L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

06 September 2007 Blog Home : September 2007 : Permalink

iPod Touch - eBook Reader?

A year and a half a go when the Nokia 770 showed up I thought it might make a decent eBook reader. The problem was that it cost too much and had poor battery life. The N800 seemed to improve things a bit but it is still costly and the battery life still isn't exactly wonderful.

[But you say - it isn't an eReader it doesn't have the software. Oh yes it does. It's called a web browser... sensible companies like Baen make books available as HTML, as does Project Gutenberg, and many illegal DRM stripping tools also convert to HTML. So not having an application specifically dedicated to being an eBook reader is not a major drawback. I should note that I actually tried using a 770 to read the Baen Free Library and it worked well.]

Now we have the Apple equivalent - the iPod Touch. Price is pretty much the same. Battery life is better. Memory is much better (but isn't expandable). Screen a bit more than half the size (3.5" diagonal vs ~5.5") and less than half the resolution (480x320 instead of 800x480). Also no Skype and no doubt lots and lots of Apple proprietary guff that would need to be deleted. To be honest it clearly isn't designed to be a reader but it does have the safari browser and safari can read Baen books just fine.

I see two potential drawbacks
  1. The screen size may be too small to read comfortably. I need to actually try it first
  2. It is unclear whether you can save HTML pages in its 8Gb memory and use the browser to access them. One would hope you can but my experience with Apple products is that sometimes there are inexplicable gaps.
potential drawback 2 is the sort of thing that is fixable once the crackers get going to figure out how to access more of the internals than Apple wish to expose so I am less worried by that. Thus the question boils down to screen size and whether the safari browser on the phone has a skinny mode to gove me the maximum reading area or not.

I had been considering buying an N800, but the lack of battery life made me hesitate. The Apple clearly has a much better battery life (it will display 5 hours of VIDEO let alone anything relatively static like text) and it is cheaper (€299 vs €399). Something tells me I'm going to be paying close attention to both in the run up to Christmas to see whether any improvements occur.