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Old 08-22-2010, 03:39 PM   #1
GlenBarrington
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pBooks are a passing fad. . .

As some of you may know, I broke my PRS-300 by sitting on it. Apparently, aside from my wit, my backside is the sharpest thing I own. I was moaning about it on another forum and Geoff C suggested getting books from a bookstore for a bit until I decide what I want to do.

Well, I'm trying this paper book thing. It's OK, but its no PRS-300. A very mixed bag of tricks if you ask me. Below is a quickie review.

Battery life is very good. In fact, I can't even find the battery compartment or a place to put one. I guess, when the battery goes dead, you just throw the whole thing away. Seems kind of expensive and wasteful to me.

Construction is very good for something made out of paper. I dropped it with absolutely no damage to the thing. Though I guess it was the impact that caused the device to lose my place. Kind of a pain to get my place back; I was NOT a happy camper.

This paper book will burn, while my PRS-300 will melt into a lump of plastic and silicon. A burnt book will leave a 'fluffy' charred residue that can blow away into your neighbor's garden making cleanup pretty easy. However if you aren't careful, this black residue will rub into a fine power that gets into everything. If a paper book DOES overheat during use, a simple glass of water poured over it will stop the smoking. Though the display isn't exactly ruined or unreadable, after it dries out, it clearly isn't the same afterwards.

Now the PRS-300 will melt into a distinctive coherent shape that won't blow away. It IS easier to pick up, IF you can separate it from whatever it melts upon. Otherwise, you have to throw whatever it melts upon away, or figure out how to turn it into a lamp of some sort.

Also, the page turning is very tedious. Think about it, if you have a pbook that weighs a pound, you have to raise it to eye level and keep it there. Incredibly, you CAN'T change font size, so you constantly have to move the 'book' closer to your eyes or further away.

Then you have to turn the 'page', which means that if your eyesight is kind of weak and the book is close to your face, then you have to move the book far enough away from your face so that your nose doesn't prevent a page 'turn'. (The lexicon is somewhat misleading, a page turn is more like a 'flip' than a 'turn'.) And THEN you have to move it back into the range of comfortable reading. So it is more than just a pound or so that you are lifting and holding, and continually moving, I estimate the total weight is closer to that of a 6 pack of canned beer lifted from the bottom shelf of a shopping cart to the back seat of a 1947 Packard automobile by the end of the day.

AND, Nasal paper cuts were something of a problem until I got the hang of moving the paper book around. Small wonder I was exhausted after reading for 2 hours.

Now the display left a lot to be desired. As I said earlier, the font size is fixed. It is black characters on a white background. Clearly an attempt to 'cash in' on the popularity of eInk. The display was functional as long as I remained indoors and in good artificial light. But when I went outside, I had to position myself carefully so that the glare from the sun didn't cause viewing problems. (Hint, Hint, mr 'publisher'! A variable font size and contrast control would REALLY make a difference!)

I was also unable to test how this displayed highly formatted PDF files. Curiously, a paper book's text is fixed at the factory (go figure), so I guess since I didn't BUY a paper book with a PDF file in it, I couldn't see how it displays one (it isn't even clear to me HOW one would use a paper book with a PDF file, clearly better setup and installation instructions are needed.)

I saw no reason to change my stand on DRM, just because I was trying out a new medium. So I marched right in to Barnes & Noble, walked up to the young sales clerk who couldn't decide if she was a Goth or an Emo that day and demanded (DEMANDED!) to see the non DRM'ed pBooks.

I might have scared her a bit. She blinked a couple of times and raised her arms and said, "all of it". This is incredible people! Every paper book in the store had NO copy protection on it! I could buy a book, read it, and then give or lend it to someone else! I simply don't know HOW the paper book industry makes a profit! I was so excited at the prospect, I might have squealed.

So, to sum up, here are the Pros and Cons of a Paper book.

Pros:
  • No DRM
  • Rugged as all hell
  • Incredible Battery life
Cons:
  • When you are done with it, I guess you throw it away - Very wasteful.
  • Terrible outdoor glare.
  • Whatever is loaded at the factory is it. You can't change to another book if you get bored with it.
  • Fixed Font Size
  • Requires constant movement of the book on the part of the reader.
  • Use of PDF files in a paper book is not clear.

In summary, Paper Books, have a lot to offer, but I don't see them catching on in the near future.

Last edited by GlenBarrington; 08-22-2010 at 03:45 PM.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:45 PM   #2
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thanks so much for that comprehensive review ! this will make it a lot easier for me when i get ready to purchase. the no-drm thing is brilliant (finally ! some publishers with a clue !) but on the other hand, the fixed content and nose paper cuts are really giving me pause. i don't care about pdf much but it's good to anyway (you never know).
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:50 PM   #3
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Old 08-23-2010, 03:36 PM   #4
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Quite an interesting review.
The non-DRM is a definite pro and still the reason I purchase paper books
however
Quote:
When you are done with it, I guess you throw it away - Very wasteful.
Think of the endless possibilities... Recycle the book as your very own toilet paper.
Use it too straighten out your table (by shuffing it under a table paw)
Smack somebody in the head with it (and hope the content will pass onto the person, might need multiple smacks to accomplish your goal )
Make a paper mache animal from it and make your book an eternal master piece.

The sky is the limit for a creative person
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Old 08-23-2010, 04:45 PM   #5
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:27 PM   #6
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you forgot to mention that when burning the covers, you can get all kinds of fire colors like green, blue, purple... which is quite entertaining for a few seconds.
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Old 08-24-2010, 05:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nachtxeule View Post
you forgot to mention that when burning the covers, you can get all kinds of fire colors like green, blue, purple... which is quite entertaining for a few seconds.
MMMMM! Fire!
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