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Ask Slashdot: Websites Friendly To eReader Browsers?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the avoid-youtube dept.

Handhelds 96

DJCouchyCouch writes "I have a Kobo Touch eReader that comes with a bare-bones web browser. Since the screen is E-Ink based, the browsing experience is pretty poor due to the low refresh rate of the screen. Scrolling is twitchy and often laggy. Are there sites out there that can reformat a website to be more like book reading? I'm not asking for a perfect, tablet-like experience, just something better than what it does now."

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96 comments

I find it irritating that sites aren't universal. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580134)

Though I do understand why videos [youtube.com] can be more troublesome.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580292)

Well... Making a website ain't exactly terribly easy these days.

Three primary desktop environments: windows, os x, linux
Five browsers: internet explorer, firefox, chrome, safari, and opera

Three primary mobile environments: win phone, iOS, Android (along with Blackberry and Symbian)
Four browsers: opera mobile, android browser, safari, internet explorer

So as a web developer, I have a total of 12 different desktop environments and 11 mobile to support... plus e-readers, and various other platforms that pop-up.

But CSS/HTML/JS are standards! What are you talking about?

Sure... they are but they're standards but aren't always implemented identically, or aren't implemented at all (I'm looking at you, IE, you son-of-a-bitch). When you start to get into mobile platforms you begin to lose 'some' features that you've had on the desktop... and bam reinventing the wheel for the 3 visitors you get per month from a Symbian device.

What should happen is device makers and manufacturers should stop selling shitty incomplete features and products. Just because it could browse the web doesn't mean it should because the experience is crap. I as a web-developer aim to support 99% of my traffic, and do, it is beyond a reasonable expectation that I support everything under the sun when no platforms are identical.

On top of that people want, or so the ramblings on internet has lead me to believe, more dynamic, application like websites that are impossible to replicate or implement well with simple text.

In conclusion, try calling the people who made your e-reader, not the people who make websites... and I hope that's a bit of insight as to why websites aren't universal.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (0)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580380)

Two primary desktop environments:
Windows and OSX

Four browsers:
Win: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome
OSX: Safari, Firefox, Chrome

Two primary mobile environments: iOS, Android
Android Browser, iOS browser

8 Total.

What the fuck are you smoking?

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580446)

Well, there was Flash for this before Apple decided to play dirty on mobile. Even with all the problems flash has, they did a pretty good job keeping things universal. Thanks again apple for ruining that.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580520)

Thanks apple for actually doing something DECENT for once. Right, let's just keep wasting CPU cycles, preventing keyboard shortcuts from working, banish users that require e-readers and high-contrast browsers due to disabilities and put the entire internet in the hands of ONE company (Adobe). Why don't you learn to use the standards that have been and are currently developed and refined by multiple industry leading organizations (W3C, etc) and do your fucking job PROPERLY.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580874)

Because users cannot be expected to be running a modern browser (Though this has gotten better), or running a system with many plugins. On the other hand, you can expect any desktop system to have flash. For example, Flash works great for things like YouTube videos on pretty much any desktop, running any OS and any browser I can watch YouTube videos, from a public computer in the library, to my friend's iMac to my own personal Debian box, heck on my parent's 7 year old machine where they insist on using IE it still works. All of this, running in the browser, running fairly transparently.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37603694)

Let me know when I can delete the hidden cookies it sets, access browser keyboard shortcuts without having to click outside the video (try hitting ctrl+tab after clicking inside a youtube video, i DARE you!) or keep using other flash sites when ONE of them decides it no longer enjoys life.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (0)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582368)

Except HTML5 (as it is hyped by various browsers) isn't a standard that has any basis in reality. It's HTML5 plus some mishmash of other recent technologies, none of it consistently implemented. Simple example would be the video codec support but it extends to other things. Notice how every browser site has HTML5 demos and none of the damn things work properly in other allegedly HTML5 compliant browsers.

In addition, assuming tools did improve to the point that they could work around browser differences and reliably produce Flash like content, why do you assume it would be any more efficient than Flash was. Fill a page with a couple of animated "flash" like clips, and 10 open tabs and let's see what happens to your CPU then.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580938)

Except that Flash was a little too universal for it to work well. Before it being known for waisting CPU and not being available on mobile, Flash was known for destroying the interface of your pages on any browser that differed from the standard desktop where they were developped.

