-11-2008, 11:37 AM   #2
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Yeah, but did you start reading a book yet???
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:11 PM   #3
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Yeah, but did you start reading a book yet???
i don't think she has found the time yet to do so:P
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:28 PM   #4
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Oi, ooo's she ? - the cat's auntie ?

No, no books of my own yet - although I did give the included Bram Stoker's Dracula a spin and boy, can that badboy go large !

Mainly because, being severely visually impaired, I have to find some way of making the fonts in my pdf files larger, rather than just zooming in. So far I haven't been able to do that at all.
PDFs are the bane of the life of all the vi folks I know. I am not kidding. They are the devil incarnate. They don't scan well to read when zoomed in (IMO) and they don't work with all screen readers either.
If I didn't have so many that I was hoping to use I'd dump the lot and have done with it. In fact I may even do that anyway.


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Old 08-11-2008, 12:47 PM   #5
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That's mainly because PDF isn't designed to be reformatted at all. But you could give one of those lovingly assembled mobipocket books here in the book upload section ( http://www.mobileread.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=135 ) a try - those DO feature enlargeable fonts...

Cheers,
- Don [:-]
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:12 PM   #6
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Ah! I loved reading about your first impressions. I got one myself (book edition) a few weeks ago, and it felt much like that

Haven't yet done much in the way of installing anything except the developer package - and it was grueling - first figuring out it couldn't be done without IE on Windows - what a world we live in! Then all the angst of doing something you sorta know how and why but not quite, like leaving really important stuff in the hands of others. Then I got sidelined by a holiday and the lack of a CF card reader. I'll get a card reader later this week though, and then I'll be able to do a backup so I can continue working with the device.

So far, I must say I think I will primarily be staying with PDFs, but that's because I mostly read fanfiction or open format books and thus are able to create my own PDFs in exactly the size and format I like. But I will still be looking for that perfect HTML reader/browser.

Good luck with your new iLiad!
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Old 08-12-2008, 06:10 AM   #7
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Ah! I loved reading about your first impressions. I got one myself (book edition) a few weeks ago, and it felt much like that

<snip>

Good luck with your new iLiad!
Thankyou. I'm sure you will become entangled in the third party apps when you get a moment - those who aren't necessarily interested in them may scoff, but what's the point in having a reader that can do other stuff if you don't do other stuff ? If I wanted less things to play with I would have saved myself some dosh and bought a Sony or a Cybook. I don't have the money to have a device that just does the one thing, if that makes sense.

I finally settled down to read in bed last night - Duma Key by Stephen King. It's a free copy (legit !) in html which I suspect means that enlarging the fonts processes the whole document in one go, which takes a while to take effect. If that makes sense. The page numbers display at the bottom only show one page anyway.
As I recall FBReader doesn't do html ? - so html is being done by mobipocket reader I guess. I suppose I could convert the html to rtf and see how FB copes with it.

The reading experience itself was really easy, - I've learned the pre-empting a page turn trick. I could do with abit more contrast - the background being white rather than a shade of grey, but that's just e-ink so for now there's nothing to be done about it. The large screen is good - it could be larger on the one hand, for seeing purposes, but on the other hand, a larger screen may be heavier, and even a few more grams might be a problem for me. And a larger screen is abit more unwieldy IMO.

I imagine iRex have something up their sleeve in time for Christmas. I see an A4 size, ultra thin (macbook air thin) reader with a possibly different os in the distance. Is it a premonition, or merely a wish ?

Whether this sort of thing would give better contrast or not, and whether the price of such a device would be within my means is another thing !

I'm happy with the iLiad though - it's a nice size and it didn't feel heavy propped on my chest in bed.

Rachael
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Old 08-12-2008, 07:59 AM   #8
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I agree with the comment on Mobipocket - you can make the font quite large using that format. At the lower portion of the screen when you open a book there will be a number of icons - if my memory is right, the last two are to increase or decrease font size. I'm not certain what the largest is, but I set the 'norm' at 2 levels smaller than when I opened the first book. Using Mobi you will eventually need to 'register' that number using your computer. There are instructions either in the manual that came with the unit or on the iRex web site.
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Old 08-14-2008, 05:34 PM   #9
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Ah! Another happy iLiad user! I really enjoyed reading your original post!

If you haven't found any good books yet, head to www.webscriptions.net - many books there are free to download.

