Thursday, July 10, 2008

I want to see an ebook reader bitch-slap fight

Boy, I had no clue how many ebook reader choices are already out there. Most seem to be based on eInk’s
The ebook readers from Astak look promising, but even the cheap one (5? screen) is not shipping yet. The iRex Iliad looks promising too, but expensive at USD699 for the large-screen (8.1?) version, though it does have a stylus touchscreen and seems more general than just reading (marketing copy claims you can “read comics, sketch, play Sudoku or crossword puzzles…” on it, though I prefer a one-trick pony that does its trick really well, like the beautifully designed iPod Shuffle.)

I’m no longer considering the Bookeen Cybook after one of its users reported that full-page (letter/A4) PDF files are often unusable due to the smaller screen. I intend to read not only technical books but technical papers, so that’s a dealbreaker for me, and I’m looking seriously at the Iliad as a result.

I’ve long complained that if only the Kindle supported PDF, I’d buy that, but I’m not so sure anymore: virtually all the other readers support the Mobipocket format (which has both DRM’d and non-DRM’d variants), and if there is anything worse than a DRM’d ebook format, it’s twoincompatible DRM’d ebook formats (Amazon Kindle has its own .AZW format, and while the Kindle supports Mobipocket, it’s hard for me to get behind a device whose main contribution seems to be a new DRM format).

I definitely want to have one of these loaded up with stuff before our big family vacation in August, so I guess I’ll have to make a decision by then…you’d think academics who read a lot and cart around sheaves of papers printed out from PDF files would be a great early-adopter audience, but only the iLiad seems to be targeting them…

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