There are tons of ebooks out there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebook_reader and I think the iLiad should get more headlines: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILiad
It has access to an online Amazon store. It has free wireless Internet from anywhere. It's owned by the largest online book store on the planet and it integrates into their products. If you need to convert to a format that works for them, they give you a free email address that converts instantly, or for ten cents you can send it right to their book. Physically it's beautiful: the form is one of the best I've come across for any device.
The iLiad looks ugly. It looks clunky and generic and the interface looks just as bad. If you want good press make something that's a joy to use.
When I'm reading an e-book, all I want in front of me is a large screen. However, the Kindle sacrifices screen size to make up for a built-in keyboard. 99% of the time that you are using the device you won't have any need for a keyboard, and the Iliad's 8 inch screen would serve you better at those times than the Kindle's 6 inch screen.
For me, the ideal form factor for an e-book reader would look like one of two things:
1) A larger iPod touch with something close to an 8 inch screen.
2) An EeePC with a swivel screen so you could use it in e-book mode, similar to the OLPC XO.
Right now I'm using an OLPC XO as an e-book reader, and although it doesn't have as nice a form factor as the Iliad or the Sony Reader, I do consider it significantly nicer than the Kindle. Of course, the low price doesn't hurt either.
You can't compare a laptop to a Kindle. You just can't. The electronic paper that it uses is in a league of its own. I can see comparisons to Sony's e-Reader or the iLiad, but if you can deal with a laptop for reading you're nowhere near the intensive reader that would benefit from something like a Kindle.
I haven't used an iLiad before. I've never heard of it. The picture Wikipedia showed makes it look ugly, as I said. However, the Kindle is significantly better than the e-Reader, which is the only other one I've heard to be a legitimately good product.
Unfortunately, it does not compare with the e-Ink displays in terms of low power usage, but it is good enough for long reading sessions without straining your eyes.
How many ebook readers have you actually used?
The ones I've looked into whose design I preferred to the Kindle were the Iliad, the Sony Reader, the Hanlin Reader, and the OLPC XO (in e-book mode).
It's not the same category, but there are also dev kits available from e-Ink that are supposed to be suitable for building a prototype e-book reader.
The iLiad has numerous design mistakes:
* It's very easy to push random buttons while reading, getting off page. There's no easy way to go back; the go back button, with an odd icon, works only for some aspects of the GUI.
* When disabling buttons, then the turn page button is also disabled. Very inconvenient.
* There are useless buttons on the frame. For example, a software update button! And if you happen to accidentally push it--which is easy--, one goes for a 10 or 20 second detour until safely returning to whatever one was reading.
* The battery lasts about 7 hours. Not bad, but for a book, one would want something like two days, or a week.
* The machine itself is slow. Dead slow. One gets bored and loses ideas in the few seconds that it takes to open a new scratch pad to write in some notes. Passing pages is also noticeably slow. Resizing and panning within a page is dog slow.
* Writing is not very nice. The trace has a different origin depending on whether one starts a trace or tries to continue one. Sometimes off by many pixels (10?).
* For what it is, it's VERY expensive: about $700. For that price one gets two Asus EEE, which have better reading abilities and just about as much battery (the 1000 models).
Despite all the above, the iLiad is still quite nice: reading on it is great. I only wish I could yell a few design concepts to their GUI engineers.
Maybe other reader are better, faster, more feature-rich, but it seems to be the ease of use that people are looking for.
"Developers and users wishing to create or run third party applications can request shell access from the manufacturer."
Thanks for the pointer.
Interestingly, I think that if I buy an ebook reader I will read more for leisure as well.
From where I sit, the EVDO on the Kindle is appealing (esp since I hear it has some RSS capabilities). However, the PDF support seems frustrating.
Hopefully the original Kindle will see a drastic price drop (even if only on ebay). That way I can see if I like it without spending so much money. (We must be in a recession if I am scrimping on new tech toys.)
I, for one, can say that I was inspired to download "Stanza" after reading that, and have already finished H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" thanks to it!
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead
It's especially bad on the iPod touch. Reading on something that small is possible, but it's a dread.
On the iPhone you get blurbs. I have the same problem with Classics on the iPhone. It makes reading feel cramped. Stanza is even worse: it has awful margins, and it has no support for making paragraphs feel good. It's functional but unpleasant.
Howo are writers going to earn their income in the future?
Books were first because they are small enough to schlep around the internet back in the days of modems. Few noticed because few read books relative to # that listen to music. And music industry lobbyists are legion.
As long as they try to sell ebooks for $20 or $50 they will fail miserably.
iTunes is about the right spot between price and convenience.
Make it expensive and I'll pirate it.
Make it affordable and put it at my fingertips and I'll pay for it to avoid the hassle of viruses or bad copies wasting my time.