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Best PDA To Read e-Texts On?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the was-it-gutenberg-for-you-too? dept.

Portables 390

GabrielStrange writes "I've been thinking for a while now that I'd like to own some sort of portable device on which I could read e-Texts. This device should be able to read both simple text files (i.e. Project Gutenberg e-Texts) and more complex formats, like Plucker, Acrobat or Microsoft Reader. It should have a fairly high-res display with a backlight that would be easy on the eyes... but doesn't particularly need to be a color display. I'd like it to work with at least one (if not both) of the machines on my desktop, which run Linux 2.6 and MacOS X Panther... And to use a USB port. And I'd like it to have a built in, rechargeable battery, because I already have enough devices to worry about batteries for. And, of course, I don't want to pay very much for it. Anyone got any recommendations for such a device? It's proving to be almost impossible to even obtain an actual list of devices that have these features."

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Wanna cyber? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069043)

I've got my robe and wizard hat.

No such thing? (2, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069046)

If you drop the battery requirements, you can probably find a few PDAs that will fit the bill.

Re:No such thing? (4, Interesting)

Trejkaz (615352) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069119)

Even _with_ the battery requirements, the GameBoy Advance SP can be set up to read eBooks. The only problem is the screen is a little smaller than some people may like. Nevertheless...

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069047)

in soviet cslib alan fnords you!

teh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069051)


iBook (4, Insightful)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069053)

You can probably pick up a used iBook for under $500. I can't imagine wanting to read large volumes of text on any PDA.

Re:iBook (4, Interesting)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069100)

You have a very crippled imagination. I've read nearly 100 books on PDAs, first my handspring visor and later my ipaq 3150 (monochrome). These include some fairly long books like Cryptonomicon and The Count of Monte Cristo. I've never found it particularly straining or anything. In fact, I find it preferable to paper books these days.

it doesn't take much... (5, Interesting)

schwaang (667808) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069203)

Indeed, I dug my gf's old PalmV up from its grave a couple months ago. Have been happily reading e-books and NY Times using Plucker (& JPluckX) since.

I don't prefer it to a book but do like it better than my desktop's 17" LCD for lengthly reading. Having it in hand makes the experience more book-like. (Every try taking a 17" monitor to bed? Don't answer that.)

Re:iBook (1)

Myuu (529245) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069121)

This isnt that far off topic. I agree with the parent, I have a zaurus and an ibook and i cant imagine having to read ebooks on my zaurus.

the problem is, is there isnt enough screen space to accomidate a normal ebook. also scrolling gets really annoying if you have to scroll every minute or so like did.

find a small laptop

Re:iBook (3, Interesting)

JesseL (107722) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069189)

I always liked the limited amount of text per page on my ebooks. If I get too much text on the screen it just makes it easier to lose my place when I get interupted. Next page and previous page buttons make scrolling pages much less of a chore than flipping paper sheets.

Re:iBook (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069196)

I use a Sony Clie SJ-20 model for ebooks. I find it much more comfortable than laptops or even real books. The big advantages are:
  • Hi resolution for sharp text
  • Pure white backlight
  • Easy on the eyes (I've got eyestrain)
  • Scroll wheel to scroll efforlessly (no need to hold it in an unnatural fashion

The biggest disadvantage is the loss of formatting. It's not a big deal for fiction, but technical manuals (especially with diagrams) are a no-go.

Re:iBook (1)

agent61 (769270) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069169)

The best thing to get would be a Sony Clie. I use it to read files. There is an acrobat reader- and you can load everything on a memstick. The best part other than the cost (Buy it Here. It only has 16 Megs of ram- but you can buy a memstick- or if you dcide you are jsut going to read txt files you should be fine. Mobipocket [] is a great reading software for teh Clie and other hand helds.

Weed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069054)

I'll be the *first* to say it:
Just buy a book, asshole! No PDA can compare with the feeling of turning a page and never running out of batteries.

How about (1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069055)

you read a book, throw your PDA away, and contact the nearest Christian church about your homosexuality problem.

Either that or shave your balls with a MAPP torch.

Re:How about (1)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069154)

Dear SexualAsspussy,

How do you make chinky sigs?

New Zaurus (1)

Rodrin (729362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069057)

Try the new zaurus posted here on slashdot. Now thats got a biig screen.

None (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069059)

PDAs are good for phone numbers and shopping lists only.

Re:None (1)

jeff67 (318942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069239)

Your ignorance is showing. I won't even bother to give examples.

look down a few posts (3, Informative)

frankmu (68782) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069061)

zaurus [] is what you are looking for.

What you want doesn't exist (-1, Troll)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069062)

You want the equivalent of a car that runs 1,000 miles per gallon, doesn't need to change oil, never gets a flat tire, is able to avoid all collisions, doesn't scratch, seats a Mormon or Catholic family of 16 easily, and costs less than a Big Mac.

Sorry, bud. It ain't gonna happen.

But if you are interested in a lower tech version of what you want, they sell lightweight versions of ebooks in a more permanent format than digital bits down at Barnes & Noble. They are called paperbacks.

