Mobileread
DIY reader from used tablet PC
#1  Bailywolf 11-21-2006, 01:44 PM
I've been lusting after an good multi-format eBook reader for a year or so, and awaited the new Sony device eagerly, but have been let down by its specs, format issues, and my experience fiddling with it at Borders. It feels like the device I covet, but doesn't seem to hack it. The iRex device looked like a winner, but the price... that killed it for me. I have a huge collection of PDF, txt, and other eBooks that I'd like to be able to read on the go, but my options seem limited right now. Price is a real problem, as tops, I can only justify about $200.

So I got to looking around ebay for used lower-end keyboardless table and pen PC's, and the price seems right. I can score all the software I need from my own library and from work, leaving 4 to 8 gigs of hard drive space for books.

The killer is in battery life... especially with a used device.

Anyone have experience DIY'ing and optimizing a tablet into a reader?

Thanks,

-B
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#2  aoni 11-21-2006, 09:52 PM
There are pros and cons to using a tablet pc as a reader. I currently own a motion ls800, motion m1400, and a sony reader. With regards to the tablets, it is difficult if not impossible to read w/them like you would a regular book because of the heat and weight. After ~20 mins w/the motions my arms get tired (and hot) and I need to set the unit down on the desk. Ofcourse the upside to using a tablet is that you never have to worry about what format your media is in because pcs can support pretty much anything. If you are a pure reader I would suggest an eink device or consider the nokia 770.

I LOVE MY SONY READER!
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#3  Bailywolf 11-22-2006, 09:47 AM
Your tablets are sweet...but way beyond my means. I'd be shooting for a LT C-500 Fujitsu Stylistic or something comparable. Still, 2.5 pounds or so isn't feather-weight, but about like a big hard back book.

The Sony reader felt wonderful, but didn't do what I wanted a reader to do at that price point... I suppose I'm a few years yet from getting the reader I want for what I want to pay for it.

-B
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#4  HarryT 11-22-2006, 10:09 AM
What do you feel are the "format issues" with the Sony Reader, B? It will happily handle text and RTF files, as well as PDFs, so there really aren't any issues when it comes to using your own content. If you want to buy commercial eBooks, then I agree that the range is rather limited, but that's not something that's an issue for me personally. The nice things about the Sony are the extremely light weight, fantastic battery life, and the drop-dead gorgeous "eInk" screen compared to an LCD display. Needless to say, I'm a big fan .
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#5  Bailywolf 11-22-2006, 10:25 AM
Quote HarryT
What do you feel are the "format issues" with the Sony Reader, B? It will happily handle text and RTF files, as well as PDFs, so there really aren't any issues when it comes to using your own content. If you want to buy commercial eBooks, then I agree that the range is rather limited, but that's not something that's an issue for me personally. The nice things about the Sony are the extremely light weight, fantastic battery life, and the drop-dead gorgeous "eInk" screen compared to an LCD display. Needless to say, I'm a big fan .
I haven't had experience of it myself, but I've read some reviews where the tester had trouble getting it to format and display some free txt books (via Gutenberg), and after playing with it, I don't know how it could handle normal full page PDF's formatted for print on standard 8.5/11 paper (or formatted with two columns). For example, how would the reader do displaying this manual?

I love the eInk technology... but wonder only at the Sony reader's screen size, words per page, and resolution.

Thanks,

-B
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#6  NatCh 11-22-2006, 12:01 PM
Well, Bailywolf, here you have upwards of 150 users of the Sony who don't seem to have much trouble getting Gutenberg files (or any RTF files), on their Readers (there have been a few issues here and there, but not general ones). Compare that to the remarks of a few Reviewers who likely spent a few hours with the Reader .... Well, you can make that evaluation for yourself.

As for A4 (letter sized) PDFs, no they don't work on a 6" screen, unless you're gifted with micro-vision.

