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Old 06-13-2010, 04:23 PM   #1
KingsGambit
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Advice on my first eInk Reader

Hi to the Mobileread Community, I've been researching different eReaders for a week or so now and almost every Google search has eventually led me back to this forum! The combined experiences of MR members and knowledge on various devices is an incredible source of information and I hoped I might presume to draw on that to help me pick my first eInk device. Like you all I'm sure, I'm an avid reader but am only now looking to bring my reading to the digital age.

I have read eBooks in the past, mostly on a Windows PPC or Mobile. The screen however is too small, the backlight kills the battery quickly and my new phone lacks hardware back/forward buttons. Also, I just ordered a new trilogy from Amazon and right afterwards realised I really have no physical space to put them. So I'm hoping to join the eReading revolution and would be most grateful for your advice.

After considerable looking around (mostly on this very site!), I think I've narrowed my options down to the BeBook Mini and Pocketbook 360 in the 5" range and the BeBook Neo and Pocketbook 302 in the 6" arena. As cool as the Nook looks, I think living in the UK would make it too difficult to own. I also don't wish to be tied to one delivery platform ruling out the Kindle (whose looks I'm not too keen on either).

Am I right in thinking that DRM-protected EPUB format seems to be emerging as the dominant format (outside of proprietary ones like Kindle, etc)? If so, then support for that is a must. My main problem however is that my modest eBook library to date is a mixture of (DRM free) LIT and TXT files. As I understand it, the BB Mini is the only device listed that supports the format. Calibre was mentioned in other posts in the forum, can this software help here?

I don't think there are really any deal breakers, but ultimately the reading experience, legibility and UI ought to be top notch. One review on a device I read elsewhere rightly pointed out that in terms of UI, eReaders are competing with the simple page turn and that's kinda the mentality I'm going with. My preferences for an ideal reader would be:

Preferred:
- Small and light, preferrably pocketable
- Good battery and contrast
- Suitable for ambidextrous use (That's right ladies, I can read with both hands! )
- Open and configurable and works with DRMd EPUB (unless my above assumption is wrong)
- Dictionary look up
- LIT support (unless this is resolvable)
- Expandable storage and replaceable battery

Nice but non-essential:
- Wi-Fi
- Audio playback
- Supports folders and drag-and-drop

My questions if I may:
- What is reading on the 5" models like? Does (what I'd imagine) the more frequent page turns have a significant effect on battery life compared with their larger siblings? How does it compare to a page in a paperback?
- Are the smaller models pocketable and what are your experiences with them (BB Mini and PB360)?
- I read that the PB302 has a reflective screen, is that a major issue?
- To any UK owners spefically, which are good stores to buy eBooks from? How do you typically go from the web site to reading the opening chapter?
- Is Calibre important to use? Is it instead of the Adobe software I believe these models use, or as well as? Is it easy to convert format?

Price is not an issue, I don't mind spending whatever it costs. Your advice and experiences would be most welcome and I hope you will all forgive me the length of my post. I type quickly and ramble often. And FYI it's taken me about 4 days to pluck up the courage to finally join up so I could post
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Old 06-13-2010, 04:48 PM   #2
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Well, hello then, King's Gambit, and kudos for bucking up the courage. We are, indeed, a fearsome bunch (I believe the other things that come in bunches are grapes, bananas, and Brady's. We are scarier than all but the latter.)
I checked, and Calibre does convert to and from LIT, so if all your LIT files are non-DRM, and you end up with reader that doesn't handle that format, then you're covered.
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Old 06-13-2010, 05:00 PM   #3
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I would not rule the nook out, I'm in Australia and I love my nook... so the 3g does not work..no big thing, the wi-fi works very well. It will display epubs purchased from any supplier and you can sideload (use a USB connection) to transfer the ebooks to the nook.

And if you want to buy books from B&N or even download their free copies each Friday ... I have no problem with that, it's easy to work around.

One thing you must check on before you buy is the screen.. contrast levels appear to be different and some touch screens like the Sony PRS600 have a major glare issue.. so get reports from people about that as well.. The Nook has a very very clear screen with a very good contrast, I know there are others that are the same, but many that do not match up..

as for battery ..okay a bit less than others (but it has a LCD touch screen on the bottom) ..turn airplane mode on and I get about 4 to 5 days ..

yes it weights more than others ..wow a whole 12oz ..some people try and say that is too heavy ... 12oz ..come on it weights the same as a paperback and I can hold my nook for hours without the need to lay down afterwards.

"Suitable for ambidextrous use (That's right ladies, I can read with both hands! )"

yes

"- Open and configurable and works with DRMd EPUB (unless my above assumption is wrong)"

Yes
- Dictionary look up

Yes
- LIT support (unless this is resolvable)

Use Calibre to convert lit is dead (yes MS lovers lit is dead)

- Expandable storage and replaceable battery

yes and yes

Last edited by iandix; 06-13-2010 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 06-13-2010, 06:29 PM   #4
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Well, I can't speak for the 6'', but I have a 5'' (Bebook mini), I read very fast, use it every day for at least two hours of commute, and the battery still lasts me weeks...
(with regards to format support, my experience is that the Bebook mini handles mostly everything you throw at it, but with varying degrees of pleasantness. DOC support, for instance, sucks big time).
And yup, ambidextrous read is awesome, especially when you're in a metro stuck between two other dozen commuters and you can't exactly free your right hand to turn the pages...
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:59 PM   #5
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I have tried two 5" devices: Cybook Opus and Hanvon 516. Because these have higher resolution (ppi or dpi?), the text is a shade crisper.