Re:What you want doesn't exist (1)

ZeldorBlat (107799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069145)

It might exist but it isn't necessarily cheap. Tablet PC's can do all of this, and it can replace a laptop. Since it is a full-fledged PC, you can run anything you could on any other computer. On top of all that, it's thin, light, about the footprint of a pad of paper, and has a rechargeable battery.

Only downside is you pretty much have to run Win XP Tablet Edition, unless there's some port of Linux that I don't know about...

Try to pick up a web pad type device (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069064)

I think national semiconductor made some of them along with other companies. You should be able to pick one up second hand off ebay, or from liquidation companies. Most of the devices I saw ran windows CE, but they could probably run Linux with some hacking.

It was mentioned just a few articles back :) (4, Informative)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069065)

Check out the PDA reviewed earlier today. It's a Linux PDA, and has a 640x480 screen. If you turn on subpixel antialiasing and have a view at that resolution, you couldn't want anything else.

Plus you'll have a lot more control over font sizes, orientation, etc with Linux. Even simply using a web browser would make for excellent reading at that resolution, and you could whip up some scripts to format whatever texts you like for HTML in no time at all.

(Posted via proxy -- I wish Slashdot would unban my home IP subnet. When will Slashdot be done beta testing their IP subnet-based karma system? Not all of us work at VA and have our own subnet.)

Toshiba e800/e805 (5, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069071)

I use a Toshiba e805 (same as the e800 but with some image software thrown in). It has 128MB of built in memory and both a SDIO and CF expansion slot (along with built in 802.11b) so you can load it up on storage or (as I did) add bluetooth to access the web via a cell phone. Its got a very nice 480x640 screen that is perfect for reading text on (its larger then most PDAs) with a 2MB ATI graphics accelerator. Granted you need to install some third party software to get the default mode to be anything other then 200x320, but once setup right its very slick. If you poke around you can also find 480x640 skins for many apps such as PocketPlayer, MS Media Player, PocketDV and others.

Tungsten T3! (5, Interesting)

jameslore (219771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069073)

While I'm sure I'll be mocked (since Palm OS isn't Linux), my T3 is great for ebooks.

+ Palm Reader is all good, and plenty of other choices.
+ Large library available (
+ Small device, great resolution (320 x 480, potrait or landscape).
+ Lots of other software :-)

- Anti-aliasing is mediocre at best. Resoltion does make up for it somewhat...
- T3 battery life is very mediocre. Perhaps a Clie instead, if this is a concern.
- Not cheap.

Cheers - James

Re:Tungsten T3! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069096)


Every last one of you has Microsoft Word. There is no reason for all of these misspellings.

Re:Tungsten T3! (2, Informative)

Gilk180 (513755) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069191)

Tungsten C!!!

much brighter
better resolution
better battery life
built in wifi
the list goes on.

Try 2 of the 3 (3, Insightful)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069076)

Ha... nice try, but no such device exists. You can only have 2 of the 3 items... Take your pick of:
1) Good resolution
2) internal battery
3) low price

Re:Try 2 of the 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069143)

Except if you're talking about a paper book. Number 2 isn't applicable because books run on ambient light and don't need batteries.

Re:Try 2 of the 3 (1)

Malawar (674186) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069297)

Got a nice Sony Clie PEG-T615C for about $100 used. Cheap. Highres. Long battery life. pwn3d.

Just mentioned on /. today... (3, Informative)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069078)

The Zaurus series is pretty much a geek's wet dream. Being open source, you can pretty much get any readers you would like, they use rechargable Li-Ion batteries, USB, and you can even connect them via TCP/IP over the USB port...meaning essentially if the OS works with USB you shouldn't have much in the way of trouble.

I read Red Badge of Courage and a couple others on my SL-5500 during downtime at work, and it was fine for me--and my vision is pretty far from 20/20 (though it is fine with glasses). The 5500s can be gotten pretty cheap these days, though I imagine the new 6000 series with the 640x480 screen would be wonderful....*drools*.

Just my 0.02$

Wish List (1)

staynz79au (740804) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069081)

Gee, you don't want much do you? Minimise your standards and you'll find something to fit them.

aging sony clie (1)

sd3 (756787) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069083)

I use a Sony Clie PEG-N760C (hope I'm remembering that right). It was state-of-the art a couple of years ago and back then it cost me about $250. I've read e-texts on it using small antialiased fonts and it looks pretty good.

Bonus: built-in MP3 player. I know that's nothing special today but back then it was fairly unusual for PalmOS devices.

Re:aging sony clie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069163)

Second vote for the Sony line. I've a Clie SJ33 and a 128Mb memory stick..

The backlight & AA make text pretty readable. Has USB and a rechargable battery as well..

W/ the memory stick and a 6-1 media reader, I really don't care too much about the software that comes w/ it.. mount, and cp work just fine for me. :)

Ug. (1, Redundant)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069085)

I just can't relax or get into eTexts. Give me the printed word on paper, please.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069238)


#9069054 []

(Use the Preview Button! Check those URLs!)

What about the Sharp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069088)

What about the Sharp PDA [] (Zaurus ZL-6000) that was just reviewed? It supposed to be open source (access to lots of formats) and have a decent screen.

