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iRex Iliad

iRex Iliad
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omg. this thing is AWESOME. It's can only be WITCHCRAFT!

Proper review and better pictures to come, these ones really do no justice at all to the incredible display on this thing. SD card included for scale. ePaper ftw!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to READ. Without, hopefully, much discomfort.
11th Jan 2008, 11:46   | tags:,

Alfie says:

oh my. Now that's a christmas present and a half? I moved over to reading the majority of my books on digital readers quite a while ago now, even reading on the N95 is pretty great. For me it's the backlight issue as well as the fact that its always on you (reading in the toilet) that makes it better for me, can't wait to read a full review on this matey.

11th Jan 2008, 11:52

Geodyne says:


I hadn't realised that digital readers had come so far. I've always been adamant that the computer can never replace the printed page, but as I try to decide which 6 books to take on a 2-month trip, I can see the advantage.

11th Jan 2008, 11:58

mat says:

I've got ten books on that SD card alone (with 950Mb free space!), including a complete set of Peter F Hamilton's "Night's Dawn" trilogy, which runs to some 3000 pages of print. The Iliad has 128MB internal memory, and slots for SD, MMC, CF and USB. Plus you can sync it wirelessly with your desktop. Read* PDFs, html, rdf, mobipocket, etc. etc. There are tonnes of free ebooks out there, and most of the pay ones are only a few $. I'm working on getting a decent newspaper feed streamed to it, but in all honesty, I don't even want to hack it right now, I just want to sit down and read it!

I'm entirely uninterested in reading books on transmissive screens (ie, ones that emit light). This 'ere ePaper screen is reflective (like paper) though, and rocks balls. 166 dpi isn't quite print res, but it's certainly good enough.

* also notate. it has a stylus and you can write on PDFs.

11th Jan 2008, 12:01

jetblacknewmoblog says:

wow - that looks amazing. the 'pages' also seem to have that genuine off-white colour like a real book! (or is that the camera?)

11th Jan 2008, 12:11

mat says:

they're not pure white, it's true - as you say, just like real print books.

The white balance and the light in here is screwing with the photos a bit, I'll get better photos later with a proper camera.

11th Jan 2008, 12:44

Alfie says:

The thing I like about a backlight is that I dont have to mess around getting the right kind of bedlamp so as not to keep Jule awake when Im reading before sleep - where'd you get it Mat/Cost?

11th Jan 2008, 13:00

mat says:

True. But then transmissive screens are way lower dpi than epaper, so they're harder to read. There's a powered usb socket on the top of this, so I might get one of those little usb gooseneck reading lights for it. Depends.

I got it from, and it cost just about the right side of 500 quid, once I'd bought a book or two and a fancy cover for it. Not cheap, but it's a very nice device and it does a lot more than just read stuff. It runs linux, ffs. I can hack it!

11th Jan 2008, 13:11

JokerXL says:

What will they think of next??
Before you know it they'll have put a man on the moon to harvest the cheese!

11th Jan 2008, 15:14

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

I just contacted Libresco to see what it would take to offer 5 Story Walkup titles (and perhaps a short-story subscription service) through their online bookstore.

Wish me luck?


11th Jan 2008, 16:05

Rich says:

fingers crossed...

11th Jan 2008, 16:07

mat says:

Laszlo - don't. Their store is a rebadged, and they insist on DRM'ing everything they sell. I've spent ALL BLOODY DAY trying to read a book I've already paid for and it's making me fucking angry.

Go talk to, or or someone sane.

Oh, mobipocket are owned by Amazon.

11th Jan 2008, 16:22

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

How is the reader at reading stuff made/packaged elsewhere? How's the grayscale? What "sizes" should PDF pages be in order to be presented well to the reader? If you shove something print-quality on it, will it be too big? If you give it something screen-res (for computer displays) will it look crappy?

If I can figure these things out, I can make my own damn online store and sell everyone else's books through that....


11th Jan 2008, 16:30

Dhamaka says:

Interested in your answers to Xalieri's questions too
(and wtg Xalieri - if you decide to do that and would like some help let me know)

11th Jan 2008, 16:32

mat says:

oh, it's fine. it'll read almost any text format. I've been reading some custom PDFs - 12x15cm page, 12pt Times font looks awesome. AS for size, I don't know yet. Biggest thing I've opened is a 2MB html file, and that seemed fine. I've heard of people opening 50MB+ pdfs on 'em. Grayscaling is brilliant - 16 shades is just fine. As for print quality - should be OK. The screen is 166dpi, but it should scale stuff as appropriate.

