[NTLK] Manybooks.net is interesting

James Fraser wheresthatistanbul-newtontalk at yahoo.com
Sat May 29 08:29:13 EDT 2010


--- On Fri, 5/28/10, Aaron Brigati <abrigati at gmail.com> wrote:

> I love my Newton, and it makes an acceptable e-book reader,
> but I can't figure why someone would say it's better than a
> modern, dedicated e-in device.

Easy: because a Newton can be had for <$50.  At that price point, you don't have to fret over damaging and/or losing it.  

>From a purely technical standpoint, yes, the Newton's display is decidedly inferior. Your points about the Newton's lack of contrast and clarity compared to 21st Century devices are well taken.  

However, I can't help but notice that even the cheapest e-book reader is usually priced north of $150; even used first-generation Kindles on Amazon  clock in at ~$200.  An MP2x00, for all of its technical inferiority, can be had (with a little patience) for less than a third of that: the last one I snagged off of eBay in November (an MP2000u) I got for under $40, shipped.   

Speaking for myself, the newer e-book readers are interesting devices, but are still priced high enough to make me concerned about losing and/or damaging them.  The Newton, OTOH, is something I can put text on and then throw around any-old-how.  If I lose/break it, well, I"m not going to burst into tears the way I might if I've lost/busted a device that's going to set me back three bills to replace.

Granted, everyone has a different price point at which they would consider a device to be a near-"throwaway" one.  It's just that, being the cheapa^H^H^H^H^Hbudget-minded fellow I am, the Newton represents a value proposition that's hard to beat, even with all its drawbacks.

Apart from which, most eBook readers I've come across (I haven't seen them all) seem to be designed for use in genteel, everybody-has-clean-hands environments.  I don't think it's a stretch to say that the Newton, with its built-in screen lid and wonderfully grippy rubberized green skin, might be considered a semi-ruggedized device.  If, like me, you really throw your stuff around, the durability of the Newton is hard to match: the Kindle and the iPad, I'm convinced, aren't likely to fare as well lying in the bottom of my bag.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that the Newton comes as close to the e-quivalent of a cheapo paperback book as it's possible to get. You know, like that well-thumbed and ragged copy of "Flattened Fauna: A Field Guide to Common Animals of Roads, Streets, and Highways" you (probably) cart around in the subway and other unspeakable places: if it gets dirtied, dropped, or stepped on, it's no big deal.

Finally, while the newer devices sip power and can go for a long time between charges, the Newton's 4-AA battery power source is hard to beat in terms of ease of replacement.  I mean, it's one thing if you're in the city and USB ports/wall outlets are easy to come by.  However, if you're on the road, it's nice to be able to change batteries in seconds and be ready to go. 

Anyway, as you say, the Newton is more than a decade old now and it shows.  It's just I'm not convinced that the technical superiority of the newer devices is *everything,* and that, depending on who you are, there might be some perfectly good (even compelling) reasons to use an older device. [shrugs]


James Fraser

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