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Old 01-06-2010, 10:36 PM   #1
GlenBarrington
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A good reader for a soldier?

I know a US soldier who has asked me for recommendations on a reader, but I'm just too new to these things. So I hope you can help with some suggestions.

He will have secure access to the internet virtually anyplace he will be deployed to, (it's not the Army I remember!) but I kind of doubt most places will have the infrastructure to make the download features of devices like the Kindle very useful. Indeed, knowing the military mindset, there may even be security issues for that sort of thing even if the infrastructure does exist. Replaceable batteries might be useful as well, though that is probably not essential.

Deployment to just about any sort of climate is very likely, so a high level of ruggedness and perhaps weather sealing should be something of a factor.

He speaks/reads several languages including Russian, French, and Arabic. So if the device can display non western alphabets that would be great.

He's thinking he would like his family to create photographic slide-shows in Powerpoint, and convert them to PDF files so he could download them and display them on the reader device. (we assume that will be possible.)

How close does the industry get to meeting these needs? Any suggestions and/or reasonable compromises?

Last edited by GlenBarrington; 01-06-2010 at 10:44 PM. Reason: More to add!
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Old 01-07-2010, 07:43 AM   #2
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My suggestion would be for a Sony PRS-300 w/ some sort of hard case w/ a supply of zip-loc baggies which fit it snuggly (I use the latter when I take my PRS-505 to the beach).

It will display (physically small-size) .pdfs fine and (non-DRM) files can be directly copied to it using a USB cable w/ no special software needed on the computer one is copying from.

Cyrillic and Arabic will work fine in .pdfs and should work in .epub files w/ embedded fonts.

It will also display .jpeg files, so just e-mail him pictures and he can copy those to the device.

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Old 01-07-2010, 01:26 PM   #3
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DItto that about the SOny 300. That's what I use and it's reasonable rugged, you can get a leather or hard shell case, and it fits into a cargo pocket of pack very easily.Need to be able to download content from a PC onto the SOny 300
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:55 PM   #4
GlenBarrington
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concerned about the PDF capabilities

Thanks for the replies!

I've got the PRS-300, and it suits me to a "T", but frankly it's graphics capabilities are pretty limited. and the B&W images are virtually illegible.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:04 AM   #5
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I am a soldier, so I had most of the same concerns he has. The big problem these days is that we are not allowed to connect USB devices to government computers. That includes readers, so downloading on a government computer is out. Internet access for personal computers really depends on where you go. In my experience, it ranges from free in Kandahar to available for a fee in Kuwait and Baghdad to non-existent in Basra. The more remote the location, the less likely that personal internet will be available. Given that, he shouldn't expect to be able to download during the deployment.

A reader that supports flash memory cards is handy because his family can periodically mail him an SD card loaded with books, pictures, etc for him. It's also possible to mail a CD, but that requires him to have a personal laptop. I'm not sure how well that would work with DRMed books. I know for certain that I can load DRMed ePubs on my SD card and then read them on my PP.

Smaller is better than larger. The 5" size fits in pockets while the 6" does not. Packing space is tight and downrange it's difficult to carry a bag during the day since they aren't allowed in the dining facilities etc. If I can fit it in a pocket, I can have it available more.

A zipper case is mandatory for this sort of lifestyle. There are too many sharp bits in our luggage and the sand is too thick. I personally like a a rubberized coating because it hides dirt and fingerprints so well.

Given all of the above, I went with the Astak PocketPro. Compared to the Sony Pocket, its processor is twice as fast, it has an SD card slot, it does text to speech when I can't have a light (not well, but handy when I'm almost at who done it), and it comes with everything I need in the box, including a 2GB SD card. You get all of this for the same price as the Sony, which doesn't have an SD card slot or text to speech. Also, the Sony needs a different cord to charge it from a wall socket. While both have batteries that will last half of forever, finding time to leave you reader plugged into your own computer while it's running for long enough to charge it can be difficult. The PP comes with a USB wall plug and USB cable, so I could charge it from a wall outlet right out of the box.

The CaseLogic zipper case for the Sony Pocket fits the PP perfectly. BookArmor also has a new case that is designed to leave a lot of space around the reader and might fit some readers that are a little wider than the Sony and PP.

Most devices are designed to be sold globally and support multiple languages. The PP is distributed by LBook in eastern Europe, so there's even Russian firmware available for it. I would imagine that the Sony Pocket has similar support but don't know that for certain.
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:45 AM   #6
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Polly! Thanks! That is the sort of information I've been looking for!
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