Author Topic: Generic e-Reader thread.  (Read 24219 times)

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Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Generic e-Reader thread.
« on: October 04, 2010, 07:15:45 PM »
Been using a Kindle for about a week now and really like it, so thought I'd start a thread for all readers.

Been looking at these things for about a year, with the lower prices now and the latest generation screens it was time to bite...

Passed on the touch screen ones because the contrast was not as good and I hate fingerprints on a screen I'm trying to focus on.

Kindle seems to be the best choice out there right now unless you want to check out books at the library, that's the only drawback I can see.  Looks like Borders has one coming out that might be a good rival for the Kindle but I'm not sure how ergonomic the design is (one big toggle/button to control everything?)

Reasons for getting one:

Once in a while there's a book I'd like to read but I know I'll never look at it again, so it would be a waste of paper after it's been read.

Can finally read all those Project Gutenberg books I've tried to read on the computer but gave up on, I thought an LCD monitor would be better for reading but it just isn't, the non-back-lit e-ink screen is so much easier to read for hours at a time.  There's also being able to read it anywhere you want, in just about any light.

Adjustable font, great for the old eyes that are starting to need a little more distance.

The dictionary is great, a lot of old books use out of date words and being able to just cursor to them and get the definition is great.

The new screens really are amazing, actually clearer than most paperbacks (spoilered for size):
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Update:

Got the Amazon leather cover, a bit pricey at $35 but it's custom designed for the Kindle (Kindle clips into it) and seems well made.  The lighted one is way over priced, they are basically charging $25 more for a $10 light that makes the case heavier and sucks power from your Kindle.   Other thing is the slide out design of the light scares me, I don't see that holding up to a lot of use.   You can fold the regular leather cover back all the way, hold it back with the elastic, and clip a regular book light to the front cover that's now folded back.

Pictures ( again spoilered for size):

Cover closed:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Cover open:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Cover back with book light clipped on:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

So, anyone else out there using one of these cool toys?
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 08:17:00 PM by MartyS (Gromit) »


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 09:27:55 PM »
I'm really of two minds about them.  On the one hand, I think they'd really be nice for articles and .pdfs that otherwise I print out (I -hate- reading on computer screens).  On the other, they're library-killers.
It's funny, I can browse the web for hours, type for hours, even read journal articles on the computer, but sitting down to read a novel on the computer is horrible.

I don't see how they are library killers, I think they serve different demographics without a lot of overlap, lower income people using the library are not going to buy an e-reader.  I would guess not a lot of people that use the library a lot would be willing to spend the money on a reader.  If they get really cheap maybe, but then there's the cost of the books.  Of course if people are using torrents to steal books maybe that would hurt libraries, but again, would those people use the library?   

Quote
Right now, I'd agree that Kindle is probably the best, but there's no way I'll buy one of those until Amazon opens up the source or allows epub stuff.  Fuck that .azw proprietary shit, too.  I know there are hacks, but Amazon can just brick your device remotely if they feel like it.  Fuck that, also.
Actually, it reads mobi and several other formats (just not epub).  I've downloaded a bunch of books from Project Gutenberg and drag and dropped them onto the Kindle.  There's a great freeware program called Calibre that will convert loads of formats and put them on most e-readers when in flash drive mode attached to the PC, it just will not hack anything with DRM.  So you don't have to get everything through Amazon.

As for bricking it remotely, it will never happen.  I know someone that bought one on ebay and couldn't register it or get it to wirelessly connect, after calling Amazon he found out it was from a missing shipment and they had blocked all of them from the 3G network, he got his money back from ebay and the seller disappeared, Amazon didn't want it back so he uses it for non-DRM books and PDFs.  If they were unwilling to brick a bunch of stolen ones I don't see them ever doing it.

Quote
I think right now, if I had to buy one, I'd go with the Nook.  More open format, you can borrow books, and you can easily convert text files into readable docs without having to circumvent security measures.

They had to put that stupid LCD touch screen on that, it kills battery life and is kind of pointless.   I'd rather have extra battery life than a fancy GUI, and besides it's a reader, I don't want other stuff on the screen besides the page of the book while reading and a simple button to change the page (that's where the ergonomics of the Kindle are hard to beat).   The new version of the Kobo from Borders looks better than the Nook but still a step behind the Kindle.

As for text files, .txt, .mobi and .pdf are read directly on the Kindle. For other formats, several ways to convert them, third party software like Calibre is the easiest, or email it to a special address you get when you register your Kindle and it gets converted and sent to your Kindle directly or emailed back to you.  That service is free for wi-fi or email, but they charge if you want it sent over 3G.

No point railing against proprietary formats, the publishers will always insist on some form of DRM or else all we will have is public domain books, who cares if the system is open but the files are still impossible to copy due to DRM?  You are at the mercy of whatever store you buy your books from, if they fold up when the reader eventually dies you lose your books.  So I don't see these things really replacing a good hardcover.  But like I said in my reasons for getting one, it's perfect for a book you'd like to read once and throw away.  Have to think of it like video, stuff you like you get on what ever the latest format is, others you rent.

