Monday, August 13, 2007

Editorial: The Foleo Needs eReader

I know that the Foleo isn't even available yet, however, I can't stop thinking about all of the things that I would like to do with it. There already has been a lot of debate about what should be included in the Foleo (read: YouTube for the younger crowd), but I wanted to keep the focus on more narrowly focused applications that can be added for or shortly after launch.

One of the things that I enjoy using my Treo for is reading ebooks. When I carried two devices, the Tungsten T3 and a Treo 600, all of the ebook reading was done on the T3 due to the fact that the screen was physically larger and had a higher screen resolution (320x480 on the T3 vs. 160x160 on the Treo 600). Moving to the Treo 700p with a screen resolution of 320x320 helped, but I always found that reading books and manuals on the computer better suited for a larger screen. (I no longer carry the Tungsten.)

Enter the Foleo with its 10-inch 1024x600 resolution screen. The Foleo will ship with DataViz Documents To Go and a Palm developed Acrobat PDF viewer installed. These two packages will allow you to read Microsoft Word (and presumably text and rich-text formatted files) and Adobe PDF files. This address part of the problem if the ebook you are trying to read is in one of the support file formats and isn’t encrypted, but does not completely solves the problem.

For a long time now, Palm has been including the eReader Palm OS ebook reader (also called eReader) on the bundled Palm handheld and Treo bonus CDs for years now. And as such, I've amassed a large collection of ebooks encrypted in the eReader file format. In addition to the Palm OS application, eReader has also made Windows Mobile/Pocket PC, Mac OS X, and Windows versions of their reader application available for download. Customers are free to buy an encrypted ebook and view it on multiple devices as long as the free reader for your specific platform was installed.

I was rather surprised to see eReader missing from the list of partners who will be releasing software for the Foleo on launch day. I would really like to see eReader get behind the Foleo and offer their customers the option of reading purchased ebooks on another platform as I feel that the larger screen and higher resolution will only enhance the enjoyment of being able to read an ebook while traveling with the Foleo. As I see it, the Foleo has the potential to offer eReader customers a larger view of the "page" along with adjustable font sizes. The longest running and often sited complain I've heard from corporate users, the Foleo's target market, is that the screens of mobile devices are just too small. Here is an opportunity to capitalize on that complaint.

What do you think about the Foleo as an ebook reader? Leave your comments in the discussion thread.

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