It has an electrophoretic display (eInk, tiny dyed particles which collect or recede according to an electrical charge) which doesn’t refresh or require backlighting and consequently allows a claimed 14-hour battery life. It’s roughly the same dimensions and weight as a book and for me this is a big draw – I don’t like reading from regular laptop screens because of glare, ergonomics, and the matter of having something heavy in my shoulder bag as I roam round London. I find my various other devices uncomfortable for reading as well.
It supports PDF, XHTML, TXT and MP3 – at the moment that means journal articles, out-of-copyright ebooks from e.g. Project Gutenberg, podcasts, subscription services via the iRex site and a growing number of copyright ebooks too. This will suit me fine. Mostly I’m PDFs and HTML.
It has a stylus and handwriting recognition – you can use it to generally take notes and you can annotate the texts and integrate the annotations. I take things in best if I do the ‘dialogue with the text’ thing and scrawl all over it.
OK, you can’t do much else with it except read, write and draw – apart from Libresco’s subscription service (newspapers etc) there’s nothing interesting to do with the Internet connection, no animation, no colour – although there is sound and it functions as a hard drive for moving stuff around. This is more than fine by me – I usually carry at least one book and several papers with me at any one time, I have to carry the books in an old cardboard Amazon pack so they don’t get dog-eared – more weight – I take notes on paper because I draw, and then find myself separated from old pads when I need them. Now I’ll have everything on cards.
I feel extremely guilty of extravagance. But I read a lot which, besides being good in itself, reclaims the time London always tries to steal. Reading makes perfect sense of my commute. And now I can read on platforms with my gloves on. And I’m saving the trees. Besides, I am such a Cinderella of learning technology, always trailing edge – I want to be glamorous around campus and become known as an inspiring technological trailblazer.
So what the hell.
There are reviews – an early overview from Sandra Vogel, a more technical assessment from Ego Food,and a fuller more recent Sandra Vogel review. The bloke who let me play with it on the train really liked it and his enthusiasm was infectious – I’ve been thinking about it ever since. So when I came into a bit of extra £ I thought about it some more, and it didn’t seem any less appealing, nor did my purse-strings constrict. I want it – I will have it, why not?
OK, I went and bought it from Libresco, which says it’s iRex’s official distributor, the bloke was really helpful and I’ll tell you tomorrow whether I have it.
The first thing I’m going to put on it will be David Hirsh’s Anti-Zionism and antisemitism: cosmopolitan reflections. The second will be That’s funny, you don’t look antisemitic by Steve Cohen. Then the most recent issue of Democratiya, and probably all the previous ones too. I’ll probably stick the Euston Manifesto conference MP3s on it too. Then all of the AWL’s recommended reading for their week school on Marxism and Anarchism. And that will be one ream of paper saved – and that’s if I print at 4 sides a sheet.
Oh it’s going to be great.