Why not a PDA? (5, Informative)

rgarcia (319304) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069091)

I've used my Tungsten for the last 12 books I've read. With an SD card, you can fit all you like and the screen legibility is great, although it may be that I'm just used to it. I know some people have issues with it.
You may not think color is important, but the change I made from b&w to color (Palm IIIxe to TT) improved legibility incredibly. The increased resolution was also a great factor.

Re:Why not a PDA? (1)

dwhitman (105201) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069205)

Color matters a lot for reading legibility, even with black and white text, because many/most high end doc readers do subpixel antialiasing on color displays these days.

I use both PalmReader Pro and TealDoc on my Tungsten T3. Both do subpixel antialiasing, and the text is noticably nicer on the eyes when you turn this option on. The big 480x320 screen on the T3 is very nice for reading.

Re:Why not a PDA? (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069263)

I would like to second the Tungsten E [] PDA as I have used it on 2 hour bus trips reading Milton, Shelley, and Heinlein with no complaints. It has as nice a screen as the sony, but seems to get better battery life than my Sonyholic friend's PDA, who has everything Vaio, clie, etc. He uses his to play games though, so I can't comment on that aspect as I've only played one game of german hangman on it, heh.

Older Sony Clie models + Weasel Reader (5, Informative)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069092)

I would strongly suggest finding an older used Sony Clie. I'm using a Clie S300 model. It's B&W with a 160x160 screen. Admittedly, this is low res by current PDA standards, but the text is still very readable.

The best aspect of this model is that the contrast on the screen is superb and excellent for reading. I previously used a Palm Vx for the same tasks, but comparing the screens is like comparing night and day. Even with the backlight on, the Clie's battery (internal LiIon) lasts for several hours.

As for reading software... I'm a little biased. I'm the author of Weasel Reader. It runs on Palm OS and is under the GPL. I wrote it specifically for reading Project Gutenberg texts, but you can read any text file. See for more info.

Re:Older Sony Clie models + Weasel Reader (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069312)

If you're suggesting a used Clie, at least try to find one with a 320x320 screen. Maybe the S300's 160x160 screen was better than my Palm's but the 320 screen is just so much easier on the eyes. I've got a PocketPC now with a 320x240 screen and I'm never going back to the 160x160.

My little Zaurus (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069098)

My lovely SL-5600 is up to the job.

It only costs $289 from Amazon (if you live in the US), and you can easily download a decent plucker reader for it.

Oh, and it has a 400MHz xScale processor, and runs Linux. And Java.

I love my Tungsten T|3 (4, Informative)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069104)

The primary function of my T|3 is book reading. In has a large (well, until I read that Zaurus review) 480x320 screen that's easy on the eyes and yet it slides shut to something that really does fit in your pocket. It syncs fine with MacOS X.

I actually use Palm Reader because the selection of books available in that format is large, even though it's proprietary. (It's about day's work with debuffer [] to crack the encryption BTW, though it's more than my life's worth to actually say whether or not I've done it.)

Palm Reader has a great built in reference mode. I have the entire unabridged Webster on it - fantastic!

I've configured the side button (usually to activate the voice recorder) to launch the reader so if I'm waiting in line at Safeway it's about 1 second to go from boredom to reading a good book.

On the down side - you can read for a few hours, but don't expect to read all night without a recharge.

handspring visor edge (2, Informative)

CAVE^MAN (23423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069105)

works well with linux(mac os shouldn't be a problem)
lots of reader software available(not sure about microsoft reader for a palm)
it's got a usb cradle for syncing/charging
fairly long battery life(no week long hikes in the mountains tho)
the screen is easy on the eyes, at least for me, and this tends for by subjective.
cheap on e-bay.
if you back off the cheap requirement get a newer palm based device, they are worth it. and some of then even play mp3s while you read :)

Clie NX (1)

mcowger (456754) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069107)

My guess is that a Sony Clie NX60 (which you can get for like $130 refurb) would fit your needs well. uses USB, syncs with Macs & Linux, hires 320x480 display, good backlight, rechargeable, replaceable LiIon battery, Plucker works great on it.

What are you willing to spend? (1)

Splezunk (250168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069108)

This is usually the important thing. If you look at the palm Range, it goes from cheap to heavy.

For simple text, the Original Zire would be perfect. However there is no true PDF reader in Palm that I know of, and have never heard of Microsoft Reader.

Re:What are you willing to spend? (1)

Frenchy_2001 (659163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069211)

Adobe has one. It's anything but light, but it works quite well. I read a few books using it on an old m105.

You can find it here: rforpal m.html

Re:What are you willing to spend? (1)

Splezunk (250168) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069266)

Nope, Adobe Doesn't have one. They have a converter to convert it into a different format for the Palm that their reader can use.

You cannot open the same PDF directly on a palm that you would open on a desktop. Some documents are protected, and this converter does fail. RepliGo is an excellent solution.

I use an iPaq 3900 series (1)

1984 (56406) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069111)

I was especially interested in using it as an ebook reader when I first got it. It retailed for about $600 at the time, but the specs look more like the current crop of $200-$300 PDAs, so you can probably find one for less than that on EBay...

