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Old 02-03-2009, 11:19 AM   #1
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Hello,

I've been reading e-texts since I purchased my first Palm IIIx in the spring of 1998, and rapidly discovered CSpotRun. Following this I found the sitescooper app, and had that running on one of my linux machines and was using the IIIx to read scraped websites as well as e-books. (Eventually moved to iSilo, and then plucker for the more "featured" reading capabilities, e.g. following links.)

At some point during this time I found Peanut Press, which had an interesting collection of fiction for me, so I ended up buying a bunch of books from them and using their reader sw as well.

I've also tried various other Palms(color), Newton MessagePad 2100(PITA to put content on), and wince(yes I do) color devices but did not care for any of them.

Bought a Franklin EBM-911 in 2000, and liked that because it was mono, had a semi-useable backlight, and slightly higher resolution. Plus mobireader was halfway decent.

Found the REB-1100 in 2002 for c. $100 and bought one of those and used it until it died a year or so ago(doesn't boot, white screen only). I really liked that one as it was monochrom(good for outdoor use), and had a VERY good backlight.

Went back to my Palm IIIx/EBM-911 combo(bad cap so the EBM loses content every time that I have to change batts PITA), and so have decided to look at the new devices.

Looked at the fictionwise REB-1150 rebadge. Still don't like the OS, and from prior experience doubt it's "robustness".

Looked at Kindle, but killed it as a) it's fugly, b) it's expensive(v. the REB-1100 for not having any really useful additional features or IOW feature loss overall), and c) does NOT support local user content additions.

Was pointed to bebook.com, but found out here that it's really Jinke company's Hanlin v3, which is sold by Astak in the US as the EZ Reader. Looks nice but lacks touchscreen and backlight. Another fairly major plus(since my crappy Compaq iPaq continuously ding batteries diasco) is an easily user replaceable battery, which these have.

Looked at the Sony's before, but again no touch screen and no real features over the REB-1100(actually more of a rollback of features, but with an increased cost). Then Sony released the PRS-700BC which is more more feature comparable to the REB-1100, but it DOES have a touchscreen plus backlight and I can possibly see a working model in an actual store instead of blindly buying. A fairly major minus would be non-easily user replaceable battery.

Read about the Hanlin v9, but it sounds like it'll be too large even though it has touchscreen + backlight + WiFi(don't care). Wish their v3 update with WiFi ha touchscreen + backlight instead of WiFi.

So, this basically leaves me at either
Astak EZ Reader (Hanlin V3)
OR
Sony e-Reader PRS-700BC

So my question is any of you that had touchscreen + backlit devices, how is going to one that has neither? Do the number key letter, etc. entry work OK in the standard OS or OpenInkPot? Enough that you don't miss the touchscreen? What do you do about lighting?

Sony PRS-700BC, OK this one has all of the features, but more limite document format support and it has to be mangled into SOny's format, but then so did the REB-1100 content, and I used the CLI package for that mostly. Are these units of better build quality than typical Sony consumer grade products? (i.e. is it crappy build quality like their TVs, stereos, playstations, etc. or good like their notebooks and PDAs?)

How much of a chore is it to disassemble and replace the battery? Any ideas how long these units last before the battery needs to replaced? Are the batteries available at decent prices?

[EDIT]
One other item:
I didn't notice any dedicated page turning keys on the photos of the PRS-700BC, are there any or does Sony expect you to swipe the touch screen all of the time to turn pages? (Be best if there were keys if they were on the side like the REB-1100 or the thumb dial on the EBM-911 and other devices, sort of like what I saw on the bebook Hanlin v3 version...)
[/EDIT]

Last edited by cutterjohn42; 02-03-2009 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:37 PM   #2
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The Sony does have page turning buttons in addition to the touch screen, yes.

There are no backlit eInk devices. An eInk screen is opaque, and hence cannot be lit from behind; the PRS-700 uses side-LEDs and a "light diffuser" over the screen.

Is there any reason you're not considering the CyBook?
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:48 PM   #3
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The Cybook, didn't sound like it had as good firmware/OS support, as good document format support(although it seemed that they had the important ones), etc. so I've just really ignored it for the moment. Would this impression be incorrect?

As to the lighting, side lighting, back lighting, either's ok as long as it's some type of integrated lighting as I find myself in many low light situations where an unlit screen will not work. Also find myself in many outdoor birghtly sunny conditions which tend to make color devices entirely useless IMNHO, while monochromes if shielded a little from the light(contrast problems) work well.

Beyond that my main concerns were the lack of touchscreen from someone who has gone from a device with one to one without.

As an additional note, PDF support is not high on my list of priorities, as I find mobipocket, plucker, palmdoc, HTML, etc. support to be more significant to me as I tend to avoid PDF for etexts whener possible. (Primarily because of my prior/current device poor support/conversion capabilities...)
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
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I find the firmware inadequate on all the e-ink machines, but the Hanlin V3 is the base machine for Openinkpot, so I expect better firmware for the V3 (either factory or Openinkpot) over time. I also have a CyBook Gen 3, but I have given up on any firmware improvement.