It doesn't matter if your screen is too big, or too small, or if you don't have a screen at all. It doesn't matter if you can read well or badly, if your display has colors or not, if you want to use a small window or maximize your browser. With Flash you are going to see the contents exactly the way it was developped or not see at all! Even if you are blind.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

cripkd (709136) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581788)

I've found issues that were particular either to chrome on linux, or to firefox on windows xp or to safari on windows (don't shoot the messenger), whereas the rest of the combinations of browsers and OS's were fine. So I don't he's smoking.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581688)

I as a web-developer aim to support 99% of my traffic

    I love seeing people say crap like that. If you watch your demographics, 99% of your market could be MSIE 6.0 on WinXP. That would be true if your page didn't work on anything else. The 1% would be people coming in, then not able to use your site, and leaving.

    If you put just a little bit of work into compatibility, you'd likely find that your traffic (and sales, assuming you expect an income) would increase.

    I catch all kinds of users coming into my sites. We check them in Windows with Firefox, MSIE, Chrome, and Safari. We spot check with Firefox and Safari on OS X. We do further spot checking with various tablets and phones. We make efforts not to include incompatible functions on our sites. So, no ActiveX controls. No mandatory plugins. No "well, this works in MSIE 6, screw the rest of 'em". No "well this cool plugin works on Firefox".

    I was trying to book airline tickets last night. I was checking prices through a few different places. When it was time to buy, I couldn't get through the damned forms with Firefox. It just wouldn't go. So I switched over to MSIE. I got a little farther, but I got hung up on a warm fuzzy CSS error box. It showed a red button, and said "Error" beside it. No hint to what the error was.. I was left wondering, If they aren't writing for MSIE or Firefox on Windows, who the hell are they targeting? I gave up on them, and bought from another airline, where I could actually buy the tickets.

    So, if you're targeting a specific browser type, you're limiting your potential users and therefore your sales. In my case, that decision to make the site work with some unknown browser, cost them several hundred dollars. I did check, and the flight is only half booked. So they'll most likely be flying with an empty seat. The cost of the flight is the same regardless if there is a warm body in that seat.

    On one of my web sites, I have a huge viewer base, from all around the world. I've seen every browser that I know of, and plenty that I'd never heard of. Beyond the web site itself, we have quite a few users that use RSS. I got an email a while back from someone using a broken RSS reader. It barely works on most sites, and was broken on ours. I took that extra time to make sure it even worked for him. You never know who the end user is. It could be one person who never gets out of the house, or one person who has a huge base of coworkers, friends and family, and will refer all of them to my site in the future.

    Another user was complaining that the mobile version didn't work on his phone. I couldn't find an emulator for it, and he wasn't anywhere near the US (where I am). I worked with him for a while to debug it. I'd make a change, test it against what should work, and then ask him to test. It took about 6 cycles of that to figure out what was wrong. Mobile device traffic from that country spiked up in the following months. I hadn't even considered that I'd have a lot of users in some Eastern European nation would love my content.

  I barely recommend that anyone use my site with their mobile device, but *I* do use the mobile version. I know from my logs that other people do too. It's not just iPhones, iPads, and Androids either. I still have some people using ancient phones that are barely capable of browsing any sites, and they work perfectly with mine.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582540)

If you write standards-compliant code, you're generally safe. Doing UI/widget codes does suck, particularly if you're using flash, but as long as you write something that plays friendly with Trident, Webkit, and Gecko, you're pretty safe. If you want to be nice, have a "mobile" version of your site which puts all the navigation stuff as normal links at the top/bottom of the page, rather than along a sidebar, and if you want to be *really* nice, have server-side php looking at the browser ID sent by the rendering engine to automatically adjust how the site is rendered.

I happen to have a Kobo Touch as well, btw, and it uses Webkit as its rendering engine for the browser. As long as the website you're viewing is standards-compliant, and doesn't have 200-pixel wide flash based menus to navigate, you're pretty much safe. You can also try most of your usual websites with "m" as a prefix (instead of "www"). That seems to be a fairly standard option these days for the "mobile" version of the site, and all of the news websites that I frequent (except /., and that isn't really "news") follow that standard and render just fine on my Kobo.

btw... if you're really a web developper, I have a hard time believing you didn't already know that there's really only 3 rendering engines you need to worry about... Chrome and Safari both use Webkit (as do Konqueror, Midori, Chromium, and most mobile browsers). Firefox and Seamonkey use Gecko (as do a few other browsers). IE and its derivatives (like Slimbrowser and Maxthon) use Trident. Opera is able to switch between the three, in addition to its own internal rendering engine. And all 3 of those rendering engines can pass Acid2, and *mostly* pass Acid3. If the code you're writing doesn't do anything weird/unusual with the CSS formatting and HTML code, and you're not using idiosyncratic JavaScript code, then you really don't even need to test in the different rendering engines, as you have a reasonable guarantee that they'll all work. If, however, you want to be safe, just install Firefox, IE, and Chrome on your test machine, and you've covered all of the bases. If it works in all 3 of those, you have a reasonable guarantee that it will work in every browser, and supporting a "mobile" platform just means changing your page layout to something that'll display nicely and usably on a small screen.

