Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Iliad: nice screen, but work in progress (2)

The iLiad looks like a tablet, but it is not. A tablet is an extension of the PC with which you can freely roam within a certain distance of the PC. The iLiad looks like a large Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), but it is not. A PDA contains a diary, addresses, has textprocessing on board. But on the iLiad you can take along some 20 books for a plane trip or a holiday. It is a reading device with which you can not make spreadsheets, for example. But you can read documents in various formats.

This makes the iLiad interesting. It is not just a subset of a PC. It is a device in its own rights, comparable to the iPod. This has also consequences for the design of the device. You want to go back and forth turning pages.

One of the mysteries in the design is the hidden on/off switch. (This is the last time I will complain about it). I could not find it when I got the machine in my hands for the first time. And since, I have repeated the experiment more than one time. People did not find it at the right corner at the bottom end of the machine. Everyone who got hold of the device started pushing the button in the right corner on the top. The on/off switch is a sliding switch. No idea why a push button would not suffice. Given the present design, I would have put the button (sliding switch or push button down on the right side with an on/off sign on the surface.

On the left hand side of the device there are all buttons for the navigation. The nicest invention is the turning bar, with which you can turn the pages forward (push the bar to the left) and backwards (push the bar to the right). I am not sure about the logic, but once you se the pages turn in the intended direction you have the hang of it.

There is nothing like a soft exit switch. If you want to stop reading a book, just slide the on/off switch and the device will power down. Next time you come on the machine you do not come back to the page where you left off. There is no book marker, as far I can see now.

In order to keep the iLiad working you will have to put it regularly on an electricity lead. There is an icon indicating the quantity of electricity still available. The machine is aid to be power poor. Only the turning of a page will consume electricity. Of course the powering up and powering down actions will also consume electricity. It is said that you can turn 10.000 before reloading the battery. Whether this is still an objective or a mere statistics is not clear yet. Besides software upgrades will optimise the power management. The electricity comes through a lead linked to the hub, while the hub is connected to connector in the middle below.

The link is an awkward designed tool with no functionality to the iLiad itself. You can not click it on the device, for example; still there are some grips on this tool. Perhaps it will be part of the docking station which is promised for a launch in October.

In the hub there are two other connections: one for a USB lead and one for an Ethernet lead. With the USB lead you link up to the computer in order to transfer files such as pdf files. And the Ethernet cable is intended to link you straight to the server in order to upgrade the software. Personally I am not so charmed by this Ethernet solution. I guess most users will have to get behind their PC in order to get hold of the Ethernet cable. I guess the transfer is safer in this way, but using the USB cable to the PC would have been more comfortable.

There is a reset knob in the back of the machine. I have tried to use it several times, but it did not work. In fact when power up and want to reset, for whatever reason, the powering up is not completed and the introductory page begging you for one moment gets stuck. So you will have to unstuck this situation by linking the device to the electricity lead. The small LED will turn red and you will have to wait till the LED is no longer red. To me the machine is definitely not idiot proof, at least not idiot proof enough for me.

Tags: e-book, ,

Blog Posting Number: 482

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