Friday, July 02, 2010

HARDWARE: In Replacement Batteries, I Trust

EBook Readers are big business these days. I've given two of them out to the most important women in my life and each one seems happy with her new toy. Me, I'm hoping the replacement battery I installed in my Sony Clie will last a couple of years (and the second one I have squirreled away, a couple of years after that). By that time, I figure there'll be an EBook Reader I'm willing to plunk down money for, for myself.

I wanted an EBook Reader for my mom for awhile. She's the most dedicated reader in the far eastern branch of the family. I tried to get her to use a Palm to read with, but the text was too tiny for her senior citizen sensibilities and even an upgrade to a iPod Touch didn't change that. I held out to see what the iPad would be like, but it came in at 1.5 pounds and that's too much to hold for reading for long periods of time. I looked at the Kindle and wasn't impressed.

Then, I happened onto a deal for a Sony 300 Reader and gave it a whirl. I didn't much care for it myself. For one reason, SPEED. I am so used to the Clie changing pages (well, mini-pages) that I couldn't abide the time the Sony takes to turn pages. It's a function of the e-ink process. It's a wonderful idea, really. The only time you actually USE power in an e-ink reader is to change what it is showing. No power is expended keeping the image there. But, to get two weeks of power, something has to give. It takes time to 'power-up' and then regenerate the page (before going back to sleep again). Soooooo, as a result, pages turn at a turtle's pace. Even slower than you would find turning a page on a real physical book. The amount of text shown was still on the small side and the font choices were a bit limited. Sooooo, no go for Mom. But I had another birthday celebration worthy of the toy.

Patrick's wife Dawna reads almost as much as Mom. She's more paperback-oriented that my mother AND I've seen the contents of her purse. The Sony 300 was actually going to save her space in her carryall. Turned out to be a hit. And I've sold a few Sony's by extension since then as various members of Patrick's family load up on different models. Turns out Dawna's smarter than me. "You get into a rhythm of when to click to turn the page. You don't wait until the end. You turn when you are a few lines from the bottom. By the time you get there, the page will change and you just keep on reading." Guess there's a lot to be said for a woman's patience.

Now, the problem remained my mother's solution. I've been watching the scene and was aware a Canadian-based reader called the Kobo would be coming out from Chapters. It was slightly cheaper and about 20 percent larger than the Sony. Weighed a bit less too. In fact, it was the lightest one in the six-inch size I could find. Soooo, I pre-ordered one, thinking I would keep it if Mom passed on it and hope she didn't. She didn't. Quite happy with it. For awhile.

Being the first on your block to own the latest toy has one downside. Sometimes, the bugs aren't all worked out. And the Kobo had its problems. First, there was a font issue, wherein the Kobo would sometimes display text in a teeny-weeny flyspeck of a font--and no bigger. I found a solution for that and even wrote my own fixer. Later I found better, smarter fixers available elsewhere. But the other problem was a lying, stone-cold lying, light to indicate charge completed status. Lied like a rug and said DONE when, in fact, it was only about 20 percent the way there. Took 27 days of the 31-day warranty period (for return) to conk out completely. My Mom's wasn't the only one, of course. So, the exchange went smoothly at the store down east, despite the device being obtained up here in Brampton. Well, not COMPLETELY smoothly. Took two weeks for the replacement to arrive. The Kobo's have been selling like hotcakes, and Mom wanted a black one, like the one I'd bought her.

Initial foray behind her, she's once again a happy EReader-using dynamo. She's chugging her way through a series of books by Fern Michaels. And that should keep her going through to the end of the year. At that time, she's expected to spend the next year or so reading Nora Roberts to the point of never wanting to read another book by her (she's got more than 250 in the catalog). Come to think of it, Dawna has a predilection for the same material. Hmmmm, maybe she CAN play exchange!

Me, I'm sill going to stick with the Clie. I get about a quarter-page per screen, but I can thumb my way through the book at quite a rate. I can hold the PDA in either hand, which is handy. I like to read laying down and I toss and turn a fair bit. Trying EITHER of the two EReaders my Mom and Dawna owns would be unworkable under those circumstances. PLUS, both of those need light. I like to read in the dark, especially at this time of the year, when having a light source, even one with the CFL's, is just plain TOO DARN HOT. Nothing works like being enveloped in darkness and having a screen-ful of book hanging in mid-air a foot from your face.

I should also point out that the iPad suffers from glare fatigue, according to hard-core readers who have put in the time reading on it. It's like putting a spotlight in front of your face. And, while it's crisp, it IS hard on the eyes over a long-term session. Unlike the e-ink type of readers, the iPad goes about 10-12 hours between charges, rather than two weeks. No, that's a fair sight better than the 5-6 hours I get (now) on the Clie, it's a fair time limit for a reading session. Sure, it's on the short side of a Harry Potter book (the last ones). But it's fine for getting most books done in one sitting. Unfortunately, there's that weight, which makes doing it one-handed a near impossibility.

Which leaves me with my Sony Clie. I've been using it since discovering e-books with a free copy of Jeffery Deaver's The Empty Chair, a Lincoln Rhymes novel. That's the series that made it to the big screen with Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I read the book in drips and drabs, in line-ups at the bank and waiting for the kids to tire themselves out at McDonald's Funland. I can't remember what the second book was, but I caught the bug bad and have actually preferred reading it electronically since. What cinched that was a birthday gift a few years back of the Star Trek Captain's Table, a monstrosity of a book that numbered into the four digits of pages and weighed about as much as toaster oven. I got through the first of the books collected there-in and then went and bought the electronic version to save my arms and shoulders from giving out (well, that didn't succeed long-term, oh well).

I can wait for a lighter, possibly less-powerful version of the iPad. I'd prefer something Windows-based because, frankly, I don't trust Steve Jobs' to keep his fingers off MY device. His need to censor everything I can do with an iPad bothers me. And I'm not overly fond of Amazon's already-proven track record to fool around with Kindles without the prior consent of the owners. Nope, I want something Windows (Or Linux) based. As long as it uses EPub format, I'm comfortable that I have enough reading material already to last forever.

As defined by my lifespan.

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