Re:I find it irritating that sites aren't universa (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582964)

I find it odd that you put Symbian and Blackberry after Windows Phone when the market share says otherwise. Symbian has 8x Win Phone's market share and Blackberry 4x. Windows Phone is 5th in terms of market share.

Instapaper! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580204)

Instapaper is great for this type of thing: http://instapaper.com.

Instapaper! (4, Informative)

vandel405 (609163) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580208)

Instapaper is great for this type of thing: http://instapaper.com./ [instapaper.com.]

Re:Instapaper! (1)

bedouin (248624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580314)

Thread closed.

Re:Instapaper! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582212)

Read It Later similarly reformats pages for you. There are a few different Android clients for both RIL and Instapaper, and with browser plug-ins you can easily add any page to your reading lists.

Alternatively if the browser on your eReader supports Javascript bookmarks there are loads of "clean-up" bookmarklets you can try (Readability springs to mind). Switching to the print view works on a lot of pages too.

program it! (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580216)

I just wish I could program the kobo.

-- hendrik

Scrolling? (4, Insightful)

joh (27088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580248)

Does the browser really try to scroll? On e-ink? Madness!

This is not a problem with web pages, it's a problem with this browser. It should paginate web pages and page instead of scroll through them. Problem solved.

Re:Scrolling? (3, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580400)

The browser on the Kindle doesn't scroll, it just jumps one page at a time, at least when you use the page buttons. It may jump in small bits if you move the cursor over the bottom of the page. I honestly haven't used it enough to remember. But it does have a reader mode which reformats the web page to strip out all the unnecessary junk and make it easy to read on the screen. It works just like the reader mode in Safari, which I think was based on Instapaper (as the top comment suggested).

That mode actually works very well, and if you wanted to read some long article on the Kindle I wouldn't mind using it. But between the network connection, the CPU, and the eInk refresh rate the browser is very painful to use. To load any moderately complicated web site to the point you can navigate to find what you're after is an exercise in patience.

Maybe the submitter should consider accessing the mobile versions of websites (where available). That would help.

Re:Scrolling? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580432)

That mode actually works very well, and if you wanted to read some long article on the Kindle I wouldn't mind using it. But between the network connection, the CPU, and the eInk refresh rate the browser is very painful to use. To load any moderately complicated web site to the point you can navigate to find what you're after is an exercise in patience.

It's not exactly smooth, but I regularly shop on a third-party book store from my Kindle, using its web browser.

And yes, it helps immensely to use their mobile version. I also wrote them and requested that they default to it when they see Kindle user agent, and show a separate download link for .mobi just as they do for .epub (so that you don't have to go to the combobox to pick a format) - which they promptly did. But then it's exactly the kind of website one would be likely to surf on Kindle, so I wouldn't expect same attitude from others.

Re:Scrolling? (1)

carleton (97218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583528)

Care to make a plug for them?

Re:Scrolling? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584478)

I don't think it'd help you much, considering that it [litres.ru] is a Russian e-book store.

As an aside - ironically, unlike you guys, we've had non-DRM book stores with wide selection, pricing well below paper books, and a dozen formats for any conceivable reader device - from J2ME phone to Kindle - for several years now. All completely legal and paying royalties to authors with their approval. Reason being, they know that they have to offer a good deal and to make shopping as convenient as possible, because otherwise people will just pirate books, as 99% used to do five years ago.

Re:Scrolling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37585816)

Web browsing isn't too horrible on my 1st gen nook since it has the lcd touchscreen on the bottom for navigation. Rendering seems to be ok too, but I'm not sure what browser it uses. It runs some version of Android, so it might be the stock browser for that.

informative trooltroll (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580258)

to place a paper llok at the of the founders of lizard - In other same worthlees much organisation, overly morbid and Things the right

Text browser (2)

grantek (979387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580276)

I often read the internet using Lynx through a slow SSH connection, fits the e-ink display model well (it'd use the display better for walls of text), but many sites won't work, javascript won't work, frames won't work (other text browsers like Links apparently do a better job there). Even slashdot doesn't work well with Lynx any more (login doesn't work on my system so you can't use preferences to fix it), which sucks because it reminds you how difficult it is for physically disabled people to get around things we take for granted.