Anyway, it's not great as a text reader platform. The screen is high enough res to render text in a crisp -- but not jagged -- and nicely readable format. It's Pocket PC (2002), and runs both MS Reader and Pocket Acrobat Reader well enough. There are various utilities for browsing text files. It has a built-in Li-ion battery and USB connection.

So what's the problem? It's just not as nice as a book. I keep a few books on it just in case, but rarely use it as an e-reader nowadays. The screen is too small, and you're forever flipping to the next page. And if you need to skip forward or back to check something, you're often skipping a lot of pages. It's also not easy to find a comfortable reading position, and it's no use in bed.

All not necessarily relevant to your needs, but from experience...

Re:I use an iPaq 3900 series (2, Insightful)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069258)

I think I'd have to chalk it up to personal prefrence. I've got a 3650, and have had pretty much the opposite experience. No problems at all with screen size, I find it easier to go back than with a book since I can use the search feature, and the small size to me makes it more comfortable to read than a book.

For Ebooks (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069114)

I would definetly recommend the Tapwave Zodiac, the orientation of the device, and the size of the screen make it perfect for ebooks.

Sony Clie + Plucker HiRes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069117)

I have a Sony Clie which I use to read e-texts all the time. I use j-pluck to download the BBC news website (with images) and pop it onto the CLie using HiRes plucker to view the pages.

This works very well, I get a couple of hours out of a battery and the whole download and sync operation works slick-as-hell with pilot-tools.


any device to read e-text books on? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069120)

My school is 100% e text book this year with all books in pdf format. I tried reading it on a pocketpc 2002, but it doesn't look too good. Is there anything short of a super thin laptop that i can use?

Re:any device to read e-text books on? (1)

rock_climbing_guy (630276) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069271)

In your situation, I just might use CUPS or LPR.

Zarus or IPAQ 1900 series (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069122)

The new Zarus being the better of the two (for running Linux and a nice screen resolution) but more expensive vs. the under $200 IPAQ 1900 series which is still very nice thanks to ClearType for reading. My wife has a 1900 series, I've got a 2200 series. Both are USB and contain rechargible batteries, but also REPLACEABLE batteries for those extra-long hiking trips into the woods.

The Zarus, of course, was reviewed earlier today- and as an IPAQ user, running linux instead of PocketPC 3.0 and a REAL 640x480 screen were tempting.

Plus, the Zarus is more likely to be compatible with your Linux Box, though FTP and Webservers are available for Pocket PC now to be able to transfer files from just about anything.

Sony CLie SJ22 (5, Informative)

brownja (184673) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069125)

I read tons of Gutenberg e-texts on my Sony Clie SJ 22. Good res, great backlight, cheap, etc. etc,
Jog dial is very handy for reading e-books.
I use makedocw and cspotrun to create and read files.

Tungsten T (1)

Vilim (615798) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069126)

I have recently been reading a large number of etexts on my Palm Tungsten T. It seems to have great, rechargable battery life, and a nice screen.

I used to use Weasel however I have recently ditched it for Plucker because I can read a number of html texts with images.

Although I can't read books on a computer screen (I think my eyes will start bleading after the first two hours) I seem to be able to read them without any discomfort on a PDA screen, probably because it is LCD or something.

I imagine that a Tungsten T would be relativly cheap these days, I got mine about a year ago when they were relativly new, but won it in a contest so I didn't have to pay for it (alas, now that I am in University I am a less exceptional programmer than I was in high school)

Me too! (1)

EverDense (575518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069129)

I too am looking for a e-book reader at the
moment. Should have specified a minimum screen
size. Something the size of a Star Trek datapad
would be good.

Looking around on Google, there are eBook
readers that aren't PDAs, they generally have
slower screen-refresh rates.

Regular batteries strongly recommended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069132)

Regular batteries are strongly recommended, so you don't end up with the iPod problem of batteries that cost so much when they die that you might as well chuck the thing out.

screen screen screen (2, Interesting)

Incy (635621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069134)

Its all about the screen. I have been reading ebooks exclusivly for the last 2 or 3 years. I really like my palm t3 for its nice large screen. Its nice not to have a nightstand light keeping the wife awake when I read at night. Also nice to always have a book with ya when your get bored and have a minute or two to kill. I think there are plenty of PDAs that will fulfill most of your requirements... cept maybe price.. cuz you didn't say how much you wanted to pay..:)

someone had to say it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069135)

i don't have a pda, you insensitive clod.

I like the Sony Clie's (1)

Roarkk (303058) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069136)

I have the Sony TG-50, and reading ebooks is what I spend the most time doing with it. While the organizer functions are useful, I really purchased it for the ability to store books and manuals. The combination of Palmreader, Wordsmith, and Acrobat Reader allow me to access everything from text to pdf's.

The only issue you might have with it is the price [] , but the backlighting, multiple formats, and memory stick capability are well worth the extra money for me. 128MB can hold a lot of text.

