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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Reading on a tablet PC

I was reading a post on Sidney's blog where he mentioned that he was interested in the new Sony eBook Reader, but had decided to wait until it proves itself before investing in the hardware.

It got me thinking about eBooks again.

You see, I love em. Have for a while. There are so many reasons -- here's a few:

  • Automatically saves your page -- no more bookmarks to maintain
  • Many allow you to highlight and take notes
  • Built-in back light (most)
  • Built-in dictionary -- definitions are a tap away
  • Potential to carry your entire library with you, or a few books on vacation
  • Easy storage -- no more bookshelves to build/buy
  • Ecologically responsible alternative to paper-bound books
  • Text-to-voice capability (Microsoft Reader) allows many books to also serve as audio books
  • Selectable font size -- every book can be a large print book

Confession time -- despite the larger screen, better display, and ease of use, I don't use my tablet PC as an eBook reader. For that, I use my Pocket PC phone. The Pocket PC phone is the perfect size, and with the cheap price of memory cards, you can carry a pretty significant number of books with you at any one time. Right now on my PDA Phone I have:

  • Cell, by Stephen King
  • Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins
  • Don't Know Much About History, by Kenneth C. Davis
  • The Night Land, by William Hope Hodgson
  • Shall We Gather At The Garden?, by Kevin L. Donihe
  • Ubik, by Philip K. Dick

I've read a couple of them and should delete them from my phone, but why bother? There's plenty more room on my memory card, so I think I'll just let them hang out there for a while.

Back to the tablet PC one last time -- I think the reason I don't use mine for book reading is because my unit is BIG. It weighs nearly 7 pounds, so reading a book on it, while practical, doesn't compare to the diminutive weight of my PDA phone. My next tablet PC, which I'm already looking for, will be in the 4 pound range. I'm sweet on the new Thinkpads, but I'm going to wait and see what other units are announced in January with the launch of Windows Vista.

4 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I've actually done a fair amount of ebook reading on my laptop, which is not too heavy. I like the fact that for my older eyes I can enlarge the font. I have an old cell phone too so I don't have a memory card, but that might be an option to try in the future. I guess I was afraid the amount of words I could get onscreen would be prohibitive with a phone. I'll have to check out my son's cell. He has a new one with all those new fangled things like "pictures."

Sidney said...

This is making me want one more and more. That looks much cooler than adapting things for the Notes section of my iPod, which doesn't bookmark, at least to my knowledge.

I have some pretty cool books on the Pod, though. A couple of free Doctor Who novels the BBC put online and some Victorian era horror novles - The Beetle and The Green Mummy.

Clifford said...

Sid,

While reading eBooks on a PDA Phone is sweet, there is one big problem. Books. Yeah, I can get my Stephen King fix and read a number of other best sellers, but the percentage of books that make it to the eBook format is still pretty small. Two summers ago (I think), Microsoft was promoting its free eBook reader, Microsoft Reader, by giving away a free eBook a week. The selection was pretty broad -- from Graham Masterton's "The Manitou" to a renaisance art book. There was hope in the air...but since then, Microsoft has been pretty silent on the eBook front. I wouldn't say they'd given up on it completely, but it doesn't look like they're investing very much anymore. Most people (all?) I've talked too about eBooks say "I wouldn't want to read it on a computer screen", and that's that. When I mention PDAs, most people feel the screen is too small without having even tried it. Trust me on this one, it isn't. It does take a little getting used to the fact that you're turning the page so frequently (and that your eBook novel has over 2000 'pages'), it doesn't take long. Some PDA phones include scroll wheels that make turning the pages sheer bliss. If you have any questions on eBooks, fire away (:

Sidney said...

I agree on getting used to screen size. I read a couple of e-books on my first iPod, which had a monochromatic screen. The video iPods offer a better display.

You run into some content problems even with books on tape or digital audio. Bestsellers you can usually get but there are a lot of midlist things I'd like to be able get for my pod that just aren't available.

My ideal would be something a little bigger like the Sony reader that would accept a variety of formats like iPods will if you're lucky enough to find iPod Library. Or even if you could convert .pdfs readily then there would be lots of free, legal content.

I've read some things on my laptop but it's a bit too big for comfortable reading for me.

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This is me and one of my two cats. His name is Cougar, and he’s an F1 Chausie. A chausie is a new breed of cat under development. Chausies are the result of a cross between a domestic cat (in Cougar’s case, a Bengal) and a jungle cat (Felis Chaus). Cougar’s mom is 8 pounds and his father is a 30-pound jungle cat. He’s about 16 pounds, super intelligent, spirited, and toilet trained. A writer without a cat (or two) is not to be trusted.