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Old 08-26-2008, 08:14 PM   #1
Faenad
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Help needed! E-ink Device (PRS-505) or PDA (4" VGA Backlighted screen)?

I have been reading exclusively ebook since 2004. About 5 books a month, first with PDA then PDAphone.

Before I moved a lot in train so it was more practical to read on my small PDAphone that I always carried around.
Now I am interested in a bigger reader, but I hesitate between a PRS-505 and a high-end PDA like the Ipaq 210 (4" VGA screen) .

I have questions for the users of E-ink device :

- Is a 6" screen really necessary for ebook that support reflow and don't have image or any complicated layout?


- Is the PRS-505 really usable in bed with only a bed lamp as light input?




I am using for the moment a 2.8" screen (HTC P3300) to read and don't get tired even after long period of use.

It's not that I have some kind of bionic eyes, In fact I have glasses and get tired very quickly without them when using a normal computer LCD or reading a paper book
But even without glasses I can read on my P3300 for hours since getting tired.

Which kind of device should I choose?
I find the 2.8" screen to be small, a bigger screen would be great but a 6" one seem rather big.

Battery life is not an important issue, as the battery life of a PDA is already more than sufficient for me.

It would be great if some users who switched from a PDA to an E-Ink device could give their impression.
Is the E-Ink screen really more confortable? Is the absence of backlighting not too annoying?
Do you think moving from a 3,5" something to a 6" was a great change?
or if you had the choice, wouldn't you prefer a smaller E-ink screen?

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Old 08-26-2008, 09:19 PM   #2
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The HP iPAQ 210 looks like a wonderful PDA --- I wouldn't mind having one! The problem with a PDA is the battery life --- you pay for that gorgeous screen. I've read a review that says the 210 can get up to 7 hours of "heavy use" on a single battery charge, but I'd be a bit skeptical of that. Using it as an ebook reader, I'd be surprised if you got more than 3 hours of continuous reading.

At least that was the case with my Tungsten E. There is enough to read in a screen full of text so you won't be too bothered by "flipping the pages." Although I must admit that my thumbs get cranky after a couple of hours of page-turning. As far as "eye fatigue" goes, I never had much of a problem reading from the Tungsten as long as I was wearing my cheap reading glasses, other than some "watery eyes" late at night which indicates that I should have turned off the lights about an hour before That's what happens when you turn fifty...

I love the reading experience on my Sony PRS-505, though. The time between charges is immense (compared to a PDA), and the text and background are very easy on the eyes indeed. No problem reading in bed: I prop it up like a tent, bring my fingers out from under the covers to turn pages every now and then --- and I can read just fine with the 60watt bedside lamp (even turned away from the light!).

So....my recommendation (if you haven't guessed already): You need both!! The iPAQ 210 PDA makes a very passable reading device for short stints (such as lunch breaks, waiting room waits, etc.), and has all the added bennies of calendaring, etc... and a beautiful color screen. But for serious e-reading, where you are wrapped up in a book and just can't stop reading, nothing beats a dedicated ebook reader, be it a Sony, Kindle, Iliad, or whatever.

So start saving your pennies, my friend. The Sony can be had for $269.00 and the iPAQ 210 for just over $400.00, if you know where to look... (Google)

Good luck!

Tim
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Old 08-27-2008, 01:02 AM   #3
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Women keep telling me that 6" isn't as large as men seem to think it is. I don't find the screen too large. It's intended to be close to the size of the printed text of a paperback book but with margins it is smaller. I measured the text on a paperback and it was about 6.5".

It's a personal preference between portability and comfortable reading. It's too big to fit in a jacket pocket but it's portable enough to carry with me in most instances.

I disagree that you need both. I thought that I would continue to read on my PDA during times when I don't have my Cybook but in approx. 10 months I've managed to make it half way through Aesop's Fables. I'm not the world's fastest reader but I'm faster then that.

My experience is that you can read e-ink in the same lighting conditions as a paper book so reading with a book lamp is not a problem.

My opinion is that if you only read in 30 to 60 minute sessions then the PDA is sufficient. If you want to be able to read longer then the e-ink is well worth the investment. It's been able to replace paper books for myself and my PDA was not able to do that.
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:16 AM   #4
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I've been reading ebooks on odd devices since I got my first Palm III (what is that, 10 years ago?) and I've been very happy since I have my Sony reader.

Now, for your specific questions:
Quote:
- Is a 6" screen really necessary for ebook that support reflow and don't have image or any complicated layout?
Necessary? No. Nice? Yes. Does it make for hefty baggage when traveling? Not at all! I might even want one with a bigger screen for at home (say, A4 sized).

Quote:
- Is the PRS-505 really usable in bed with only a bed lamp as light input?
Yup, just like a regular book. Exactly like a regular book.