However, that's more an issue with the PDF format not being reflowable, if it were, then the problem wouldn't exist. For things like Manuals and text books, of course, there are a lot of things that are layout dependant, and need to be displayed as they are, and just flat need to be displayed in the A4 size. I think there's a (huge) market for an A4 sized e-ink device, but that's not what the Reader is aimed at.

It's aimed at reading text, and it does that quite well. If that's not what you need, then that's not what you need, and the Reader won't work for you. No one thing can be every thing. Just the way it is.

Like I say, it won't do everything, but it does what it's aimed at, reading a text, page by page, front to back, quite well (yes the software has, um ... room for improvement, but once you're in a book and reading ...). So the real question is, are you interested enough in what it does do, for it to be worthwhile for you. The important thing is that you find something that works for you. These devices are another option, and hopefully there will be more options soon that cover even more of the range of needs.
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#7  Bailywolf 11-22-2006, 01:10 PM
Quote NatCh
Well, Bailywolf, here you have upwards of 150 users of the Sony who don't seem to have much trouble getting Gutenberg files (or any RTF files), on their Readers (there have been a few issues here and there, but not general ones). Compare that to the remarks of a few Reviewers who likely spent a few hours with the Reader .... Well, you can make that evaluation for yourself.

As for A4 (letter sized) PDFs, no they don't work on a 6" screen, unless you're gifted with micro-vision.

However, that's more an issue with the PDF format not being reflowable, if it were, then the problem wouldn't exist. For things like Manuals and text books, of course, there are a lot of things that are layout dependant, and need to be displayed as they are, and just flat need to be displayed in the A4 size. I think there's a (huge) market for an A4 sized e-ink device, but that's not what the Reader is aimed at.

It's aimed at reading text, and it does that quite well. If that's not what you need, then that's not what you need, and the Reader won't work for you. No one thing can be every thing. Just the way it is.

Like I say, it won't do everything, but it does what it's aimed at, reading a text, page by page, front to back, quite well (yes the software has, um ... room for improvement, but once you're in a book and reading ...). So the real question is, are you interested enough in what it does do, for it to be worthwhile for you. The important thing is that you find something that works for you. These devices are another option, and hopefully there will be more options soon that cover even more of the range of needs.

Please don't take my comments on the reader as critical- I don't have an issue with it and what it does... it just doesn't do all the things I want a reader to do, and one of those big ones is letting me read PDF files without doing a lot of funky reformating and conversion. I dig the reader for what it does... it just doesn't do everything I want and need right now.

-B
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#8  HarryT 11-22-2006, 01:22 PM
Hi B,

I completely understand your reasoning. My main use for an eBook reader is to read "Project Gutenberg" out-of-copyright stuff, and the Sony is fantastic for that. It doesn't do a terribly good job of displaying "raw" text files, but literally a minute's "massaging" them in Word into an RTF file in a suitable font and they look great. It's not the "perfect machine" but it's pretty damned good at what it does .

If pre-formatted PDF files are an issue for you then you're absolutely right, Reader wouldn't be a good choice. The best format for it is certainly RTF, which it handles very well indeed.

As I say it's not perfect, but I've been reading eBooks on various devices for probably the last 10 years, and this is the best machine yet for my needs. Things can only get better in the future.

Hope you find what you're looking for,

Best wishes,

Harry.
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#9  NatCh 11-22-2006, 01:23 PM
Quote Bailywolf
Please don't take my comments on the reader as critical-
Not in the least! No, I understood what you were getting at, and I apologize if I came across as defensive, I didn't mean to at all.

I was just trying to say more or less what you just said: that it does what it does, pretty durn well, but that what it does won't work for everyone or every purpose, and that's just the way life is. I find it's helpful to remind folks (read: myself) of that occasionally.
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#10  Bailywolf 11-22-2006, 01:58 PM
If I was given a Reader for Christmas, I'd be thrilled and pumped... I'd love to have one, but were I looking to spend my own cashola on one, I'd need more features and support... alas, my Dream Reader doesn't exist (big, folding, eInk, touchscreen, a few gigs of flash memory, and solid ruggedized casing).

-B
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