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Ask Slashdot: Rugged E-book Reader? 126

Posted by timothy
from the toughbook-is-copyrighted-though dept.
First time accepted submitter Augury writes "I'm about to undertake a lengthy trip involving travel through dusty, damp and drop-inducing environments. When it comes to packing for such a trip, reading is a fundamental need, to help while away the inevitable hours spent in transit lounges, at bus stops and on beaches. The weight and bulk of the dead tree approach makes it impractical, so an e-book reader seems ideal — does anyone have any experience with ruggedising an e-book reader for such conditions?"
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Ask Slashdot: Rugged E-book Reader?

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  • Cases (Score:5, Informative)

    by somersault (912633) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @08:38AM (#40929989) Homepage Journal

    If you get a proper hard case, and a waterproof bag (there are plenty out there intended for tablets, ebook readers and the like), then you can probably choose any ereader, while being protected against impact while travelling, and dirt/moisture when using it on the beach.

    I've had a couple of Kindle screens die on me simply from being bent slightly while in my rucksack to/from work. They were in a case too, but it wasn't the sturdiest of cases. I have a 10" tablet anyway, so now I use that for reading when I travel. Obviously the battery life is nowhere near as good, but it's fine if you're able to recharge every day or two.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And as for the waterproof bags, quart-size ziploc freezer bags work fine for Kindles; gallon-size ones work for 10" tablets. $1.50-$3.00 will get you anywhere from 10-30 bags, too.

      • Re:Cases (Score:4, Informative)

        by Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @08:59AM (#40930227)
        In addition to this. I used them for a trip trough Kazakhstan and India and it keeps the dust (and moist) out perfectly. I had my nettop in a soft(foam rubber) shell, and that in a ziplock bag. The nettop is still with me :-) Passports/tickets/spare credit card where also in a ziplock bag. I tested it first in the sink with some tissues, it is as water tight. Pro tip: When packing, put the ziplock bag on the mattress, press the air out with a pillow and then seal it. That way you'll save space.
        Oh, and another thing: Be sure to have a dead-tree-travelguide with you. Ive seen many stranded because their kindle was out of power/broken/stolen and didn't know what to do. In a book one can make notes and plan routes easier too. Oh, and make sure you avoid LonelyPlanet if you go for dead-tree, those absolutely and utterly worthless :-S
        • by Anonymous Coward

          I disagree. LonelyPlanet maps are very good (much better than RoughGuides or any of the American things) and the book is full of places that you can avoid.

          Plus they give the best advice on public transport.

          • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

            Lonely Planet used to do a good job until their redesign around 2003. Critical information was centrally located, and important items (such as language reference and major maps) were at the covers.

            While it is easy to bag on the people who look at the guidebook as an itinerary, they do serve a useful purpose of consolidating information about a place. Never would have found places like Sihanukville, or how to get out of Phou Khoun when the bus broke down without one. It is also hard to get a sense of what

          • Par example: I tried to find the Chinese embassy in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) The address in the LP is about 10 kilometres away from where it actually is. And it is there for nearly 10 years now. On the website there were many who complained and pointed at the right address and lots of those postings were done well before my edition was reissued. The people from the embassy told me that they wrote to LP, mailed them and phoned them but to no avail. Prices are (nearly always) incorrect, bars/restaurants/hotels th
          • <quote><p> and the book is full of places that you can avoid.</p><p></p></quote>
            Besides, I rather have a guide that tells me where to go... Its why I bought it...
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Quite right, and I use them myself occasionally to read in the bathtub - the issue with freezer bags though is they're not really designed with redundancy in mind. Do a side by side comparison between a freezer bag and a quality transparent drybag and you'll notice that the heat-fused seams on the drybag are considerably wider, possibly doubled, and quite likely have rounded corners that avoid the high stress concentrations that occur in a square corner. The material is also likely to be thicker and more

    • by fafaforza (248976)

      I've been carrying my Sonly PRS-505 and now the PRS-650 in the back pocket of my jeans since like 2008 and never had an issue. Maybe the metal case makes the whole thing more rigid. But Sony too has gone to plastic casing with the PRS-T1, and a coworker's screen died after 3 months of ownership after, according to him, lightly pressing against a subway turnstile while it was in the bag.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Sony used to make great hardware, but I wouldn't trust ANYTHING with their name on it anymore.