Quote:
Do you think moving from a 3,5" something to a 6" was a great change?
or if you had the choice, wouldn't you prefer a smaller E-ink screen?
Yes, a great chance for the better! I love e-ink tech. And as I mentioned, I might even want a second, bigger device. But for traveling, the Sony (or like-sized devices) is fine.

ps:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barcey View Post
Women keep telling me that 6" isn't as large as men seem to think it is.
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:17 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acidzebra View Post
Necessary? No. Nice? Yes. Does it make for hefty baggage when traveling? Not at all! I might even want one with a bigger screen for at home (say, A4 sized).
The thing is, the bigger the screen, the bigger the font has to be. This is a typographic issue. I learned this from David Siegel and his Web Wonk site, which is unfortunatly no longer on line. However, he talked about the relationship of the width of the line of type in relation to the size of the font. Basically, as you read text if the text is too wide for the font size your eyes fatigue more easily. This is because as your eyes track to back to the beginning of the next line you have to locate the correct line. If the line is to wide for the font there is alot more work your eyes have to do.

This causes fatigue. He talked about making sure to set a max width on your web sites if they contained alot of text based on the font size. He also talked alot about line leading and font leading, etc... he has a background it typography.

So, just having a bigger reader screen doesn't necessisarily mean you will be able to have more words per page. Yes, you will if you use the same font size, however if the line length isn't taken into account your eyes will get tired. Perhaps these bigger screens will need to accomodate this by having columned viewing modes and such. This also is why some people prefer margins on their ebook pages. I don't think it is so much the margin as the reduction in line length makes the text easier to read.

'nuff said. I wish the Web Wonk site was still up. Perhaps it is in the internet archive. Cool... it is, here is the link http://web.archive.org/web/200604280...egel.com/tips/ .

Here is a quote to the specific section on the above:

Many people in the computer world are used to long lines of text and 1" margins, so they think I'm nuts. They read 10" lines of text all day. In fine typography, we prefer to make it easy on the reader, not a challenge. Long lines of text make it harder to get back to the left margin and pick up the next line. You end up reading the same line over again because of the distance back to the left side of the page.
A good rule of thumb is that the longer the line length, the more leading you should use. Since we can't add leading, we should strive for shorter lines.
As you wander around the web, you have to make your browser window narrower to get 10-12 words on a line. That's what I do when I come to a passage of text I want to read.


Keep in mind that this Web Wonk was written a long time ago... so he talks about using tables and trnasparent gifs to acomplish the typographic look that he wants. Of course today you would use CSS 2.1 based layout rather than those old hacks.

BOb
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Old 08-27-2008, 03:27 PM   #6
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Thank you everyone!
I decided myself for the PRS-505


Quote:
Basically, as you read text if the text is too wide for the font size your eyes fatigue more easily.
Thank you Pilotbob, it's very interesting, that certainly help explain why I don't tire at all while reading on my small screen (I got about 6 words per line on the P3300) even though I have reduced the margin to almost nothing (no much screen real estate to waste here )


It's also explain why I hate reading no-columned A4 documents
I will certainly keep this in mind while adjusting fonts on my next devices, it will save me time from the usual trial and error setting method

Quote:
The problem with a PDA is the battery life --- you pay for that gorgeous screen. I've read a review that says the 210 can get up to 7 hours of "heavy use" on a single battery charge, but I'd be a bit skeptical of that. Using it as an ebook reader, I'd be surprised if you got more than 3 hours of continuous reading.
I owned before a Hx4700. it has a similar processor and screen and a smaller battery.

Using it as an ebook reader, the battery would last me from 5H (Backlight at 100%, best setting when outside) to more than 15H (Backlight on minimum, perfect for reading at night).
The P3300 last even longer if you put it in flight mode (turning off the cellular function that drains the battery continuously).
It outlast even my longest reading session, which usually occurs at night or on a plane, so battery was not an issue, although it's great to have a device that last weeks on a single charge

Last edited by Faenad; 08-27-2008 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:03 PM   #7
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But the small screen example also has a problem that will increas the error rate of the eye movement. The distance between words are much to big in many places compared to the distance between the lines.

If you use LaTeX and default settings you know how a readable document should look. But people seem to think that the wide margins is something bad and they increas the line length and the legibility decreases.

Another rule of thumb for line length is 60-70 characters.
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
The thing is, the bigger the screen, the bigger the font has to be. This is a typographic issue. I learned this from David Siegel and his Web Wonk site, which is unfortunatly no longer on line. However, he talked about the relationship of the width of the line of type in relation to the size of the font. Basically, as you read text if the text is too wide for the font size your eyes fatigue more easily. This is because as your eyes track to back to the beginning of the next line you have to locate the correct line. If the line is to wide for the font there is alot more work your eyes have to do.

This causes fatigue. He talked about making sure to set a max width on your web sites if they contained alot of text based on the font size. He also talked alot about line leading and font leading, etc... he has a background it typography.
All fascinating stuff (no sarcasm, I bookmarked the archive page), but I actually want an A4 device so it is also useful for things other than books, like comics and technical papers.

Last edited by acidzebra; 08-27-2008 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:09 PM   #9
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:20 AM   #10
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For novels, a 6" screen is perfect for me. I've tried reading on a PDA, but found the screen way too small... it gave me a headache. I suppose this might be because I'm used to reading paper books, but still... meh.

Oh, though I would also like a larger device as well, for the exact same reasons the poster above me stated.
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