Robert J. Sawyer—one of Canada’s leading SF writers—has published 18 novels, won the Nebula and Hugo, and appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Amazing Stories and other leading publications. His latest book is Wake. I’m reproducing with permission a post to Fictionwise’s e-mail list. Thanks, Rob, and we hope you’ll be back soon in the TeleBlog. – D.R.
Delivery was very fast, even to Canada. I’ve waited a long time for an E Ink e-book-reading device that supports secure eReader format. This device does, but with some major deficiencies.
These eReader features, standard on other platforms, are not supported:
- Dictionary lookup
- Adding your own bookmarks
- Seeing how many pages/screens are in the current chapter * setting margin widths
- Toggling justification on/off (mercifully, default is off)
Also missing is any way to change typeface. The only choice is Times Roman, or something similar; there is no sans-serif choice.
Features that are supported:
- Change font size
- Portrait and landscape reading
Biggest single problem:
The implementation of eReader software on the eSlick does an atrocious job of formatting text (and I mean atrocious—was this beta-tested at all?):
Periods, commas, question marks, and other punctuation wrap on their own to the beginning of new lines:
end of sentence
. Beginning of next
Or this sentence
, which has a comma
? That looks odd.
A phrase like "A U.S. senator" ends up as:
Also, line breaks are allowed after opening quotation marks:
"And so," he said, "
it’s time to say hello."
Incredibly, line breaks are allowed after apostrophes within words:
I really don’
t know what they
Line break are also allowed mid-word, if a word contains an accented character: the o in the following is actually o with an umlaut:
Other things that are irksome:
- The middle button on the five-way navigator brings up "Go to Page" [by page number, with no buttons for first or last] which is silly (how often will you use that?). Even sillier is having it come up with the number "5" highlighted on the little keyboard, instead of "OK." So if you press the middle button by accident—and you will, given the somewhat finicky navigation—it’s four key presses to get out of it. Down, down, left, center.
- The software uses the term "Bookmark" on the menu when it means "Table of Contents." Fortunately, though, if the book has a hyperlinked table of contents, it does work on the eSlick.
- No way to set margin widths—and, in my view, the default is way too narrow: if your lighting source is off to one side, the first or last character in each line often ends up in the shadow cast by the bezel around the screen. (I bought a black unit, but suggest you get white—the crowding of the text toward the edge of the screen might not look as bad with a lighter casing.)
- The file directory, which supports folders but shows only the filename, not any metadata (author’s name, publisher, year), and only shows the often confusing filenames that Fictionwise assigns to e-books, which sometimes include numerical strings at the front. For instance:
A Thousand Words for Stranger.pdb
And, of course, if the filename begins with "The," the book is alphabetized under the Ts, instead of where it really belongs.
The good news is that the firmware in the Foxit eSlick is user-flashable. Let us hope a new software release, with much better eReader support, is coming soon.