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Old 01-26-2007, 01:42 PM   #1
Mythago
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Question eInk device most suitable for editing?

Hello,

First off, yes I realize eBook readers are intended for reading. I'm in a rare position in my reason for wanting an eInk based device. I have a problem that has been getting worse over the years where I get migraine type headaches (and other problems) when I look at any kind of display device for more than a couple of hours per day. This includes all types of displays that use transmitted light (LCD, CRT etc.) It's not the refresh rate; It seems to be the brightness. I now use light text on a black background and it helps but I'm still limited to 2 or 2.5 hours per day, and that time is slowly reducing.

I can however sit for many hours reading or writing on paper without any problems. In researching alternate display technology I came across eInk, and these forums. I think I might do much better with an eInk based device since it's so close to paper and is reflective rather than transmissive.

It would be great if I could find an eInk computer monitor but it looks like eInk displays are only in ebook readers or other small devices at the moment. I expect the eInk screen update rate is one of the reasons.

My question is: can any of the available eInk devices be used with a regular keyboard to input and edit text?

It seems like one of the Linux based devices with a USB port might be hacked to allow support for a USB keyboard. Keyboard support with an editor like Vim would be perfect and would allow me to edit text only documents. The iLiad looks like the best bet for this due to the larger screen size and general hackability but I'd like to get some feedback on the possibilities first, especially since the iliad is so expensive.

Thanks for any advice,

-Mythago
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:12 PM   #2
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Sorry but no, like you said the screen refresh rates are too slow. But there is also the desirability of a keyboard, even as an attachment. I for one wouldn't want it, I want just a reader, plain and simple.

I get headaches too from both my computer and my TV. I get a migraine about once a month but its not related.
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Old 01-27-2007, 07:18 PM   #3
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Two things:

1 - the USB ports on these devices tend to be going the "wrong way" to use to attach a keyboard, but the iLiad has an undocumented bluetooth interface, and Scotty1024 was working on getting a bluetooth keyboard working. I don't know what state that project is in.

2 - If you don't mind a bit of a delay in how quickly your changes show up, the E Ink screen might actually work for you. There is inherent latency in the screen refresh, but if you will do somewhat more text input than actual editing, so that the editing process being a bit slower won't be a huge problem, this might not be an overwhelming problem. I say this only because you've pointed out that you have a serious problem with other display technologies, and a system that slows you down a little bit while editing but doesn't give you a migraine might still be your best option.

I'd suggest going to a Borders and trying a Sony unit. That's not probably the best unit for your purposes -- I don't think there's a way to get a keyboard hacked into it-- but you'll get an idea of the E Ink screen refresh rate that way.

Other than that, I'd suggest looking for an older laptop with a fully reflective b&w LCD screen that you can use with the backlight off. The Powerbook 170, for example, had an active matrix LCD screen that was quite readable in good light with the backlight turned off, at a wide angle.

If the One Laptop Per Child project decides to sell to the general public, that's another system that might work well for you.

Good luck -- I've had migraines, and they're no fun!
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Old 01-29-2007, 11:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
1 - the USB ports on these devices tend to be going the "wrong way" to use to attach a keyboard, but the iLiad has an undocumented bluetooth interface, and Scotty1024 was working on getting a bluetooth keyboard working. I don't know what state that project is in.
Is there any type of adapter available that could allow the use of a "normal" usb keyboard?

The bluetooth news is encouraging. An unwired keyboard would be convenient and eliminate any risk of dragging the iLiad to its doom if the keyboard fell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
... and a system that slows you down a little bit while editing but doesn't give you a migraine might still be your best option.
That's what I'm thinking. I'm sure I could live with the slow update speed. And editing might not be as slow as you might think. If I can use the Vim editor then editing would go much more quickly than with a traditional text editor and everything can easily be done with the keyboard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
I'd suggest going to a Borders and trying a Sony unit.
I'm going to look around locally to see if anyone sells the Sony unit but since I live in a smallish city northern Canada I may not be able to find one.

I'm willing to order the iLiad site unseen based on what I now know. It looks like a very adaptable little device. It's a risk but considering the situation it's a risk I'm happy to take.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami
The Powerbook 170, for example, had an active matrix LCD screen that was quite readable in good light with the backlight turned off, at a wide angle.
Thanks very much for this and the other information, it has been helpful.

