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Monday, October 13, 2008

Electronic Handheld Bibles

You know, this weekend I was thinking that I would sure like to see a well-designed hand held electronic Bible that was easy to use, both for personal reading/study and while listening to a message. Maybe something that looked sort of like the Kindle, but with stuff that was specific to the Bible... like letting you view multiple translations on one screen, maybe tile them in the four corners, and turn them on and off at will. Then letting you either link them so they scrolled different translations together, or let you view several different passages from the same translation at the same time for comparison or to follow a preacher as he jumped around during his message. A quick lookup by book, chapter and verse, maybe with drop-downs to make it easier. Touch-screen, like my kid's Nintendo DS. I've seen the Franklin Bibles, of course; I used to have one (after getting a bunch of road use, it eventually petered out, and I ain't talking Simon Peter but that would be a funny pun, wouldn't it?). The Franklin Bibles just seem kind of cheap-pda-from-the-90s to me, though. Some of them even look like toy organizers you can get next to the Matchbox cars at Walgreen's. These days an electronic device has to be easy to look at, particularly for long periods of time (for heaven's sake, don't give people a reason to not read the Bible!), extremely easy to use, and flexible so it works however each individual thinks it should work. And gosh darn it, what's wrong with it being fun to use, too? What if the thing that gave me the in to share Jesus with someone was the nifty Bible gadget I was messing with on a bus or in a restaurant?

The problem with the Kindle is that it's designed to be a book reading tool, not specifically a Bible-reading tool. For Bible reading you really need some tools that are specific to the Bible. maybe the Kindle is flexible enough to provide those, given someone with enough motivation to build that programming into an e-text of the Bible, but I don't think it's the perfect tool. Someone who built the perfect tool would seriously smoke any of the offerings I've seen out there.


Jeff Jackson said...

I use Laridian on a PocketPC a lot and occassionally use Remote Desktop Connection on the PocketPC to access Logos on my home computer. What I'd really like is a UMPC that was inexpensive and small enough to run Logos, but they are still too bulky and way to expensive.

A PocketPC with a 4" VGA screen (iPaq 210) is a pretty confortable format. I miss my old hx4700, which had a metal body and was a touch thinner, but the flash memory in it died.

MJ said...

Funny... the director of the Bible school from my church is named Geof Jackson! (Don't let the picture frighten you... he doesn't look like a perch on the lake bank in real life.)

Probably if I had a pocket PC device I would give Pocket e-Sword a try first, since I'm familiar with the desktop version, and plus it's you, know, like, free and all. I'm a big proponent of free. I can almost always afford that. :) But for the kind of use I'd want, I'd want something the size of a regular book... maybe not as big as the leatherbound someone might carry to church, but bigger than a trade paperback. The problem with using a phone or a pocket PC or whatever is that the screen is kind of tiny... you can get 3-4 verses on there at a time and that's it. Plus, I'd feel like the biggest dork in the universe staring at my telephone during the message. :)

People with weak eyesight (particularly older people assuming the interface wasn't daunting to them) would be able to use something like what I'm imagining, too, if you could ramp up the font size.

Bob said...


If you see me in church some Sunday I can show you pocket E-Sword on my Pocket PC. It functions slightly different they the desktop version, mostly because of the screen space. It is however, much like its big brother.

I am usually taking notes with it when I am in 2nd service (when not working with the kids).
What is funny is when I am typing in notes using the built in keyboard and using my thumbs I have had funny looks from people thinking I am playing a video game (I guess). If I switch to handwriting recognition, it takes a few seconds to recognize and I will get behind Pastor Bob. Depending how long the verses are you can get about 5 to 8 on a screen.

Anonymous said...

Well, then your only chance is to use a tablet pc and the Bible software of your choice... I prefer the bigger- sized pocketpc phones with a display size of 3" or more. Both my old HTC Universal and my new Touch Pro 2 do an excellent job. But I have to admit that my eyes are very good.