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Old 07-14-2009, 10:50 AM   #1
10basetom
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Post jetBook feature suggestions (and feedback)

Since there's no dedicated jetBook section under E-Book Devices, I'll post this here. Several hours ago I posted this on the official Ectaco forum:

Quote:
Dear Ectaco:

I hope you can add these two features to the jetBook in the future (as firmware upgrades):

1. Serif font for text files. If you truly want to emulate the experience of reading a printed book, I hope that you will offer a serif font such as Georgia or Palatino to the jetBook. I have a huge printed book library and most of the classics are printed in a serif font. I'm used to reading books in serif font -- it just feels "warmer" than Arial or Verdana to me. A sans-serif font like Arial or Verdana is OK for technical documents, but not classic literature IMHO.

2. A better, more complete built-in English dictionary. I would like to upgrade the English dictionary that comes with the jetBook because, frankly, it is not very good. I read a lot of science fiction and every day I encounter words that the dictionary doesn't have a definition to. A good example is the word "grok" -- please, I would even PAY to upgrade the English dictionary to one that can define this word (such as the New Oxford Dictionary of English).

Thank you,
Tom
Not long after that I got a reply from an Ectaco customer support manager regarding my second feature request (whoever said Ectaco customer service stinks was wrong, or YMMV). Here is an excerpt of our email exchanges...

Ectaco:
> Dear Tom,
>
> Thank you for your mail.
>
> The unit doesn't include such slang words [as "grok"].
>
> Thank you for choosing our products.

Tom:
> The dictionary also doesn't include definitions for many
> other non-slang words. I'm curious, what English
> dictionary does it come with, and how many definitions
> does it have?
>
> All I'm asking for is the ability to upgrade the built-in
> dictionary. If you monitor the forums, you'll find that
> many other people are also asking for the same thing,
> and would even pay for it. You should really consider
> this as it would be a great service to your customers.

Ectaco:
> We always work on improving the database.
> As soon as next version of the dictionary's base is
> available, we will publish it at our website.

Well, here's what I have to say to this response... I understand if Ectaco wants to keep their prices low, then they should go with an "open source"-like (free) dictionary database. Here are two that I recommend:

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Main_Page
http://wordnet.princeton.edu/

There are many new reference sites that are using these dictionaries; my favorite one is currently ninjawords (http://ninjawords.com/info/about/). It even has a concise definition for "grok" (whether this word is defined and how it's defined is my layman methodology for testing a dictionary's quality):

http://ninjawords.com/grok

I hope Ectaco's IT department will seriously look at these two free dictionaries. I think if they replace their built-in dictionary with wiktionary, they will get three benefits:

1. They would no longer have to maintain and "work on improving the database" of their current dictionary because wiktionary is community driven and maintained by millions of people all over the world.

2. Their built-in dictionary would arguably be superior to any ebook reader dictionary out there and contain TONS of new definitions, including slang, idioms, hacker terms, and esoteric words such as 'grok'.

3. They would likely attract many more buyers as word spreads on forums such as this about how great their built-in dictionary is. To seriously challenge the Kindle, their built-in dictionary needs to be equal to or BETTER than the Kindle's built-in dictionary.

My reading experience is almost a ritual -- to settle into a novel I usually have three other things by my side: my trusty dog-eared 1080-page Oxford pocket dictionary, a notepad or yellow sticky notes, and a pen or pencil to jot things down as I read (e.g., page number of first introduction of a character). My OCB requires that I look up every single word I don't understand and write down that word. Having an ebook reader reduces all the things that I'd have to carry to just one item (the ebook reader) instead of four, but this requires that the ebook reader can search across books (checked) and comes with a built-in dictionary at least as good as my Oxford pocket dictionary (so far unchecked). If I keep having to carry my Oxford dictionary around then this defeats the purpose of me getting an ebook reader.

Tom
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Old 07-15-2009, 06:56 AM   #2
Dr. Drib
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Welcome to MobileRead, 10basetom.

Your reading habits - dictionary, pen/paper next to you - are admirable and set a good example for all of us who wish to increase our vocabulary. If only my students could be as organized as you are, then their vocabulary and language skills would develop in a more practiced manner.

If you haven't yet looked around at the many Forums, feel free to ask questions and post comments as you feel the need.

We also have a rather large library of very nicely formatted public domain titles and etc., in varying formats.

Again, Welcome, and Have fun!


Don
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:54 AM   #3
10basetom
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Hi Dr. Drib,

Thank you for the comments and for welcoming me.

I'm trying really hard to like the jetBook ($180 + S&H at frys.com), but the more I use it on a day-to-day basis the more I'm considering to return it, mainly because of the poor text input system. Here's a summary of the little things that irk me:
  1. T9 doesn't work the same as it does on the mobile phone. To see what I'm talking about, try searching for "robber" by using the T9 input method; after spelling this word out the only word you see in the list is "soccer". If T9 is a trademarked name, I wonder if Ectaco should even be marketing their input method as T9 because it's obviously not true T9. In fact, it is giving T9 a bad name because their implementation is much more user-unfriendly than the T9 used on mobile phones.
  2. The regular text input input method is also not the same as it is on your mobile phone. For example, instead of pressing 7 three times to input "r", you have to press 7 once and then press the number 3 (this requires looking at the screen to see what number "r" is mapped to). This makes text input a chore no matter which text input method you choose.
  3. As mentioned above, the built-in dictionary just doesn't cut it for me. But in all fairness, I don't think any ebook reader's built-in dictionary would satisfy me, so I'll end up dragging along my Oxford dictionary no matter which device I purchase.
  4. To make the word lookup experience worse, every time I look up a word I have to re-select the English dictionary. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but my dictionary selection setting isn't saved across sessions.
  5. The jetBook has a nice screen with good contrast and clarity that I found easier to read than the ezReader's screen when I put the two side by side. HOWEVER, there is still a perceivable .5- to 1-second lag whenever I turn pages, especially in large books and when panning in PDF documents. Many people have praised the jetBook's LCD screen latency as compared to an e-ink screen, and they would be correct, but the page turns and PDF panning are still a bit too slow for me. Am I expecting too much when I want near instantaneous page turns? I'd like to be able to hold down the next/previous page buttons and have the pages turn as fast as I could flip through a physical book.
There are some other quibbles with the user experience as well, but these are the main ones I can think of off the top of my head at 4:45am. Since I've had a Fictionwise account for a long time, I may end up getting one of the EBookwise-1150 ebook readers that are going for under $100 on eBay. The Kindle1 is also going for about the same price as a new jetBook on eBay.

Tom

Last edited by 10basetom; 07-15-2009 at 07:58 AM.
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