Monday, August 21, 2006

Iliad: nice screen, but work in progress (1)

Up to last year I knew the Iliad Homer as a Greek epic, consisting of 24 songs telling about the battle against the Trojans by the Greeks. Since a month I battle with the iLiad, a kind of iPod, but only for text.

The iLiad is the embodiment of a long awaited promise: reading from digital paper. The LCD and TFT screens never achieved the quality of paper used to print books: a nice white background and black letters and colour illustrations. However the research of E-Ink and Philips changed this. Since last month the reader has been on sale for the first time. Being a gadget lover, I bought one for about 700 euro straight from iRex Technologies.

I received the reader on the day that we moved shop and house. All excited I unwrapped the parcel and found the reader, some extra hardware and small note. That was all. Having charged the battery, panic broke out as I tried to get the device to work by pushing on all buttons. I could not get it to work. My unwrapping party was spoiled and I knew that this was not going to be a plug-and-play device, but a project under construction. (I later on understood that the manufacturer iRex Technologies has counted me to their circle of intimae, supposing that I did not need a quick guide. iRex sent me one by e-mail.).

Once I had found the on/off switch, I was able to admire the digital paper at work. The first page bears the logo of the iLiad with a system message begging you to wait one moment and the URL of iRex. The page has a nice quiet white background, while the letters and illustrations come up in 16 grey tones. No flickering at all and nice sharp fonts.

Once I had the reader working, I loaded some pdf formatted books and brochures on a USB stick. I just wanted to see how that would work out. In the quick guide there is mention of the USB plug on the device, which can only be used for memory sticks; not for USB cables. But that is all that is being said in the quick guide about entering books by USB sticks. So far I could call up pages from the memory stick. And the pages showed up.

So last week took another step in the iLiad saga and moved into the downloading of the latest software version and downloaded some books from my computer. This was another experience. Of course I know the expression READ THE FUCKING MANUAL. But with the procedures of downloading software of the second wave electronic books like Rocket books and Soft books, I linked the device to the computer. However I could download books, but not the software. In order to do that I had to get my Ethernet cable from the back of the PC (which usually not in the most comfortable place) and had to put it into the external hub. With a push on the button, which I mistook for the on/off switch, the software started to be exchanged.

The screen is great, although I have noticed ghost images in some cases. But it is definitely no plug and play device. It is a project under construction. Worthwhile, but still work in progess.

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Blog Posting Number: 481

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