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Archive for March 2009

Choosing an e-reader

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Newspapers are already environmentally unthinkable. Soon they’re going to be a thing of the past. Fujitsu has launched the world’s first colour e-reader (shall we just call them readers?). It is very expensive, as first-ever things often are.

I have an iRex Iliad which has saved Goldsmiths reams and reams of paper and drops and drops of printer toner. I find my PDF article on Ingenta or wherever and save it to my reader. This is quicker than printing. Another thing – I was an external examiner for a doctorate not long ago. I read and annotated the thesis during my commute, and rather than carrying 300 sheets of A4 around with me, which would have been a real inconvenience given the significant distance I walk each day, I saved it to the reader and backed up the annotations regularly (again, instantaneous, like saving a file).

Below are some quick tips to consider when choosing a reader. The thing to do is to come at it from the basis of your needs, habits, practices. Do you want to:

  • Read PDFs – journal articles or students’ work?
  • Annotate work, save the annotations, run handwriting recognition on them to turn them into machine-readable (searchable) text?
  • Download and pay for books on a whim, on the move?
  • Download and read a newspaper?
  • Rapidly cross-reference between different texts, or between a text and a notes page?
  • Bookmark bits of a text and revisit them easily?
  • Search a text?
  • Convert text to speech and plug in your headphones?
  • Carry on for long periods between charging the battery?
  • Replace the battery on demand?
  • Communicate with a good-sized user-group for tips, tricks and getting the most out of your reader – in plain English?
  • Configure your own texts (e.g. Gutenberg texts) for easy reading / annotation – for example, I have a template which gives me 1.5 spacing, a comfortable sized font for me and bigger margins at the bottom and right (I’m right-handed) for annotation.
  • Get locked into a contract with a single company (as with Amazon’s Kindle)
  • Read and input in different languages?

Additional questions:

  • Are you savvy with technology – will you be able to find the add-ons for an open source operating system to make your reader do what you want, for example?

Then you can go and compare what’s on the market and find the best model for you. The MobileRead wiki has an excellent, regularly updated comparison chart.

My 2p – don’t get a Kindle.


Written by Mira Vogel

March 28, 2009 at 18:35

Posted in technologies