Re:Text browser (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580388)

Agree, though I was going to suggest links2 which does both text and text + images, I often use it when I am on my workbench machine and I usually work from the CLI

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581070)

I still use good old Netscape 3 on some sites, including Slashdot. No styles, no javascript, no images. I couldn't read /. at all without it, the default look makes my aging eyes bleed and it's so slow you have to drive stakes to see if it's moving. With NS3 it's essentially plain text, and very fast.

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582544)

You know, you can still force Slashdot into retard mode. You permit scripts from slashdot and fsdn, deny google, and use preferences to turn off all the horrible options. Then if you must you can use a user script to disable the sidebar -- I did this one my EEE701, which has a teensy tiny screen and the sidebar makes slashdot unreadable.

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583120)

Yeah, but that still doesn't get past Mozilla's gawdawful slow rendering engine. NS3 renders at 10-20x the speed, no shit. Having no patience with the World Wide Wait as it is, I prefer having it sped up to somewhere near 1998 levels whenever possible. I swear, 1998 and dialup (rendered on a 486 to boot) was faster than today's bloated pages on broadband!

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583158)

Well, I have no trouble believing that. Before it could do alpha effects, and sub-pixel font rendering, I imagine the engine had a lot less to think about. On the other hand, I prefer to use a single browser. It *is* pretty awful scrolling Firefox on something without a lot of acceleration.

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583272)

Yeah, and my internet box is still a lowly P3-550 with a mere 1GB RAM. It's outlived all the P4s and keeps on chuggin' along. You'd think that would suffice to do what amounts to rearranging text on the screen via a simple interpreted script, but apparently not. The whole Moz family has dreadful programming Zen. :( Good example of why coders should be forced to work on the minimum hardware, not the very best -- make 'em realize what they're doing to anyone who is behind the bleeding edge.

Whatever major "upgrade" was done to JS over the past year or so has made things dramatically worse; now it's near-sure to stall if it has to do anything complex. Used to at least run, if not well.

Anyway, I think the original question has merit -- wouldn't it be nice to be able to run cranky sites through a junk-stripping proxy, rather than have to fuck with or change our browsers to make the results halfway readable??!

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583342)

You can do that, though, with squid. The most common non-caching use of squid that I'm familiar with is to run adzapper (although you can cache, too) to remove unwanted content from webpages. I've done it, but AdBlock Plus is so good that I just use that. It does the same thing, unlike Notscripts on Chrome. That's unfair; Notscripts does manage to never load certain elements, but it still has to rewrite pages after they are first interpreted rather than before, which makes it fairly half-assed in that regard.

I just replaced the power supply in a P4... to keep it chugging along. I'm going to bundle it with a 19" LCD, sell it under a hundred bucks, and make maybe twenty. Not because I can make a living doing that (although it didn't cost me any time I would have used to make money) but because I hate to see a decent computer go to the dump. Actually, I hope to trade it for something, which usually provides a better return.

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583962)

Would I have to run my own proxy server with this Squid thing? Use small words, my network-fu is lacking, or possibly negative. :(

I nurse "old" systems along too, partly for thrift, but largely because yeah, I hate to see a functional box go to the dump, it's a waste. Everything I have here is salvage, other than the odd part bought when I couldn't scrounge it. Unfortunately the bad-capacitors era took out a lot of otherwise perfectly-functional P4s (and my soldering-fu ain't that great either). Conversely most Slot1 era systems are stable as bedrock. Those, and Socket7, are what I see the most of still alive and kicking even when nearly old enough to vote.

I recently replaced the PSU in this old P3... turns out TOPower still makes an AT unit that's every bit as good as the one I bought from 'em 15 years before (killed by a lightning strike -- ate the surge unit, the UPS, and the PSU), and reasonably priced!!

I also support a bunch of sight-impaired folks, and every one of 'em has an old but *reliable* box -- to them, reliable and stable and not having to learn new when they can barely see the old is critical, and even if they can afford new, the learning curve is like adding a handicap to what they already have. Another reason to appreciate repairing rather than replacing!

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584726)

Short answer no, medium answer yes but it is not a separate machine, slightly longer answer is that a server is a program, not a computer, and a computer that has a server running on it which is willing to serve someone's requests is also called a server, because nerds are bad at names.

I have a Shuttle P3 with bad caps. I think I may actually fix it, but I've put it off quite long already.