I like reading my books with Times New Roman font, so I found out that keeping my books in Word or RTF format allows me to manupulate the fonts easily using styles and then export the result as PDF for easy reading. OpenOffice's "Export to PDF" works best.... And it runs on both Mac and PC.
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Old 08-15-2008, 01:20 AM   #10
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After a while, I stopped caring about the review and just listened to your words. It was so nicely written and so readable. (Don't worry. I did go back and reread it for the details. ).

I'm glad you got around to reading on it. It's one of the things I discovered that was, for me, better than a pbook. Well, the e-ink isn't quite there, though extraordinarily impressive just the same, but that whole flicking of the page-turn bar to, well, turn the page...it is just a very pleasing bedtime reading experience (especially when you've a booklight hanging off the top - I hate the waving around that they do while you turn the page on a pbook). I don't know if this is just me, but I also find when reading a pbook in bed that half of my hand starts to go numb (half the palm and the three fingers furthest away from the thumb). That always annoyed me too, having to readjust and then deal with the pins-and-needles. I don't get that with the Iliad. It's just very comfortable.

Anyway, though I still like my pbooks, I suspect now I will only buy them if I can't find the ebook, or if the ebook is so good that a good cover of it must sit on my bookshelves (oh, gods, I think I might end up a "book collector". That's all my wallet needs).

Again, enjoyable "first impression". Good stuff.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 08-15-2008, 02:59 AM   #11
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...

Anyway, though I still like my pbooks, I suspect now I will only buy them if I can't find the ebook, or if the ebook is so good that a good cover of it must sit on my bookshelves (oh, gods, I think I might end up a "book collector". That's all my wallet needs).

...
I just realised that that's the way to deal with the bad conscience I have from buying books, but not reading a lot of them. I'm collecting them!
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Old 08-15-2008, 03:01 AM   #12
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...

I like reading my books with Times New Roman font, so I found out that keeping my books in Word or RTF format allows me to manupulate the fonts easily using styles and then export the result as PDF for easy reading. OpenOffice's "Export to PDF" works best.... And it runs on both Mac and PC.
Ditto. So far, with the iLiad's good support of PDF, it's been what's worked best for me, too, with the reading material I have.
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Old 08-15-2008, 03:15 AM   #13
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Thankyou. I'm sure you will become entangled in the third party apps when you get a moment - those who aren't necessarily interested in them may scoff, but what's the point in having a reader that can do other stuff if you don't do other stuff ? If I wanted less things to play with I would have saved myself some dosh and bought a Sony or a Cybook. I don't have the money to have a device that just does the one thing, if that makes sense.
...
I definitely want to add a better browser for HTML reading and install different fonts. It's beyond me why Irex didn't add support for changing fonts People have so many different preferences.

I have to admit that for me, the iLiad's biggest selling point was the size of the screen. I've had a Cybook, and it was just a little too small. I don't like reading very small text. Plus, the page turner bar on the iLiad is much better than the button on the Cybook. BUT I also like the ability install third party apps.
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Old 08-15-2008, 08:13 AM   #14
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Hello again e-reader bods.

Thanks for the nice comments and the advice, one and all. I'll try formatting my own pdf's but so far rtf in FBReader seems to suit me fine.

The last few days adventures have included installing dillo (which worked fine with the Plex web interface I use, which pleased me greatly), and making cases for the iLiad. I butchered a couple of handbags, a hardback book and numerous bits of tat that I had laying about to make two. One which is a hard shell, and one which looks like a clutch purse with padding. As a result, my eyes are going to fall out (sewing was never my strong point when I could see properly even) and my fingers are full of little stab holes.
But my iLiad looks pretty in its fabric covered hard shell and I am slightly more happy about leaving it on the coffee table. Three dogs in the house, a totally blind fiance and crappy eyesight myself don't bode well for delicate items.

At night is when we do our reading. There's too much going on around here during the day for me to concentrate !

I turned Duma Key into a rtf and discovered the rotate option in FBReader. Very useful when you're charging the unit and don't want the power plug to dig into you whilst reading with the iLiad propped on your chest.

One thing I have noticed however that I will have to research in the forums ...
I have the system sounds turned on for my iLiad. I like having an audible indicator for when I've turned a page because without a sound it's often not obvious to me, especially if I'm very tired. I can sometimes read the same page five times without realising. I have found that FBReader has frozen once or twice (I go to turn a page and nowt happens - I understand it is a common thing) so the sounds also help me know if the iLiad is still listening to me, or has dozed off and is not receiving the button presses.
I have noticed that after about ten pages or so (in FBReader particularly, not sure if it happens in mobipocket), the sounds disappear. This is then a system wide thing - they don't reappear unless I reboot.

Very strange ! Does anyone else get this or is it just me ?


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