Clies are good (1)

murgee (615127) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069140)

Always found the Sony Clie [] to be very readable. Good high-res (for PalmOS units, 320x240) displays and nice bright backlights. Won't do Microsoft Reader, but etexts and stuff should be fine. There's a lot of good PalmOS software (including specific eBook readers and whatnot), and relatively good Palm support for Linux in general. New ones are relatively expensive but you should be able to get older ones (like my PEG-SJ30) online for around $150 or less. Bad things include their reliance on Memory Stick.

If you don't like Sony, or you'd rather have a Windows-based one or whatnot, the Dell Axims [] are very nice. The X3 is very small and includes nifties like built-in WiFi. Plus, they're damned cheap - the 300MHz Axim X3 (doesn't have wifi) runs $199 retail. Hard to beat, pricewise. ASUS [] also makes some neat-looking ones too.

Sony CLIE w/ iSilo (2, Informative)

monopole (44023) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069150)

The CLIE PEG TJ-35 or TJ-25 are available as remainders and have the best screens I've encountered for E-Book Reading. High Res, paper white, jog dial, very easy to read for extended periods of time. The battery life is middling but the purchase of a external battery pack from resolves this problem.
check out this article as well for other nice clie's for ebook reading.
In comparison the TJ-37 has a somewhat irregular screen.

Zire 21 (2, Insightful)

Kesh (65890) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069151)

Just pick up a palmOne Zire 21 [] . Less than $100, B&W 160x160 screen, USB, 8 Mb storage. It'll handle all the formats asked for, and runs quite a long time on its rechargeable battery.

I'm very happy with my Axim X5 (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069158)

Crisp display, long battery life. I've read all of my books on this since buying it.

Old Clies (1)

dbarclay10 (70443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069164)

I bought a Sony Clie SJ-22 a few months ago mainly for reading. I got it for $170CAD, which works out to about $120USD these days. It'd be even cheaper now. So if you can find one it's a great deal. I use Plucker almost exclusively, but I also have Acrobat's reader and AvantGo installed too.

As far as the hardware is concerned, it's a very sharp little package, really great screen (excellent backlight, works great in direct sunlight, and is colour), and has enough built-in memory for my purposes (16MB). Its only expansion option is a Memory Stick slot. Original Memory Stick though, so you're limited to 128MB sticks (or at best, 256MB, but you can only access 128MB at a time). And of course it's Memory Stick as opposed to a more ubiquitous format like SD/MMC, which I find quite irritating. I don't use the Memory Stick slot :)

It has a built-in rechargable battery which seems to last me a good long while. I've taken it out to the cabin for a week at a time and it didn't run out of juice (no electricity at the cabin, and I don't use those 9V portable chargers or anything). I haven't been able to find a cradle for it, unfortunately, which is irritating. This particular model was discontinued ages ago.

I'm really happy with it, and if you can find one it'd probably be an excellent deal and would do probably whatever you're after. Maybe a newer model would be okay too, I don't know.

Axim X5 (1)

unuselessj (686973) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069168)

I use my Axim x5 advanced to read whatever pdfs, docs, or txts I feel like reading while I'm traveling around. I like it although I do believe the screen is a bit small. I can read hours and hours on it while listening to music. I'd highly recommend getting something that is 480x640 just because of the larger screens.

Re:Axim X5 (1)

RobGarth (75504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069222)

Yes. But these are not cheap, and they will not sync with anything properly but Windows. For Linux support, (and mac for that matter) palm is probably the best option

Check out the Sony Clie series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069171)

They have a decent resolution (for pda's) come in b&w or color, and go for pretty cheap on ebay. Can anyone who actually owns one of these comment further on the clies?

Love my Sony Clié - 320x320, color, memory st (4, Informative)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069180)

I've had a Sony Clié SJ-30 for a year and a half, and I love it! It is an excellent size for my hand and pocket, it has a nice, bright 320x320 color display, a jogwheel for scrolling through pages, and a memory stick slot for plenty of storage.

I use Weasel Reader [] for reading Gutenberg Etexts, Mobipocket Reader [] for reading etexts from Baen [] books, as well as Plucker for web clippings. I also carry along Ultralingua [] dictionaries so I can look up words when reading French language Gutenberg etexts (ahoy, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea!)

My Sony makes a fantastic e-book reader.. I probably use it for that function as much as for anything else. At 320x320, the screen is easy to read, the high-res fonts are very comfortable, and the backlight is great. It fits easily into my pocket, and I carry it wherever I go. It's USB based, and I sync documents to it from my Red Hat 9 Linux system without problems.

Honestly, any modern Palm OS based device should have USB and a good 320x320 screen, and any of them that you look at should make a good EReader. The Sony's may still be particularly good with their jogwheel, however.

Sony Clie (1)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069190)

What you mention in your requirements is all important, but there's one more aspect to take into account: easy text scrolling. The only PDA I know of that fits the descriprion are older models of Sony Clie, which have a scroll wheel on the side (newer models have it in the middle of the buttons; not very comfortable). The Clie has backlighting, rechargeable battery and a very good contrast. I've been using my Clie PEG-SJ10, which I've gotten for $99, for over two years now, and I'm still getting around 30 hours from one battery charge (without the backlight on).

