Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Reading a book on an iPhone? OK (if it’s free).

Last month Amazon released the Kindle for iPhone application. It’s a pretty silly idea in some ways, because while the iPhone has a large screen for a phone, it’s a small screen for an electronic reader. However, the screen is very nice, so the experience works in it’s own weird way. Here is a screen shot of the reading screen:

As you can see the text is crisp and clean – there’s just not much of it on the page. You advance “pages” by thumbing side to side on the touch screen. It’s a straightforward enough interface, and I don’t see how you can do any better. It’s a simple app, but it’s missing some features that you get with an actual Kindle e-reader (although it keeps the pesky DRM, of course) – periodicals being the most major, but also annotations. I am not even sure it syncs properly with a linked Kindle, which would lower the utility for those that have both, but that’s not the point of this review. I’m going to focus on it as a stand-alone app.

I was very skeptical when I downloaded it, but it was free, so what the heck. I found that Random House is offering a free versions of some science fiction and fantasy novels through the end of May. Now, it just happened that His Majesty’s Dragon was the only 2007 Hugo Award nominee that I had not read (because it’s fantasy, which I tend to avoid), so I quickly snatched it as a test read.

So here I was, set with a free book to test out the free application, and you know, I rather like it. It’s convenient to have something to read when I need to pass a bit of time, waiting in line at the grocery, on the bus, or what have you. It sucks up batteries a lot due to the screen being mostly white, which is a down side. The novel is much better than I reckoned on it being as well, which I guess shouldn’t surprise me considering how strong the other nominees were that year.

To sum it up iPhone oweners could do a lot worse than downloading the app and one of the free public domain e books that are available. I’m just not sure it’s worth actually buying content for, for various reasons including it being a less than perfect general purpose reader (but it’s a very nice entertainer!).

posted by neil at 7:04 pm
under technology  

Powered by WordPress