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585062)

Those are small enough words, but my brain still hurts. :)

I've held onto a couple really nice boards with bad caps too, having a fantasy that someday I'll fix 'em, or try to anyway. Or at least get some soldering practice. Not terribly motivated so long as I've got a stack of good boards of similar qualities, but the day may come when you can't find a board that works with your legacy whatever that you can't live without... so I'm reluctant to throw 'em out.

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37588872)

well basically, you install the server program (squid with adzapper) on your local machine, and then your machine becomes an ad-blocking proxy server. then you just set your proxy to your machine (referring to it as "localhost") and bingo, you are now using your own proxy. An extension like torbutton will let you trivially toggle use of the proxy.

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37589060)

Ah, thanks, saved for reference. My brain is now working again, the instructions being simple enough to untangle its two left f/e/e/t/ halves. :)

Re:Text browser (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37592346)

you might be able to get a free "virtual appliance" that will do it in a virtual machine or some such, but that has additional overhead and is not really suitable for a P3 :)

Re:Text browser (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 2 years ago | (#37594670)

Spare machines aren't a problem, I have plenty of carcasses that can be made to earn their keep :) Tho scrounging 'em AGP cards, that's been unexpectedly thin pickings!

Google Reader (2)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580298)

The best way to read things on an e-ink device is to subscribe to the RSS feeds you want and use Google reader. Hopefully the feeds provide the same content as actually visiting the site and not just a headline.

Re:Google Reader (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580320)

That's what I'm currently doing. Unfortunately, for long articles, scrolling is still an annoying problem.

Re:Google Reader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580396)

That's what I'm currently doing. Unfortunately, for long articles, scrolling is still an annoying problem.

Question: for long articles, what experience would you prefer? If it's a "turn a page", why a "scroll a page" doesn't do?

Just use Calibre (1)

1gig (102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580328)

Just have Calibre import the website then put the resulting E-Pub on your device of choice. It's a great way to read news, blogs and other stuff on the go.

Re:Just use Calibre (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580440)

I would imagine the point is to use Whispernet on the go. If you have a PC handy to run Calibre, why would you bother reading it from Kindle in the first place?

Re:Just use Calibre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37616034)

He is using a Kobo Touch eReader, not a Kindle, so he won't have Whispernet. And he might find it more comfortable to sit on the couch with his eReader instead of using a laptop or worse sitting at a desktop. Also he could do this in advance for something to read when out.

Re:Just use Calibre (1)

Beetle B. (516615) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581110)

I second this. Calibre has been great to me. I used to read all my news sitting at the computer. Now I have it download the news daily and package them as an epub, stripping away a lot of the pointless formatting on those sites. I can now read away from the computer.

However, if you need something "on the go" where you don't have access to your PC, then I can't help...

Paged websites (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580356)

I guess this is the time when those websites that serve content in 20 pages actually come handy.

Why didn't you just get an iPad? (-1, Offtopic)

jmcbain (1233044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580386)

Since the screen is E-Ink based, the browsing experience is pretty poor due to the low refresh rate of the screen. Scrolling is twitchy and often laggy.

So why didn't you just get an iPad? I use my iPad 2 for web browsing, reading, playing games, checking stocks, watching music videos, etc. etc. etc.

I considered a Kindle for reading research papers, but I also found it to be very poor with a very slow page turn and slow zooming in and out. It was like doing telnet on a 28.8 kbaud modem.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580416)

Well, the most well supported e-readers start at around $100, LCD ones in the $200-$250 range, whereas the ipad starts at like $500. If it's primarily for just reading books with only occasional web browsing, then the price difference would buy an awful lot of ebooks...

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

DJCouchyCouch (622482) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580442)

The Kobo isn't my only mobile internet reading device, but I do have it with me often enough to wonder if there's a better way to browse.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580464)

I'm not the guy, but I'll answer on my behalf: because eInk is significantly better when you actually have to just read a lot, without interacting much with the text. It's perfect for fiction and other entertainment reading, and meh for technical books and such - but when 90% of what you read is for entertainment, it's exactly the right device for that purpose. It really is easier on the eyes.

iPad specifically is also much less convenient because it's more than twice as heavy (e.g. Kindle 3 is 250 g, iPad 2 is 600 g) - enough so that it's inconvenient to hold it for long in one hand, which is a must for convenient reading. Even Nook Color, at 450 g, is still too heavy for that.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (3, Informative)

unkiereamus (1061340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580676)

I'm not the guy, but I'll answer on my behalf: because eInk is significantly better when you actually have to just read a lot, without interacting much with the text. It's perfect for fiction and other entertainment reading, and meh for technical books and such - but when 90% of what you read is for entertainment, it's exactly the right device for that purpose. It really is easier on the eyes.

