Monday, February 22, 2010

eReader Testing

My big concern with the iPad is if I can read off it for hours at a chunk.  So to test what I did was load up a pdf of Closing Arguments on my laptop, rotate the text so it'd read up and down the long side of the screen, then hold the laptop like an open book.

The image is representative, but it's from my wife's little netbook instead of my laptop.

Reading off the screen was good -- and had the added advantage that I didn't need a booklight.  Not sure if it's as easy on the eyes over the long term as an electronic ink display.  But read through the full 114 page novella in maybe 3 hours, which I think is faster than normal for me.

The netbook is actually more representative of what the iPad would be like since it's screen is almost the same size.  As you can see in the photo, digest-sized or prestige paperback sized books fit the screen almost perfectly.

I also tried Kindle for the PC, but couldn't rotate the text so didn't try reading it on screen.  At any rate, if PDF is available and reasonably close to the right scale, I prefer it to these e-Reader formats.  Changing font size can be handy, but I like reading the book in its designed layout.  For instance, in the Kindle version of Closing Arguments the little post-it section breaks aren't centered.  Layout's not a huge deal for a novel, but I see more books using the occasional layout gimmick inside the text to get across some narrative point.

I also went into a couple stores to check out eInk readers. 

First tried a couple versions of the Sony Reader. The screens seemed to refresh slow (slower that the Nook I tried later).  And this was a real issue on the Reader with a touch screen since some screens have scroll bars and they're pretty worthless if it take 1 to 2 seconds to refresh the screen.

I tried the Nook next and that was actually fairly nice for just reading.  The little LCD bar across the bottom works reasonably well (though I'm not convinced how useful it would really be).  Standard eInk refresh, but the pages flipped pretty clean and it looked good.

The Nook isn't in contention though since I want the larger screen.  And it's odd that Amazon can't get the Kindle DX into any retail outlet so that potential customers could get hands-on experience.  How many people do they expect to drop $500 on a new technology without testing it? 

Also, both the iPad and the Kindle DX are almost exactly the size of a graphic novel trade paperback -- so they'll be easy to carry.

At any rate, so far the iPad looks like the way I'll go.  I haven't read many comic books in a while, but reading them on the iPad should be perfect.  I also had a chance to fiddle around with an iPhone for a bit and that was pretty awesome.  Since I don't need a fancy phone and am looking for an eReader anyway, a large-size version of the iPhone would actually be perfect for me.

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