Wednesday, March 25

24 hours with the eSlick

Foxit Software has created an Amazon Kindle type device based on the eInk technology. The device is called the eSlick Reader and I got my hands on one 24 hours ago.

I've wanted a digital document reader ever since I saw one of the first ones called a Rocketbook. (Leading to a family joke about getting a book about Rockets for Christmas instead of the aforementioned piece of technology) The tech has come a long way in the past 8 or 9 years and instead of basing the technology on a "screen", which is back lit and continually draining battery life someone came up with the idea of eInk. The technology is explained in the above link from Wikipedia and I will leave it to the editors there to say it better than I will here. Suffice to say that it is easier on the eyes and can be read outside and draws very little power.

The first thing I noticed upon unboxing my eSlick was the fact that it was very light and the "screen" was almost as bright as a white piece of paper. (A touch more dull gray than your typical printer paper) I hadn't even turned it on and it was reflecting a very natural amount of light. I had the option to compare weights with the Kindle yesterday and the Kindle feels like a tank compared to the eSlick's Geo Metro. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to this. The eSlick feels like something I could own hundreds of and be able to hand it off to co-workers and have them passed around the office effortlessly. It's thin, it's light, it's generic enough that I could have a stack of these on my desk to hand out to people to "read over" things. However with the current technology that is almost pointless as we can toss PDFs around and load them up ourselves. I'm just trying to convey the feeling that the eSlick gives. It's easy, it's small, light, etc.

The eSlick doesn't have a keyboard on it but I don't find that an issue as I don't intent to type on it. I don't write in my books so I don't need to write in this. (I would assume that down the road the technology would allow for simple note taking, but the Kindle and the eSlick do not offer this functionality right now.)

There are a few things I have an issue with with the eSlick: The first being there seems to be a bug where some people (myself included) can't get the device to transfer data any faster than 1mb per minute on some computers. (My Mac transfers this slowly, but Vista downloads files normally) The buttons on the side are a bit much honestly. I don't need a "delete button", that could be a menu option, and the fact that it plays MP3s seems kind of silly to me. This is why we have iPods and the scores of iPod knock offs. On the other side of the device there are zoom buttons, which are very nice. The simple 4 way controller on the front (up, down, left and right) makes for easy navigation. Something that would be kind of nice would be a docking cradle for it so when I sat down at my desk I could just pop it down and sync files with it. Maybe later.

I'll be taking the eSlick with me to France this upcoming week, so we'll see how it reads and how long it'll take to burn the battery out. Granted the eSlick doesn't have some of the same features as the Kindle, but it's also about 100 dollars less and it doesn't cost anything to upload your own PDF files to it.

I look forward to spending more time with this device and seeing how it performs in the long-run!



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