    • I second this. I have one of the leather covers from amazon itself on the kindle touch. The kindle stays on my bicycle at all times. Except from water, the hard cover does the trick (it surrounds the kindle in plastic on the back, and hard leather on the front.

  • There's so much to do at Burning Man. Don't read a book, go volunteer at the post office or get into some crazy shit.

    • by rvw (755107)

      There's so much to do at Burning Man. Don't read a book, go volunteer at the post office or get into some crazy shit.

      Plus ebooks don't burn that nice. Bring a book if you need a break and burn it at the end!

  • Just pack the kindle, kobo or whatever with your camera gear in a hard case.
  • I loved my Amazon Kindle. For about 3 weeks, after which it broke. It wasn't abused; I just wasn't willing to spend another 30% of the purchase price for a cover. I replaced it with a smartphone and haven't missed the Kindle since.

    • Contrary to your personal preferences, many people who read a lot prefer a dedicated reader and do not want (or desire) the added distractions of a tablet. And an e-reader will last for a couple weeks on a charge. Will your tablet or smartphone? In fact I'd suggest that anyone who is travelling in unconventional ways should bring an older 'dumb' phone which can last close to two weeks on standby with similar talk time as things like iPhones.

    • by melikamp (631205)
      Actually, your Kindle was broken when you bought it. Unless you want your books to disappear while you are reading them, I'd suggest this rugged beast [zareason.com].
      • by Altanar (56809)
        Neat! An LCD screen *and* a battery life of 14 hours? Let me throw away my Kindle that I can use outside in the sun and that I have to charge once a month, and replace it with this bad boy. Because I will *gladly* pay $349 for a tablet instead of buying a $99 Kindle for a bunch of extra features that I don't want or won't use.
    • by Altanar (56809)

      30% of the purchase price for a cover.

      Which says more about the prices of Kindles than it does for covers. Average price for a Kindle cover is $20.

    • I loved my Amazon Kindle. For about 3 weeks, after which it broke. It wasn't abused; I just wasn't willing to spend another 30% of the purchase price for a cover. I replaced it with a smartphone and haven't missed the Kindle since.

      Must have been something dreadfully wrong with your Kindle out-of-box.

      I've been using my eReader for three or four years now. I don't have to charge it as often as once every three weeks, much less worry about breaking it. I've dropped it several times, including twice onto con

    • by osssmkatz (734824)
      I'm confused. Your device is covered under warranty if it broke after three weeks. Use it.
  • by Synchis (191050) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @08:48AM (#40930101) Homepage Journal

    I think it would likely be easier to find a ruggedized case for a popular cell phone than an eReader, and then you could load the eReader app of all the popular sites onto it. (Amazon, B&N, and Kobo all have Smartphone apps that work with their services)

    I'm actually quite fond of reading on my cell phone. I carry it with me everywhere anyway, so any time I have a few seconds to read, I've got it out with a book open.

  • A plain bag ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I use a ziploc bag to read on the beach. Simple, cheap and efficient.

  • Personally, I'd only take a smartphone with a protective case. I really enjoy reading books on the kindle app for iPhone and Andriod. This saves you the trouble of caring around yet another unnecessary bit of hardware. Virtually all phones have cases you can get that ruggedize them.