I haven't stepped in a library in probably 20 years, so borrowing isn't a big deal for me.  But it does seem like a mistake by Amazon not to have it.  My guess is they will eventually support it, if it looks like enough people are using that as a reason to go with another reader. 

OK, that was way more than I planed on typing. :o
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 09:35:18 PM by MartyS (Gromit) »


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 10:15:46 PM »
As far as library killers, it's more to do with them saying "you have to pay us $500,000 every year or we yank all of your ereaders' rights".  So instead of buying a book once and lending it, you have to buy them all every year.  It's more of an issue for academic libraries than public ones, I admit, and they're already being held over a barrel by publishers, who charge outrageous rates for journals (mostly scientific journals--just insane rates).  Something like 80% of a library's annual book budget goes to science journals.

Yea, that has nothing to do with e-books, that's all about publisher greed.  For a small university like the one I work for that used to get all the science journals it's now pretty much impossible.  The yearly charges for accessing them online are also outrageous.

And textbooks, unbelievable, almost $200 for textbooks now, that's just criminal.    They shouldn't cost any more than the huge coffee table books you see on the front tables of all the book stores...

Quote
The e-reader also keeps used books off the market and thus keeps the cost up--never get used prices. 

I dunno. I guess it has its place, but I'm not ready to jump on yet, and as I said, I refuse to support the amazon format until they do something different.

Isn't it true that the Kindle doesn't let you store more than a few books on your own device and the rest have to be stored in the "cloud"?  I'm not interested in giving up control of my content either.  Because if I have an ereader, it will definitely have pirated books on it.

No, the books are stored on the Kindle, you can actually turn off the wireless, use the wall jack to recharge instead of the PC, and the device will never have contact with Amazon again.  Even plugging it into the PC it only shows up as a flash drive, so no external communication there either.  There are people that have taken them apart and done other stuff, if it was secretly contacting Amazon I think people would have found out by now.   Latest version has 3GB of memory available, most books are around 1MB, so that's a lot of books you could dump onto it.  But, like all computer stuff it isn't going to live as long as a real book, so for a book you might want to read 30 years from now it would still be best to get a hard cover.  ;D  But digital books should never go "out of print", unless the publisher pulls them.  So the worst case scenario is Amazon goes out of business and you lose your ability to download the books you have purchased to a new reader.   

With the wireless on it does talk to Amazon a lot, it sends the last location you have read in a book so you can switch to another device (PC, iPad, smartphone) and pick up where you left off.  One stupid feature I had to turn off right away was shared highlighting, they keep a big (supposedly anonymous) database of what people highlight and will put those highlights on the book for you and tell you how many people did each one, like I care, and it's turned on by default (but easy to turn off and never have to see it again).  It also will send out notes and annotations you make to your social networking sites, I remember seeing someone mention riffing a book, that would be the only use I could see for that "feature".
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 10:20:44 PM by MartyS (Gromit) »


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 09:02:30 AM »
If an e-Reader could come with an air freshener that made it smell like an old book, I'd consider it.  Otherwise...


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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 09:34:10 AM »
Didn't Amazon yank everyone's paid-for copies of 1984 off their kindles last year over a publisher snit?

It was a version that had been published by somebody who thought it was public domain (it wasn't). Since the uproar over it, Amazon has promised they won't pull books remotely any more. Of course, such promises are not always kept.
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Offline Bob

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2010, 09:58:55 AM »
I use the ipad for my e-reader and it is working out pretty well.   Some people say the thing is heavy to hold when reading, but I have never really found that to be true.   There is Kindle ad where some loser is trying to read a book on the ipad in full sun, with the thing pointing right at the sun and no sun glasses on and some rude woman is saying how great her kindle is because her dull looking display had no glare.   Okay, so I wont read the ipad at the pool with it facing the sun at high noon without sunglasses......

The thing that I like about is that if you leave off on page 123 on the ipad, if you open the book up on your iphone, it opens to page 123.   This way, you pretty much have the book with you at all times (assuming you have your phone with you).   This is nice if you ride over an hour each way to work on a bus, waiting in a waiting room, etc.   

I dont think anything will ever replace the feel/smell of an actual book, but I can deal with it.


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2010, 11:06:51 AM »
I use the ipad for my e-reader and it is working out pretty well.   Some people say the thing is heavy to hold when reading, but I have never really found that to be true.   There is Kindle ad where some loser is trying to read a book on the ipad in full sun, with the thing pointing right at the sun and no sun glasses on and some rude woman is saying how great her kindle is because her dull looking display had no glare.   Okay, so I wont read the ipad at the pool with it facing the sun at high noon without sunglasses......

The thing that I like about is that if you leave off on page 123 on the ipad, if you open the book up on your iphone, it opens to page 123.   This way, you pretty much have the book with you at all times (assuming you have your phone with you).   This is nice if you ride over an hour each way to work on a bus, waiting in a waiting room, etc.   

I dont think anything will ever replace the feel/smell of an actual book, but I can deal with it.