-Pat
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Old 01-29-2007, 12:59 PM   #5
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So far, I can say you the iLiad has a USB-Host plug. But the iLiad is missing HID drivers if I'm not mistaken. And the Bluetooth interface is a myth, Scotty was using a USB-Bluetooth plug IIRC.
One point, that will give you troubles, even if the iLiad is adaptable, as soon as you break the OS you are in for a "return to netherlands for 75 EUR" reflash. As long as there is no "press 2 buttons on boot to reflash from CF/SD" option, I wouldn't want to touch the system internals. (well I did it while playing around with the device, but I learned from that accident)
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Old 01-29-2007, 01:33 PM   #6
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The iLiad's larger size and its programability make it your only option at the moment (but not necessarily a good enough option). I don't have an iLiad, but from what I have read you may be able to use ssh from another computer to enter and change text. One problem is that it would not be immediately displayed on the iLiad, but perhaps having two displays and using the iLiad for reading and the other for editing might work. EMACS (for example) can edit a remote file via ssh. You might ask on the iLiad Developers Corner about ssh-based solutions, or other ways to edit iLiad files with a real keyboard.

Last edited by wallcraft; 01-29-2007 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 01-29-2007, 02:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft
I don't have an iLiad, but from what I have read you may be able to use ssh from another computer to enter and change text.
That one crossed my mind as well. There may be some way to peak at what the SSH user is seeing and show that on the iLiad screen. Considering how long Unix/Linux have been around I would think/hope that there is some kind of software that would work in that way.

I've also wondered if maybe VNC (or something similar) could be used. Run a VNC client on the iLiad to act as a display for another computer that has a normal keyboard. This would also be useful as a hack to run a normal web browser (or just about any app except those that use video) via another computer and display the results on the iLiad. It wouldn't be nearly as convenient as running an app natively, and you're bound to a local network running a VNC server, but I would think there's also far less chance of bricking and no app modifications required other than getting VNC running on the iLiad.

-Mythago
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Old 01-29-2007, 03:09 PM   #8
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:24 PM   #9
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I think you can do a remote display from another linux machine onto the iLiad via network -- at least, I seem to recall reading that someone had done that.

Sorry to be perpetuating the bluetooth myth. I misunderstood what Scotty had done.
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Old 01-30-2007, 03:01 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythago
My question is: can any of the available eInk devices be used with a regular keyboard to input and edit text?
Not really... You could hack some kind of system together but its not going to work very well... The Sony and the Iliad are both readers, and the Iliad has some annotation abilities.

Have you thought about a Tablet PC...?
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Old 01-30-2007, 11:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jęd
The Sony and the Iliad are both readers, and the Iliad has some annotation abilities.
After doing some more research it looks like the iLiad will be workable. It's possible to run additional software on it now and to port even more. Scotty1024 has ported a terminal, seems to have keyboard input running via Bluetooth, and has even got Sylpheed-Claws (email app) running.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jęd
Have you thought about a Tablet PC...?
I'm considering the iLiad because of the eInk screen. I need something that doesn't work like a traditional display since traditional displays give me migraines (brightness is the main thing but there may be other factors since using sunglasses to reduce the brightness doesn't really help much.)

At the moment eInk is the closest thing to paper in the commercial products I've researched. It looks like the iLiad has the largest display of the eInk devices, and has the most processing power. It's not ideal, but I think it's my best bet for the moment.

-Pat
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Old 01-30-2007, 11:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythago
After doing some more research it looks like the iLiad will be workable. It's possible to run additional software on it now and to port even more. Scotty1024 has ported a terminal, seems to have keyboard input running via Bluetooth, and has even got Sylpheed-Claws (email app) running.
Up to you, but neither the Bluetooth Keyboard or Sylpheed-Claws have been spotted outside Scotty's labs... Entering text using the on-screen keyboard get be quite slow...

Just so you know what you're getting yourself into...
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:16 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jęd
Just so you know what you're getting yourself into...
Heh. Yeah, I know it's a bit of a risk. That's why I'm checking into things like using VNC, screen (as suggested by b_k), etc. just in case the direct keyboard input possibility falls through for some reason.

-Pat
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Old 01-31-2007, 05:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythago
I've also wondered if maybe VNC (or something similar) could be used. Run a VNC client on the iLiad to act as a display for another computer that has a normal keyboard.
That could be done using linuxvnc (part of libvncserver). More information on:

http://freshmeat.net/projects/libvnc...ease_id=140150

I like your solution. It would be very easy to implement (the only needed software in the iliad side would be a vncviewer). The only catch would be how to handle the display updates... when scrolling, a full refresh would be needed to avoid too much ghosting, but when simply adding new chars to a line, a "fast" (invisible) update would suffice. As doing a vncviewer is easy, we could do one specifically for the iliad... no porting nightmares ;-).

BTW: I'm currently off-line WRT programming for the iliad, but I'd like to explore this as soon as I can (perhaps in a couple of months...). And I would love to also update to the web browser and the Ted port... ugh!

Another idea is that if/when we have a native vncviewer app for the iliad, we could also run a Xvnc server with the apps and visualize the locally with proper refresh in the vncviewer...

Last edited by Antartica; 01-31-2007 at 05:27 AM. Reason: fix uncomprehensible sentence O:-)
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