Tuesday, August 10, 2010

e-Book readers, Blog 2, Android Tablet

This is my second blog on e-book readers. This blog is about Android tablets as book readers.

I picked up an Eken M001 Android Tablet from E-Bay. The hardware quality on these is a shot in the dark, but, it looks like it has some potential for the future.

This unit has a tilt sensor so you can use it either "vertical" or "horizontal". Nice feature. I used three different e-book software systems, the iBook reader, the Peanut Press (palm) e-reader and FBReader.

All the reader software systems had problems. I am used to FBReader which I use on my XO and the Peanut Press e-reader, neither of these worked very well. They were slow and clunky. The iBook reader worked best.

The bad things are the fingerprints on the reading area, the processing and library management.

The nice thing about the Android is that you have choices of e-reader software. I have not actually read an e-book on the reader yet, but, it is better than the Nook. There are lots of smaller issues, but, if you are willing to install different software and use standard file management techniques to manage your library it is useful.

On a scale between 1 and 10 I give the Android Tablet a 4 out of 10. I think the Android tablet will be the way to go, but, it is a little early in development for prime time.

The screen needs a setting similar to the XO so you can change to low power B&W display. The processor needs to be faster (on my system). I also really like the idea of the 3G connection on the Nook and Kindle so to get better the Android you need a decent 3G connection. The only other suggestion I have is that you need an e-book library management system similar to calibre as well as a variety of reading software.

In my opinion the software of an e-reader needs to be installable and customizable. Different people like different interfaces, different buttons, etc.

For digital rights management Microsoft, the Nook and the old Palm reader use credit card numbers. This is a total disaster, I know because I have purchased books using different card numbers. I won't discuss how I have managed addressing that issue, but, most of you can guess.

I would use something like a PGP key. You plug your private key into the book reader and it opens up the books. Unlike credit card numbers people could share PGP keys, but, with a 3G book reader the key could be checked on the server the same way a cell phone ID is exchanged with the phone server and if people had the same PGP key the book seller could request an explanation from the key registrar. Some people, like me, may have multiple forms of book readers. Some may be sharing. With the 3G network connection it would be pretty simple to determine if two people were reading the same license at the same time.

The Nook had the capability to loan some books out. By registering a loan or license transfer with a 3G server you could exchange e-books the same way people exchange print books.

My favorite used book store in the Detroit area is John K King in downtown Detroit. The current e-book system is a both extraordinarily cheap and a huge rip off. Free e-books are great. The e-books you pay for cost more than a paperback. When you finish reading you can't trade it in to a used book store for credit so you totally lose your investment. You can't give it away at the homeless project at church. You can't lend it or give it to your daughter.

By using a network identification similar to the cell phone network you can eliminate those issues.

E-Book Readers, Blog 1

I have been reading e-books since the late 90's. I started reading on my computer, then moved to the Palm Pilot. My favorite Palm Pilot was and is my Tungsten W. Great, but, small. I typically used the Palm Reader.

When Palm did the Tungsten W they really screwed up. The Palm Treo phones were a mess too. I switched to the Treo and hated it. Time for the Blackberry, but, what to do about a book reader? I used my Tungsten W as a reader and my Blackberry as a phone. Eventually Mobipocket came out with a free reader. It sucked, but, it was better than nothing and the screen resolution on the Blackberry was better than the Treo.

A couple years ago I picked up an OLPC XO laptop and began using it as a book reader. Excellent device, but kind of large and clunky. I kept trying to turn pages by touching the screen :-)

A few weeks ago I started looking into the new book readers. Like readers in the past the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Amazon Kindle make it difficult to use common formats like *.pdb, and *.txt, but, I figured I would test the system out.

I bought an Android M001 tablet and tested it out.

I plan on purchasing and testing out a Kindle.

I will blog on my experiences with these e-readers and hopefully you can learn from my experiences. The first unit I am blogging about is the Nook.

To sum up my experience with the B&N Nook:

Essentially, it sucked.

*.pdf files sent to me by colleagues were displayed using whatever title Acrobat had assigned when published and not using the file name so I had no idea what the dissertation/thesis or paper name was.

*.pdb files published with the Barnes and Noble Drop Book program could not be opened on the Nook.
*.pdb files downloaded from gutenberg.org could not be opened on the Nook.

*.epub files could downloaded from gutenberg.org could not be opened on the Nook.

e-books purchased from B&N back around 2004 could not be opened on the Nook.

B&N is charging for books that are in the publish domain and can be freely downloaded.

B&N "loses" track of books that you have previously purchased and you have to submit proof that you purchased them to download them.

I was unable to open any of the "free" books I had purchased from B&N on my Nook.

Phone technical support was no help at all.

I returned the Nook after owning it less than 24 hours.

A simple subjective analysis of Nook user reviews on C-Net

Something I have noticed reading the 120 reviews, it looks like people who read for a living, students, researchers, professors, etc, and who have a lot of experience with e-readers typically give the Nook a very low score. People who read for fun, fiction, etc, and have actually gotten the download your purchases feature to work seem to like the product or at least do not hate it.

Typically, the people who like it seem to be new to e-books and purchased e-books from B&N

From my experience and after reading the reviews:

Buy one and try it out. It will either work foryou or it won't and you will return it immediately.

If it works use it every day for at least an hour or two. You will either have frustrating power, lock-up and lost book mark problems or it will work fine for you.

If after 12 days you have any doubts at all, take it back.

If you have no doubts about how well it operates after 12 days I wish you happiness and good luck.