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Old 11-20-2006, 08:12 AM   #1
fryandlaurie
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Deciding on a device based on a particular use case

Hello everyone,

I have been reading this forum for close to a year now, ever since I stumbled on the news that E-Ink devices would be available to the general public, at last. It has been a great help, more than any manufacturer’s documentation and FAQ could ever be.

Patience not being one of my virtues, waiting for the Sony Reader and Irex Iliad has been a character-forming experience for me. No wonder the meditation thread in this forum was so popular. So why don't I call one of those devices my own, yet? Well, I'm still not convinced they are entirely suited for my use case.

While the consensus on the Sony Reader seems to be that it is well suited for its purpose as an ebook reader the Iliad’s firmware still needs quite a lot of work before it can even remotely be called release-worthy (or is that a misinterpretation of your posts?)

Still, the Iliad is the only option for me since I would not be reading too many books or manuals on the device like most of you. I would be using it as a device for surfing the Internet and that is dependent on the WLAN feature.

I know that the Iliad is not intended as a web tablet and that E-Ink will place heavy restrictions on that use scenario but there is a reason for me to try it anyway: health issues:

I work as a software developer so staring at a screen all day is an integral part of my job. As long as there is no better display technology available for general purpose computer monitors there is nothing I can do to reduce eye strain. My 70-year-old aunt who had been a bookworm all her life recently gave me a scare when she told me that now that she is retired she hardly reads anymore because it gives her a headache after a few minutes (due to deteriorated eye sight). So I will do everything to keep my eyes in good shape.

I have already switched from paper books to audio books. Most popular novels are available on CD nowadays so the only downside is that they are often abridged and that audio books can be quite annoying if the artist does not possess the necessary skill to imitate male and female voices naturally (I never thought that would make a difference, but it does, especially for books that are NOT supposed to be funny)

As I am a news junkie much of my off-work and off-family-and-friends time is currently spent reading news sites on the internet using a laptop. I cancelled most of my newspaper subscriptions years ago because browsing different online newspaper editions offers a wider variety of viewpoints and reduces pressure (the stack of unread papers and magazines on my desk). So going back to paper subscriptions is not an option.

The only alternative is to surf the internet on an E-Ink device, however flawed it may be for this purpose. The upside is the non-existent screen backlight and the much improved readability and contrast.

What is still missing on the Iliad?
- an application for surfing the web (maybe that will happen now that Irex has opened the Iliad for user programs)
- adequate battery life (not trying to bash Irex here but how can you design an E-Ink device without paying attention to the power saving modes when one of the two main features of E-Ink is low power consumption)
- WPA encryption for WLAN. This is a beef I have with quite a few of the current consumer devices. I would have bought a Nintendo DS Lite months ago if it would not mean that my WLAN router had to be configured to use unacceptable WEP encryption

Once these issues are resolved I will definitely go ahead and order the Iliad in spite of its hefty price tag.

My assessment of the current state of Iliad development is based entirely on the posts in this forum. I apologize if this post turned out to be a rambling assortment of biased personal opinions but I would be very interested to get your feedback. Is anybody else planning on using his/her Ebook device the same way? Any news on the missing features?

Cheers,
Volker
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Old 11-20-2006, 10:41 AM   #2
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I personally don't think e-ink is ready for this yet. It's not color, which browsing the internet I would find annoying, and the refresh rate/cpu is so slow it would be like being on dial-up. Not to mention many of the things on the internet like active-x/java/flash/etc... are not on the e-ink devices.

Just my opinion but it sounds like a square peg/round hole scenario where you are setup for disappointment.
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Old 11-20-2006, 10:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaping Gnome
I personally don't think e-ink is ready for this yet. It's not color, which browsing the internet I would find annoying, and the refresh rate/cpu is so slow it would be like being on dial-up. Not to mention many of the things on the internet like active-x/java/flash/etc... are not on the e-ink devices.

Just my opinion but it sounds like a square peg/round hole scenario where you are setup for disappointment.
Right! Remember how LCD was when it came out...B/W, Slow...
Eink will do it, even without backlighting, and it will be better for the eyes.

I'm curious about eink being driven by a good graphics card on a real full fledge computer. Has anyone seen or tried that?
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Old 11-20-2006, 11:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fryandlaurie
- an application for surfing the web (maybe that will happen now that Irex has opened the Iliad for user programs)
Well... The build of Minimo stalls quite easily... There was talk of porting Dillo, but I'm not sure how serious that is...

Quote:
Originally Posted by fryandlaurie
- WPA encryption for WLAN. This is a beef I have with quite a few of the current consumer devices. I would have bought a Nintendo DS Lite months ago if it would not mean that my WLAN router had to be configured to use unacceptable WEP encryption
Strange way of choosing a games console...! I can appreciate a business being concerned over wep, but I would've thought gaming wasn't quite so serious...!

Probably better off getting a small laptop than an Illiad. Surfing at the moment is creaky and a bit slow (due to refresh rate, etc). Irex may resolve the problems tomorrow or may be next year. Best to buy the Iliad based on what it can do now (its a handy display device to replace paper) rather than what it can't.
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Old 11-20-2006, 11:23 AM   #5
fryandlaurie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jęd
Strange way of choosing a games console...! I can appreciate a business being concerned over wep, but I would've thought gaming wasn't quite so serious...!
I meant that the Nintendo DS and the Iliad would force me to lessen the security of my network where four PCs are connected securely over WPA2.
I am mostly concerned with identity theft. I live in a densely populated area where there are at least 6 to 7 WLANs visible at any given time. Having a secure network means that I can put less effort into intranet security (I know, a big word for such a small network ;-))

Quote:
Originally Posted by jęd
Probably better off getting a small laptop than an Illiad. Surfing at the moment is creaky and a bit slow (due to refresh rate, etc). Irex may resolve the problems tomorrow or may be next year. Best to buy the Iliad based on what it can do now (its a handy display device to replace paper) rather than what it can't.
Sounds sensible. I would be willing to live with a few Iliad shortcomings where it comes to web browsing but I guess I will never know if the limitations would be acceptable unless I buy one. Right now, I am biding my time and hope for improvements with every new firmware revision.
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Old 11-20-2006, 12:07 PM   #6
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You mentioned audiobooks, fryandlaurie. I've gotten a few from Audible, and been relatively pleased with them (I mostly use audobooks for plane flights, and I don't fly much these days ).

Anyway, I thought I'd mention them (in case you don't already know of them) because they have a pretty good selection of unabridged stuff. 'Course it costs out the wazoo, but there you go.

Their files play well on a number of platforms including the later model Palms (last 5 years or so), and iPods, so they might be a good option for you there.
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Old 11-20-2006, 01:15 PM   #7
fryandlaurie
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Yes, audible is great. They even have excerpts from my favorite weekly newspaper "Die Zeit".
Not really cheap but the novels are mostly unabridged like you said and that is something worth paying for.

Bottom line is, though, that buying audio books instead of paper books means less books per month if the budget remains the same. Oh well, can't have everything.
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