Saturday, December 1, 2001

Reading ebooks on your Palm handheld


By Michael Connick

Palm handhelds are wonderful for holding reading material that can be valuable to enterprise users. They can easily hold everything from technical information to policy documents and even light reading for entertainment while traveling on business. You can even listen to audio books on a Palm handheld. All of the reading material you'll need and the tools to utilize it can be found on the Internet.

Isn't the screen too small for reading?

Quite a few times I've been reading something on my Palm OS handheld on a plane or in some other public place, and someone will ask what I'm doing. When I say that I'm reading a document, article, or even a book, the response is almost always the same: "Oh, I could never read on such a small screen."

"Have you ever tried it?" I'll ask them.

"Well, no..."

Most Palm handhelds have a screen about the size of a PostIt note. Since this is considerably smaller than the size of a paperback book page, most people assume it must be difficult to read from. This is not the case. The screen may be smaller, but the text is the same size, or even larger, than that of a paperback book. Since most people don't read an entire page at a single glance, Palm handhelds actually provide ample space for comfortable reading.

In addition, many Palm handhelds can now present text at very high-resolutions. Palm handhelds with high-resolution color screens are even able to utilize a technique called sub-pixel anti-aliasing. This delivers information that appears with a clarity rivaling that of laser printers. These devices can display a variety of font types and styles that make the reading experience little different from that of reading from paper.

Regardless of their screen resolution, all Palm handhelds offer a huge advantage over paper documents and books: portability. I commonly carry thousands of pages of text on my Clie. This would be the equivalent of enough paper to occupy an entire briefcase. Yet I can carry all this reading material in a package that fits inside my pocket.

What kind of documents can be read on a Palm handheld?

All kinds of documents can be viewed using a Palm handheld. Ebooks (business-related or not), copies of Web-based material, and copies of Microsoft Word documents are just a few of the types of reading material that can be read on a Palm handheld. I usually have several ebooks for reading when flying on business, several copies of Web articles I've saved for later reading, and a large number of Word-based business documents on my Palm handheld.