  • Advantages:
    * Cheap (dispensable), $90 on eBay as a refurb. If anything happens you just take your microSD out and put it into a replacement.
    * Rubberized case is easy to hold with one hand
    * Lots of case options (neoprene, hard front to protect the screen, etc)
    * Next/Back buttons are part of the skin, not individual keys that take in dust.
    * Screen is inset from frame, adding some protection
    * Roots easily so you can add more options (RSS readers, customize screen refresh options, dictionaries, PDF and other er

    • by Altanar (56809)
      Why bother rolling the dice on a $90 refurb on eBay, when a brand new one from B&N is $99?
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Considering that the Simple Touch retails for $99 w/free shipping and full warranty I'd say $90 for an ebay refurb is a complete ripoff. Not to mention that price doesn't really win it any awards - pretty much any entry-level ereader goes for that price or less. And if you know you're going to be in electronic-hostile environments where a dust/dry-bag will make sense then a non-touch reader (which won't detect "touches" by the bag) and quality bag will set you back about the same amount.

      It's also worth no

  • I've had good luck with my PocketBook e-reader. I've traveled a lot with it and it has taken a lot of abuse.

  • Dish towel and a large ziplock bag. You're welcome.
  • It seems to me an eInk display is a good idea here because of its performance under open sunlight.

    The Nook is rootable, fits in a cargo pants pocket, and has incredible battery life.

    There's waterproof cases to be had on eBay, but I prefer a pleather booklet cover. The Nook's front face seems pretty watertight and I use a drybag for watertight storage.

    It's only barely useable for browsing, but it's a beast for ePubs and passable for PDFs.

  • I've traveled a little with my e-ink (B&W) Nook from a few years ago, including a couple week-long road trips on my motorbike. The basic e-ink models are pretty cheap and the battery life is better than the color ones. That's about as "ruggedized" as you're going to find.

    You want to be a bit protective of the screen; if poked hard by something else in your bag (such as a corner of a hard object pressed against it), it can damage the layer that changes black-to-white and leave a permanent dark spot. I

  • Get the basic kindle and invest in a decent case. I have the official amazon case with the built-in light which is very handy for travelling. The light uses the Kindle's battery, which still manages to last for several weeks.

    I think it's rugged enough. There's no glass in the screen, and no vents for dust to get in. No, it's not waterproof, but it's only $100. Anything more rugged (if it exists) will be more expensive and just as prone to theft.

  • If it can withstand the brutal torture of a 3 year old, it can withstand anything.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "If it can withstand the brutal torture of a 3 year old"

      Your ideas intrigue me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • If you are traveling you may just want to pick up a few paper books. Several reasons for this. 1) cost. Although some paper books can and do cost a lot if you pick something cheap it makes sense. 2)you don't have to worry about power 3) Stealing something valuable. Where ever you go you have to be on your guard since they see you have this high price item and will be thinking you got a lot of cash, time to liberate it for themselves. 4) Safety. See #3. If you have something nice and shiny, depending upon th
    • by Archon-X (264195)

      Honestly, you must not travel much, or not very light, or - you've never tried travelling with an e-reader.

      Books take up huge amounts of space, space that most travellers have optimised with tiny tents, compact stoves and minimized clothing.

      They're heavy, they're akward, and when you're finished with them, you're stuck with them.

      The kindle (and its ilk) - are tiny, non-flashy looking, slip into any pocket, have months of battery life, can be pulled out at a moment's notice, and can even act as a web surfing

      • by BetaDays (2355424)
        I camp quite a bit and I don't travel light, I have 4 man tent of the 4 season type (yes I do camp in the middle of the winter), gas stoves that I use to cook for 4 people, 5 or 6 solar lights that I stake into the ground for night light (I have a kerosene lamp as back up), the usual tarps, ground cloth, clothing, gas heater buddy for winter camping (keeps the tent warm), gas heater for the shower (used a solar shower this is just better), although I did buy the 1 lb sleeping bag that is good to -20F, And I
      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        Honestly, you must not travel much, or not very light, or - you've never tried travelling with an e-reader.

        Books take up huge amounts of space, space that most travellers have optimised with tiny tents, compact stoves and minimized clothing.

        They're heavy, they're akward, and when you're finished with them, you're stuck with them.

