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Old 03-14-2009, 04:53 PM   #1
baldman
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Is iRex Iliad good decision at the moment?

Hello mobileread members,

I have been reading this forums for quite a while now, and am a big fan of eInk technology. Now I finally decided it is time for me to get an actual device. And as all of you know, getting the right one is not an easy decision to make, hence I hope you, experienced users and fans alike, might help me out (and I hope it is not much trouble, as this must be the number one question around here).

Basically the most painful thing that keeps bugging me is, whether i should go for iRex Illiad Book edition (don't need the wifi, which is not of much help on that device anyway), or not. I am willing to pay that premium price, if the things I like the most (apart from say "standard" features) are actually useful.
For starters, 8" screen is a big plus and looks gorgeous, with 16 gray scale. (Btw, is it Vizplex or not? I found several threads, but didn't make out any consensus on this topic). The writing capabilities are one of the "most wanted" things on my list, planned use would be for making annotations inside pdf documents (I am a student, you know). Last but not least, mobipocket support is a big advantage, as I already own several eBooks (reading on my BlackBerry).
But I am concerned with the known disadvantages of Iliad, which are power consumption (lack of suspend mode etc.), not particularly responsive controls and support from iRex itself. I know, there was an effort called IliadOS, which aimed for solving lot of things, but seems dead at the moment. What I am afraid of is, wouldn't I be buying already obsolete device?

So If Iliad would show up as a no go, that got me thinking. What to do next?
As there are not any devices with pen enabled capabilities as iRex has
(or with that great display) , I must choose from the variety of 6" readers. At least, I would not spend that much money and can wait for next gen devices, but *sigh*....

Nevertheles, here are my thoughts: Under any circumstances, I won't go for Kindle, because I live in central Europe, meaning there is no reason for me to pay extra for features I cannot use (whispernet).
So what is left is: Hanlin in any of its incarnations, Cybook, and two Sony versions. Sony is great as far as epub is concerned and visual style, otherwise, their LRF format is something I don't like very much. I know, I can use calibre, but the conversion is not 100%. Hanlin and Cybook seem almost the same (feature wise, at least). Cybook is a bit more expensive, but the stock firmware seems more capable than Hanlins, alas on the second device, I could use OpenInkpot, which appeals to me (and I am considering a donation to that great folks, btw ). One last thing is, Hanlin and Cybook are readily available in my country (Czech Republic), while the others I must buy somewhere and have them shipped to me.

In the end of the day, I could not get my head around it and decided I would ask this open community for opinion. I hope I am going to read a novel on my brand new reader by the end of the next week , but don't want to rush things in a way, that I would be disappointed.

Thank you in advance and sorry for the long post, but I needed to express myself correctly.
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:24 PM   #2
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As a former iliad owner, i'll give you my experiences.

Size. I found the iliad to be a good size forr reading PDFs, but a bit too large for me to tote around to a restaurant or coffee shop. It's just a bit on the clunky side.

Annotations. I have fairly messy handwriting and write pretty quickly. The iliad's notetaking ability was almost completely useless to me. Most of the time i had scribbles that hopefully jogged a memory about what I was trying to write. I found a tablet pc to be far more effective for meeting notes.

Software. The mobireader software is ok if you're just reading fiction. For any kind of reference work it starts to show it's weaknesses fairly quickly. I'd recommend FBreader right away.

I have a 17 yo son and 13 yo daughter. I don't think the perfect student eink machine has been made yet. I think it's going to take a bit of give and take on both manufacturers and publishers parts to put a student reader together.

From a business perspective, the iliad left a lot to be desired. The best part about it for me was FBreader's CHM support, but that was naturally something irex didn't support out of the box. I thought the build quality was closer to a prototype machine rather than a consumer device.

I wish you well in your search, but in my estimation, textbooks aren't a good fit for eink readers just yet.
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:37 PM   #3
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Instead of asking if the iRex is "already obsolete", I think you should ask yourself "is it obsolete for me?" I'd cheerfully buy something that everyone thought was obsolete if it was the only thing that could get the job done.

