Sunday, December 16, 2007

Asus Eee PC 701 as ebook readers

Asus Eee 4G-Galaxy 7" PC Mobile Internet Device ( 512 MB RAM, 4 GB Hard Drive, Webcam, Linux Preloaded) Black
Asus Eee PC 8G-Pearl White 7" PC Mobile Internet Device ( 1 GB RAM, 8 GB Hard Drive, Linux Preloaded) Pearl White


The ASUS Eee PC functions as an excellent ebook device for those who cannot buy a Kindle (outside of USA) or other dedicated ebook reading devices (because they were not sold in their countries).

After using my white Eee PC for two weeks, I simply couldn't resist the urge to get myself another one (a black one) - and this time I wanted to keep all the applications that came with the machine. My first (white) Eee PC had been converted into an XP. I may even upgrade the RAM of both my machines to 1G as there was news that ASUS would not invalidate the warranty for RAM upgrade.


Having used both machines to read ebooks in several formats, I am convinced that they offer many more ebook choices. My new Linux EeePC (the black one) comes with FBreader installed and I have been reading a few Mobipocket format ebooks with the reader. The ebooks were from Mobipocket.com ebook site and there were more than 11,000 free ebooks. What I really like about the FBreader is that the default font is very crisp and large enough for comfortable reading and the page could be rotated for portrait view, giving the machine the feel of a "real" book (see the picture).

I enjoy both the Eee PCs so much that I even bought two different leather jackets for them (yes 2 different designs)! While that may add a little to the weight and thickness, the machines feel less warm to touch when I have used them for more than 2 hours. Given some time, I would be able to compare both machines but in the meantime, I carry them around and use them extensively. One machine is being charged while the other one is in use.

Really I do not see my Eee PC as a computer but as my library and I love both gadgets not because I love machines but because they carry my collection of ebooks! With one PC I read DRM'ed ebooks and with the other, free ebooks.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Anyone can publish an ebook on Kindle?

This is astonishing, but again it's not for those who are not in the United States. While browsing Amazon.com for some printed books to buy (can't get Kindle version) I saw a link that reads "Are you an Author or Publisher?" and followed it. I landed on an introduction/login page to Amazon.com's Digital Text Platform and got the idea that anyone who has an Amazon.com's account and a ebook to sell can publish his or her content in the Amazon Kindle Store in minutes!

It makes me feel like I'm in literary exile. Firstly, almost all dedicated ebook reading devices are not available for sale in Hong Kong (maybe no market for such a gadget) and while I understand that the Kindle is not available for sale/use outside of USA, even Amazon Shorts (Short literary works delivered digitally through the internet) are not for us either because of geographical restrictions. There aren't many bookstores in HK and when comparing book prices, they are still more expensive than when I get them from Amazon.com.

I cannot think of another bookstore I will get all my reading materials from as I have patronized Amazon.com for more than half a decade but I certainly feel left out of its recent e-book development. I thought that while shipping fees and the time it took for delivery of hard copies were too much for a lot of readers residing outside United States, e-books might be the answer for them but that did not seem to be the case.

My dream, an e-bookstore that sells to customers internationally.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

One Laptop Per Child - XO Laptop - Also an eBook Reader


What is the One Laptop Per Child project? You may like to participate. There are 3 ways to contribute / donate - "give one", "give one get one" and "give many" - according to the web site.

Below is a description of the XO laptop I got from the "laptopgiving.org" site. According to the web site, the mission of this project is to "provide a means for learning, self-expression, and exploration to the nearly two billion children of the developing world with little or no access to education." Read the entire vision of the OLPC here.


Explore the XO
The XO laptop is the size of a textbook and weighs about three pounds. Thanks to its flexible design and “transformer" hinge, it can easily configure from a standard laptop to an e-book reader and a hand-held video game player. Everything is scaled to fit a child, from the integrated handle to the sealed, rubberized keyboard.
The XO laptop has built-in functionality for still and video photography, voice recording, and game playing.
Along with offering superior connective capabilities, the XO laptop can work with a wide range of external devices.
Keyboard
The XO laptop features a sealed, rubberized keyboard that was built specifically for harsh weather conditions, making it resilient to water, dust, and dirt. It’s scaled to accommodate child-sized hands and has a lighter touch than normal keyboards.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Different eBook Readers on my ASUS Eee PC 701

