Category Archives: eReaders

Sony Reader, Nook, Kobo, Apple iPad, etc.

Fnacbook Touch eReader

The biggest bookstore chain in France is about to release their very own eReader. Although not the first eReader to come from France (Cybook has that honor), the new Fnacbook Touch is the first to be released solely into the French market.

The hardware will seem pretty familiar to most; 6-inch E-Ink touch screen, WiFi and 3G, but the design is quite different; the looks are more playful than they are sleek design, and I have to say it looks pretty cool!

To coincide with the launch, fnac will be making 80,000 French titles available, which will cost around 20-30% less than their paper counterparts. Like Amazon, fnac will also be releasing an iPhone app (November) and an Android app in the first half of 2011.

Fnacbook is being released on November 10th for 199 euro, around $277 USD. Quite a high price tag, although there are more expensive eReaders out there.

Have an iPad – now what?

Although the iPad has been out in the U.S. for several weeks, today finally sees the day when it’s released in Europe and Australia. Taking a looking over the news sites it seems there’s been a lot of people queuing up to get hold of their own iPad which I guess now makes it big hit everywhere.

So then, you’ve dug deep and forked over hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros for your brand new toy, but you’ve now nothing left in your pocket to go buying books with. Well, no fear, why not go download some free books.

Although iBooks comes with an option to download PG books directly, I wanted to tell you about the free ebook project called epubBooks.com, that I’ve been working on.

I’ve taken titles from Project Gutenberg and created some very fine quality EPUB books, many of which include images (when available) and I’ve made all footnotes (endnotes) clickable, so you don’t have to go searching through the text for the appropriate entry. Another click sends you back to the last page you were at.

I spent a lot of time working on the conversion tools so the book coding is very clean and tidy, which means they render very nicely under the iPad iBooks application as well as any other E-Ink reader (Sony Reader, Cybook OPUS, BeBook, etc.) and Apple apps such as Stanza.

As well as free EPUB books, I have a number of eReader reviews and also a resource for finding places to buy EPUB ebooks from (none work directly in iBooks but may do via 3rd party apps).

Transfer EPUB eBooks from epubBooks to the iBooks App

At the moment it doesn’t seem possible to just click a link on my site and have the book load directly into the iBooks App. Therefore, you’ll first need to download the book to your computer. Once you’ve done this just drag the file onto iTunes and then hit the “sync” button. The book will be available in iBooks on your iPad.

I’m constantly adding new titles to the site so hopefully everyone will find something they enjoy.

Apple iPhone, Stanza and Project Gutenberg

With the introduction of the Stanza eBook reading application the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch have become major platforms on which to read eBooks. Since Stanza was released there have been several other eBook readers released for the iPod Touch allowing eBooks in many different file formats (including the ePub eBook standard) to be downloaded from any one of the many sources that have both free (public domain) and commercial eBook titles.

The goal of my own personal project is to provide Project Gutenberg eBooks formatted in the ePub eBook standard and make freely available from epubBooks.com. Because of this I knew I would need to test how my conversions look on an iPhone or iPod Touch, therefore I decided to purchase an iPod Touch.

I’m not a fanatic of Apple so as you can imagine, I wasn’t really expecting much from the iPod Touch other to test my ePub formatted books and listening to music.

I won’t go into too many details in this review about the different Apple apps available on the iPhone/Touch (there are already plenty of other reviews like that) as I want to keep this focused on the eBook aspects, specifically targeting Project Gutenberg fans.

During the review I will only be focussing on the iPod Touch but it must be noted that the Touch is exactly the same as the iPhone, just without the cellular phone abilities or persistent internet access. So anything that can be done with the iPod Touch should also be available on the iPhone.
Continue reading Apple iPhone, Stanza and Project Gutenberg

BeBook eBook Reader

I had been reading some very interesting things about the BeBook eBook Reader, so when it arrived in the mail, I was not disappointed. On the surface this reader from Endless Ideas BV is pretty much the same as any other. However, once you start to get a little more involved you soon realise that this is a pretty cool device with some great features that make it stand out from the rest.

As with most E-Ink readers the BeBook also uses the newer Vizplex screen technology, which gives a much brighter and faster screen. To help in displaying your books it comes bundled with its own font which gives a very solid text.

There are the normal three sizes of fonts available, although this device implements them in a slightly different way to others. At the maximum zoom setting the display switches to landscape view – this actually makes sense. If you really need the maximum font size then viewing in landscape mode will actually give a more satisfying reading experience, very clever – and particularly useful for those technical PDF documents.

