Trying Readability on iPad and Kindle

I know some fanboys are in love with their tablets and claim they will replace any kind of printed media, that the book is dead, long live the book, etc. I do agree with them partially, and to all those who claim that books have this “special smell” (or other equally creative arguments), I tell them that you cannot stop technological evolution and that as a matter of fact some books don’t really smell well at all. However I am still partially in misalignment with those tablet lovers for the simple reason that I hate to go to bed with a glowing device that could serve as a landing strip for one of the V spaceships. But also because after spending the whole day in front of my computer, my eyes need some rest. To reconcile all my needs I got my Kindle, so I gain portability, avoid chopping down trees to manufacture paper but still I can have a reading experience similar to that of reading a book. Besides, the Kindle won’t kill me if I fall asleep while reading at night and it accidentally drops on my head (not saying my iPad would but probably there would be some cranial indentation). And don’t even try to read an iPad on the beach under the sun.

This being said, we live in a time in which we not only read books. For some, the Internet is the main source of information, and it is true that its ubiquity and its real time content cannot be matched by printed media. There is a problem however with reading on-line; we read on a web browser, and the format displayed is not necessarily reader friendly. Even when we are reading on a browser on a big computer screen, websites have too many things going on, since the aim is to be visually appealing and plain text is not too fancy. Just imagine an Internet full of Wikipedias, that would be quite boring from a visual perspective. And this problem is more notable when we try to read in a smaller screen, such as the ones of an iPod or a Kindle. However, there are solutions, and one of them is called Readability. I have become a big fan.

Readability

Readability is a tool that you can install in your computer. It integrates with the navigation bar of your web browser. When you get to a web page you really want to read, there are several options. Of course, you can forget about all this, ignore this post, and read it as a webpage. Or perhaps you can still read it in your browser using Readability (similar to the reader function on Safari), which is already a notable improvement in reading experience. But the really cool part is that you can send it to your library, and later on read it on your tablet via the corresponding Readability App, or (and this is what I really like), send it to your Kindle, and read it there.

I have played a bit with Readability and here are the results, for those who are curious. To make it even more interesting, I’ve tested it with a website in Japanese, to make sure there were no problems with the text encoding neither in my iPad nor in my Kindle. Plus I know you were all super interested in learning something more about neutrinos in Japanese. So these are the screenshots:

  • Firefox:

Firefox

  • Firefox using Readability:

Firefox using Readability

  • iPad:

iPad

  • Kindle:

Kindle

The verdict? It works great. There is a slight lag for the files to sync, especially with the Kindle. So if it’s a life or death matter that you read in that very same second this might not be great, but if you come across something you want to send to your device to read later off-line, it is great. And then of course you have those extra functions for sharing on Twitter or Facebook that are also quite cool. So quite recommended.

Disclosure – In no way I am linked to or sponsored by Readability. Not that I would mind, if they were willing to. Just saying.

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