It has been 6 days since I bought this tiny PC. The first ebook reader I installed was the Mobipocket Reader - capable of reading .PRC files. Then I bought 2 ebooks and is still reading them. Next I installed the eReader from Palm and downloaded a few free books onto the reader. To my dismay, the software crashed every time I tried opening an ebook. I was using the free version, waiting to upgrade to the Pro version but I finally uninstalled the reader. Next, I downloaded the yBook. What a very well-written piece of program it was! It installed well and worked smoothly. The fact that it could read TXT, HTML, PRC, PDB and RTF files made it very versatile - and best of all, it came completely free. I have used it to read TXT and HTML ebooks - it was able to bring me back to the page I last read without even me applying bookmarks. Then I downloaded and installed Adobe Digital Editions software. It worked perfectly with a normal PDF file as well but the window needs resizing every time I load the reader. Up till now, I am very satisfied with this machine. Because I have XP on it, it could do everything my other Window OS machines could although I have in mind to use it mainly to read ebooks.

Today I bought a 4GB SDHC - it's a Transcend 4GB SDHC memory card which offers hassle-free data storage and transfer, and keeps data secure longer because the mechanical write protection switch keeps information safer by preventing accidental deletion or writing over important data. This is a class 6 speed rating Transcend SDHC memory card and has a fast transfer rate. I do not intend to remove it from the built-in memory card reader anyway - and decided to buy this because of its "LIFETIME WARRANTY". Will be storing ebooks on it. I also bought a SLIM USB portable drive - just in case I may need it some day.

So all in all, this Eee PC now has 8 GB of memory, an XP operating system, and an optical drive - total cost is USD592.

Detailed Specification of the EeePC can be found on the eeeuser.com web site. http://wiki.eeeuser.com/eee_pc_701

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

ASUS Eee PC as my e-Book Device

Having no luck in owning a Kindle, I thought I'll just go ahead to get myself an ASUS Eee PC - which not only suits my budget but is of the perfect size and weight. Costing less than USD400 and weighing just about 2 LBS, I have been able to bring it any where I want! The 7" screen is not too small and surfing the web is just so convenient. The screen resolution could be changed from 800x480 to 800x600 with just a click. When reading ebooks, I would switch the wireless off to save battery power.

There are many books in the .PRC (Mobipocket format) and since I have converted my Eee PC into an XP, I have many ebook readers to choose from - and will test them out in the future. After optimizing the PC, I downloaded the free word processor ABIWORD and also a financial software BUDDI, both Open Source FREE programs. While I have several notebook PCs, they have never left the table because of their weight - but Eee PC goes in my bag all the time!

Now I might be getting my second Eee PC because the original came with the LINUX OS and have 40 pre-loaded programs which makes playing and working easy. One of the pre-loaded programs is an ebook reader. It also comes with the Open Office suite which can open, read and save documents compatible with Microsoft Office.

Currently my child uses a MacBook for school but it is too heavy. Eee PC would be ideal as it is robustly built with a solid-state memory FLASH drive!

Technical details:
Product Features
Ultra-compact notebook with full QWERTY keyboard and 7-inch display
Powered by 900 MHz Intel Mobile CPU and pre-installed Linux operating system (compatible with Windows XP)
- Over 40 built-in applications for learn, work and play
- 4 GB solid-state flash memory drive; 512 MB RAM; 10/100 Fast Ethernet; 54g Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
- Connectivity: three USB 2.0; VGA output; microphone and headphone; Secure Digital card reader

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kindle: I can only DREAM to own one

I have been following the ebook device trend since way back in 2002 and dreamt of owning a good device one day. My very first ebook reading device was the first generation Cybook - and still occasionally use it. To me, Cytale Cybook was more like a tablet PC. I have yet to get hold of their 3rd generation device which seems more powerful. I would love to have that because of its ability to display PDF files which I use extensively for work. So far I have used my old Cybook to read free ebooks only because should I forget to keep it charged, I lose all my data as the device reset to factory setting!

So I waited ... perhaps one day I might buy the Gen 3 device. Last week I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Kindle - the wireless ebook device by Amazon.com. But to my great disappointment, this device could not be sold nor used outside of USA. I hope this could change in the future. As an avid reader, I have bought many books from Amazon.com and paid a lot in shipping fees to ship those books all the way to Asia! Then having to wait 2 weeks for delivery was not good experience either.

Kindle would be the ideal device for me if I had lived in the US! So I bought an Asus eee PC instead and is now using that as an eBook device as well as an ultra mobile PC (which I paid an equivalent of USD385). I have bought 2 ebooks from Mobipocket.com and enjoyed reading them on the eee PC very much. However, the battery could only last 3 hours or less. So until I could get a better eBook device - I would be quite happy to use the eee PC as my preferred reader. But I really envy those who are able to own a Kindle!

ASUS Eee PC 4G Notebook PC (7", 512 MB RAM), Pearl White

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