Sep 21

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

Illiad, a new ebook reader

One of the joys of attending conferences is finding the unexpected product that someone brought with them. At EuroOSCON, this came in the form of the Illiad, a new ereader from iRex Technologies BV.
The Illiad is an incredibly light and thin electronic book reader with a touchscreen and stylus. The resolution on the electronic paper screen is excellent. The hardware currently comes with the following interfaces: USB type A connector for USB memory stick, CF type II slot for memory extension or other applications, MMC slot for MMC memory cards, 3.5mm stereo audio jack for headset, WIFI 802.11g wireless LAN, and 10/100MB wired LAN. It has 128MB of internal memory for content, but will also be able to pull content from USB sticks, CF cards, MMC cards, and the internet. The full specs can be found here.

The firmware currently supports PDFs, HTML, and text files. Free, Illiad-formatted ebooks can be downloaded from Many Books. The Illiad also supports notetaking and annotating. It uses handwriting recognition software from Vision Objects (only available on Windows) to convert the notes. An SDK for third-party developers will be released by the end of the year.

The Illiad is currently available for 650 Euros. The Illiad is very light and feels like a good piece of equipment. If it comes down in price I may snag one for use on the road.

A writing sample:

A sample book, to turn the page just push the long bar on the left:

A sample newspaper page (to read an article just tap the screen with the stylus):

Update: I have put hi-res versions of these photos up on flickr in my EuroOSCON set.

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Comments: 6

  Tim Strehle [09.21.06 07:52 AM]

Our company has bought an iLiad for evaluation purposes a couple of weeks ago... It's far from being actually usable (but that's no surprise considering that their web site's title is "the first generation of products".)

The hardware (format, weight, screen) looks and feels great. The software crashes often, and I'm surprised that battery life is just a few hours even when the device is not being used. (Aren't e-ink screens supposed to not need electricity unless the screen content changes? But maybe it's because we've enabled WLAN access.)

What's extremely annoying is the general slowness - you don't want to actually read anything on that thing; it's so slow that you're getting afraid of turning a page or switching to a different book.

PDF reading currently doesn't have any features at all (no zooming, no searching), but even the slightly-better text and HTML viewers are light years behind the functionality Microsoft Reader has been offering for years. (I'm not a Microsoft fan, but Reader seems to be sensible e-book reading software.)

I hope they'll find a way to improve on all this, because I do believe in e-book readers and it's wonderful hardware. It would be a shame if they scared away all the "early adopters", there might not be a second chance...

  Grant [09.21.06 07:59 AM]

Anyone have higher-res screens of the illiad displaying text? I'd like to see the screen in action.

  Francis Liu [09.21.06 09:00 PM]

Can the page be rotated 180 degrees? I'm left handed and I often hold the book in my right hand. Obviously, they could build a model with the button on the right, but you'd think it would be cheaper to be able to rotate the page in software.

  Fred [09.24.06 11:57 PM]

I got an iliad too, which stays on for a whole day without any problem. PDF page turns take about a second which is as far as I know related to display technology. Guess you are using an outdated software version.

  Howard Roth [11.05.06 08:51 PM]

I'm curious if anyone has tested the Hanlin eReader V2 from a China based ompany called Jinke? Not necessarily a good company name to be used in the US, but their linux based ereader looks interesting.

  Spooky [10.12.07 08:02 PM]

Linux-based? Now you have my attention.

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