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Old 05-21-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
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Lightbulb eBook Reader ergonomics discussion

Lets discuss things like button placement, weight balance, one-handed vs. two-handed, and other "how they feel" aspects here. You can cite specific existing models or your ideals.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:14 AM   #2
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Okay, I'll start with some of my own reactions.

I prefer one-handed reading. This is one of the few compelling reasons for buying a 5 inch reader instead of a 6 inch, although I currently have one of each (a 6 inch Sony PRS-505 and a 5 inch Astak EZ Reader Pocket Pro).

I'm right-handed, but my most natural reading position seems to be holding a reader with my left hand.

For balance reasons, it seems to me that most eBook readers make a big mistake putting their page turn buttons at the bottom. I've actually come to appreciate the relatively low-end Astak/Hanlin for one big reason--they smartly put the page turn buttons accessible to your left hand WHILE holding it with one hand. With your palm spread across the back of the unit (or the default leather cover folded back), your left thumb rests right across the page turn button. Simple. Elegant.

Haven't owned a touch screen unit yet (although I tried for that Sony Touch Edition Borders.com had a pricing mistake on), but I'm actually not all that sure I see the point of them. Seems to me that two-hands would be required most of the time for using them (one to hold the unit, one to "swipe"), unless someone has an absurdly long thumb.

But that's me. What do you all prefer? If it doesn't exist yet, say so.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:22 AM   #3
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For several years I read in my recliner with my (large) cat monopolizing my left arm, and my right arm had to hold my Reader (PRS 500, then PRS 505) and twist my thumb to use the page-turn buttons. This was mildly uncomfortable, but that's where I do most of my reading.
Recently I bought a book holder/stand and ordered the optional ebook adapter. Also, I made my bi-annual Reader upgrade and bought the PRS 900. Now the stand holds my book, and I just need to swipe a finger to change the page. It's perfect!
I wonder if anyone else has a book holder/stand, and if it works out for them?
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:28 AM   #4
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The ergonomic qualities of a reader, I think, Spiffy, are completely altered when a cover is brought into play. I love my wee 505, but it always somehow felt a little awkward in my left hand (the hand I usually used to hold and/or support a treebook). It became a completely different experience with a custom-made flip-top leather cover. So, really, it's the cover rather than the reader itself that makes my reading so comfortable in my case. Cheers. Neil
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:34 AM   #5
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No device, including my beloved iPad, will ever be as comfortable as the EBW1150.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:53 AM   #6
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Nah, nothing tops the original Rocket eBook in terms of ergonomics. You could hold it left or right or landscape mode, back in 2000 ..., and you had a massive handle. Still thinking about taking an old shell and using any modern display with it.

Second place is my Kindle 2 due to of page buttons, relation site <> weight.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
No device, including my beloved iPad, will ever be as comfortable as the EBW1150.
just as a note, I love / loved the 1150 also .. fantasitc ergonomics.

HOWEVER, check out the PB360, same style, lighter package.

I find it very pleasent to use.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:51 AM   #8
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I like touch screen, because it offers the most flexibility for page turning. Having no fixed buttons means I use the device my way(s), rather than adapting to any manufacturer's button placement. I can tap anywhere on the edge of the screen, or I can swipe. If I switch between portrait or landscape mode, touch screen controls follow me, unlike with fixed buttons. That also helps if I'm reading while charging, because I can flip the device to keep the cord out of my way, yet there are no buttons to worry about ending up somewhere inconvenient or unfamiliar.

Touch screen also can adapt to content. For instance, if the content happens to be a list of books, headlines or blog items, you can scroll through them quickly, skipping items and such, rather than clicking or toggling up or down. Touch screen also requires less pressure and coordination than buttons and toggles, so if my hands happen to be dirty while cooking or such, I can lightly tap or swipe with a knuckle.

The drawback to touch screen is accidental page turning from time to time. That can be limited with a bezel of a good depth, so you can hold the device comfortably without touching the screen unless you mean to.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neilmarr View Post
The ergonomic qualities of a reader, I think, Spiffy, are completely altered when a cover is brought into play. I love my wee 505, but it always somehow felt a little awkward in my left hand (the hand I usually used to hold and/or support a treebook). It became a completely different experience with a custom-made flip-top leather cover. So, really, it's the cover rather than the reader itself that makes my reading so comfortable in my case. Cheers. Neil
The 505 is an extremely thin unit, so yes, I agree you need a cover to give you a sense of something to hold onto.

But I don't think it changes the ergonomics TOTALLY. It doesn't change the shape of your hands or the button locations, or your preferences for either one or two handed reading. What it does is increase the weight a bit, change the balance point, and provide more "traction".

In truth I think adding the cover on the 505 makes the location of the buttons even MORE unwieldy. I mean unless someone is descended from baboons their thumb isn't THAT long, and if they are carrying the weight of the unit with their palm across the middle of the unit, then stretching your thumb DOWN isn't exactly comfortable, or natural. With the weight increase from a cover, it makes it even more essential to hold it from the middle, otherwise it would be flopping out of your hands half the time.