Check out feedbooks, that's much more up the OpenSource alley. they store everything in ODF, and then have output filters on their download pages. S'neat.

11th Jan 2008, 16:39

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

Feedbooks looks pretty damned cool and ought to suit the purposes for giveaways and promotions. If I'm looking to sell (though not really looking to sell DRMed stuff) I may have to keep looking.

If I send you a link to a PDF, could you tell me how it looks? And also, how well does it handle password-protected PDFs (not that that's part of the model I'm thinking of, but for handing out pre-published review copies, I kinda have to keep some security on 'em, even if it's weak and lame).

Dhamaka, I could always use some help. :) If this looks like something to open up for submissions/promotions/public use soon, I'll happily keep you in the loop.


11th Jan 2008, 17:15

Dhamaka says:

cool - and a pleasure

11th Jan 2008, 17:33

mat says:

Feel free to email/link me something and I'll happily check it out. Not sure about passworded pdfs, but apparently mobipocket DRM is the only one worth a damn (ie, anything else is all-too-easily breakable). I believe they have a free tool for creating content, check their website.

In my still rather limited experience, are someone I hear people talking about in glowing terms, but I'd be interested to hear about anywhere ebooky that hasn't already been mentioned.

11th Jan 2008, 17:37

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

Baen is awesome, but they're their own publisher last time I checked, and not a distributor. Unless I'm wrong, I'd have to get everything accepted for publication by them and sign over the rights or sign up to become a sub-imprint....and that could be either cool or icky. Depending on the percentages. And whether I could still choose what to publish.

These three have subtle differences in creation options, but they all have the same overall formatting and access passwords. Which shall be coming your way via the comments system.

I'd really love to stay out of mobipocket/Amazon's pocket, if I can....


11th Jan 2008, 17:46

mat says:

OK, I just opened a 11MB, 5500 page PDF (Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy), and it's just fine.

OpenDoc formats are better than pdf though, as pdf is for print and don't let you resize fonts and the like. The mobipocket format is open, and really really good*, it's just their store is rammed with DRM which really spoils it. I don't really know as much as I'd like to about stuff like this yet, but I'm sure I will.

* put it this way, the Night's Dawn book in mobipocket is only 5MB, and that's with the DRM on it.

11th Jan 2008, 17:49

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

Peter Blanchard over at confirms your link to mobipocket. He says the only reason he has the damn store is as an assurance that the device will display ebooks found/purchased online or already existing in people's collections.

I can see that getting this sorted is just going to take some extra thought. I'd love to offer a story-per-week kind of RSS subscription service, but it all falls down when I try to find a way to charge for it so I can do it for a living. Or at least pay for server costs and maintenance.

I guess I could just give it all away for free merely to become popular, and then make a living from charging speaker fees for giving symposiums and seminars. I understand it's a popular model.


13th Jan 2008, 04:14

mat says:

You could do a subscription model? Pay $x/[time] and get access to a weekly pdf? Maybe team up with a few other artists, graphic and text, and offer a mini-zine?

There is always advertising, donations, appearances and merchandise - that's how a lot of web comics/magazines/radios keep going. Perhaps if you donate $x you get extra content for a while, or something - like how mbUK used to work, way way back in the day.

If it's encouraging to know, I've never once been out of pocket on running costs for mbUK. Quite possibly out of pocket on my own time, but never for cash. A couple of carefully placed Google AdSense spots, or a "donate $2" paypal button, and you should be able to cover your hosting costs.

13th Jan 2008, 10:41

Kostika says:

I have no use for a device like this although I can see some serious future use for ePaper. So nice to see this kind of thing taking off and improving.

13th Jan 2008, 16:32

Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri says:

I have a use for this -- if it ran a full-scale browser (Flash-capable), had an always-on data link via GPRS/EDGE/+ (but was 802.11 capable where available) and handled VOIP telephone calls. And it's be cool if it had a built-in camera. And maybe something in color. :)

Some of those are optional.

Thanks again for the screenshots.


14th Jan 2008, 15:10

mat says:

You can't do flash, 'cos the screen can't update fast enough for animation, but you can have dillo or minimo web browsers.

You can put a modem CF-card in and do EDGE - or in developed countries, 3G :) - and/or dialup. VOIP might be possible, with the correct devices plugged in (usb headset, possibly).

It's running linux, so anything available for *nix is, in theory, usable.

Colour epaper will be a few years yet. You can buy an A4 colour epaper device, but only in Japan and only if you want to throw down tens of thousands of pounds.

latest developments in epaper (inc colour)

14th Jan 2008, 15:17

mat says:

14th Jan 2008, 15:22