Well, here I am again, still trying to find an eBook reader that will work on my Toshiba e800 running Windows Mobile 2003 SE. I found a humongous list of eBook readers, broken down by OS but not by price/free or if they are still supported or even which version of the OS they run under. I also found several links to .chm readers which I didn’t pursue because I haven’t found any free .chm format books, and Palm eReader. However, the Palm eReader turned out to be the same zip file as the eReader I couldn’t get to work yesterday. I ran all the following installs with the PDA powered on and connected via USB to my PC running Windows 7 Home Premium, and with .txt, .epub, .mobi, .plucker.pdb, and .qioo.jar files in an eBooks subfolder of the My Documents folder on the PDA. I also added the biggest ebook file I had, an almost-2-mb file of Bleak House in .txt, .mobi, and .plucker.pdb formats, to that ebook directory to see how the programs handled very large ebook files.

iSilo says it reads its own format as well as .txt and some .pdb files. I downloaded a .cab file for Pocket PC that said it required an ARM processor, which apparently my e800 has because it installed fine. It started and told me I was on day 1 of a 30-day trial period. However, even when I had it look in my ebooks directory, it did not see any of the text files, only the .plucker file which it couldn’t actually read. So I didn’t need 30 days to decide it wasn’t going to work for me and removed it.

Mobipocket Reader looked very customizable and I know Gutenberg offers many of its titles in their format. I downloaded the “Old Windows Mobile” .cab file for ARM processors and installed it without problems. But it doesn’t customize the items I would like to set. I don’t really care about the colors, which I can set, but I’d like to be able to permanently set which directory to look in and to list all the files in that directory, and I can’t. I have to manually change those choices every time I click on “Library.” It also takes a LONG time to load. The standard version is free, the Pro version is for purchase (I couldn’t find for how much) and includes the capability to scroll or switch to landscape mode. It automatically found the .plucker.pdb files (the “type of file” defaults to .prc) but couldn’t open them (error message was that they were corrupted, all three of them – right). Interestingly, Mobipocket couldn’t open any of the three .mobi files I downloaded from Gutenberg. Mobipocket was able to open the big Bleak House .txt file, but it took several minutes to load and there was another delay when I tried to do anything but simple page-down. But I like being able to read using the scroll button or the down-arrow button (which it treats as a page-down button) so this one stays, at least for the time being.

Tiny eBook Reader ($34.23 but with a free trial version) says it can read books of any size in txt (and zipped), html, and lit formats. I clicked on the .exe file and the information said I could add ebooks to the library by moving them into the My Documents folder or onto the CF card. It installed on my PC but the “finish” screen gave me the option of installing it to my “connected Windows Mobile with touchscreen” which I selected. It showed up on the PDA under “Programs” and started just fine, giving me a choice of folders to look in for ebooks. I clicked on my ebooks folder and it found the .txt files but none of the others. It opened Bleak House with no delay and I was able to move around in it with no problems. It did leave several .tbr files in the ebook folder, though. This one stays to be tested further.

I couldn’t resist a program named Tome Raider although it costs 15 British pounds (I got the free trial version) and appeared from the documentation to only read its own proprietary file format. It installed painlessly from a zip file and opened on the PDA, but I was right about it only reading its own format; it saw no ebooks until I downloaded a “trial” book from the TR website, then it opened the one I had just downloaded but every other page was “please register” so I uninstalled it. Too bad, I still love the name!

uBook ($15 with a free demo) claims to read .txt, .html, .rtf, .pdb, and .prc files as well as zipped files of any of these. Knowing now that I have an ARM processor, I downloaded the .cab file for Pocket PC ARM with Toshiba listed in parentheses. It installed, but gave me an error message that it might not have installed correctly because it was for an earlier version of Windows Mobile. But it opened okay and went directly to a 43-page User Guide. There is a nice clear (if tiny) page number at the top of the screen with forward and back arrows to either side. But there are also arrows pointing in different directions in the corners that are not obvious what they do, the type size is miniscule, and the program defaults to covering up the Start menu button – not a good thing as there is no quick way to exit the program. I finally found an Options section by clicking on the unlabelled buttons at the bottom left, but most of them were disabled, including the type size adjustment, presumably because this was the demo version. I paged down and the program locked up, I had to do a soft reset to get out of it – NOTHING worked. I still wanted to see what files it could read, so after the soft reset I clicked on the program again and found myself directly in the options section again and unable to get out AGAIN – had to do another soft reset and removed the program. It may be a great program, but if I can’t navigate around in it I’ll never know.

Vade Mecum is an open-source free program, although I couldn’t originally tell whether it supports Windows Mobile 2003 – since it hasn’t been updated since 2006, I thought it was worth trying. This is the Windows Mobile program to read Plucker files. The .cab installed but gave me the same “designed for a previous version of Windows Mobile” error message I encountered with uBook. But it not only opened, it found the Plucker files without further prompting and had a nice clear “settings” button at the bottom of the screen to let me adjust items like the directory where the ebooks are stored and what size typeface to use. It also defaulted to full-screen mode but it was easy to find the pull-down screen to turn full-screen off. It opened Bleak House in sections but remained pretty fast when I navigated both within the section and to the next section. It also let me use the scroll button on my Toshiba. I like this program! Even though it apparently *only* reads plucker files and I’ll have to go see which of the books I’ve already downloaded in .txt format are available in plucker format. It did create some small files of its own but they are safely tucked in a VadeMecum folder, not cluttering up my ebooks folder. Definitely on the short list.

Free Zulu Reader can read .epub and .rtf files. The .cab installed fine but didn’t actually run, which wasn’t a big surprise as the wiki listing claimed it would run under Windows Mobile 2003 but the download page didn’t list it. Removed from PDA but this was another one that I couldn’d get the icon out of the Programs folder.

There is still a brisk market on ebay in these older devices, and plenty of people like me who want the convenience of a PDA but can’t justify (or afford) spending hundreds of dollars on the newest one. That is why I’m going into such detail here, because everything I found on Google was several years old – I’m supplying info on what is available *now*.

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