The iLiad 2 reader is a portable reading device far more expensive than the rest of the market and with more capabilities than most users need, but it has a small, loyal following mainly among business users. The iLiad debuted in early 2008 and is produced by Dutch iRex company, a spinoff from Philips which has worked with e-paper since 2006.
Like the other advanced readers, the iLiad reader uses e-paper to create a stable image, which, unlike a flickering computer screen, won't cause eyestrain.
Its main feature is a touchscreen in lieu of buttons. The integrated Wacom® Penabled® sensor board is the easiest-to-use format found in any of the eBook readers on the market today, in our opinion). It is accessed via a stylus, and the manufacturers emphasize its use as a writing tablet of sorts, for jotting notes, annotating documents, etc. It has been criticized for having a fiddly interface with many icons, but a long-term user will probably get used to that. We do like their page flipping mechanism, a long bar down the margin, which you flick one way or the other. With MyScript Notes, a PC application, you can convert the handwritten notes you make on the iLiad into digital text that can be used with text editors, spreadsheets and e-mail clients. It certainly does excel at these tasks, and we imagine would be very useful for business applications on the go.
The iLiad is very good with file formats--iRex claims that anything you can print from your PC you can use on the iLiad. The memory capacity can be increased simply by inserting a Compact Flash or MMC card. You can even insert your USB-stick into the iLiad to quickly read content. Interface languages are Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.
The battery is listed as 15 hours of reading and writing--far less than a Kindle 2's two weeks (with wireless off), though we believe they assume you are using it more than a passive reader, jotting things down and such, which is more energy intensive. Still for a lithium battery with five hours' charging time, and the low energy use of e-paper, we'd expect a better longevity. We also found the power connection fiddly--the plug should go in on the sides and not the bottom. And on the list of minor pet peeves, we found the screen refresh rate, at 1.3 seconds, just that tick too long--the same with the extravagant 44 second boot time.
Connecting: The iLiad has a USB port for direct connection to a PC, and it also has wireless Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities. These are very useful, but it lacks the nearly countrywide coverage of the Kindle 2's cellular-based technology.
Users create a free MyiRex account which allows you to make use of the iRex Delivery service (iDS) to download your daily newspaper, RSS feeds, and such. The service mainly relies on the Mobipocket reader service for purchasing ebooks, and it does lists thousands of titles. However, the selection pales in comparison with the Sony PRS-600 or especially Amazon's Kindle 2, and unfortunately, you cannot use their content on the iLiad.
Accessories: An iLiad Cover of some sort is really essential (only $15 for neoprene), as you don't want to damage or gouge the screen in transit. You can also buy spare USB cables, travel hubs, and AC power adapters, but these are all included in the original box.
Price: The iLiad 2 reviewed above costs $699 (€599, £547), while the slimmed down Iliad Book Edition, a variant which lacks WiFi among other things, costs $599 (€499, £399) retail direct from the iRex website. The large Digital Reader 1000S, which has a truly massive 10.2 inch screen, costs a whopping $895 (€599, £599).
Again, we think these Dutch readers are excellent, but their large size and hefty price tag will deter most buyers, and we do believe their are much better values to be had elsewhere.