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Old 02-13-2009, 12:26 PM   #1
RufusA
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O'Reilly IT Books - PRS-700, Iliad or ???

I'm toying with the idea of an eBook Reader but like many am a little daunted / undecided.

I work in IT, and have a number of printed IT books, mostly O'Reilly publications et al, which I find somewhat painful to lug around and read.

I also like to keep abreast with technology so do the odd bits of studying, mainly IT books, O'Reilly Head First series et al, but with the desire to be able to mark / annotate things (for example, self test/progress pages).

It also would be nice to proof-read documents I've written (MS word doc or pdf), and something to read for leisure; Gutenberg Books or journals/magazines/news downloaded in the UK.

So I'm looking for an ebook reader that's compact enough to hold easily in one hand on a crowded commuter train. Has the ability to search for information (or at the very least can easily/quickly flick between an index page(s) in a book and a specific page number).

The ability to read books natively in an O'Reilly produced format would be good, but I don't object to a little tinkering if necessary. I believe O'Reilly now provide non-DRM PDF, EPub and Mobi formats in their eBook bundles.

Most of the stuff I read is just text, but there are the odd technical diagram, screen shot, or code snippet which would be nice to be catered for. For code etc. layout is important so re-flowing text and losing/introducing line breaks would be less than ideal!

Battery life isn't too important (no more than a couple of hours away from a laptop). Cost not an essential consideration but I don't want to spend £600+ to carry a few hundred pounds worth of IT material, particularly if I can buy something for less than £150, that will do 90% of the job, or buy 2 - 3 printed copies of any important books!

Any suggestions?

From a brief scan the PRS-700 and Iliad Book Edition are one of the few that offer annoation and searching:

How do the screens compare?
How usable is searching - can you search for a word / term in a single book, see a simple list of pages that match with a little context, then click to go direct to the page?
Is there anywhere to buy / see the PRS-700 or Iliad in the UK in action, or is it online / import only from B&H or similar?

Or would I be better ditching the annoation and buying a cheap refurb. PRS-505? How usuable is a non touch-screen for flipping between contents/ index and a page in a given O'Reilly ePub or PDF format?

If anyone uses reference / IT books in anger on an ebook reader it would be great to hear how you get on!

Many Thanks - Rufus.
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Old 03-11-2009, 04:08 AM   #2
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I'm looking for something along the same lines that can display my IT books (from PDF). I've downloaded the sony library tool and the preview looks good but I cant find out for sure if its how it would actually look on the device (PRS 700).

Did you decide which device to go for? And can anyone comment on if the attached file is an accurate represenation of how it might look on the PRS-700?

Thanks
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Old 03-11-2009, 05:17 AM   #3
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Did you decide which device to go for? And can anyone comment on if the attached file is an accurate represenation of how it might look on the PRS-700?
After much searching I decided there wasn't a perfect device for my purposes. The IRex range whilst offering lots of features were IMHO too expensive compared and had questionable ongoing firmware updates / customer service.

The PRS-700 whilst appearing a good choice would have cost be quite a lot to import in to the UK (after duty, internatial warranty) it wasn't that far off price of an IRex Book Edition.

In the end I found a cheap PRS-505 and decide to just get my feet wet with reader in the hope that 12-18 months from now the market will have matured sufficiently to provide a good solid technical eReader at an affordable price.

The screen is good, clear, the controls simple yet intuitivly usable. Screen glare on the 505 I on occasion find a pain, the worst seems to be overhead spot lights on train corridors (my preferred standing place on a commute)! I imagine the 700 may have been unusable for me on a train!

As for technical books, then on the whole they read well. Most of the technical books I buy are printed at around the B5 size with large margins and reasonable sized fonts. Their digital versions read reasonably comfortably on the reader.

On the 505 I find I can nip around reference books quite quickly. Menu - ToC - Index - Type in page number, read words.

The screen shot you attached is a good representation of what a well formatted PDF would look like on the reader. However the size in reality will be a bit smaller than shows on your computer screen, so you will find reading at that font size a struggle. In this situation I flip to landscape mode in effect increasing the font size by 1/3, and I can read for hours that way.

I haven't yet purchased a eBook bundle from O'Reilly to comment on how well they would work - need to wait until I get paid (and the exchange rate improves a little)!

A few things to note.

1) The 505 processor does sometimes struggle, the faster processor in the 700 would be so much sweeter than watching the spinning formatting sign.
2) Technical books from illegitimate sources are on the whole badly formatted and (apart from being illegal) will not work well on a reader.
3) Grey text I find doesn't read well, some technical books seem to take delight in printing complex terms / reems of code in pale grey.
4) If you can source non-DRMed versions of your books you can use tools to remove white space, tinker with fonts etc. HOWEVER you'll usually lose the Table of Contents and inner-links in the process.
5) Reflowing PDFs again doesn't work well for technical books, so don't expect zooming to cure all ills.
6) Once you get a reader, you'll spend all your life reading downloaded RSS feeds from newspapers, blogs, the onion that you never actually get round to reading the technical books.

Rufus.
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Old 03-11-2009, 05:22 AM   #4
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A final addedum. One of the drivers for me in getting the PRS-700 over a PRS-505 would have been note taking.

On reflection this is on my behalf self dillusional. I find typing anything more than a word or two on a slow to respond on-screen keyboard impossibly frustrating.

Instead on my 505 I carry a shorthand pad and pencil! I can bookmark the page I want to make notes on. Then scribble to my hearts content in my pad!

If I need to write loads, then I simply unpack my laptop and use the keyboard on that!

