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Old 07-22-2006, 10:17 PM   #1
Katelyn
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eBookwise-1150 or older Palm for ebook reading

I don't need a PDA. I don't need a phone, wifi, etc. I need an ebook reader. Sounds like an Ebookwise reader is perfect, eh? Well, I'm struggling to take the plunge and could use your advice.

I'm one of those people who have to lift my glasses to read these days and I read voraciously so large screen VS. small screen is one of the big selling features for me.

The vast majority of the books I will be reading are available (for free) in .pdb and .lit format. I am really unhappy with the proprietary nature of all the readers out there! I've read that it is possible to convert .pdb files but if I recall correctly, it is a two-step process and I lose some text formatting. Seems like a PIA since I definitely want .pdb dooks.

I've looked and looked at Palms (T5, T3, etc) but I just haven't been able to bring myself to spend the extra cost for features I will waste. The only screen so car that seems close to large enough is the T5 and again, the cost is silly since I don't need all the features. What I want is an large screen Ereader with easily accessible .pdb books!

I've considered an older Palm that doesn't have all the bells and whistles (cost would be much lower than even the 1150) but I'm concerned about if an older model has enough operating power and room for books. WIll they accept the newest software or will I be stuck with an old OS? (I know nothing about handhelds). I don't need hundreds of books, just a couple dozen at a time maybe. Ebooks are my focus and I want (fairly) large, easy to read screen.

So, an older Palm VS the Ebookwise 1150? I've ruled out the Franklin eBookman and Rocket since neither accept .pdb formats but feel free to convince me to take a second look if you know something I don't about how I'd have to convert files to work on them

One last issue. Do any handheld devices work with text-to-speech programs that will read the books to me? I'm aware of the HUGE TTS engines I can get for my home PC (NaturalVoices, et al) but do handhelds have any capability for this? Forget the Microsoft default TTS-type voices. Sam, Mike and Michelle just won't cut it.

I hope someone is out there willing to tackle any or all of my questions.

Last edited by Katelyn; 07-22-2006 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 07-23-2006, 07:18 AM   #2
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The Ebookwise is a good device. It prices at just over $100 on Ebay and other places. I think mine was $120 and there are still a good number of them around. I've been quite pleased with mine. I also have a Cybook from Bookeen but that's primarily for reading tech manuals in PDF format which have a lot of diagrams in them.

Conversion to the .IMP format is not any big hassle. There's a program called GebLibrarian which you can find on the web which costs about $30 as I remember. It converts most HTML, TXT, RTF and several other formats to the .imp format. I have had to, on occasion, take a file that I converted from lit or some other format and do a little touch up on it. e.g. remove double CR/LFs, remove hard CR/LF at the end of lines so text will reflow. The only ones I never had much luck with were converting .pdb files to something I could move to .imp.

The b/w LCD screen is not e-ink by any stretch of the imagination but there are several levels of font size and it's eminantly readable. I too wear glasses (bifocals) and find reading on a screen hard. The Ebookwise is fairly light, the screen works fine and the buttons on it are large and nice. The screen can be rotated quickly and simply to put the buttons on the left or right as your mood or reading position dictates.

The rated battery life is 8-9 hours, but by cutting the brightness and contrast down a bit it's still easily readable and pushes the battery life up in the 15-20 hour range.

The memory is only 8 meg if I remember right which means about 6-12 books is about all you can load on it at a time. There is a slot for a memory card but I never bothered. I suspect that would reduce battery life and it's easy enough to dump new books on it, takes a minute or two, that only having a half dozen or so onit was never a hassle.

It doesn't have a lot of functions and the functions that do exist are strictly related to book reading so it a simple, easy to use device with no bells or whistles.