Do sunglasses help read the ipad outside on a bright day?  I've heard that screen is different but is it that different?  On a laptop sunglasses make the screen darker, the only way to see the screen outside is to find shade. 

I doubt I could ever use a touch screen, I can't stand even a little dust on a screen, smudges really bug me, I'd be constantly cleaning fingerprints off the touch screen...  Someday I should probably get an iPod touch just to try and get used to stuff on the screen, since touch screens seem to be invading everywhere.

Amazon now does the same "last location read" syncing on all your reading apps/devices.  They do have a reading app now for  iPhone and iPad, so it's kind of funny that that ad poking fun at the iPad is still around.  It was a bad comparison anyway, they are devices for different purposes, one is multipurpose, more for audio/video/web, and one is designed to replace a book (look like a book, read the whole thing without plugging it in to recharge even if it takes weeks).

The look/feel/smell thing will be a shame to lose for future generations, I thought it was good that Rowling said she didn't want ebooks of Harry Potter so kids had to read it from a real book, but it looks like now she is starting to give in and is thinking about allowing digital copies (probably because there are already pirated versions out there).


Offline goflyblind

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2010, 11:13:03 AM »
i don't suppose anyone with an e-reader would care to download something from http://arxiv.org/list/hep-th/recent and take a picture of the screen? like imrahil, i'm interested in reading my papers on the thing.
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Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2010, 11:56:01 AM »
i don't suppose anyone with an e-reader would care to download something from http://arxiv.org/list/hep-th/recent and take a picture of the screen? like imrahil, i'm interested in reading my papers on the thing.

PDFs are hit or miss, but a paper like that works well in landscape mode, text needs a magnifier to read in portrait mode (it's easy to switch modes):

spoilered for size
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I depends on the formatting of the pdf how well the Kindle displays it, it's also hit or miss doing a conversion from pdf to mobi or native kindle.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 11:58:23 AM by MartyS (Gromit) »


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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2010, 12:01:15 PM »
So it supports non-Latin characters?

That's a pdf, so basically the pages are displayed as pictures, so you can't look up words like and stuff like that, have to convert them to a different format (mobi+images would be the most generic) to get them to read like a text document.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 12:03:01 PM by MartyS (Gromit) »


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2010, 12:43:13 PM »
Ah, well that's what I'd be reading (lots of Greek in what I do).  I wondered how that would be handled.  Does it support accents and stuff in book format?

I don't think they support many non-Latin characters by default.  I have read about hacks to load your own fonts into the Kindle, but have also read that the process of doing that can be tricky and a failure will brick your Kindle.

The topaz format that the kindle reads can have embedded fonts, that's how they support other languages.


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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2010, 01:05:10 PM »

I doubt I could ever use a touch screen, I can't stand even a little dust on a screen, smudges really bug me, I'd be constantly cleaning fingerprints off the touch screen...  Someday I should probably get an iPod touch just to try and get used to stuff on the screen, since touch screens seem to be invading everywhere.


Just to clarify, the touch screen on the Nook is just at the bottom, not the actual area where you read. I just got mine yesterday and so far love it.


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2010, 05:40:26 PM »

I doubt I could ever use a touch screen, I can't stand even a little dust on a screen, smudges really bug me, I'd be constantly cleaning fingerprints off the touch screen...  Someday I should probably get an iPod touch just to try and get used to stuff on the screen, since touch screens seem to be invading everywhere.


Just to clarify, the touch screen on the Nook is just at the bottom, not the actual area where you read. I just got mine yesterday and so far love it.

That's good to know, I know some of the Sony readers have full touch screens but I wasn't sure about the Nook.

Is there any way to turn off the LCD screen on the Nook while reading?  You would think they would put something like that into the software since the LCD eats battery life and is one of the reasons I went with the Kindle.


Online MartyS (Gromit)

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2010, 09:44:08 PM »
I've tried a bunch of converters on that physics paper PDF from several posts back, Calibre, MobiPocket Creator, sending it to free.kindle.com, none of them could deal with the equations.  All the words were converted into plain text just fine but the equations were mangled.

So, for stuff like that you are stuck letting the Kindle display the native PDF, kind of a pain on the small screen since there's no easy way of zooming in and scrolling around.  I'm sure they would look fine on the larger DX screen. 

I've updated my opening post with pictures of the leather cover and using a book light.  Book light pic took a bunch of tries, 1 second at f/11 did the trick.  Though it came out cool looking so here it is again (spoilered for size):

Spoiler (click to show/hide)


Offline goflyblind

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Re: Generic e-Reader thread.
« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 01:46:48 AM »
I've tried a bunch of converters on that physics paper PDF from several posts back, Calibre, MobiPocket Creator, sending it to free.kindle.com, none of them could deal with the equations.  All the words were converted into plain text just fine but the equations were mangled.

So, for stuff like that you are stuck letting the Kindle display the native PDF, kind of a pain on the small screen since there's no easy way of zooming in and scrolling around.  I'm sure they would look fine on the larger DX screen.

thank-you kindly. looks like i'm still a couple years off getting one, then.
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