While I agree with you that e-ink is easier on the eyes, there's a key point that I think you missed. Lighting. I might be an unusual use case, but I frequently read in places where I either don't have light available, or for various reasons it's desirable not to turn lights on. For that reason, my ebook reader of choice is an ipod touch (which replaced a Palm T|X), in white on black it's not terribly hard on the eyes, and the back light from the TFT is very nice.

eInk is, of course, inherently incompatible with back lighting, and as far as I know (Though I could very well be wrong about this), the only major manufacturer to make a eInk device with a front light was Sony, and the fact that they only did it on one (now discontinued) model tells me that it probably didn't work that well, even though I never actually tried it myself.

Until a manufacturer comes up with a decent built in lighting scheme for a eInk device, I'm sticking with TFTs.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580726)

eInk is, of course, inherently incompatible with back lighting, and as far as I know (Though I could very well be wrong about this)

It's true, pretty much by definition - a reflective screen has to reflect light, therefore it cannot be transparent. Well, maybe with some polarization tricks - but for eInk at least, the particles, both black and white, are solid matter (titanium oxide for white and colored plastic for black).

only major manufacturer to make a eInk device with a front light was Sony

I've seen that in a store, and it's very meh. It's not really a front light - rather, they've put LEDs around and above the screen. It gave very uneven lighting with large blotches of light and dark stripes in between.

Until a manufacturer comes up with a decent built in lighting scheme for a eInk device, I'm sticking with TFTs.

Amazon sells a cover [amazon.com] with integrated LED light for Kindle 3. Unlike alternatives, it uses Kindle's own battery to power itself (via the metal hooks that connect the cover to the device), and its angle is practically perfect - it gives enough light to comfortably read the screen even at night with no other light sources (which I often do), distributes it more or less evenly without bright spots, and does not shine in your eyes. It's quite expensive ($50), but well worth it.

I very much dislike reading from TFT screens at night because of backlight - the "black" on the screen lights up too much. On the other hand, OLED screens with black background and amber text are awesome, because black on them really is pitch black.
 

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

Blimbo (528076) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581630)

I read mostly at day (inside or outside). E-ink rules for that. However i picked up a cool case for my Kobo with a nice attached light. It is great! Once you figure the angle to light the screen with no reflection, I can read for hours. Plus it protects the device.

If I was one read in the dark most of the time, then perhaps i would consider a TFT/LCD device. Also just to read stuff on the iPad seems excessively costly ..

I will wait and see. As suggested previously, its just a mater of convergence. Be nice to have it all.

Cum se cum sa

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582556)

eInk is, of course, inherently incompatible with back lighting, and as far as I know (Though I could very well be wrong about this), the only major manufacturer to make a eInk device with a front light was Sony, and the fact that they only did it on one (now discontinued) model tells me that it probably didn't work that well, even though I never actually tried it myself.

The problem is that the films that make side lighting work well get thicker when the screen gets larger. You could side-light a tiny e-Ink screen, but who makes those any more?

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (4, Interesting)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580626)

You need to move, but your only vehicle is a small, pre-owned compact? Why didn't you just by a moving truck? It can do everything you want and more! Sure it costs several times as much, is nowhere near as fuel efficient, and isn't as pleasant to use for your daily commute, but who cares!?

E-readers and tablets are completely different devices, similar only in approximate shape and the fact that they both have a screen. E-readers are low cost, energy efficient, light weight, and have a screen designed to be read in any conditions without causing eye strain. Tablets cost 5x as much, burn through their battery 50x as fast, weigh 4x as much, and have a backlit screen that hurts your eyes if you stare at them to long. Tablets are great for a lot of things. Reading isn't one of them. And if you don't care about those other things, you ought to go with the superior device for your particular use case, even if that means occasionally wanting to check a web page on the road and being caught with an inferior tool for the job.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582266)

The correct answer of course is to hire a van, not ask why your small compact cannot carry a sofa. Eink will never be suitable for browsing, so it's useless for most people except to read text-only books. If that is all you want to do great.

Re:Why didn't you just get an iPad? (1)

astar (203020) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584388)

Kindle Fire was announce two days ago. Under $200, shipping November 15th. Pre-order now. May still be a long wait. But it is a tablet and color. The back story on the price is that is seems to be the razor, rather than the razor blade. And there are estimates of 5 million being sold quickly. So it is not likely to die on the vine right away as other low priced tabled have done. This note responds to the parent consideration of price.

