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.

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