One of the most common issues people have when buying a dedicated reader is regarding eBook formats and whether they will still be able to read their purchases if they change devices in the future. Well, to help relieve these concerns Endless Ideas BV have not only enabled the BeBook to view MobiPocket [DRM protected] eBooks, but also EPUB, PDF, Microsoft LIT, CHM, HTML and a plethora of other formats. Giving you more choice in where you buy your books from.

Continue reading BeBook eBook Reader

ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

ECTACO jetBook eBook ReaderECTACO are probably better know for their electronic hand held translators, but now they gone and released their very own reader; the jetBook eBook Reader.

The jetBook does not use an E-Ink screen, however, this does give it an advantage over all the other eBook readers that are currently out there; a crisp and very white screen! One of the issues people have with the current E-Ink (and VixPlex) standard is that the page contrast is not high enough – usually with E-Ink screens you have a light gray background displaying dark gray text, making low light reading a challenge.

Well, if you think this will be an issue then perhaps you would be better suited to a jetBook. These use a reflective monochrome LCD screen so that the background is nice and white, allowing the text to be read much easier.

[The jetBook has] an easy to scan high-resolution 5-inch display and a viewing angle close to 180°, it is fully customizable. Even readers who have difficulty seeing print books will benefit from its adjustable text size and font face. And weighing in at only 7.5 ounces, this handy device fits perfectly into the palm of your hand.

They go on to say that this “revolutionary display reflects light without the need for backlighting”, which according to reviews gives a similar reading experience to an E-Ink screen.

For me however, the most impressive feature of the jetBook is its ability to search and cross-reference the text using bookmarks making it a great choice for dictionaries – I’m not sure if this means you can do a word lookup from within a book. I’ll try to find out and post an update.

Continue reading ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

The Amazon Kindle is not only the latest E-Ink book reader to hit the market it also one with the highest profiles. A couple of the biggest differences of the Kindle over other readers such as the Sony Reader (PRS-505) and the Cybook Gen3, are that the Kindle has wireless connectivity and a mini-keyboard.

This wireless connectivity allows the user to access books without the need of a PC, certainly a big plus for the more non-tech of consumers. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, the Kindle delivers content using the Amazon Whispernet wireless delivery system. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills—Amazon take care of the hassles so you can just read.

Along with regular books this new service will allow you to have your newspaper subscriptions delivered via wireless each morning along with magazines. There is also an option for receiving your blog feeds.Becuase all this extra technology will hit the battery life, it may not be for everyone. Without a doubt, the keyboard will be a huge plus for many users.

Three years ago, we set out to design and build an entirely new class of device—a convenient, portable reading device with the ability to wirelessly download books, blogs, magazines, and newspapers. The result is Amazon Kindle.

Continue reading Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Bookeen Cybook Gen3 (CYBGEN310BS)

Cybook Gen3 from BookeenThe Cybook Gen3 from Bookeen is an ultra-light reading device that uses the E ink® screen technology (VizPlex), giving a paper-like high contrast appearance that is readable even under direct sunlight. As with all E-Ink devices the battery gives a great number of page turns, though the Cybook is a little better than the Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505), reaching an impressive 8,000 page turns. The Cybook also reads many different file formats, including the MobiPocket format, and offers access to a wide range of digital documents. In the future the Cybook will also have a firmware upgrade to allow EPUB files to be read.

Great news is that unlike the Sony Reader, this is available to both North American and European consumers.

Here are the official specs:

  • Size: 4.7″ x 7.4″ x 0.3″ / 118 x 188 x 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 6.13 ounces / 174 g (battery included)
  • Screen: 6″ E Ink® screen, 600×800 pixels, 166 dpi, B&W, 4 grayscale
  • Sound: 2.5mm stereo headphone plug
  • Controls: 11 buttons (No touchscreen)
  • Battery: Rechargeable built-in Li-Polymer battery (1000 mAh) giving 8,000 page flips
  • Processor: 200MHz
  • ROM memory: 8 MB
  • RAM memory: 16 MB
  • Storage memory: 64 MB Data Flash
  • Formats: HTML, Txt, PRC, PalmDoc, PDF, Secured MobipocketTM
  • Connectivity: USB Client (v2.0), Mini USB B connector, SD Card slot

The Cybook eReading Device is now available in a Deluxe version, which comes with a USB Charger, cover, 2 GB SD memory card, Stereo earphones and an extra batter.