Re:Why I don't just get an iPad? (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580664)

I like to read in bright sunlight on my porch. The kobo is perfect for this because of the epaper screen.

bit34 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580566)

has significantlY bottoms butt. Wipe subscribers. Please smells worse than a JOIN THE GNAA!! bunch of gay negros users', BigAzz, mOronic, dilettante BSD culminated in long term survival too many rules and to avoid so as to be forgotten in a

Dear Slasdot-- (0)

Rufus Firefly (2379458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580612)

I have this box of nails, but all I have is a philip's head screwdriver ... what can I do???

Re:Dear Slasdot-- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580760)

go outside
get a rock suitable for hitting nails
use rock to hit nails

Re:Dear Slasdot-- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581452)

Dear Slashdot, can we have Taco back?

Re:Dear Slasdot-- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581582)

Keep shoving nails into your urethra until it stops tickling.

We should not have to do this. (1)

reasterling (1942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580658)

Having written web sites I am irritated by these small screen browsers that "interpret" what the site should look like. I prefer to load a style sheet for narrow screens that make the site usable for smaller screens and still gives me some control over how the site looks. For example my churches web site [fbcdonie.org] (a work in progress) that tries to collapse gracefully for the small screen device.

A new css M assedia type? (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580818)

Maybe a new css media type should be created to address eReaders. Perhaps a low resolution or black and white type.

Re:A new css M assedia type? (2)

rjnagle (122374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37580934)

in css 3 media queries will be able to handle that. (that's also something which should be supported in epub3).

Re:A new css M assedia type? (0)

Blimbo (528076) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581532)

Hmm, this kind of reminds me of the first gen Cell Phone browsers, when you had to access WAP sites to get content. (I supported those buggers for years) Eventually smart sites would just redirect based on the browser. Then the "mobile browsers" got better. Seemed OK for a while.

I think it's a similar threshold to cross, once the hardware and content converge. So around that time, the content providers will have no choice but to comply, or vice versa. Not to mention the certain increase in mobile bandwidth and capabilities. Not everyone connects to any bandwidth worth mentioning today.

Try viewing web sites with a stock browser (of your choice, any OS) on a computer unless you add every darn proprietary thing, just not feasible or workable.
E-Ink, (I like it) great for text, especially on the new ones. Hey, these are readers, not really "web devices".... yet.

Now every darn web site (not an HTML comment, ahem) requires so many add-ons, it’s stupid; but your right in a certain way, we now have expectations that mobile browsing on any device should have the same experience as your computer per se, or whatever your expectations are.

Most e-Readers are just readers providing simple reading content, that's all; however they are evolving fast and the content providers will follow the flow. The current web access is there only to obtain content (just like ring tones, etc) IMHO. No one wants simple B/W web sites (wake up) :) E-ink is very cool and easy on the eye(s) for text.

If you want to browse the web on a device in your hand in color, with bells and whistles; meaning you want it all, then give it some time. Much more interesting to me is to see how this will develop in terms of what we get/want. Really this is the big question, which I am certain will soon to be analyzed here and elsewhere soon.

Re:A new css M assedia type? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37582586)

There's already a print type, they should have an option to render it. Possibly it would be easily done with a user script. Then you just need a rule to force all links to be drawn with underlines even if they turn it off in the print sheet.

Dear slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37580940)

I am browing the web with a laser printer. I find scrolling to be a bit laggy, can someone tell me where I can still buy tractor-feed printer paper?

you get what you pay for. (1)

pbjones (315127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581296)

You bought an eReader that browses, not a real browser, You can't expect too much for the price that you paid. This issue stopped me from buying an eReader as I want to browse more than read.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581708)

Why do people these days think every electronic device with a screen needs to also be connected to the internet and be a web browser!? I have an ebook reader, but see no use for it to have an internet connection. I have computers for that. Real desktop and laptops, no tablets, no cell phone, no netbooks, no "cloud computing"! The internet is great, but I don't need to be connected to it 24/7/365. Nor am I so insecure that I need gto be talking/texting with friends all waking hours of the day.

Your ebook reader is designed to read ebooks. Be happy if it does that function well, and use a real computer to browse the web!

problem with this browser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37581766)

I think this is not a problem with the web page, it's a problem with this browser

Get a better ereader (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581858)

Seriously.

The Kobo just suck ass. They are all nice and pretty in the store demos, but the don't hold a candle towards a Kindle or Nook (the e-ink ones). And I'm talking e-ink, not the Fire or Nook Color or a regular tablet.

Kobos are the Ladas of the car world.

Re:Get a better ereader (1)

xenoc_1 (140817) | more than 2 years ago | (#37581952)

Kobos are more open. Kindle is locked into Amazon's AZW format for DRM'd (read: general non-geek public) legal book purchases.

