12 July, 2011

Update about iPAQ ebook software

Books on the move

Last year, I posted a quick blog entry about the state of free software for reading eBooks on the iPAQ. It seems I missed one other piece of software out, and boy is it a winner—aside from the few gotchas. The software's called ZuluReader, and once I point it at a collection of ebooks in EPUB format, I'm away and laughing.

ZuluReader Portable is a reader specifically for portable devices, and provided you stick to a couple of simple rules, you should be enjoying books on your portable device without any significant issues. The first general rule? You can't have unsupported files in the directory you point ZuluReader at, otherwise it has a nasty habit of falling on its nose and being unstartable until you correct the initial error by removing any files that don't work in ZuluReader. The second thing isn't a killer, but it does require leaving the application if you decide to change the fontsize used by the main program. Of course, you can simply re-start the application, and everything comes back.

The ZuluReader Portable program has a set of icons on the screen that are easy to figure out how to use, and because EPUB files allow for reflowing text, you're able to adjust fontsize up or down to suit without breaking things too badly. Books with pictures could be a different story, depending upon how big those pictures are, and whether the pictures scale well to a device that has a 240x320 screen. That bit, I don't know, as I don't seem to have any books with embedded images in (aside from covers, that is)—I've yet to find them.

Books on the screen

Of course, ZuluReader Portable has a big brother too, allowing you to read, organise and even create ebooks on the PC. There's also sufficient glue embedded into the program to allow you to send ebooks to whatever device you happen to be using, though you do have to have some form of ActiveSync or modern equivalent installed. The screenshots look pretty good, though different from the Mobile version. In addition, it's not the easiest piece of software in the world to use, so do grab the documentation—it will be really useful.

Needless to say, this piece of software has made reading ebooks a whole lot more fun, instead of limiting me to books available in Microsoft's .lit format. I'm happy...

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