E-Books made E-asy?
December 29, 2005 3:35 AM   Subscribe

E-Books: Those who get them, what's the best PDA for them? Or are they all pretty much the same?

Asking for a collegue. He wants to get a PDA and the primary use will be for e-books. Varying light levels must be taken into account. Cost factors in too and it must be able to be purchased on-line.
posted by Dagobert to Technology (9 answers total)
I use a Palm Tungsten E, good backlight and battery life, screen could be bigger. I use WordSmith, which integrates nicely into windows and word, and Plucker. Right now I'd probably get one of the larger screened TX models.
posted by signal at 5:08 AM on December 29, 2005

Definitely one of the widescreen Palm Tungsten/T models (T3, T5, TX). The extra 80 pixels make a huge difference in terms of getting a decent length for a line of text.

I use a T3 and really like the way it compacts down, but it doesn't really make that much difference in terms of size, and the newer ones probably have better battery life (plus they aren't discontinued).
posted by cosmonaught at 6:43 AM on December 29, 2005

Is e-booking the primary use, or pretty much the only use? E-ink is far more comfortable for reading, and although the Sony LibriƩ is officially only available with a Japanese UI, it can read English e-books. And if your collegue is adventurous, there's an open-source project to replace the firmware with an English UI.
posted by Plutor at 7:06 AM on December 29, 2005

I just bought a Palm Z22 (the cheapest currently-manufactured Palm there is, I believe) and I find it entirely satisfactory for use with Plucker.
posted by skryche at 7:21 AM on December 29, 2005

I agree with skryche. If money is a concern, the cheapie works fine with Plucker. Proof? I read David Copperfield that way.
posted by nancoix at 8:27 AM on December 29, 2005

I read e-books on my Nokia 770. It's a bit pricey, but it has a slightly larger and much higher-resolution screen than most PDAs, which I find is a great benefit for reading e-books. On the other hand, it's also a bit larger and heavier than a normal PDA. It can run Plucker Viewer, and also the excellent FBReader.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:08 AM on December 29, 2005

I've been reading ebooks for years on Palms and PocketPCs. I've currently got a Tungsten T5 and use it regularly for reading (recently finished all three of Peter F. Hamilton's huge Night's Dawn Trilogy books entirely on the T5). The T5 has a good screen and good battery life. I purchase books through both eReader.com and FictionWise, and use eReader's software for most of my reading. eReader's DRM is not onerous, and their catalog is pretty good if you're looking for current stuff (they are a bit conservative in their choice of books...don't look for much erotica, for instance). eReader.com has software for converting existing text to their format.

There's also a decent looking freeware program called PalmFiction for reading non-DRM text. For PocketPC, check out uBook (that's "microBook") from GowerPoint.com. It's a freeware app that will read HTML, RTF, plain text and even non-DRM Palm formats and is a joy to use. It can even read files inside Zip archives. I read a substantial number of Honor Harrington books with uBook when I used a PPC.

Stay away from reading PDFs on pocket devices. There's software to do it, but PDFs created without the necessary "tags" to format for the small screen generally look awful and are slow to read.

To me, one of the most important features to look for in ebook software is auto-scroll. It's truly hard on the thumbs to page through a book manually.
posted by lhauser at 9:41 AM on December 29, 2005

All my reading now is done on a Sonly Clie and an old Palm IIIxe. The bigger screen of the Clie is nice - and plucker can run in full-screen mode giving extra reading area -- but the battery life isn't great. The IIIxe batteries last for three weeks of backlit bedtime reading, the Sony only lasts three or four hours. Neither of these models are avalable now, so probably wouldn't suit your friend (though can be bought used on eBay of course), but I mention them because battery life is an issue to consider.
posted by anadem at 10:25 AM on December 29, 2005

I have a cheap, old, secondhand colour Clie for reading. The jog wheel is the right size and position for my hands, the screen is high contrast and bright, and the battery life is acceptable.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:43 PM on December 29, 2005

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