As for software, if you can hunt down a shareware copy of TomeRaider you are set. The software has excellent compression, and the reader, while not having all the bells and whistles of more bulky software, is fast and reliable. You start out with a basic .txt file, and the software will convert it into a .pdb file, readable on your PDA.

Toshiba Libretto (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069194)

It's not a pda, but has a great form factor for carrying around at the office, fits in the car, in docor's offices, wherever you would actually read stuff. PDA's are just too small to read stuff on or do work with, IMHO. I own a sony Clie, and have many references/humorous stuff on it..bofh, bill of rights, perl stuff, the art of war, etc. But I find that I don't really read stuff on it.

Makes a great network stumbler and portable jukebox too. Mine has a 30GB drive on it, running Linux. You can even use the hibernation features by spanning a dead partition using LVM. It needs a little more power (or better video chipset) to do video well, but it can handle smaller mpegs pretty well using xine.

My recent purchase along these lines... (1)

oneiron (716313) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069204)

Recently, I purchased a Sony CLIE SJ20 for this exact purpose. After a fair amount of research, I decided to go with a monochrome model for the extra battery life and reduced cost. After reading a ton of professional and epinions-style reviews of this model, I came to the conclusion that it was definitely the best choice for these purposes.

The best feature is the black and white monochrome screen which happens to be amazingly easy to read in most any light. Oh, and it's quite cheap, also. I snagged mine for a measly 50 bucks on ebay in like-new condition, and I am very happy with it.

I actually use my phone (1)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069206)

Which only meets some of your criteria...

Kyocera 6035:
Resolution is lower than you specify, battery life is good, back light is dreadful.

Still, I've read many a book using it. And since I always have my phone with me, I always have something to read.

"Always carry a book with you, because you never know when you might be arrested." -- Emma Goldman

Zaurus SL5600 (2, Informative)

mungtor (306258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069214)

Since the 6000 has come out the price on the 5600 has dropped into the reasonable range. If you get a USB cable from SerialIO [] you can charge the Zaurus from any USB port without lugging along the power supply or cradle. You could get the DB9 cable as well and use it to config a router on console in a pinch too...

Once you get the WiFi card for it, you can just ftp your files over to it or whatever you want to do.

This One's Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069219)

You should definitely get an Apple Newton MessagePad [] . They've got tons of computing power and memory for your largest eBooks, and they've really come down in price since they were first released.

OK, the question's been answered. Someone archive this discussion.

Re:This One's Easy! (1)

MisterLawyer (770687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069273)

He must be joking, the Newton is over 5 years old. but if anyone is interested in the Newton, check out [] , a large repository of stuff related to this near-ancient PDA.

What form factor? (4, Interesting)

Myself (57572) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069221)

Technically the IBM Workpad Z50 and Vadem Clio (Sharp Mobilon Tripad) are PDAs, but they're clamshell notebook style. The Clio/Tripad has a flip-over screen that turns it into a tablet, but otherwise the specs are quite similar: 131MHz vr141 MIPS CPU, 16 or 32 meg internal storage, CF slot, PCMCIA slot, RS232 port, internal modem.

You'll have to put up with the lack of a USB port, but RS232 works well for small transfers, and flipping CF cards is fast when you want to move a lot of data.

Both the z50 and the Clio/Tripad have big screens with excellent contrast. They share great battery life, about 8 hours on the stock battery if you're not running a power-hungry PCMCIA card. (wireless) Optional double-capacity battery packs are available for the z50 that really do achieve 16 hours. Both can run the hpcmips port of NetBSD quite capably, but for reading text you might as well keep the stock WinCE.

Personally, I'd use the Clio because of the flippable screen. Holding it by the hinge side is very comfortable, and the touchscreen allows easy page-turning even while in tablet mode. The z50 is stuck in a clamshell shape and uses a pointing nipple.

Did I mention that both can be had on eBay for under $200?

Palm Vx + Palmreader (1)

craXORjack (726120) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069228)

I have a Palm Vx which does all of this. It has 8 MB of RAM and I haven't even filled up 2 Megs yet even with all the games and texts I've downloaded. It is certainly cheap. It recharges every night when you set it in the cradle. And charge life is about 14 hours of continuous use. I used to think the screen was too low res at 160x160 since I had tried reading on it and didn't like the results. But I've found that reading on it is fine if you use the right software. Since I downloaded Palmreader [] I have been reading Cory Doctorow's stories from [] and loving it. Ive only evaluated three readers but out of those three, Palmreader is by far the best.

Clie and Plucker (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069236)

I use my Clie (SJ30 a year old), its color, excellant backlight, 320x320, very readable. Along with the latest beta of Plucker, which can use anti-aliased fonts. Battery is rechargable and it syncs via USB. Probably the lastest comparable Clie is circa $150. I use it daily, and I love this solution, I've read several books this way, but mostly use it to read downloaded news and other articles. It's great, but of course paper is easiest to read. But then I can't carry 60 books and 7 newspapers in my shirt pocket.

reading device for e-texts (1)

mjward (715248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069237)

Not yet. Maybe soon. God knows I've been waiting long enough.

We publish e-books, and for demonstration purposes I use a Sony Z505 Notebook with a high-res 1024x768 screen. It's small and you can type on it, but battery life sucks. It was very expensive when new, but probably cheap now. The screen sure is great; it's comparable to a mass-market paperback, two pages side-by-side.