You should probably figure out if annotating PDF's is really that important to you. If you were a businessperson, and you had a business need to annotate PDF's on a portable device, there would be no hesitation because your needs would be clear and there is only one device that satisfies them.

However, you are hesitating, which suggests that either your needs are not clear, or that none of the options satisfies your needs. If you're asking the forums to tell you what "the best device" is, I think the answer will be elusive. This is something people can only discover through hindsight, if at all.

Finding "the best" product also really means you have to know your priorities. When I first shopped around, I had a lengthy list of must-have features. Nothing existed that met all my criteria, so I had to lower my standards and then I bought the device that I feel is best for me.

FWIW, I decided to go the "stay cheap now, get fancier product when it comes to market." route.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:22 PM   #4
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xianfox, sigma8 thank you for your insights, particularly on the actual usage experience. Seems like iRex is in the "questionable" category of products, which is kinda sad, i liked the Iliad, but i won't spend 5 hundred euros if I am likely going to face issues up front.

Just to clarify things a bit up, I am a student as in university kind , as well as a businessperson (running a small company). Therefore the need for annotating pdf's is twofold: one for making notes (school usage), second for highlighing, searching etc (i am in software development), as sniffing through technical manuals, which can grow past the point, where one would actually print it out, is my daily job and web browser is not good enough. Seems like for the pdf's, tablet pc is going to be the way to go. Sadly, it's not the great eInk I was hoping for, but I do need the annotation feature.

Ok, I tend to agree with the "stay cheap" route, after practically spent my whole day reading through tons of reviews. Consequently, here comes the obvious question: what reader do you use and are you satisfied?

I reconsidered a bit on the Sony reader, thinking of getting the 700. I know about the screen issues, but seems like there is no universal consensus on that either, lot of former 505 users love it, other hate it. As you can see, I am still into the touch screen , albeit here only in convenience fashion. Another thing I like is the reflowable pdf, fast processor and of course, epub. On the other hand, hopes for openinkpot (which may support a lot of the features above in the future) are not high, I figured.

So, the decision now lies between: sony 700, jinke (in whatever flavour), cyboook. Now I am stuck with the suggested pros/cons paper, not making any progress
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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Hi

After clarifying that you will (are) use a tabletpc for PDF and technology reading - my advice for sure and being doing it myself for the last 6 years - I can imagine you will want to read leisure material in the eBook reader it with occasional PDF reading if really needed…

For that any 6” device will do, but I advise you to go with the Cybook.

Best regards
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:12 PM   #6
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Yup,

looks it's going to end up like that.

As for Cybook, I've got two concerns

a) Does not support folders AFAIK
b) PDFs take long time to load (still want to at least read pdfs, if tablet pc won't be at hand)

I know, that there is no perferct reader and each one of those has issues, just trying to figure out, which are the least important to me. But still
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Old 03-14-2009, 09:19 PM   #7
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If a 6" screen is good enough, then I suggest you wait for the next generation devices from Hanlin and others. The new Hanlin will have a touch screen and will support annotation. There are few details, but see New BeBook eReader: adds Wifi and touchscreen! and BeBook 2 e-reader revealed and in the wild at CeBIT 2009!. The BeBook is a Hanlin, which will be available under other brand names as usual. The components are not exclusive to Hanlin, so other vendors (Bookeen, Netronix) will likely be introducing competing devices. These all use the Epsom controller and so will likely have 16 grey scales.
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Old 03-14-2009, 11:58 PM   #8
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Baldman, if you are aiming at the Tablet PC for your mission critical stuff (good idea, IMO--it's robust and while it doesn't have the pros of e-Ink, it also doesn't have the many cons of e-Ink), then what are you looking for in a reader? Just an e-Ink screen and cheapness?

