Updated Iliad reviewed

Ed Baig in USA Today has a look at an updated Iliad reader. Similar to the device sold at Dymocks for AUD$899, the new machine appears a little sleeker as it hits the US market for the first time. Baig is unimpressed though. Whilst he likes the screen (bigger than kindle or Sony), he’s scathing about the software:

But the system is slow to boot up, and the interface is unattractive and unintuitive. If I turned the machine on when the SD card (with content) was inserted, the first and only thing visible on the home screen is an icon for settings.

Icons for documents, inbox and help showed up only if I inserted the SD card after the machine was turned on. An oddly labeled “up a level” icon on the home screen is a dead giveaway that iRex could use a lesson in designing far-friendlier software.

By summoning a main menu, you can rotate the display, add bookmarks, find words and look up dictionary definitions. But the only way to turn the device off is to summon that menu again and tap or navigate to a turn-off-device icon.

I’ll make certain allowances for a beta device. But I’m hard-pressed to recommend something this expensive and this much of a kludge.

Some of us have been spoilt by well-designed and integrated consumer electronic products (yes, I’m talking about the ipod and the  iphone) and have come to the conclusion that hardware is almost a commodity now (although amazon’s industrial design proves that hardware isn’t easy either); Bottom line is “it’s the software, stupid.”  

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