Sunday, 31 May 2009

... Suddenly, a shot rang out!

The Geek: I start, right, let's talk about our last gadget, the Bebook.

The bebook is a merry, little war machine. Solid, light, cheap (relatively speaking to the concurrents) and efficient.

Other readers have limited type of files they can read ( Sony E reader) or use complex way to upload the data in them ( Amazon Kindle). It is not our case.

The Bebook's ability to read every type of file you can name, sometimes borders ludicrous.

TXT, RTF, PDF, PRC, PDB and many more are supported by the machine and even the misterious FB2 ( which, my good friend Eugene informs me being the Russian format) has its place.

The little Epaper screen is crisp and clear. When I received the unit, I put it on charge and did not realize that the icons on screen were actually the system. I thought it was a sticker :D

You can upload the files in two ways, through the USB port on the bottom ( extremely slow for large books, since it is an old 1.1) or putting them in an SD card ( not included).

Once the file are in, you can navigate through the menu using the numeric keys and, once inside the book itself, advance or go back one page using two buttons on the left of the screen (this function is duplicated in the 0 and 9 key to help the left handed) we have to state that the navigation through the menu is not very intuitive.

The Bookworm: Right, let's come to the reading.

The Geek: Exactly, you know, we are not talking LCD here the Epaper is something completely different. To make it short it is a double layer of polymers wich is filled with a layer of bicolored micro spheres, black and white.

Each time a precise electricity frequency runs through it the spheres roll and show the white or the black side creating the text on the screen.

Two results are immediately clear, the first one each time you "flip the page" the screen becomes black for a second as the matrix lines itself up again.

It is annoying for a bit , but you eventually get used to it.

The Bookworm: I'd like to test this theory...

The Geek: Later. Second result is that once the page is in place no more energy is required by the system.

In fact the machine can stay on without consuming electricity at all and you will always find the last page you did read even if the battery is empty.

The Bookworm: Wonderful, but what does a text look like?

The Geek: I'll let you be judge of this.

Not being backlit you will need a light to read, but since I do not know anyone that reads books in the dark, I will deem this issue as irrelevant.

Using a couple of programs you can find online, you'll be able to convert even comics and manga and although only in black and white, the result is acceptable.

You cannot write on the screen, the Bebook has no touch technology inbuilt. Other readers have this option, so again it is just a matter of deciding how much you want to spend on this.

A little plus. There is a inbuilt MP3 player and you can listen to music while reading if you want.

Nice it is there, thank you, but not for me thank you.

The Bookworm: But why this instead of a book?

The Geek: I reassure you immediately. The Bebook does not give back in any way the sensations that a real paper book gives, that said it solves a lot of little issues the paper has, giving us a host of possibilities.

Let's start with newspapers and magazines, the less defendable, moving them ALL to electronic format would allow an enormous quantity of paper to be spared.

We already said that but we do not need to stop here.

What do you think of paper leaflets? Centralizing the commercials on a single magazine we could get them out form the mailboxes and could do a more precise work in joining our customers (like a mailing list of the supermarket I go usually to).

The Bookworm: Wonderful my friend, you just reinvented Spam, congrats :D

The Geek: Right, forget about it, and let's go a step further: books

The Bookworm: Books??

The Geek: yep, schoolbooks to be precise.

Whomever has been a student remembers three details about those books, they were heavy, they were expensive and they could not be resold the year after because some new edition was printed meanwhile (My first year civil right law manual was divided in three books, 8000 pages, your call).

Move everything to a Ebook reader with touch screen (to take notes on the book itself) and you'll make a lot of families quite happy.

The issue of being difficult to sell back would remain, but at least the paper bill would not be so high each year.

In the office I think at the tons of emails, Power point presentations and technical memos that comes out everyday.

You could centralize data and using wirelss connected devices even collaborate on the same document, even better than real paper!

The Bookworm: fascinating, but no, you did not convince me.

The Geek: And I won't be able. Paper is that deeply radicated in our culture that it is almost impossible to think to be able to live without.

That said, and I beg you to pardon my brutality, we might not have another choice.

Problem is not only the medium, but also the choice. Have you the slightest idea of how many books are not printed because an editor does not want to take the risk?

Heavens, we all know they are rugged professionals and as such know how to evaluate risks, but the simple fact is that if an editor decides against, I cannot read that book.

So here is the Ebook, a low cost method that allows new authors to make themselves a name.

The Bookworm: Look, if they were not published, there was surely a reason.

The Geek: Who says not? But please then do not come to tell me that we allow Britney Spear's Cd's for the sake of human culture!

The Ebook might be the second print revolution after Gutemberg.

Text might be written in real time, the papers could be update immediately and the subscriptions could be tailored on the customer ( please give me Politics business and local news), more than all, once a network has been established, accessible from anywhere.

The authors could receive credibility at a very interesting price, and the use of electronic money would make each transaction clear and limpid.

But we are wandering off, we'll talk about that when your turns come.

The Bookworm: Gladly.

The Geek: So, a quick recap on the Bebook

  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Crisp and clear screen
  • Wide range of supported files
  • You can read Comics and Manga as well
  • MP3 reader
  • Long life battery
  • Books are easy to find and many are free.

  • Screen is in black and white
  • Menu navigation is not intuitive
  • No backlight
  • could break falling
  • Screen blackens when you flip pages
  • Is battery driven
  • It doesn't give the sensations of a book

Final score

8/10 - A good outcome that might become better if in the future some technical issues could be solved (colour screens are announced for 2010).
A good idea for people that like to read from different sources. I recommend it without reserves



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