Tuesday, October 31, 2006

mTextBox - eBooks for your mobile phone

Imagine if you could bring all your reading with you without carrying all the weight. That is the problem the good folks at Mapada Inc. are trying to solve with their mTextBox product. All you need is an internet-enabled mobile phone. Once you download and install the Java-based mTextBox on your phone, reading is a piece of cake. You can choose to read text already uploaded by others (usually, public domain books) or you can fill out your own text to read. Every piece of text (be it a book or a grocery list uploaded by you) is assigned an mCode. You must enter the mCode for the text you want to read in the mTextBox application on your phone.

I am very impressed with the implementation of the mobile application. I was curious as to how the entire text of The War of the Worlds would be transferred to my phone. I was anticipating a long download time of a single chapter if not the entire book when I first entered the mCode to read The War of the Worlds. To my surprise, the book loaded nearly instantly. As I scrolled down madly to see how such a large body of text loaded so quickly I realized what was going on. The application was loading small chunks of text as I scrolled. This is brilliant because each web request to fetch the next chunk of text is unnoticeable. I wish mobile browsers could do the same too.

The second great feature of this application is that when you stop reading or switch to reading something else a virtual bookmark is automatically created so that the next time you go to read it will pick up from exactly where you left off.

I would not recommend abandoning the trusty paper back because there are no batteries that could discharge nor do you have to worry about coverage (like on a plane). But for casual reading or taking some notes or your grocery list on the go with you mTextBox can't be beat.

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