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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


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Gigi Reynard

Until Sony releases a version that reads something other than Sony Connect drm-crippled books I will resist the urge to buy one.

As it turns out, I am not much of a fan of e-ink. First of all I miss the backlighting and my experimenting with the Illiad has been one long exercise in frustration.

The device is stupid: crippled WiFi, limited content, and the touch screen that only touches with the special stylus, Worse, it is SLOW: the screen refresh is maddening. I am reading a mobipocket books and it takes several seconds for the page to "turn" once you toggle the bar. Mobi zips along on my other devices so it's not the reader software.

I'd say this is not a technology that is ready for prime time!


gigi: thanks for your comment, and i certainly understand your feelings about the iliad. i was very excited when i read the iliad specs and thought about the potential of such a device. now that i have one, the excitement is gone. the device looks and feels like a prototype, which would be ok, given the fact that irex does not have sony's design and manufacturing resources for beautiful hardware. the really disappointing part is the software, which made me think about all the missed opportunities. taking the iliad to a completely new level of mobile content handling with a full-scale browser and a web-based architecture behind that would have been that hard, technically, but apparently there is a completely different mindset at work at irex. that leaves the door wide open for some e-book company which actually understands the network effect of the web.

regarding electronic ink: it is a display technology with severe limitations, but i actually like it. it is super slow, but the iliad's display (which is one generation ahead of the sone reader) is really nice. it also is super slow, which in part is a problem of the display itself, but also can be attributed to iliad software problems. i like reading e-ink much better than reading lcds, but the display properties also call for an entirely differently designed interface, and in this area a lot of work still has to be done. i am waiting for some really good designers to take on this challenge and come up with some really useful metaphors which can be applied to e-ink devices; the traditional mousing, clicking, and scrolling approach probably is not the way to go. my guess is a touchscreen is a good thing to have for this kind of display, but now that i have my iphone, i certainly don't think that a pen-only touchscreen (such as the iliad's) is a good idea.

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