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Old 09-06-2006, 01:39 PM   #1
slayda
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Review 9-6-2006

You may be interested in the iRex iLiad review at http://www.teleread.org/blog/?p=5443
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Old 09-06-2006, 06:58 PM   #2
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not a very good review...sounds like she spent a whole 5 minutes messing around before she typed the article
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Old 09-07-2006, 10:57 AM   #3
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What utter rubbish.

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E-book acceptance has been a long time coming. Viable hardware, interchangeable formats and a universal standard would go a long way towards bringing e-books into the mainstream. iRex has an opportunity to push the reading public towards a real e-reading solution. The iLiad in its present form is a long odyssey away from epic success.
Up to here I agree.

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Before buying my iLiad, I read everything I could find about the device, talked to the iRex people and actually held one in my hands last May. One of the main attractions was the promise of reading PDF eBooks on a large screen. I am, after all, an e-book publisher and have lots of PDF files to read.
Here she states that she read everything she could, and talked to iRex. Remember it because this is important later.

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After a seemingly endless wait, my iLiad arrived. The packaging is beautiful and the form factor is exactly right—slim and light. The reader as currently shipped, however, has three significant limitations:
Why is everyone obsessed with the packging? It's nice I grant, but "beautiful"?

I agree that the physical size of the unit, is excellent though.

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The documentation

The documentation did not come with the device. The only paper was a 5×7 sheet that welcomes you to the world of electronic reading and then warns you that if the iLiad runs out of power your unit will be irrevocably damaged. Interestingly enough, there is no indication that you should charge the machine before turning it on, or indeed, how to do that.
For someone "respected" and "tech-savvy" diddn't realise that the documentation was on the iLiad.

Because it makes sense, that you send a "book reader" with a load of dead tree.

Not to mention that this is actually incorrect. What the slip of paper actually states is that the unit wil be damaged should the unit run out of power WHILE UPDATING THE FIRMWARE

So a "tech-savvy" "Hardware & software developer", who doesn't RTFM (well at least doesn't read it properly).

Quote:
Screen readability

The PDF reading software shows a full page in approximately a five-point typeface. The software does not allow the user to adjust the font size. The E-Ink technology shows a clean crisp image that is virtually impossible to read because the font is so small.
She's apparently got a different one from me. My iLiad is very easy on the eyes, and I have spent several long evening/days reading books and manuals on it.

What is most likely is that this "tech-savvy" person has tried to read an A4 document on a screen less than half that size.

Someone tech-savvy would realise that and ensure that her documents are properly sized for reading on the unit.

What she also doesn't mention is that iRex have stated that a zoom function will be added later.

Quote:
The PDF reader

It might be possible to persist in reading the very small type face, but the real killer is that the device will not read protected PDF files. All of the literature, packaging and documentation clearly state that the device reads PDFs. There is no mention that it won’t read protected files. Incidentally, there are no search functions available; an unexpected weakness.
iRex have never said, to my knowledge, that the iLiad would read protected PDF. So her claims to have read everything she could before hand is shown to be at best a mistruth. As it's one huge point thats been discussed repeatedly since the first details came out about the unit in various forums.

Quote:
The overall implementation has other noteworthy flaws: the unit freezes on a regular basis, there is no power management and an exceedingly slow screen-refresh rate occasionally leads to ghosting.
I would love to know what version of the firmware she was using. As I have yet to experience regular freezing on my iLiad. It does happen occaionally, but anyone who has participated in early adoption of bleeding edge gadgets would know that. Particularly one who will claim, further on, that she is a long-time software and hardware developer.

The screen refresh time, has nothing to do with the ghosting effect. You would expect someone "tech-savvy" to know this. Particularly had they actually "read everything" they could about the device.

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As a long time software and hardware developer, my view is that this device is barely at beta quality and yet it is being sold as a finished consumer product. The documentation and the Web site both state that new software will be regularly released. Obviously iRex realizes that it has work to do, but the company never uses the word beta in describing the product.
When buying the iLiad it was clearly stated that the software is not in a production state. Yet there is no mention of this. Interstingly iRex have now removed this warning from the shop site. However 2.6.1 is the first time that the firmware has been anywhere near a truely usable state IMO.