I only have two quibble with it. First, the side where the buttons are is thicker than the opposite edge, intended for gripping I assume, which means propping it up straight can be a little challenge at time, but it's light enough that that has never been more than a minor irritant. Second, the pwoer supply plugs in on the end of it and on nights when I need to recharge it while reading and I happen to need the buttons on the right, I can't do so for fear of breaking the power plug, so I end up having to use it with the buttons on the left. Small irritations considering it's utility.

For the price, until the Sony Reader or something like it comes out, the Ebookwise is an excellant investment.
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Old 07-23-2006, 09:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitzwaryn
The only ones I never had much luck with were converting .pdb files to something I could move to .imp.
Yep, and I will be using .pdb most the time. I can also get .lit files but not sure they are any easier to convert.

Any ideas what older PDA would have a larger screen and enough memory for my use? Can't find a site that compares various older Palm versions.
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:19 PM   #4
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I have used the 1150-style readers since 98-99 when they were still distributed by RCA/Gemstar with the old OS. Since then I have tried borrowed various devices, Palms, more recently the Nokia 770, and after all that time I still prefer the 1150.

It is sad that with all the technological advances, not one single manufacturer has come up with a more USEABLE solution, even e-ink, which promises better readability, doesn't provide something as basic as back-lighting to read in low light.

The 1150 used to have some software annoyances, but most have been ironed out, and with the latest firmware upgrade it is a mature, stable platform that even offers things like (free) Oxford dictionary lookup within any books etc.

It is admittedly like a brick, but that means also it is almost indestructable, washable, and offers up to 20 hours (!) of continous use with the backlight on thanks to the large battery. I can read in my bed (the only time left these days), fall asleep, it will turn itself off, and doesn't care if it's dropped off the bed or I turn around onto it. And thanks to its many brightness levels, I can adjust it for the most pleasant low-light reading experience. (BTW, that's the only factor affecting battery-life, contrast doesn't influence it)

The only downside is that for the best reading experience, you may have to spend some time prepping the files (html) The good thing is that thus you can have it exactly your way.

Some basic links:

http://www.ebookwise.com/ebookwise/ebookwise1150.htm
where you can get it with a 64mb card, which I STRONGLY recommend, since even the free dictionary would use up more than half of the built-in memory.
Also, obviously, you can buy pre-formatted books, the library being essentially a spin-off from Fictionwise.com.

http://www.ebooktechnologies.com/support_download.htm
The official, free software to create books from HTML files. Most importantly, it includes a free viewer which allows you to preview/read the books exactly like they would appear on the device.

It is important to note that .lit files are essentially HTML files in a compressed wrapper, kinda like a zip file, with or without DRM. So, using ConvertLIT, you can turn them back into HTML, which you can then use with the above publisher.

There is an apparently fairly decent amateur/enthusiast Publisher/Librarian software available that may make things easier. It is also available on the ebookwise site, and there is a free 7-day trial. I cannot comment on it since I haven't had any need for it.

I have included a small Quick reference I created a long time ago that shows all the fonts and characters available. You can view it with the Viewer included with the free Publisher above. Please note that it is NOT a zip file, but this forum does not allow .imp files, so you will have to edit the filename, and REMOVE the .zip at the end.
Attached Files
File Type: zip EBWQuickRef.imp.zip (21.0 KB, 369 views)
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Old 07-24-2006, 02:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitzwaryn
I also have a Cybook from Bookeen but that's primarily for reading tech manuals in PDF format which have a lot of diagrams in them.
How well has that worked out for you? I have a fair amount of scanned PDF documents and have been looking for something lighter than a tablet PC for them.
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Old 11-22-2006, 08:32 PM   #6
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I use two free programs from www.processtext.com that convert files from PDB and LIT to HTML or RFT. They will also convert it to FictionBook or RocketBook. As a long time user of a PalmOS phone I have amassed hundreds of PDB files that I am now converting to RFT for the Sony Reader. The output from the converter needs little or no editing as you can specify fonts, sizes, and attributes for headers, subheaders, and body text in the options. It also allows me to download LIT books and convert them as needed.
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