Irex Iliad | Reading experience

Have you tried reading a book on a PC or laptop? Perhaps you’ve downloaded a pdf of a book and you start to read it. Usually I lose interest quite quickly. Reading a book off a brightly lit LCD screen is something that my brain just does not like. So up to now, I’ve happily bought proper paper books, especially technical books.

I always assumed that reading a technical book on the Irex Iliad would be pointless. My usual way of reading tech books is to initially sit down and read sections page by page starting at the beginning, but once I’ve read most of the book I kind of just flip back and forth using it for reference. So I thought it’d probably be fine for reading novels but because the page refreshing is relatively slow, the prospect of flipping back and forth would put me off.

Well, I’ve been reading as much as I can about asterisk lately, and I quite like the Oreilly book for it you can download from the site. So I transferred it to the iLiad to read. I was surprised at how much I liked it (the content of the book is good too) . Sure I wasn’t flipping back and forth, but as far as sitting down on the lounge and casually reading it, it was fine. I didn’t even bother to zoom the page. If you have an iLiad you’ll know what I mean by this. By ebook reader standards, the 8 inch screen on the iLiad is big, but its still smaller than a typical Oreilly book page. When you combine that with the typical white space around a pdf page, you can imagine that the font is quite small. The iLiad pdf reader has the ability to zoom in, but lately I’ve found I can somehow tolerate the tiny font. You have to remember that the the dots per inch on an iLiad is about 160, so small fonts are still rendered clearly if quite small. And having no back light is a big plus when you’re trying to read something so small. I guess combining that with the fact that I can sit on the lounge or in bed reading, and the iLiad is quite light and its not a lap cooking device like a laptop …. the point is that its almost like reading a book.

Scientific American is also now available in ebook pdf format, so I tried reading a sample on the iLiad. This was quite good too. Sure all the pictures are in gray scale, but it was still reasonably relaxing to read it.

The iLiad does have a problem with very large pdfs (ones that probably have a lot of pictures in them). A pdf that is 15MB or so is probably going to take forever to load and possibly screw up while you’re reading it. I never seem to have any problems with ones around 5MB and under.

A strange thing about pdfs on the iLiad is that turning pages is quite fast compared to all other formats. As I’ve mentioned, due to the way EInk works, it takes a second or so to refresh the screen. So everytime you turn a page you get this delay. With pdf’s its quite quick. But with text and mobipocket documents its somewhat slower. Its not too awful, but it is noticeable. I downloaded a few Project Gutenberg books as text files, and pretty much the first thing I did was convert them to PDF so that the pages turned faster (I used BookDesigner to do the conversion. I’ll have to post about using it later). So it is a bit odd. You’d think PDF should be the slowest since the files are larger and all that nice font rendering must be complicated. The only explanation I can think of is that for a PDF the next page is pre-cached and blitted into place, whereas for text and mobi formats it’s all just rendered on the fly.