But it's larger than most PDA's, even though small for a notebook/laptop. Weighs 3.75 lbs. Did I mention it draws down its battery the moment your back is turned?

Mike Ward,

TI-92 (1)

karmatic (776420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069243)

I actually found the Texas Instruments 92 (now the Voyage 200 [] to be quite good for reading e-books on, and the batteries can last quite some time.

All you need is the Ti Ebook Reader [] .

As for the ebooks, I grabbed a bunch of the project gutenburg books, and converted them over. I probably still have them on my HD, if anyone wants them.

interesting combination.... (1)

carambola5 (456983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069246)

Unstoppable object, meet impenetrable wall.
Impenetrable wall, unstoppable object.

PocketPC PDA? (1)

calix (73098) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069261)

Fearing the backlash of criticism from Slashdotters, I begin...

I have a Windows PocketPC-based PDA, the Dell Axim to be precise. I've been using Microsoft Reader and Adobe Reader for some time now to catch up on some reading. Besides the usual bitching about Microsoft, it's not a bad solution.

Resolution: It's good resolution. Antialiasing is ok. Screen is quite clear. Viewing in outdoor light is not so great. All in all, better than the Palm III I had before.

Storage: unbeatable - I have CF and SD ports, so I can store tons of books.

Portability: Great. Battery is rechargable and lasts quite a while.

Usability: Microsoft Reader is ok. I've had some problems opening larger books (takes quite a while) but I haven't been able to compare on a newer Dell Axim to see if it's my PDA or MS Reader. One interesting feature is with MS Reader you can license your books for up to 6 machines. So, I have reader installed on my laptop and desktop too.

Extensibility: I haven't researched other reader formats (e.g. Gutenberg, etc.) so I don't know if there's software out there for PocketPC that uses these formats. I have looked into the PocketPC developer's kit (free from MS) so it could be done.

All in all, I can read books, do other generic PDA functions, plus listen to MP3s, watch videos etc. And, you can get refurb Axims from Dell for a considerably lower price than new.

Re:PocketPC PDA? (1)

gral (697468) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069303)

I have one as well. It's pretty good, but I would suggest you look into Vade Mecum. It is a plucker reader for PocketPC that works very good, and opens even large documents pretty good.

Documents are also compressed for even more storage space.

Get the "PaperBack" - it's sweet (1)

Pvt_Waldo (459439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069264)

Zero power consumption, very portable, works in both bright sunlight and darker rooms.

And if you're ever stuck in the woods without any TP? Well hey! You're set! Try THAT with your Palm (pilot).

What not to use (1)

cei (107343) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069268)

You probably don't want an iPod for long text. I converted a couple of books from Project Gutenberg to a string of hyperlinked 4k Note files, and it was kind of a pain...

My vote: Palm Tungsten E (1)

skatter (622351) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069276)

I used a Handspring Visor Neo for a year and a half, but unfortunately it wasn't as durable as I'd hoped it'd be. So, I traded up to a Tungsten E purchased from target for $199, and have been nothing but happy. not a huge screen (320X320) but a very clear display, and a built-in rechargeable battery. Plug it in for 30 minutes and its fully charged, on average. SD expansion slot, syncs with MacOS, Palm Reader is free and reads .DOC files as well as the Palm Digital Media store's books. Can't really go wrong with this device. Just make sure you get a hard case for comes with a crappy little flipcover that barely protects anything...

Multipurpose and budget = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9069278)

get a Gp32 [].

Yes, I know it's only 320x240 resolution. But the display is nice, and the machine is versatile (with plenty of software to supplement it. And the SDK is open-source. Why not?

For 160 bucks, you may as well put your emulation and your ebooks in the same device.

Palm Tungsten T, T2, T3 (4, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069281)

I have a Palm Tungsten T. The screen is fine for indoors, but not good outdoors.

The Palm Tungsten T2 is pretty much the same PDA, but has a "transflective" screen that is better than the screen on the T, both indoors and outdoors.

Both are 320x320, and you can get very nice text on it for your ebook. I use it with Linux, no problem hotsyncing with the USB (I use J-Pilot).

You can also use SD or MMC cards for storing your ebooks; you can get a lot of reading material on one of those, and you can just use any USB card reader/writer to write the ebooks onto it.

If you check eBay, you can get a T2 for $250 or so. You can get a T for less than that.

The T3 has the advantage of a screen that is 480x320 when you have it fully open. It has a 400 MHz processor, so it's fast... but the battery life sucks.

You can get a device from Palm called the "Power To Go", which is just a lithium ion battery sled. You dock the Palm in the sled and the Palm draws power from it. You can fully recharge a drained Palm at least twice on a fully charged sled, or run the Palm from the sled to get very long run times. With one of these you could fly to Japan and read continuously, without running out of power.

If you can stand a pixelated reading font, an old Handspring Visor makes a decent reader. It runs just forever on two AAA cells. That's what I have used for reading novels on a plane to Japan. But you specified a high-resolution screen for smooth fonts, so the older 160x160 greyscale devices are out.