That's what I was shooting for, and for me (in the US), the best e-Ink screen + price combo was the Sony 505. I was tempted with the 700, but when I revisited my main points: "e-Ink screen", "cheap"...I realized it would be a bit hypocritical to get a model with a less-nice screen AND a 33% higher price. As for why I went Sony instead of some other perfectly good brands, I'd guess it had a lot to do with local brick and mortar availability. There's a Sony Style store that's a short hop away for me via mass transit.

Although the PDF support (DRM + reflow) factored in as well. I brought an SD card into the store to carry out some tests before buying, and was reasonably satisfied with my results.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:44 AM   #9
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I like iLiad very much, even though there are still some major improvments to be done. IMHO, iLiad is the most flexible ebook device in the market that is capable of extending supported ebook format (afer hacked). On my own iLiad, I use my own text viewer, image viewer, and some other ported software, and all official software viewers are of no use for me. I won't suggest buy an iLiad, unless you are familiar with Linux and willing to do the hack.
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Old 03-15-2009, 07:18 AM   #10
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As far as waiting out as wallcraft suggested goes, I considered this option a week ago, as I followed the unveiling of several new products during Cebit. I liked the bebook 2, but the actual timeframe for availability is a no go for me, I longed for an eink device for quite some now and my intention of getting one ASAP stands - lot of books I already have, love the projects like Guttenberg or Feedbooks and I want the superb comfort of using such a device. My course of thinking being: enjoy it for the year or so, until those new ones come out, wait for reviews etc and if I deem it worthy, sell whatever I will have at that point and get a new one. But that is a bit down the road.

ericshliao: yes, I know about the possibilities of hacking the Iliad. I am an experienced linux user, I use it as my only operating system for like 6 years as well as being an server sysadmin, no problem there, even hacked old Mac I to run Debian . But, I am probably not willing to go into lengthy efforts to make something working that should readily out of the box. Don't take me wrong, I believe Iliad is a great product, just not for me AT THE MOMENT. I wan't to spend my free time reading rather than hacking the device that should be used for that puropse Working with computers too much already.

And now for the ever lasting decision hell, I believe I am making progress there. sigma8, as you pointed out, the Sony 700 is great for some things, whereas the display quality is a sacrafice for those extra features (and as I've read here, those dust spots is an issue as well, and because I live in central europe, getting a replacement would be a problem). Cheapness is not that much of a factor, really, but the eInk screen is. It is sad, really, otherwise I find the 700 the best thing out there and I would go for it in an instant, had it not been problematic as far as the screen goes. And in the end, what am I actually going to use it for? Reading of course, so the worse screen is unfortunately a showstopper.
And now, I am really thinking of getting the 505. Funny, as I actually dismissed the unit pretty quickly in the beginning, but after thinking it over, I do believe it will suit my needs best. It is actually cheaper for me than getting a Cybook or Hanlin-whatever, and the advantages of the other two are somewhat diminished by the fact, that I can freely convert mobipocket to epub using calibre with good results, as I've found. And the PDF support on Sony is way better than on the other two, if I understand the other posts correctly. Plus the ePub format. And seems like those great guys at openinkpot are making progress in getting it work on the Sony, so even those hopes are up.
Sigma8, if you don't mind me asking, is there anything that you really don't like about your 505?

Otherwise, seems like the first thing in the morning is going to be eBaying away
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Old 03-15-2009, 07:21 AM   #11
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Oh and I forgot, If I end up with 505, is there anything I could do for people at openinkpot? I feel compelled to help the community with this, as I find it a great project.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:20 PM   #12
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Well, as of now, support on pdf is pretty poor, though it's expected to inprove sometimes soon.
And no notes taking. So if reading pdf and taking notes is what you need, then, the cybook is not the one for you.