        The kindle (and its ilk) - are tiny, non-flashy looking, slip into any pocket, have months of battery life, can be pulled out at a moment's notice, and can even act as a web surfing / email checking device when you need.

        I travel extensively, and the kindle is a must-have device.

        Huge amounts of space? Heavy and awkward? We're not talking about a student with a pile of text books to be lugged from class to class.

        We're talking about a couple trade paper backs to fill the occasional down/waiting time.

        My wife's kindle (not the latest generation) has an approximate volume of a single paper back and the weight of 2 or 3. So yes, 2 or 3 slim paperbacks will probably be more space and weight than your e-reader, but they also don't require cables or chargers. Yes, I know the kindle has

        • by slim (1652)

          Huge amounts of space? Heavy and awkward? We're not talking about a student with a pile of text books to be lugged from class to class.

          We're talking about a couple trade paper backs to fill the occasional down/waiting time.

          You're clearly not a very voracious reader.

          Around the time the Kindle was announced, I was on a two week work assignment in Tokyo. There's lots to do in Tokyo, but in the evenings I was usually pretty exhausted, so all I really wanted to do was read in my hotel room. I finished two fat novels in the first three nights -- I'd run out of stuff to read. Now, if I'd been in an English speaking country, I could probably have bought another book easily. But as it was, I had to plan a schlep across the city to Tow

          • by bware (148533)

            If I'd had a Kindle then [...] I could have added books without leaving my hotel room.

            and I wouldn't have met Julie from the American Embassy on a rainy Armistice Day evening at the Shakespeare and Co. on the Left Bank, nor the two Basque climbers who showed me around Rodellar for two days, nor the Frenchman from San Francisco in Railay. Nor, again in Paris, 15 years later, the Australian couple from Perth who bought my dinner and offered to put me up in their beach house next time I'm in the neighborhood.

      • by RealGene (1025017)

        They're heavy, they're akward, and when you're finished with them, you're stuck with them.

        I just leave them where I stayed for the next guest.

  • For just storage use a formed hard nylon case then when your using it make sure its in a waterproof case with strap so you can wear it and protect it from falling and water damage.

    If you can get around bringing the ebook reader just get some books on tape and put them on a tiny mp3 player or phone. If find this much easier to get my stories while traveling and one less device to lug around with me.

    Back in the PDA days I had an awesome rugged case for my compaq [google.com], the case was really thick, enough to ab
  • Kindle Non Touch (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archon-X (264195) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @10:04AM (#40931007)

    The Kindle Non-Touch could be your device.

    Background
    The shell is metal (titanium? aluminium?) - and can withstand serious knocks.
    The device itself is very slim, so easier to slide into the back of backpacks, pockets, etc.
    The e-ink display seems to take substantial abuse before it cracks - and if it does crack,amazon replaces the device for free.

    Jusitifications
    You're asking for something rugged - most people don't abuse their devices.
    I've just got back from a 12,400KM trip on motocycle from France to Kazakhstan - my kindle was in the top of the tank case for the entire trip.
    It endured being dropped on concrete multiple times ( the shell has chunks missing, but the device marches on ) - and also a small accident when I put the bike down - the tank case ripped off, flew through the air, had a solid impact - and the Kindle marches on. There's a tiny black dot (e-ink equivalent of 'dead pixels', I guess) - where there was significant pressure, but works perfectly.

    You can telnet / SSH to the device without modification, you can replace the screensavers, you can download / pirate books if it's your fancy.
    It's a pretty damned amazing device, especially for the price of $99.

    • I have a Kindle 3G and, although I love the device, it is not nearly as robust as parent suggests. Even with a [thin] protective device, the screen driver has died on me twice. Once while in a remote location where I had literally nothing else to read but tech manuals, and the other time it fell off my dresser. Both times I was seriously annoyed. Amazon is very reasonable about replacements, and the first was free, the second was half price. I am still in love with my Kindle but recommend a spare e-rea

      • by Archon-X (264195)

        You're using the 3G version - this is different from the Kindle Non Touch version. The 3G version has different build quality and backing. ..incidentally, I guess we've had different luck - I'm not exaggerating any of my claims in regards to my kindle.

