Monday, August 13, 2007

Editorial: The Foleo Needs eReader

I know that the Foleo isn't even available yet, however, I can't stop thinking about all of the things that I would like to do with it. There already has been a lot of debate about what should be included in the Foleo (read: YouTube for the younger crowd), but I wanted to keep the focus on more narrowly focused applications that can be added for or shortly after launch.

One of the things that I enjoy using my Treo for is reading ebooks. When I carried two devices, the Tungsten T3 and a Treo 600, all of the ebook reading was done on the T3 due to the fact that the screen was physically larger and had a higher screen resolution (320x480 on the T3 vs. 160x160 on the Treo 600). Moving to the Treo 700p with a screen resolution of 320x320 helped, but I always found that reading books and manuals on the computer better suited for a larger screen. (I no longer carry the Tungsten.)

Enter the Foleo with its 10-inch 1024x600 resolution screen. The Foleo will ship with DataViz Documents To Go and a Palm developed Acrobat PDF viewer installed. These two packages will allow you to read Microsoft Word (and presumably text and rich-text formatted files) and Adobe PDF files. This address part of the problem if the ebook you are trying to read is in one of the support file formats and isn’t encrypted, but does not completely solves the problem.

For a long time now, Palm has been including the eReader Palm OS ebook reader (also called eReader) on the bundled Palm handheld and Treo bonus CDs for years now. And as such, I've amassed a large collection of ebooks encrypted in the eReader file format. In addition to the Palm OS application, eReader has also made Windows Mobile/Pocket PC, Mac OS X, and Windows versions of their reader application available for download. Customers are free to buy an encrypted ebook and view it on multiple devices as long as the free reader for your specific platform was installed.

I was rather surprised to see eReader missing from the list of partners who will be releasing software for the Foleo on launch day. I would really like to see eReader get behind the Foleo and offer their customers the option of reading purchased ebooks on another platform as I feel that the larger screen and higher resolution will only enhance the enjoyment of being able to read an ebook while traveling with the Foleo. As I see it, the Foleo has the potential to offer eReader customers a larger view of the "page" along with adjustable font sizes. The longest running and often sited complain I've heard from corporate users, the Foleo's target market, is that the screens of mobile devices are just too small. Here is an opportunity to capitalize on that complaint.

What do you think about the Foleo as an ebook reader? Leave your comments in the discussion thread.

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10 Comments:

Blogger gzwoep said...

It's one of the key personal applications I will want to run on my Foleo as soon as I get one. For business it will not be that important, but for my spare time I think it will be great for reading books. Now I use a Treo 680 all of the time for reading books and articles (I convert them with dropbook to the eReader format) and I can image the Foleo really enhancing the reading experience.

August 13, 2007 4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't just stop at eReader. I use Audible to listen to books on my Tungsten and would like to see Audible enabled for the Foleo.

August 13, 2007 5:11 PM  
Anonymous wlmoore said...

Hear! Hear! It's a natural. Especially since I expect you can browse for and buy books off the web directly from the Foleo.

As a twist (pun intended) ereader for Foleo should allow you to rotate the page 90 degrees either way. At LinuxWorld I saw someone hold an open Foleo sideways in one hand just like an open book. (Try that with your 17-inch laptop! :) Turn pages with the scroll wheel or Prev/Next buttons. The app writes itself!

I know the Foleo PDF reader allows page rotation.

August 14, 2007 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

I agree, an e-reader is an obvious necessity. I wonder though if it isn't something that could be easily incorporated into another application, such as an RSS reader or even Documents To Go. There are also some the enhanced readers like Tealdoc and iSilo which perhaps will be ported.

August 14, 2007 12:30 PM  
Anonymous BaDZeD said...

Actually I dont think DTG are sufficient for reading plaintext books either. You need something like yBook, which would support page flipping, better visual aesthetics, bookmarks, and ability to pick up the book from where you left off. As most of free ebooks on the net are in plaintext format (Gutenberg, million book project, fictionbook, etc.) it becomes clear that the eReader should not only be included but also not limited to the pdb book format.
On PalmOS the best bookreader (in my opinion) was PalmFiction (even though it did not support graphics) and what made it great were the versatility, customization options, and multiple format support, which were all missing in Palms eReader. We definetly need something like PF or yBook on the Foleo, as it would make a great device to read on.

BaDZeD

August 14, 2007 1:33 PM  
Blogger cstross said...

eReader itself is DRM-plagued snake oil.

However, the excellent FBRreader (www.fbreader.org) is a general-purpose linux-based ebook reader that can digest a wide range of non-DRM'd files, and it's already been ported to a number of user interface APIs (including Qtopia, Gtk/X11, and Maemo/Gtk on the Nokia web tablets). I figure getting FBreader running on the Foleo will be one of the first successful open source graphical application ports, and it's probably the best ebook reader I've ever used.

August 15, 2007 5:40 AM  
Anonymous BaDZeD said...

DRM or not, there are pleny of public domain titles out there to justify an eBook reader on the Foleo.
And don't get me ranting about public availability of books online. I mean how is it different from checking the book out at the library? Maybe the government should ban libraries as well then, since they are distributing copyrighted material for free? Sheesh.. There I go again. Sorry, everyone

BaDZeD

August 15, 2007 12:42 PM  
Blogger Mr. White said...

Yes, eReader needed. As a Palm user the foleo must replace my PDA or else i will be carrying laptop, mobile phone, PDA AND foleo.

And if the foleo does do what my current TX is doing, man I would be reluctant to change device. Lots of time and effort made to collect, test try out and collect all these precious software. Hope foleo OS can accomodate these software, man!

August 28, 2007 11:19 AM  
Blogger mala said...

Help; you said that you used a Tungsten T3 to read ebooks; I just got on to do that & use the larger screen, but the screen never enlarges past the 320 x 320 in eReader Version 3.0 which I have just downloaded; the rest of the screen is taken up by the graffiti area; how do I extend it? (the little icon which does this in other applications is greyed out.)
Thanks for any help.

February 21, 2008 9:18 PM  
Blogger Alan Grassia, Staff Writer said...

mala,

I was using eReader Pro version 2.x back then. I haven't downloaded or installed version 3.0. It sounds like, from what you are describing, that the hires+ screen format, 320x480, is no longer supported.
=(

Alan G

February 23, 2008 1:18 AM  

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