Maybe the new BeBook would be though.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:58 PM   #13
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I do have some gripes with my 505. I'm trying to edit myself down here, from my original 5-page version of just a couple silly points. Here's the short version, and let me know if you have questions:
  • PDF support is great, but many PDF's suffer on the 6" screen (even in landscape)
  • Reflow is also great, but its effectiveness is a crapshoot
  • LRF files (very common, especially in the free books section here on mobileread) have to perform a pagination process the first time you open them up or switch fonts; this can be several minutes long if the book is huge
  • ePub currently doesn't do justified text (the spec was updated to support it, hopefully we'll see a firmware update soon); I'm also a little confused about how ePub handles page numbering.
  • the little navigational wheel (up/down/left/right+enter) is annoying if you are navigating among a lot of items (screen updates are slow); this problem crops up with news feeds from Caliber (not too bad, though) and the contents and index sections of tech books that I bought (bad; tap...tap...tap...(repeat 10 more times)...enter!)
  • shopping for ebooks online is a frustrating experience, since there is no ubiquitous format (and no device that supports it). PDF is actually the closest thing to one, but see the first two bullet-points on that.
  • as of ten minutes ago, a new irritation! I just learned that Adobe Digital Editions are built from one of two publishing formats: PDF and ePub. ePubs work great on the reader, but there's no way to tell if a particular ADE book for sale is built using PDF or ePub.
  • the free flip cover is good for protection, but annoying while reading (IMO); I often pop the reader out of it (easy to do). I wish it was able to bend all the way back without feeling like the spine was going to pop off (in a permanent "oh it's broke now" kind of way).

The basic stuff like controls (apart from in-page navigational ones as I mentioned above), screen quality, form-factor and comfort are superb.

Last edited by sigma8; 03-15-2009 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 03-16-2009, 08:28 AM   #14
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Thumbs up

Thank you for your insights, I am familiar with most of the things you mentioned. A good sign I guess, seems I like done a decent job in researching the device , hope I did not skip anything serious

Interestingly enough, I did miss the point about support of justification in ePub, any chance Sony will fix this in the future? I was planning on consolidating my library in this format, but unjustified text may prove uncomfortable to read. We shall see, i guess.

Anyway, thank you all for your comments and thoughts (you particularly sigma8), I orderer my shiny new Sony Reader this morning. Looking forward to it, I won't sleep
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Old 03-16-2009, 05:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigma8 View Post
I do have some gripes with my 505. I'm trying to edit myself down here, from my original 5-page version of just a couple silly points. Here's the short version, and let me know if you have questions:
  • PDF support is great, but many PDF's suffer on the 6" screen (even in landscape)
  • Reflow is also great, but its effectiveness is a crapshoot
  • LRF files (very common, especially in the free books section here on mobileread) have to perform a pagination process the first time you open them up or switch fonts; this can be several minutes long if the book is huge
  • ePub currently doesn't do justified text (the spec was updated to support it, hopefully we'll see a firmware update soon); I'm also a little confused about how ePub handles page numbering.
  • the little navigational wheel (up/down/left/right+enter) is annoying if you are navigating among a lot of items (screen updates are slow); this problem crops up with news feeds from Caliber (not too bad, though) and the contents and index sections of tech books that I bought (bad; tap...tap...tap...(repeat 10 more times)...enter!)
  • shopping for ebooks online is a frustrating experience, since there is no ubiquitous format (and no device that supports it). PDF is actually the closest thing to one, but see the first two bullet-points on that.
  • as of ten minutes ago, a new irritation! I just learned that Adobe Digital Editions are built from one of two publishing formats: PDF and ePub. ePubs work great on the reader, but there's no way to tell if a particular ADE book for sale is built using PDF or ePub.
  • the free flip cover is good for protection, but annoying while reading (IMO); I often pop the reader out of it (easy to do). I wish it was able to bend all the way back without feeling like the spine was going to pop off (in a permanent "oh it's broke now" kind of way).

The basic stuff like controls (apart from in-page navigational ones as I mentioned above), screen quality, form-factor and comfort are superb.
Shopping online isn't much worse for Sony than anybody else. They all suffer from the many different formats out there and at least Sony support several of them.

the PDF in ADE is also the same PDF on Sony so if it is an ADE eBook no matter which format it should work. Even ADE DRM works on both PDF and ePUB on the Sony.

Dale
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