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March 13, 2010 / jadettman

Competing Desires

[This is a gadget post.]

For quite some time I’ve wanted an ebook reader. There are a number of reasons for this mostly to do with neophilia and the sheer number of PDFs that I own. Having a portable device that I can read those files on, rather than printing them out and binding them which is what I have been doing, seems more efficient and environmentally friendly to me. Also, eInk/ePaper screens are cool.

The big stumbling blocks to me getting an ebook reader have largely been size and form-factor. I really wanted something with a large screen and two face-to-face screens that closed up like a book. Over the years, I’d pretty much given up on the two screens thing but I still wanted a large screen.

Then Apple came out with the iPod Touch and lots of people on gaming forums started talking about reading PDFs on these. Again, I wanted something like the iPod Touch but the screen was just too small.

Now, there’s the Apple iPad. I’ve been itching to get my hands on one since before they announced it in January. Sure, there are a lot of folks that are deriding the device as an over-sized iPod/iPhone but that is what I want. I want a big touch-screen device with a color screen to read my PDFs on.

Of course, there are other considerations: I want something with decent battery life. I’m concerned about eye-strain using an LCD all the time. $500 is also not pocket change (I could buy those new bookshelves I want with that money!).

Beyond the iPad, there are a few other devices that have me interested, too.

There is the Skiff Reader which has a large eInk screen that looks pretty cool. Sadly, it doesn’t have a release date yet, despite being announced four months ago, and the tech specs on it don’t mention what kind of files it supports. And, now that something like the iPad exists, I don’t really think I want to settle for a mono-task device.

Then there is Microsoft’s as yet semi-mythical Courier device. On the face of things, it seems like Courier is exactly what I’m looking for: it folds up into a journal and has two color touch-screens, pretty much exactly what I described above. The real killer for me is that the Courier folds up into 5″x7″ size which seems like the screens going to be really tiny. If they make this in a larger size, it might overcome my lack of trust in Microsoft enough that I’d give it a try.

So, there we have it. I want an iPad, or a large-format ebook reader, or possibly bookshelves.

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