I use Cybook 1st gen as my main reader, and it is a backlit LCD with touchscreen. I guess the main issue is do you read in the dark? If not, you won't miss the backlight. If so, you will, sharply. Touchscreen is more convenient, but I can get used to buttons only. I always used the side buttons to turn pages on the LCD CyBook anyway...
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:08 PM   #5
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Yes, I tend to use the backlight quite a bit, especially in the summer when I sit outside in the evenings/early night and would prefer to use some sort of integral lighting that having to use some other wider area type of lighting. Of course the nice thing about the palm was that the lighting was green, so it didn't affect night vision as much as the other devices, e.g. EBM-911 and REB-1100.

The more that I think about this and look at the info, the more it looks like this generation of e-book reading devices have actually fallen behind in overall features and OS/fw with the only real upside being eInk...

I'm thinking that the integral lighting is going to push me to PRS-700 or another REB-1100 from fictionwise then...

Thanks.
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Old 02-03-2009, 01:15 PM   #6
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One thing to remember about the built-in lighting is that is negates one of the major advantages of eInk devices; their extremely low power consumption and hence very good battery life of the device. Use the PRS-700 without the light, and you'll probably read for a fortnight without having to recharge. Use the light and it drains the battery flat in 4 hours.

As far as the CyBook is concerned - I have one, and it has pros and cons, like every device. Its "pros" are its excellent font handling (you can load any TrueType or OpenType font you wish onto the machine, and read any book in any font in any of 12 different sizes) and its excellent support for the MobiPocket format. It is the only 6" device currently available which support Mobi dictionary lookup, which personally I find to be an indispensible feature. Its support for other formats is poor, but that doesn't concern me, since I've "standardised" on Mobi as my preferred format.
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:17 PM   #7
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I have a Cybook that I enjoy reading books on. I have several Pocket PCs (with touchscreens) that I've read ebooks on.

An eInk reader is not a PDA and does not replace a PDA. An eInk reader, for the most part, is a one use device. You read books on it....period.....A PDA is a multi-use device that is only limited in functionality by the software that is installed on it.

Keeping that in mind...what do you need a touch screen for on an eInk book reader?

Since I am so oriented to Pocket PCs, when I first got my Cybook, I had to keep reminding myself that the Cybook was not a PDA (I tried to navigate through my loaded books by touching the screen and to turn pages by touching the screen because that's how I do it on a Pocket PC). But I have no problem using the keys on the Cybook to do those things. For me it was simply a matter of getting acclimated to a new device.

When I read books on my Pocket PC I am always concerned about the battery life and keep my charger close by just in case I need to give the battery a boost. With the Cybook, I can read for several days without having to recharge the battery. I also enjoy being able to read books in bright sunshine on the Cybook - something I could never do on a pocket pc.

I don't read in lowlight environments, even with my pocket pc. Lowlight environments just strain my eyes too much. But if I were planning to read in a lowlight environment, I'd look into getting a book light to use with the Cybook.
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Old 02-03-2009, 02:49 PM   #8
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Thanks guys, but I really feel now that the integral lighting issue or lack thereof is truly my overriding concern given the variety of lighting situations that I tend to use whatever device I read on in. This has been made more apparent to me by speaking to an acquaintance on IRC who owns the Sony PRS-500, who pointed out that the integral lighting was probably the biggest factor, and that it was making him look into acquiring a PRS-700BC for that reason.

Also, as to the PDA aspect, I am quite aware of that as I own the REB-1100, and the EBM-911 may as well not have had any PDA application, well other than a mini-wiki app that I used alot, as they were barely functional afterthoughts seemingly. (Apparently Franklin was trying to hedge their bet a little and failed.)

Touchscreen: you're probably correct on that, but I wasn't thinking of it as a PDA(see above), but as utility for searching or dictionary lookups. The number punching for letters would likely be adequate.

