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Buy this for me!
Posted by: Dale Franks on Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I have been a long-time eBook reader. I have owned various handheld PCs for almost a decade, used for no other purpose than to read eBooks. Right now, I have a personal e-book library of over 1,000 books.

There have always been drawbacks to e-books, of course. Using a handheld PC is OK, but the small screen means you have to turn pages constantly. The backlighting eats a lot of power, too, meaning that you either have to be able to plug in frequently, or can only read for 2 hours or so, which is not good for cross-country airline flights, or reading a book throughout the day, as you run around on errands. And, despite all the work done on LCD screens since my first Cassiopeia in 1997, the LCD screen still leaves something to be desired for reading, especially in sunlight.

What we've really needed for years was an eBook that was as convenient as paper books.

Now we've got one.

Actually, we have two. Both Sony, and Philips spin-off company iRex, have released book readers with screens that use the new e-Ink technology.

The Sony costs about $350. Its a pretty basic reader. It's nice, I guess.

The other one, however...well...

iRex iLiad eBook Reader

This is the iRex iLiad.

According to iRex:
The iLiad is a portable device that allows you to read digital content any where at any time.


* The Electronic Paper Display technology reads just like normal paper and is perceived as such by the human eye.
* Easy navigation based upon reading behaviour.
* Scalable text. You can change the font size of your text to suit your own reading comfort. (Format and DRM dependant.)


* Touch screen with stylus.
* Use the iLiad as your notepad.
* Write and comment in articles (format and DRM dependant.)


* The iLiad is a lightweight device for both indoor and outdoor use.
* Indoor reading: The device is designed for relaxed reading at home and productive reading in the office or workplace.
* Reading outdoors: You are now able to read digital text in full sunlight, just like paper.
* A mobile device: The lightweight iLiad is the size of an A5 document (folded letter sized document) (approximately), with a screen large enough to accommodate nearly all content, but small enough to take with you wherever you go.
* Very low power: You can read three hours a day for more than one week, from the iLiad without recharging the battery.


* You can use the USB-cable to put your personal content onto your iLiad. The iLiad also allows you to read from a USB stick, MMC, or compact Flash cards.
* Wired and wireless: The iLiad can connect to the iRex Delivery Service via Ethernet cable or WiFi broadband connections.


* The iDS comes as an additional service on the device. Easy connection and content delivery at one touch of the button.
* Get new content: Automatic delivery option for news, books etc. (Visit our site: for details.
* Automatic update: Automatic new software update and latest features.
Not only will it read a fairly wide variety of formats (PDF, XHTML, TXT, JPG, PNG, BMP, with more on the way), it's larger than the Sony, about the size of a paperback, and can grab books off the internet, or news and other content with RSS feeds, via the IDS service with the built-in wi-fi (although it doesn't browse the internet directly).

For the first time, we are approaching an eBook reader with a screen technology comparable to paper, with a long, 17-hour battery life to make it convenient to use, that reads widely available eBook formats, rather than using a proprietary scheme. Finally, the eBook technology is coming into its own.

I want it! I must have it!

Unfortunately it costs €649. That's $810 at today's exchange rate. I'm not going to spend that kind of money for an eBook reader. But, I'm sure that one of the QandO readers would be happy to buy it for me.



(Crickets: *chirp *chirp)

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Previous Comments to this Post 

I was given the Sony reader as an unexpected Christmas present, largely because of a mention in a letter to my mother that it would spare me the arboricidal act of printing the endless .pdf documents that my study and interests subject me to. Admittedly the disparity between the size of the reader’s screen and the size that the .pdf files are formatted for causes some difficulties, but changing the orientation to horizontal, which displays a half-page at a time has made this largely successful.

I’ve been spared from using about two hundred and fifty sheets of paper so far. The eInk display is a technological act of mercy. I always had to print the files before because reading them from computer screens was excruciating for me, but the eInk screen really does emulate the appearance of paper fairly well, certainly t the extent that it is merciful to the eyes. The refresh rate is slightly sluggish and tends to become faded in the cold, but such are the perils of early adoption. Suffice it to say that I rather like the device. I rather appreciate its size since it fits handily in my overcoat’s larger inner pocket, thus allowing me to have it at hand to read while waiting for and riding the bus. The battery life is fantastic.

It is a rather basic device, but that suffices for me at present, although better .pdf support and size control would be nice.

I was aware of the Illiad, but drove it from my mind upon noticing the cost of the thing.

I’m too generally antiquarian to ever prefer eBooks to traditional ones, but I’m intrigued by the possibilities of the technology. I’ve bought a few as it stands with the seventy five dollars credit for their store that came with the reader, including a ’copy’ of "The Wealth of Nations", written by, according to the author listing on my reader, Adam Sssssmith. Must’ve been typed up by either a socialist or an Englishman.

Written By: Paludicola
check out, or it’s hosted forum on Baen’s Bar, E-book reader conference. One of Mr. Baen’s last sponsored projects. prototypes to be inspected very soon now, delivery date targetted end of this year last I looked,
cost at $350, DRM free, E-ink technology, multi-format support.
Written By: kermit
URL: http://
I went with the Sony Reader, since I had heard the Irex Iliad was very buggy and carrying quite a few unresolved issues that seemed problematic, considering the price. I am very pleased with it. While not perfect, I think it is the best e-ink reader on the market for the moment. I used to carry 3-5 books with me whenever I traveled to pass the time on planes- now unnecessary!

There are some great forums on both models here:

Written By: Sunguh
I read "DRM dependant" too many times (actually, once is too many) to even consider it.
Written By: bud
URL: http://
I’ve been reading digital content (Books?) in my palm pilot, for years now. You do have to flip pages fairly frequently, but then on the other hand the unit that you describe won’t fit in your pocket.

Written By: Bithead
URL: http://

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