Dedicated handheld ebook reader?

i was just downloading some free books from a project gutenburg site when i got to thinking it would be great if i could save the txt files on something and read them away from my computer, even if just in a room ten feet away.

when i checked up on dedicated ebook readers, apparently they weren’t very successful. most were no longer sold and the few remaining are expensive.

i want something paperback book sized with decent legibility but the closest one i could find was a hundred twenty four bucks (called ebookwise, a renamed gemstar). palm pcs seem kinda small and i don’t want a laptop. anyone know one that fits my description but cheaper?

Wait…cheaper? Hmm…you can use the PSP for this if you have one lying around, I suppose with instructions here.

Otherwise I think you’ll end up spending at least around that much.

I’m waiting for the Sony Reader to come out. It will probably be above your price point, but the “e ink” feature which promises a paper-like display without using battery power unless you change the page sounds really compelling.

Great. Now I feel like a sleeper agent corporate shill. :(

OK first off that sony thing looks all kinds of bad ass. I would love to get my hands on one. Second of all sony can go fuck it self and here is why…

Books are just the beginning for the Sony® Reader. It also displays Adobe® PDFs, personal documents, blogs, newsfeeds, and JPEGs with the same amazing readability, so you can take your favorite blogs and online newspapers with you.7

Hey kick ass I cant wait to do that right? Errr perhaps not…

7 These formats require file conversion to BBeB using supplied software.

Why the hell cant sony make this thing simply read these formats? I mean really now everything with sony has to be difficult and this is no different.

I know there is prolly a good reason for it but bleh its annoying as hell.

I still want one though becuase damn its hot.

Oh yeah and

A Digital Reading Experience - “”

* 6” SVGA 800x600 gray scale display158 with E Ink® Display technology.
* Compact and lightweight for ultimate portability.
* Internal memory with a slot for removable memory (Memory Stick® storage media and SD Memory Cards).
* Approximately 7,500 page turns per battery charge.189
* Select from thousands of eBooks from the Connect® Book store.
* Explore the Portable Reader

Available in Spring 2006.

800x600 isn’t a lot, though. I’d rather wait for the next generation with a decent resolution.

Because it’s typical Sony to make kick ass technology and fuck up the software.

I love my PSP, but only now do Sony offer a complete package that converts and transfers movies and MP3’s - and you have to buy it from them in addition to your pricey PSP.

Sonys new MP3-players kicks all kind of ass now. Great sound, reasonable prices (but still more expensive than an iPod, that does more and needs no help to boost sales) and amazing battery life - but the software used to transfer music is so bad it destroys all goodwill you might have towards the gadget.

Same with my new Sony Ericsson W800i Walkman phone. Fantastic piece of tech, but a bitch to transfer songs to.

… and now this.

You have to keep in mind that it’s only a 6" screen though. I think the more relevant number is that it’s 170 DPI. That’s a heck of a lot better than the standard 72 DPI used for a computer monitor.

Only a 6" screen? Okay, then I’ll change my stance and instead complain that the screen is too small. :p

800 by 600 is fine for monochrome text. I played with one for ten minutes or so at CES and came away very pleased. There are other models supposed to launch in nearly the same window (first half of this year) as the Sony Reader, one from a Phillips spin-off and one from a Chinese vendor. The real question is going to be how much they reduce eye strain. I read books on my Treo all the time, but sometimes it gets really tiring.

I know your teasing, but how big is your average paperback? It looks a lot like that. Same off-white paper, too.

I agree with Christoph. I did some measurements. A typical paperback is almost 8" on the diagonal. Actual text size is about 6 1/2" on the diagonal. However, if you look at the pictures, it looks like there is whitespace on the screen around the text, so I’m guessing it’s much smaller than the printed page. Based on a typical paperback, I’d prefer at least a 7" screen, and maybe an 8" would be better.

On the other hand, again going by the picture assuming that’s a typical-size hand in the photograph, it doesn’t look like the product could get much making it awkward to one-hand it.

A good site to learn what is going on for ebook readers: mobileread

Hopefully things will change with the hiring of Tim Schaaff.

Palms are small, but if you can get used to the size, they do a bang up job as an ebook reader. I used mine extensively before various hardware headaches got me out of the habit of keeping it charged. Even the cheapest will do just fine, and even though you want it just for the reader portion, you’re not required to take the apps and games off, so it might actually be useful beyond just reading.

Hot sauce… Yeah its going to be more expensive then the Sony but damn I love the features.

Thanks to Brian we know Sony’s successor of the Sony Librie e-book reader is simply called the Sony Reader. I am not impressed. Well I would have been if iRex hadn’t announced it’s Iliad Reader a couple of days earlier. Comparison:

Sony: 6.9" by 4.9" by .5"
iRex: 6.1" by 8.5" by .63"

Sony: 8.8 ounces
iRex: 13.7 ounces

Sony: 6-inch SVGA 800X600 4 grey scales (same like the Sony Librie)
iRex: 8.1-inch XGA 1024x768 16 grey scales

Internal memory:
Sony: ? “approximately 80 unillustrated books”
iRex: 64MB RAM, 224MB FLASH

Expansion slots:
Sony: SD, Memory Stick
iRex: SD, CF II

Support e-book formats:
Sony: BBeB Book (Sony Librie), Adobe PDF, JPEG, MP3
iRex: Adobe PDF, XHTML, TXT, MP3, others in near future

Others interfaces:
Sony: headphone jack
iRex: headphone jack, WiFi 802.11b, 10/100Mb Ethernet

Sony: USD $299-$399
iRex: ?

The iRex is bigger and heavier. But it also features the better screen, better support for open formats, and better connectivity (which the Sony obviously lacks in).

But will the iRex use an “electronic paper” screen?

Will it be supported by secure ebook publishers?

Yes, it is ePaper.

I’m not sure about DRM support.

I posted an accusatory message on my blog asking myself if I thought the iRex iLiad would support DRM’d eBooks. Here was my response:

Since iRex is a very recent spin-off of Phillips, I would be very surprised if they didn’t have some sort of copy restricted books available through a download service.

That’s one thing Sony claims to have very right with the Reader. The VP over the project told me at CES he expects to have titles in the tens of thousands, including just released books. I believe he used the term “a majority of major publishers,” whatever that means.

I’ve been waiting for one of these for years now.

The iRex one looks like the winner, for sure.


Sony Reader back ahead, since it apparently supports PDF natively:

They are also saying that the converstion process for .Docs and other stuff is painless… but I wont even believe that till I see it.