I wonder what a series of polls would reveal about people here? Do they hold their readers one-handed or use two? Left or right hand? Do they most often put the unit down to rest on something or hold it up elevated? How do they use booklights (attached to the rim or a cover, or some kind of specialized lamp shining down from overhead)?

The people MAKING these units should be desperate for this kind of data too.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:22 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Spiffy View Post

I wonder what a series of polls would reveal about people here? Do they hold their readers one-handed or use two? Left or right hand? Do they most often put the unit down to rest on something or hold it up elevated?
I prop my e-reading devices and print books. Even if I held up my hands empty for hours, I'd get tired. I also like to keep my hands at ease. If there were a way to turn pages with a blink, I'd love that, lol.
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Spiffy View Post
Okay, I'll start with some of my own reactions.

I prefer one-handed reading. This is one of the few compelling reasons for buying a 5 inch reader instead of a 6 inch, although I currently have one of each (a 6 inch Sony PRS-505 and a 5 inch Astak EZ Reader Pocket Pro).

I'm right-handed, but my most natural reading position seems to be holding a reader with my left hand.

For balance reasons, it seems to me that most eBook readers make a big mistake putting their page turn buttons at the bottom. I've actually come to appreciate the relatively low-end Astak/Hanlin for one big reason--they smartly put the page turn buttons accessible to your left hand WHILE holding it with one hand. With your palm spread across the back of the unit (or the default leather cover folded back), your left thumb rests right across the page turn button. Simple. Elegant.

Haven't owned a touch screen unit yet (although I tried for that Sony Touch Edition Borders.com had a pricing mistake on), but I'm actually not all that sure I see the point of them. Seems to me that two-hands would be required most of the time for using them (one to hold the unit, one to "swipe"), unless someone has an absurdly long thumb.

But that's me. What do you all prefer? If it doesn't exist yet, say so.

I think that the Sony Touch-screen devices are extremely ergonomic because of the touch screen. You don't have to make a large swipe to make the page turn; a short one with the thumb will do. This makes it easy to hold the device one handed in such a way as to maximize its balance in your hand.

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Old 05-21-2010, 12:53 PM   #12
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I read on really small devices like Palm PDAs and an iPod Touch for years. I got used to reading on something I could hold in one hand that was very light. I want this same experience from a dedicated reader. I like this about the Jetbook Lite. It is very small and I can read for hours with it in my hand and the buttons for switching pages are very easy to reach. I prefer to use the bar on the side since it sits well in my hand this way.

One thing I didn't like about the iPod was having to swipe the screen to turn pages. I really hated this and page tapping. On my old Sony Clies I had a nice scroll wheel on the left side to switch pages and these were by far my favorite PDAs to read books on.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:23 PM   #13
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Recently I bought a book holder/stand and ordered the optional ebook adapter. Also, I made my bi-annual Reader upgrade and bought the PRS 900. Now the stand holds my book, and I just need to swipe a finger to change the page. It's perfect!
I wonder if anyone else has a book holder/stand, and if it works out for them?
Which stand do you use? I've often thought about getting one...

I think the perfect reader ergonomics would be to have a stand on a swivel arm that puts the screen right about eye level. Then I'd be able to turn pages with a hand held remote control so that I don't even have to move my arm to touch the reader itself.

Obviously the second part is a bit of a pipe dream at this point, but does anyone have a stand solution that's optimal? I'd settle for something that sits on top of your lap too.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:46 PM   #14
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I prop my e-reading devices and print books. Even if I held up my hands empty for hours, I'd get tired. I also like to keep my hands at ease. If there were a way to turn pages with a blink, I'd love that, lol.
Body position has to be a big factor.

Whether you are sitting or lying down (you might be doing either at various points in the day).

And if you are sitting... if its at a desk, in a reclining chair or couch of some type, or in some other place (on a stoop, a lawn chair, a bus or railway seat, etc. would be very common places, I think).

Lying down... well... some people lie on their backs, some on their sides, and some fluff up a pillow and lie on their stomachs. Sometimes on couches (so pretty naturally on their backs there, I'd think), and some only on a bed.

These all have to present different scenarios for eBook reader positioning.

Even still, even if the reader is propped on your stomach, or partially on a desk (presumably being angled up by your hand), or something totally different I still wonder at the whole "page turn buttons at the bottom" thing. I still don't get that.

Last edited by Spiffy; 05-21-2010 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:53 PM   #15
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I never understood why I would want to touch a screen that I would want to read on. Fingerprints and smudges are a fact of life, to me the less of such between my eyes and the words the happier I am.

I realize that for many who use touch screens like them. However I am a tinkerer, and tend to accumulate gunk on my hands. For others the probably work well, but for me I just don't see it. I much prefer a well designed and efficient button layout.
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