Bookeen Cybook Gen3 is available at Amazon and Pixmania.com.

Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505)

Sony Reader PRS-505 Silver

The Reader Digital Book (PRS-505) is the latest electronic book reader to be released by Sony. Now being released in a number of different countries (including U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Netherlands), eBooks are set to make a big impact on our everyday reading in the very near future.

The current model has some significant improvements over the old PRS-500 model, the most prominent is the update of the E-Ink screen to the VizPlex technology, which gives faster page refresh times and better contrast. There have also been improvements to the button layout and the way the internal library organizes your books.

After a recent firmware update the Sony Reader now supports ePub formatted books (the new eBook standard), Adobe Digital Editions and reflowable PDF. Strong reasons even for owners of the older PRS-500 to upgrade.

What are the most important improvements in the PRS-505?

  1. The PRS-505 has a new screen that gives faster refresh times, is also a little brighter and now supports 8 shades of gray.
  2. A much improved layout design:
    • Page turn buttons moved the right side of the Reader.
    • The Numerical buttons now match up to the screen numbers so when menus are displayed the appropriate button is to the right of the entry (going top to bottom).
    • The Menu key is now by itself and clearly marked.
    • The Jog stick has been replaced with a four way arrow button and a center Enter button.
  3. Books have become easier to search as there are now tools that sort the books into alphabetical groupings for Titles or Authors.
  4. Two memory card slots (in parallel) that can support up to 2GB (SD) and 8GB (Memory Stick Duo). Because there are two separate slots the total amount of external storage the PRS-505 can support is now up to 10GB!
  5. USB functionality is much improved:
    • Support for the USB 2.0 standard, allowing for faster transfer of data.
    • The PRS-505 can be charged when the battery is fully empty using the USB port of almost any computer, even if there is no software loaded on it. The old PRS-500 needed to be plugged into a PC running pre-installed software before it could charge, and even then it would not charge if the internal Reader’s battery was dead.
  6. The Connect Reader software has been replaced with “eBook Library v2.0″, although this looks and works much like the older software. The only noticeable difference with the new software is that the PRS-505 can use its new Auto-sync feature. Please note that the PRS-505 cannot work with the older Connect Reader software.

Continue reading Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505)

The @folio eReader

@folio is a reading device conceived in October 1996 by Pierre Schweitzer, an architect-designer living in Strasbourg, France. It is meant to download and read any text and/or illustrations from the web or hard disk, in any format, with no proprietary format and no DRM.

The technology of @folio is novel and simple, and very different from other reading devices, past or present. It is inspired from fax and tab file folders. The flash memory is “printed” like Gutenberg printed his books. The facsimile mode is readable as is for any content, from sheet music to mathematical or chemical formulas, with no conversion necessary, whether it is handwritten text, calligraphy, free hand drawing or non-alphabetical writing. All this is difficult if not impossible on a computer or any existing reading device.

Continue reading The @folio eReader

Sony Reader PRS-500

UPDATE: The Sony PRS-500 has now been discontinued – its replacement is a big improvement over this version. Check out my article on the Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505

Possibly one of the most important advancements for eBook readers is the E-Ink® screen technology, and the Sony Reader is the first major commercial device to use it. This technology means reading is almost as natural as reading on paper.

The Reader is very simple to use and provides an excellent reading experience and with a battery life that lasts well over 7000 page turns you won’t be dashing back home to recharge.

Sony currently has well over 10,000 best-seller titles in their CONNECT eBook store, although they presently have very few technology books available (Internet, Programming, Graphics Design, etc.), the E-Ink® technology is constantly improving and once we have large color screens, we may start to see more of these type of book being made available.

Here’s the official Sony blurb;

The Portable Reader offers a new and convenient digital reading experience. It boasts an amazing screen with technology that rivals text on paper. Weighing less than 9 ounces2 and at only 1/2″ thin, it’s more compact than many paperbacks. Plus, it comes with a soft, black cover and software that seamlessly allows you to search and browse thousands of electronic book titles from the Connect? eBookstore and then easily transfer from your PC to your Sony Reader. With built-in memory and multi-format support, you can take many of your favorite titles and documents with you. So compact and convenient, you’ll want to take it everywhere. MP3 & Portable Electronics Portable Reader PRS-500

Sony Reader PRS-500

Sony’s current retail price is: $279.99.

Since buying my Reader in December (2006) my eBook reading experience has certainly improved. Although there are now several other devices on the market (which I haven’t tried yet), I would certainly have to recommend this.