Tuesday 9 September 2008

Boy's Toys

Gadgets fascinate me - the trouble is, I also think they should serve a purpose and should be very easy to use*. If it needs an instruction book its not well designed.

So I've been interested for some time in the concept of e-books. I love books, I've got far too many of them. But they are a real nuisance when travelling. It would be good to be able to take loads of books without their weight and size.

So far, nothing has come close. An American colleague has a Kindle - a pad with a screen and mini typewriter. The weight is fine, the typeface on the screen is good. But its a bit too clever for its own good (ie not easy to use) and the keyboard is too obvious. The idea is you can browse the web and download books on the move: good in theory, but it gets in the way of reading.

Sony's new e book is a possibility. Waterstones are selling it - I went to have a look. It feels just right, and even has a cover like a real book. But I visited three branches, and in each one the model on display wasn't working. (A glitch in the battery, apparently).

That says the technology isn't reliable yet.

I thought there were two other flaws:

- you can buy a download for a price similar to a discounted book. But you don't get the book. You can't have a book and a download - even though you've "bought" the right to access it. If you buy a CD you can store it electronically - but not (yet) a book.

- only some books are available. And there isn't a common standard yet - different publishers/bookshops/manufacturers have different standards. My book of the year ( Wife in the North , of course) isn't available.

So although I was ready I don't think the gadget is - yet.

Ithink I'll look at the iphone instead.

* I used to annoy computer literate friends, and probably still do, with the comparison between a PC and a fridge. We just wouldn't accept the unreliable idiosyncracies of a PC from a fridge. And that to me suggests the PC is just not that important in our lives. Useful, yes, but not integral. When it is it will work properly.


Anonymous said...

They do sound a great idea. Would save a few trees too.

CJ xx

Penny Pincher said...

Ah no - they wouldn't have the lovely smell that a new book has or even better still the different smells that really old books give off when opened after a long time...