If you had to pick just one to buy, I'd say the T2. If you want the cheapest one, get a used T from eBay.

Be sure to get a quality leather case to protect it. I use the EB flip case, the one that uses magnets to hold it closed.

By the way, I read more novels as ebooks on my Palm than I read as paper, these days. And I have even started reading Slashdot on my Tungsten (using a PalmModem).


Good Ebook Software for PPC? (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069282)

Does anyone know of any good ebook software for PPC platform? The Microsoft reader is gorgeous, but of course it only reas its own native (useless) formats. Ideally I'd like something with nice anti aliased fonts like MS Reader. TIA

iPaq 4150 Pseudo Review (4, Informative)

trawg (308495) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069290)

I recently bought an HP iPaq 4150 for the specific purpose of reading ebooks. I got sick of having to shell out AU$20 for a new paperback every week (I buy a lot of books) only to have them fall apart a few weeks later (or for my friends to pinch them, savage them, or lose them).

The first thing I did was grab some Gutenburg books and have a read, then I bought Neuromancer from (after a lengthy technical battle - if your Temporary Internet Files in IE is full, you'll download your ebook only to have it not actually get installed. Repeat 4 times in confusion, then get told by Amazon that you've already downloaded it so you can't download it again. Punch monitor in frustration screaming about why this is so goddamn hard. Fortunately the Amazon guys believed my story and re-issued the book, cleared my Temporary Internet Files, downloaded again, and then it worked. But I digress).

The quality of the screen on the 4150 is great. I've only used Microsoft Reader to try and read books so far, and it works - that's about all you can say for a text reader, I guess.

I have a few minor complaints about Reader. First and foremost, there's quite a bit of whitespace around the edges of the page. This means that there isn't as much text on the page, increasing the number of pages per book - meaning you'll be turning pages pretty regularly. There's no option to shrink text (despite 10 years of staring at screens my eyes still surprisingly work ok) so you'll be doing quite a lot of page flipping to get through any decent amount of books.

There's no auto page-flipping function. I'm lazy, I'd like to just hold the thing and have it turn pages for me. One of the main reasons I got it was so I could just lie in bed reading at night and try to relax so I can get to sleep; if it was flipping pages for me that'd be handy!

A non-Reader complaint that I feel is a little relevant is that Pocket Word can't open large .txt files. The first thing I tried to open was The Iliad (800k), and Word bombed out. You can of course dump it on a proper version of Word and export it to Reader format with the press of a button, but if you're regularly reading large .doc files, then that might be a problem.

I haven't tried Adobe Acrobat yet (in fact I don't even know if there's a version for this device) so can't comment on that.

My only other comment is that I've been a bit disappointed with the range of available ebooks - I was hoping it would make my book-buying easier to get a lot of titles that my local bookstores don't stock (.. and have a 3-4 week order time from the US), but sadly quite a number of publishers don't make ebook versions available yet.

Apple Newton or Toshiba E series (2, Informative)

ego093 (462550) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069294)

I've read on all sorts of devices, and the best so far has been my Apple Newton. You can pick one up for cheap with a rechargable battery. It works OK with OSX. It reads all sorts of files. The backlit screen is pleasant to read on and the interface is... well it's Apple. But the really brilliant thing is the form factor - it's just large enough to make holding it a dream. It's like a book and is very confortable in your hand. The screen size is large enough to get enough text on a screen to be useful.

However, I've since moved to an e310 because of the price and the features. It's still one of the least expensive in it's class and it works extremely well for reading. I take novels with me everywhere I go now.

Palm Tungsten E (1)

rovitotv (65942) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069298)

I have a Palm Tungsten E $200 which is a great e-book reader and cheap.

obligatory reference (1)

Knights who say 'INT (708612) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069300)

PHB sends Dilbert to talk to the marketing people.

Dilbert: "Dave, tell me how marketing thinks the product should be"

Dave: "It must have a 45" screen and fit a 007 suitcase. It needs to function as a phone and an air conditioner too"

Dilbert: "Hmm"

Dave: "It must cure fatal diseases and brush our teeth while we sleep! ... Ha ha! And it must be capable of time travel! And have a telepathic interface!"

Dilbert slaps Dave.

Dilbert: "I can write a program that will show some fish in the computer screen"

Dave: "Yeah, a lot of people want that"

Tungsten E (2, Informative)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 10 years ago | (#9069313)

I bought a Visor Deluxe primarily as an ebook reader in early 2001. It did the job quite well.

About a month ago, I replaced it with a Palm Tungsten E, and it is just amazing for ebooks. The colour 320x320 screen gives very crisp easy to read text in any lighting conditions. The Tungsten also has 32 meg to store books, the 8 meg on the Visor was too limiting.

The only drawback is that the Tungsten has a built in battery that's only good for 1-2 days, so if it runs out of power of I forget to charge it, I can't use it until I get back to the computer to recharge it. The visor takes AAA's and I have a few sets of NiMH one that last about 2 weeks. By carrying a spare set, I never ran out of power, and I always had 1 set in the charger.

I read about 2 novels/week on these PDAs. Jason
ProfQuotes []
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