The Blio ebook reader program debuted today. Since Blio has a special deal with Toshiba, I downloaded the Toshiba-branded “Book Place” version for my NB205 netbook. Since Blio is a very unique program, with 3D page turns and other eye candy, I took the above video to demo the features.
Here’s the summary/commentary to the video: Blio is dreadful. It’s incredibly slow, it feels horribly cramped on a netbook screen, many of the page view features are more gimmicky than useful and did I mention it’s slow? The page turn options were annoying, though the 3D and two-page layouts were mostly readable (if slow). I have to emphasize, though, how very slow and unresponsive it was. And most frustrating of all? None of the sample books I tried even had text to speech enabled by the publisher, making it difficult to test a much-vaunted feature. I certainly wasn’t going to go out of my way to download a bunch of samples or even purchase a book in a program that barely runs well.
The other issue I have with Blio is how cramped the interface feels. I know some of this came from being on a netbook screen, but everything just felt piled together, with lots of dead space on the top and bottom. Blio is supposedly going to be hitting tablets at some point, and they certainly aren’t going to have any extra real estate on those! It’s just frustrating to see wasted space.
And one last reason to avoid Blio: it sounds like they had a major miscommunication with Feedbooks about inclusion in the Blio store. Feedbooks has certain standards (including supporting ePUB format directly) that MUST be met for them to partner with a site. Blio is using a proprietary format and included Feedbooks in their store despite objections from Feedbooks CEO. The Digital Reader has a good rundown of the emails exchanged about this issue, but it does not reflect well on Blio’s parent company.
Blio is free and can be downloaded here if you’re curious, but I don’t recommend it otherwise.
What I Like: 3D was nice eye candy
What Needs Improvement: Slow; cramped interface; limited books in their store