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Old 02-24-2010, 10:10 PM   #5
Junior Member
mdb1 began at the beginning.
Posts: 4
Karma: 10
Join Date: Sep 2009
Device: IREX DR800SG
I know, I know...

Shaggy: With all due respect, I know this. My point wasn't that the DR800 is a poor internet tablet (even my phone is a better internet tablet than any eReader could ever hope to be); my point was that it's a shame that all the hardware components needed for a exceptional eReader experience are built right into the DR800, but deliberate business and software design decisions have disallowed uses that the presence of these components might generally suggest.

As a purpose-built reading device, the DR800 has many good qualities; I'm simply unwilling to give up the affordances of something as basic as paper without getting something else in return. The ability to jot down a quick note in the margin of a book is something that every other current-generation eReader (AFAIK) attempts to replicate with text or pen-based annotation. The DR800 doesn't just fail to implement this standard (or at least common) reading/eReader function, if fails to do so while simultaneously including hardware (a Wacom digitizer) that in any other device (from $60 graphics tablets to $2500 Tablet PCs) would be utilized for more than just tapping on icons.

As for network connectivity, my point is similar. The DR800SG connects directly to the Internet - no need to plug into a computer or traverse a wireless LAN. Yet the only thing you can access with this Internet connection is the B&N mobile site and some overpriced newspapers - you can't even e-mail your own files to your device. And you know what? That's fine. Like I said, I have better ways of getting online, and unlike the lack of annotation, limited 3G connectivity is far from unprecedented in the eBook market. I understand the reasons, but it still feels like watching someone buy a Ferrari just to drive back and forth between the garage and the end of the driveway. Somebody somewhere might find such limited use justifiable, but the design of the vehicle itself just screams for it to be taken out on the road.

In any case, the saving grace of IREX is that most of the software powering its devices is freely modifiable, and its products are therefore not meant to be constrained by their original programming or design. IREX programmers post to these very forums, pointing us to opportunities to go beyond the apparent limits. Just because IREX sells a device in a state that doesn't allow a user to browse the file structure of its built-in microSD card doesn't mean that we should ignore the fact that enabling such functionality is both possible and desirable. Indeed, it is this sort of extensibility that helps justify the premium prices of the DR800 and other IREX devices.

Having owned a recent-model Sony Reader with a touch screen, I'm very familiar with the tradeoffs of the eReader concept. I bought the DR800 because it *could* be the ideal reading device for me - I saw the Wacom pen and beautifully presented 8" display and just assumed it already was. I was disappointed to realize that it is presently *less* capable in its role as a reading device than any eReader that supports annotation (i.e. every other eReader?), and it offers no additional functionality to make such a limitation (however temporary) palatable. It may be true that I made a poorly considered or poorly timed purchasing decision, but I'm sure that I bought the right hardware for what I'd like to do. Seems like a waste to see it so woefully underutilized.
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