Rufus.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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I think what you're both looking for is something more like this.

http://www.plasticlogic.com/

According to the manufacturer they developed it for business users. Whereas many of the current eReaders on the market are geared more toward casual/academic users. Unfortunately (and probably predictably) it's not scheduled for release until later this year, and there is no listed price as of this writing.

I personally went with the PRS 700 for the note taking. The Kindle 2 offers notation; however, PDFs are a pay-per-convert option. And, the cursor navigation/highlighting is much like the old IBM Thinkpad eraser stick (of which I was not a fan).

Being a web developer/designer I tend to type pretty fast - and found the delayed response of the PRS 700 keyboard a little annoying. Then I noticed that it caches keystrokes. So, the slowness was mainly me slowing down to wait for the reaction. Now, I just type away and let the e-ink catch up to me - working well so far (and I'm a notation junky).

PDFs on the PRS700 get a little wonky with larger font sizes with regard to line breaks and the like. Would almost recommend converting the PDFs to LRF - using Calibre or similar software. However, for infographics - I really don't think the screen size will be very accommodating.

Cheers,
Josh
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:55 AM   #6
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RufusA, it sounds like your needs are very close to mine. I've actually went ahead and bought my first eBook from O'Reilly, it was the iPhone SDK book. It looks pretty nice, and is very readable. There are some parts that get slightly cut off (like a ls -l directory listing that was <pre> tagged...I don't see the whole thing in portrait mode). Table of contents works great, but ironically the index becomes more obnoxious. Since page numbers are variable based on your screen and font size, so index entries are hyperlinks without page numbers. It's annoying and slow to use the little directional pad to cycle through dozens of hyperlinks.

That said, the hyperlinks would be a blessing on the 700, with its stylus.

What would be amazing, would be some program that could convert the epub to PDF (comfortably sized for 6" screens), and also figure out what page numbers the hyperlinks were pointing at, and re-print them as page numbers.

I've heard the head-first books fare a bit worse than typical O'Reilly "animal books" on eReaders. They tend to be offered in PDF format only, and have a lot of formatting that doesn't reflow nicely.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbruce View Post
I think what you're both looking for is something more like this.

http://www.plasticlogic.com/

According to the manufacturer they developed it for business users. Whereas many of the current eReaders on the market are geared more toward casual/academic users. Unfortunately (and probably predictably) it's not scheduled for release until later this year, and there is no listed price as of this writing.
Would the iRex DR1000S not be equally suitable? It too is aimed squarely at business users and supports annotation of PDFs.

Quote:
I personally went with the PRS 700 for the note taking. The Kindle 2 offers notation; however, PDFs are a pay-per-convert option.
Not entirely correct. Conversion is free; you only have to pay if you wish the converted document to be wirelessly sent to the Kindle. You can have it e-mailed back to you and upload it via USB for free.
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Old 03-14-2009, 08:55 AM   #8
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YES!!! Plastic Logic! I can't wait for them to arrive!
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:05 AM   #9
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Would the iRex DR1000S not be equally suitable? It too is aimed squarely at business users and supports annotation of PDFs.
I think people are just excited about the plasticlogic because it's sexier, and making promises as if it were running for president.
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Old 03-14-2009, 10:18 AM   #10
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I think people are just excited about the plasticlogic because it's sexier, and making promises as if it were running for president.
So you freely admit he IS sexy then?
Just asking......
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:13 PM   #11
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So you freely admit he IS sexy then?
Just asking......
Well, since Georgy Russell didn't win the California governorship in 2003, I can issue the blanket statement:

PlasticLogic sexy > politician sexy
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:32 AM   #12
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Would the iRex DR1000S not be equally suitable? It too is aimed squarely at business users and supports annotation of PDFs.
I suppose in the grand scheme of things.

Quote:
Conversion is free; you only have to pay if you wish the converted document to be wirelessly sent to the Kindle.
That seems silly. The wireless is free - but none of the documents you download are - not even your own.

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I think people are just excited about the plasticlogic because it's sexier, and making promises as if it were running for president.
I'm a design geek. And, it has an elegant design, and states that it can read most personal documents. Now whether the functionality is as good, I don't know. Kind of like politicians who are very eloquent, but might not have much going on upstairs.

(Note: That is not an attack; especially not directed at any politician in particular.)
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Old 03-20-2009, 02:40 AM   #13
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Indeed, that's why I bought an Irex DR1000S. MS-Books for the MCITP have the same size than this reader. So learning is very easy and no problem for the eyes. Mobi and PDF is supported yet, epub is coming in the second quarter this year.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:57 PM   #14
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That seems silly. The wireless is free - but none of the documents you download are - not even your own.
Actually, there are a number of free books, including but not limited to public domain, that are available from the kindle store, and they will be transferred to your kindle via the wireless. Also, you can get 2 free weeks of blogs/news/ etc, but that really doesn't count.

It has been noted (and I don't have links, but on this site) that so far noone has actually been charged for the conversion-download service. I can't make any claims either way, however.

If it was definitely free, I would buy a kindle now! But that, as well as privacy and other issues, is what is now steering me away.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:37 PM   #15
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I had my fingers crossed that the plastic logic device would come out soon. But now, some of those netbooks are starting to show up as convertible tablet devices. I'm getting tired of waiting, and one of them with an SD card reader built in would allow me to have my entire collection with me at all times. And no more format issues since a pc will read pretty much anything. I'll be sacrificing battery life, but I'm tired of waiting for the perfect device.

I'm currently using a PRS-500 that I got on the $50 credit card app deal, but I'm ready for a new toy.
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