Thus-far iRex have produced 4 software updates (2.5, 2.5.1, 2.5, 2.6 & 2.6.1) since the iLiad was first shipped. Many flaws have been fixed in that time, and we agreed to it when we brought the units.

No mention of the speed these updates are being released is mentioned.

Quote:
All of the problems I encountered are eminently fixable. None of them are serious enough to damage the long term prospects for the device. Unfortunately, they have done the consumers and themselves a disservice in the short term.

It is hard to figure out the iRex management strategy. iRrex is on a short timeline with Sony and Jinke at its heels. On one level it makes sense to rush to market. On the other hand, all the advantages of being first to market stand to be obliterated by the poor implementation.
Again she fails to mention that iRex shipped the iLiad early because the customer begged them to. She also hasn't grasped the fact that having so many free beta testers has allowed iRex to fix holes that much faster.

Quote:
While this incarnation is certainly a disappointment, it is too early to write it off. The E-Ink screen is a true breakthrough technology. It is important to remember that e-books are about the reading experience and not about technology.
Since receiving my new iLiad, I have read 8 books it is quite clear that this person used it for less than 5 minutes.

The only disservice I can see is that a respected ebooks news source like Teleread published such unadulterated and misleading tripe.

Last edited by Riocaz; 09-07-2006 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 09-07-2006, 10:59 AM   #4
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It does seem a bit hasty and not well considered, doesn't it?
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Old 09-07-2006, 11:47 AM   #5
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If you the website of the reviewer at http://genenemillercote.com/ you'll notice that nowhere does she state that she has ever been a developer. She's run a development company, but doesn't seem to have actually been one...
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:01 PM   #6
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And if you had read her review you would note as I quoted above she states:

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As a long time software and hardware developer, my view is that this device is barely at beta quality and yet it is being sold as a finished consumer product
I fully admit I diddn't bother to go to her website, I can only cope with so-much tripe before I have to hurl abuse at the person serving it (By which I mean both the written and the food kind).

Last edited by Riocaz; 09-07-2006 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riocaz
And if you had read her review...
Yep, I read the review and saw that, but I would really doubt that she's a "long-time software and hardware developer" if she makes such a basic mistake over the supplied documentation...!
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jęd
Yep, I read the review and saw that, but I would really doubt that she's a "long-time software and hardware developer" if she makes such a basic mistake over the supplied documentation...!
I read your earlier reply as a critism of my comment, when I re-read it I realised. And frankly I was still fuming over this so-called "review". On calming myself (meditation, Ohmmmmm) I realised that the comment could actually have been meant either way.

Sorry for any offence given jęd I was rude and it was utterly undeserved on your part.
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jęd
...such a basic mistake over the supplied documentation....
Not to mention the fact that she seems to have missed the bit in the ordering process where they tell you it's not a finished OS/Software set -- hardly qualifies as "being sold as a finished consumer product" in my book. Oh wait, that has been mentioned.

Perhaps she didn't place the actual order....


On the Secure PDF point, I think it's probable that she just assumed in the absence of any comment on secure PDF's that the reader would handle them (but unable/unwilling to admit the error). I'd've expected someone as knowledgable as she makes herself out to be would realize that the usual reason for marketing material not expressly saying a product will do something is because it won't do it.

Marketing guys tend to make sure to mention all the "will do's" their product can scrape together, which is why we have the phenomenon of bragware. If they don't say it will do "X", I think the better assumption is that it won't until you get a specific answer otherwise. (shrug) But that's just me.

Last edited by NatCh; 09-07-2006 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 09-07-2006, 01:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Riocaz
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Screen readability

The PDF reading software shows a full page in approximately a five-point typeface. The software does not allow the user to adjust the font size. The E-Ink technology shows a clean crisp image that is virtually impossible to read because the font is so small.
She's apparently got a different one from me. My iLiad is very easy on the eyes, and I have spent several long evening/days reading books and manuals on it.

What is most likely is that this "tech-savvy" person has tried to read an A4 document on a screen less than half that size.

Someone tech-savvy would realise that and ensure that her documents are properly sized for reading on the unit.
While I agree that she was way too harsh and spent not enough time with the device, I have to say that she's right in this point.

People don't buy an Iliad just to read special-Iliad-formatted stuff on it. They have the content to read, and seek the device to read it on. And stating that the device doesn't work for the everyday content she has is okay. Some people read novels -- mainly plain text, easy to reformat -- but other's don't. She even explains it: She has to read a lot of PDF's people send her, but she can't do it on the Iliad.