    • The non-Touch Kindle as described goes for $79 here in the U.S. If you want to waterproof it, put it in a clear ziploc bag.
    • by Drethon (1445051)
      A guy I work with has cracked two kindle displays. Though Amazon has replaced them.
    • by Zadaz (950521)

      I've had one of each generation Kindle and the latest Kindle non-touch/ non keyboard is by far the most rugged of the group. Previous models would break or at least pop out part of the plastic case when dropped from a couple feet. The model cited (I think Amazon calls it simple the "Kindle") has a metal frame that has survived some rather scary drops with no problem.

      Previous models also had a significant gap between the screen and the case. It was probably 0.05mm, but it was enough to collect tons of dust.

  • Last year I spent a few months living on a small sailboat. One of the issues I had was that, well, I'm a geek. Solar panels, batteries, laptop, android phone, kindle... it all had to survive. As for my phone I just got a motorola defy, no further protection needed... it's worked great and have taken no end of abuse without a hiccup. As for my ebook reader, I got myself a cheap kindle and a cheap waterproof bag from some dealer on amazon. I think it's called TrendyDigital or some such. It has a neckstrap as

  • I regularly read on my Kindle in the bath. I just double-bag with regular ziploc bags, and I've never had any issues.

  • And go Cheap. Buy the cheapest Kindle Amazon sells, skip the bulk of a heavy case. As long as it survives most of your trip, call it disposable. If you can find one used, do that. Sometimes rugged is not worth the hassle.
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @11:46AM (#40932351)
    With most of the dry lock bags they start getting scuffed and become fogged and translucent instead of transparent. A quick wipe with Armor All and transparency returns. I use some double tough ziplock freezer bags as well and the Armor All works to clean them up as well.
  • I was semi-excited when cheap 7" tablets came out. I didn't ever understand the appeal of tablets, but when they dipped under $100 I decided I might
    as well get one and see what the fuss is about, and 7" is the right size -- it fits in my pocket so that I will actually have one on me.

    Bullshit. It fits in my pocket? No, it breaks in my pocket (cracked screen; still works but it's just a matter of time, now). Whether that's because I bought cheap crap (I did, so it's somewhat possible that's why it cracked,

  • Find a lightweight aluminum box at a craft store (try the rubber stamp aisle) that will fit the e-reader, line it with some foam from the same store for a snug but not tight fit, then put the e-reader in a ziplock bag inside the box. That should protect it from just about anything you can throw at it. Should be very inexpensive, also. If it gets broken, you've got bigger problems to worry about.

    My wife has used her Kindle in the bathtub inside a ziplock bag without any complaints. A clean ziplock does n

  • by manaway (53637) on Thursday August 09, 2012 @02:26PM (#40935289)

    Ask the enthusiasts at MobileRead [mobileread.com]. The Pocketbook 360 Plus has a nifty snap-on cover, good battery life, and survives ocean spray and bathtubs (not sure about underwater though). Or get a reader app for your phone as backup, which you've probably already toughened. Better yet, forget the ereader and visit with whoever's around, explore the surroundings, step away from the digital blue pill and into full spectrum analog life.

  • Not part of your question -- but you may want to seriously consider the perk of having FREE wireless internet access that works anywhere in the world (if there is cell phone coverage). I took my kindle DXG and it was amazing to be able to check/send gmail from Tanzania, Kenya, and even Amsterdam along the way. I love the DXG and it's been pretty rugged for me over the last year. I think if you are a hacker enough you can SSH from it to EC2 computers.
  • A Pelican case, and you're protected from just about anything that you could survive. http://www.pelicancases.com/1055CC-p/1055cc.htm [pelicancases.com]
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