When I was younger, still in secondary school some nine years ago, I wondered why books cannot be in a digital format and we will be able to carry them in lightweight handheld book sized devices. How nice will it be, if all textbooks, homework and notes can be contained within it so all we have to carry about is that one device, and we can stop killing trees too. Best is if we can write directly on it, that would be even more convenient.

My childish dream isn’t very far off, it seems, with the upcoming boom of tablets and e-book readers.

Surprisingly, I don’t have an e-book reader, for somebody who has shelves of books (though I have far more mangas than books). I have a netbook, a PSP and access to my sister’s iPod Touch, but I don’t read books from them. Even though my netbook is lighter than my old laptop, it’s still bulkier for me to carry with one hand for long. PSP isn’t intuitive for reading, and I use it primarily for gaming and very little else. The iPod Touch’s screen is a little small and I can’t exactly hoard it to myself.

Thus my interest in the e-book readers and the iPad. Fortunately and unfortunately, there aren’t any readily available in shops for me to buy on impulse. Kindle has gone international, but is not officially available in Singapore yet, making it difficult to buy one and purchase books for it. Plus its proprietary format is a turn-off, though the pdf format support is a nice touch. I haven’t considered Nook or Sony’s Reader yet though.

iPad has just been freshly announced and I want to find out more about it as an e-book reader first. It seem to have a lot of nice multimedia features but I have my PSP for gaming, 2nd gen iPod Nano for music and if I need to do stuff with keyboard, I have my netbook. But it has a lot of potential, especially with Apps as a powerful ally. It just may become ‘The Device primarily for reading but can also do other stuff” that I’m looking for, so I’m quite excited.

If I were to buy a reading device, these are the basic of what I am looking for:

  • The usual: comfortable size, intuitive interface and usage (easy to change page, scroll, etc) and long battery life.
  • Ability to buy books easily, no restriction to one store, one format or one type of device only. *coughKindlecough*
  • Ability to read and transfer books and documents of other format (especially pdf, doc, rtf, html) easily.
  • Supports multiple languages, I especially would like to read Chinese and Japanese text.
  • Quick and painless battery charging.

I don’t think I’ll have to wait long for that one device, considering the state of technology now. In fact, I won’t be surprise if just a few years later, tablets/readers are capable of all that and still have many more practical and entertainment uses.

Maybe one day they will actually become the primary device for documents reading and handling that I dreamt of, replacing books, textbooks, magazine and newspaper. Even recipes and comics. It won’t be that far into the future, me thinks.