I have the same problem -- the main reason to buy an Iliad was to read scientific publications, and to stop carrying loads of paper around. These things are published in A4 (or lettersize, or whatever), and you won't get the plain text, and a zoom wouldn't help. It's part of my daily work to skim through papers, and with most of them I spent about 10 to 20 minutes. Reformatting them in a lengthy manual process is out of question.

I guess the baseline is: The Iliad is good for content that you can reformat to the Iliad's needs. For preformatted stuff it's shit.
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Old 09-07-2006, 01:17 PM   #11
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Device: Iliad, dude!
And before you jump my back: I usually print papers 2up (scaled down and 2 pages per sheet). That's roughly the same size as the Iliad.

I can read it when I print it out, but not on the Iliad. Reasons: The stupid page- and toolbar. The missing crop function. And xpdf's antialiasing that makes small letters a grey-on-grey mess. If I could turn antialising off or could adjust blackness (or gamma correction), it would be fine.
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Old 09-07-2006, 02:14 PM   #12
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I guess the baseline is: The Iliad is good for content that you can reformat to the Iliad's needs. For preformatted stuff it's shit
At this point, if you choose to purchase/produce content which can't be easily converted thats your problem.

The point she missed and which you convieniently cropped is that the zoom function is one of the features that is "coming soon".

She claimed that she read everything she could before purchasing. The mobile read forum is 4th on google when searching for "irex iliad". The lack of zoom has been known since it was first mentioned as a "missing" feature by Henrique, well before the iLiad shipped.

Quote:
And before you jump my back: I usually print papers 2up (scaled down and 2 pages per sheet). That's roughly the same size as the Iliad.

I can read it when I print it out, but not on the Iliad. Reasons: The stupid page- and toolbar. The missing crop function. And xpdf's antialiasing that makes small letters a grey-on-grey mess. If I could turn antialising off or could adjust blackness (or gamma correction), it would be fine.
Functions which may well (and I hope) will come later.

Last edited by Riocaz; 09-07-2006 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 09-07-2006, 02:20 PM   #13
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I'd like to second Riocaz.
Zoom will make it easier to deal with PDFs which have a page-setup not matching the iLiad. But i think the problem will remain with every reader. PDF is a archive/pre-print format and as such designed to keep its page layout independent of the software/hardware reader.
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Old 09-07-2006, 04:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Riocaz
At this point, if you choose to purchase/produce content which can't be easily converted thats your problem.
May I translate this as "it is beta"?

Notice that she said she had a device in May. So she may have talked to iRex and read all information. Then she waited until the shop opened. Notice that the shop's iliad description does not say it's far from being finished. It's even september - the month where the final software would be available, according to iRex' earlier statements. (Final as in "with DRM", "with 1-2 seconds page flip", "with MP3 player", "with 21 hours", ...)

So she took the device, saw that it doesn't suit her needs, and threw it away. Sound pretty okay for me. She was even nice enough to say "it's beta" instead of "it's shit for my needs".

And all I read in this thread is how much and badly she missed the point that it does in fact suit the needs of the posters here. As if the needs of mobilereaders would be holy and outweigh whatever other people could want.

Other than what's written here she even wrote that she took the device for a particular use: Reading protected, preformatted PDF's.
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Old 09-07-2006, 05:45 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by ali
So she took the device, saw that it doesn't suit her needs, and threw it away. Sound pretty okay for me. She was even nice enough to say "it's beta" instead of "it's shit for my needs".

...

Other than what's written here she even wrote that she took the device for a particular use: Reading protected, preformatted PDF's.
But if she read all that there was to know about the illiad then she would have hit this forum at some point. And she would know the problems about it, ie the unfinshed software, the lack of being able to read protected pdfs.

Somehow I think she is telling us porkies about her knowlege and experience of the illiad. The truth is probably Genene Miller Cote spoke to iRex a while ago to see how she could expand her business with online publishing, and they just got around to shipping her a test unit. She spent 20 - 30 mins playing with it, wrote her review and has moved onto other duties, including a software/hardware coding session...

Last edited by jęd; 09-07-2006 at 05:48 PM.
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