Kobo uses the Adobe DRM/EPUB ecosphere. My Kobo WiFi ($79 at Borders 6 months ago during their store closings) has books on it bought from Borders (back when Borders via Kobo was a separate instance of kobo from kobobooks.com kobo), Kobo, Google Books via Adobe Digital Editions sideloading, and Powell's books (via Google Books via ADE sideloading).

My wife's Nook Color has all the Kobo, Borders, Google, and Powell books I bought on it as well. I can't load B&N Nook-format books onto my Kobo, because they put their own spin on Adobe DRM/EPUB on the ebooks they sell. But they support it on their hardware, so I can put my books from *anybody except Amazon* onto the Nook.

Nook and Kobo both are registered to Adobe Digital Editions software with my Adobe ID, while the Nook for B&N-native format and automagic purchases is registered to her B&N ID. Kobo is registered to my Kobo ID for its automagic purchases.

Meanwhile we have 2 dead Kindles (K2-3G-GSM version, and K3-3G). With no way to read those books on the Kobo or Nook. So it's the Android phones or the PC apps, neither of which are good for serious undistracted reading sessions. One of them (hers) out of warranty. So do we buy a new Kindle, or do we say screw you, Amazon, and from now on only buy ebooks that can be read on a broad range of ereader competitors? I'm leaning to the latter, with the warranty repair on my Kindle and deprecating Kindle reading to the phones/PCs for her old library.

My 2nd-Gen Kobo WiFi has a whiter screen than the Kindle 2, almost as bright as the E-Ink Pearl on the Kindle 3. Page turns are faster than the Kindle 2, not quite as fast as the Kindle 3. No hands-on with the Kindle 4 yet, but I have tried the Kobo Touch (out months before Kindle 4 Touch) and it was snappy compared to either Kindle we have.

I'd suggest that the Kobos are the (original) VW Beetles of the world, not the Lada. Near-universally usable, dirt cheap. With added benefit that the profits go to a company in the free country of Canada rather than to the USA.

Re:Get a better ereader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37588672)

It's the first time I see a fanboy commenting on slashdot. Where is the world going?

Apart from the fact that Amazon just release a copy of the FIRST Kobo reader and is calling it the Kindle "4", and apart from the fact that the Nook Touch and Kobo Touch are almost a year old and Amazon JUST launched their touch version, and apart from the fact that Amazon's system is completely closed, and apart from the fact that international content is abysmal, and apart from the fact that Nooks are not offered outside the US (yes, there are people outside the US), and apart from the fact that they all use the same screen technology, and apart from the fact that the Nook and Kobo have faster processors than the Kindles (might be less true with the recent announcements), and apart from the fact that most surveys claim the Kindle's ergonomics are worse than the Kobo's (thanks quilted backs) and Nook, I see your point. A Kindle is clearly better.

Really...

people outside the US? --- no way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37598038)

There are people outside the US? I did not know this. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

lowest common denominator is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37582584)

answer to your problem: get a properly web-enabled device, but do not ask all those content distributors to adapt to you... it's financially not viable!
hey, I just realised my paper books dont allow me to browse the internet either, do I complain about that? No I fucking dont, but just use my labtop...

bought a petrol car, doesnt run on diesel? well tough. we do not adjust the engine, neither the fuel type.
See, same thing!
Don't get me wrong, I am strongly in support of a certain level of standardisation on both sides, but let's not use the lowest common denominator or add more work to satisfy it with a work around.
too many websites are still build for IE6 for instance and it is a fucking nightmare for the content providers involved...
I think market econonomy should apply in this case, rather than the expectation to support everyone on every device. it is not that you couldnt get hold of a proper device, right?
don't aks us content providers, go back to the guys you bought the hardware from....

Better web on most eReaders - not too promising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583316)

The overall answer to the eReader web browsing question isn't a promising one.

There are dozens of different eReaders out there on the market and only a handful have any real marketshare. Most web designers don't have any reason to take eReaders into consideration and most eReader manufacturers marginally care about web design only because ebook formats like EPUB use the same HTML/XML based technology. That said, there's no incentive for web designers to consider the User Experience in an eReader. Between computers and smartphones, there's also little incentive for eReader manufacturers to bloat their reader software to make them more web friendly. And last but not least, If the technology trends serve as any kind of indication, Tablets will probably usurp the eReader market, causing most eReaders to go the way of the portable CD player.

dumb question (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37590626)

you're using the wrong tool for the job, obviously. that's like asking why the freeway can't have wider lanes for your tractor.
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