Opus (I believe they have addressed this in firmware update) had this one issue which I did not like and it was that you could not put it to standby mode. You had to restart it every time.

Hanvon 516, with its original firmware was terrible, but with OpenInkpot firmware installed, it was indeed very nice. Gives you flexibility to choose font and size of your choice for EPUB and that was really great. One unit, which hung up on me and I returned, had the best contrast I have ever seen on any eBook reader. It was just like looking at crisp text printed on paper. But the replacement unit had comparatively washed out screen. Given its low price, it is an excellent device if you run it with OpenInkpot.
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Old 06-13-2010, 10:01 PM   #6
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Hello, KingsGambit, and kudos for jumping in and saying "Hi."

At the risk of [continuing to] sounding like a shill for Pocketbook, for a 5" device, I'd recommend the Pocketbook 360, which is my latest purchase.

Other than reading .lit files, it has all the options you want. It reads Adobe DRM epub/PDF (and non-DRM epub/PDF, for that matter), it rotates for use in either hand, has awesome configuration possibilities - some Pocketbook created, some user ("hack") created), is very pocketable (I have put it in the front pocket of my trousers, in my handbag...), it has a dictionary, microSD card capability up to 32g, it's very light (about 7 ounces), supports folders/drag-n-drop, the screen is crisp/clear and the awesome built-in cover ensures you have protection for your screen without adding much additional weight or bulk. As far as I can tell, the battery life is good also (and the battery is user-replaceable).

Oh, it also doesn't have wi-fi or audio playback. And yes, you will turn a lot of pages - but once you are engrossed in the book, you won't notice. It changes pages fast (and you can configure it to not flash every time you turn the page, so it's faster and smoother). After reading about 30+ books on mine since I've gotten it, I don't notice the small screen (and I was using an 8" Irex before). I just read.

Check out some of the reviews in the Pocketbook sub-forum here. You'll see the PB360 has many, many more features I've barely touched on here.

Regardless of your ereader choice, you'll want to use Calibre. It is an AWESOME book management program that I find indispensable. It continues to amaze me that Kovid and the gang continue to offer this as open source! Simply marvelous software...

As Poppa1956 mentioned, if you have non-DRM .lit files, Calibre can convert to a file type that your new reader can read. So, don't let that bother you in your quest.

I wish you luck on your search. And, again, welcome to MobileRead.

Happy hunting!

Marilyn
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Old 06-13-2010, 10:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingsGambit View Post
Hi to the Mobileread Community, I've been researching different eReaders for a week or so now and almost every Google search has eventually led me back to this forum! The combined experiences of MR members and knowledge on various devices is an incredible source of information and I hoped I might presume to draw on that to help me pick my first eInk device. Like you all I'm sure, I'm an avid reader but am only now looking to bring my reading to the digital age.

Price is not an issue, I don't mind spending whatever it costs. Your advice and experiences would be most welcome and I hope you will all forgive me the length of my post. I type quickly and ramble often. And FYI it's taken me about 4 days to pluck up the courage to finally join up so I could post
Glad you could join us KingsGambit! MobileRead is definitely the right place to be to get all of your questions answered, get recommendations, reviews, free ebooks and lots of fun camaraderie! I don't know anything about the readers you're thinking about, but I've had my Sony 700 for one & a half years and still love it! Just wanted to say "Welcome to MR!"
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Old 06-14-2010, 03:52 AM   #8
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Good to have your company, King'sGambit. Best of luck finding the right reader. Cheers. Neil
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Old 06-14-2010, 07:28 PM   #9
KingsGambit
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Thank you all, for both the warm welcome and the great insights on eReaders. I'm already glad I posted; after just a few posts there's already lots of info that is simply not available on review sites, store or company home pages, including other models I hadn't even considered!

@Poppa1956 - You're right about the Brady's...I went out with one, very intimidating! (*A* Brady, not one of *THE* Brady's obviously!)
@iandix - Thank you for that excellent info. The Nook's ambidextrous controls look great and I love the idea of that extra screen for navigation, but it's a little too hard to get hold of. I have family flying from the US tonight and left it a bit late to ask them to pick one up for me. I also think the 5" models are closer to the size I'd like.

I've decided I definitely need to get my old LIT files converted and get over my hang up about them, so plan to spend some time learning to use Calibre and get my existing eBooks organised and converted. That means that at least for format support, the BBMini isn't strictly necessary. I love the look of it, but think I'm leaning to the PB360 now.

I think it was actually a review of this device by Mickey330 on this very site that put that on my radar. I love the way the screen and buttons rotate and the configuration options sound like much more useful options to have on an eReader than audio or wifi. And it's a great size too (I wonder why eInk devices all have such large borders in general?) I think for a first reader, it will be a good starting device and perhaps in the future if I find shortcomings I can always buy another. From the sounds of it many forum members have more than one already

Would anyone recommend a good vendor for the PB360? And also, any good International or UK stores for buying books from (ePub?)? And much more importantly...Black or Ivory?
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