So, I fear that I'm going to just decide between the PRS-700BC or the REB-1150 variant that fictionwise sells, dependent on how fun the tax season is... So before I run off for the final time, does anyone here use some sort of external lighting mechanism with their Hanlin v3 or Cybook? Is it useful and practical or strictly something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary? (I'll add that I also own an original Nintendo Gameboy Advance that had no integral lighting, and the external lighting options left a GREAT deal to be desired, if that means anything to any potential responders. Going to a DS Lite later was like night and day.)
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Old 02-03-2009, 03:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by cutterjohn42 View Post
Was pointed to bebook.com, but found out here that it's really Jinke company's Hanlin v3, which is sold by Astak in the US as the EZ Reader. Looks nice but lacks touchscreen and backlight. Another fairly major plus(since my crappy Compaq iPaq continuously ding batteries diasco) is an easily user replaceable battery, which these have.
The EZ Reader PRO, from Jinke, will have a touchscreen and may be available in late February or early March (but delivery estimates are often optimistic). As with all new devices, we don't really know what it can do yet. It won't have a front light, but clip on lights seem to work ok.
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Old 02-03-2009, 04:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by cutterjohn42 View Post
Touchscreen: you're probably correct on that, but I wasn't thinking of it as a PDA(see above), but as utility for searching or dictionary lookups. The number punching for letters would likely be adequate.
I'm no expert on the PRS-700 but IIRC it doesn't have integrated dictionary lookup support. I suppose you could use the search function and a dictionary but it's not quite the same as the Cybook or the Kindle where you highlight a word or a line and it searches the dictionary for you. Cybook has the best dictionary support. You can have multiple dictionaries. Kindle limits you to one but it has text search and Cybook doesn't. Dictionary look up, text search and annotation were a few of my most desired features which is how I ended up with the Kindle (despite not being a huge fan of its looks). At the time it was the only reader that supported all three of these things besides the iLiad and the iLiad didn't support search in all file types. They seem like such basic features to me I found it truly shocking they aren't more common.

I know you're not a fan of the Kindle and will likely not buy one. I'm not looking to convince anyone to buy any particular reader but I just wanted to ask about one point you made earlier just so future readers of this thread don't get the wrong impression. You said you couldn't add user content. You can load files on via USB just like any other reader. I have dozens of my own files on my Kindle. Is that the sort of thing you were talking about?

On the lighting point, most of us just use clip on reading lights attached to our cases. I prefer the LED kind for maximum battery life. There are aftermarket cases for the PRS-505 and the Kindle with built in lights.
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:12 PM   #11
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[EDIT]
Sorry that was a little harshish, but the points that came up in further IRC discussions last night were that basically the only plus of an e-Ink devices is that SOME people find it easier to read. We could NOT find a single item of value beyond that, even one of the guys who had a kindle, although he wasn't entirely happy with it.

(Although according to him you can actually put your own content onto it locally without going through Amazon.)

Most of us that were in the discussion found the lack of integral lighting and to a lesser extent touchscreens on most of the devices, features of the OS/fws, and price to just not be worth it.

e.g. while the REB-1150 does have the best contrast it is more than adequate, supports the touch in a good fashion(or it did with the Nuvomedia Rocket OS -- no one had the 1150 version there last night), has a backlight, and well sound like it lasts just about as long as any of these devices on a single charge. Additionally although the battery is no really meant to be user replaceable, or easily it's MUCH smpler to take apart and replace the battery than say a PRS-700BC. It's resolution may be a bit lower as well, but as I've seen posted elsewhere here we're talking about text(for the most part) and it does that job more than adequately. At this point no one else could come up with anything that the e-ink devices do better.
[/EDIT]

Last edited by cutterjohn42; 02-04-2009 at 08:58 AM.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:07 PM   #12
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Wow. What did I miss here that deserved this reply?

The replies I've read were helpful, and courteous.
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Old 02-03-2009, 09:23 PM   #13
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Wow. What did I miss here that deserved this reply?
...
Nothing. The OP is either a troll or your typical, self-aggrandised, know-everything, mouth-attached-to-a-keyboard (though the "or" should not preclude both) who has conflated his own desires and needs into a philosophy and therefore condemns and insults the preferences of others with different desires and needs as wrong and "clueless". You know, the kind of vacuity that indulges itself in petty and stupid ad hominem attacks and unsubstantiated hyperbole as a substitute for coherent, informative rhetoric.

He has said ta-ta, so I suggest moving along; nothing to see here but his irritating whine trying but failing to pose as reasonable thought (and not even trying with the "reasonable behaviour" bit).

Cheers,
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EDIT: (Yes, there is an implicit "irony" flag in the above...just thought I'd mention that before someone pointed it out)
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:39 AM   #14
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:35 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by cutterjohn42 View Post
Thanks guys, but I really feel now that the integral lighting issue or lack thereof is truly my overriding concern given the variety of lighting situations that I tend to use whatever device I read on in. This has been made more apparent to me by speaking to an acquaintance on IRC who owns the Sony PRS-500, who pointed out that the integral lighting was probably the biggest factor, and that it was making him look into acquiring a PRS-700BC for that reason.
Permit me to point out that the PRS-500 has a "first generation" eInk screen, which had much poorer contrast than the 2nd generation "VizPlex" screens used on all the current devices. You can read the current devices in any lighting conditions in which you can read a paper book and of course (something you can't do with a paper book) simply increase the font size if you're in poor light.

There are numerous "external" lights available, ranging from "clip-on" booklights (which many people use) to "covers" with built-in lighting.
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