Using the Samsung Sync for eBook Reading

I received an interesting comment on my post about getting video onto my Samsung Sync mobile phone this morning. In the comment, Matt asks if I’ve ever tried to use the Sync to read eBooks. I hadn’t. But being an eBook user and fan, I took it as a challenge. Matt had already tried copying a text file over using Bluetooth and opened it using the Picsel file viewer. The results are unsatisfactory – clunky zoom and the need to pan all over the place to read because the text does not wrap. I suspect the text is being treated as if it is an image and this makes it impossible for the software to understand the document’s text flow. Matt had been on the right track after this initial attempt. He says he tried to open the browser and could not find any way to use the file:// protocol to call up the file in the web browser.

Here’s how I solved these problems and was able to read text comfortably on the Sync:

I took a Word document (it could have been any text format) and saved the file from Word as HTML Filtered. The “Filtered” option in Word 2007 strips out all the nasty Microsoft specific code that might not render properly in the Sync’s browser. I then copied the file to my MicroSD card and popped it into the phone. I navigated to the file using the “My Stuff” file browser and opened the file. Because it was an HTML file it opened directly in the phone’s browser. This result had two consequences that were an improvement over the Picsel file viewer. First, the text was sized properly for reading on the small screen, and second, the text properly flowed vertically and wrapped nicely so that no side-to-side scrolling was necessary. In addition, the browser allows you to resize the text on the page; there are three text size settings: normal, smaller, and larger. I found the normal sized text to be very much readable on my phone, and scrolling down for more text was not too bad.

Thanks again to Matt for asking this interesting question. I still find it really cool that we have these fantastic computers that we carry around everywhere with us and that fit in the palm of our hands. I feel like I’m in a Star Trek episode sometimes when I think about the ubiquity of this kind of technology.

3 Comments so far

  1. MattB on November 9th, 2007

    Hey, that’s great! Thanks!
    I’m going to try it tonight. I spend my days solving other peoples’ technical issues, but the night is mine (most of the time ;) ).
    Now if only I could map txt files on the phone to always open in the browser to skip that conversion to html step!
    I also like these little computers we carry, and try to maximize mine while also avoiding all the extra charges our carriers try to lure us into paying. I’m all for paying for things if you need them, but being forced into it when I could do it myself if they hadn’t blocked me is just infuriating.
    So thanks again and keep up the good work!

  2. MattB on November 12th, 2007

    I just tried it and just renaming the text file to have the .html extension works well too. No formatting, but if you want to drop something on there quickly it can be done without actually converting it to html. Thanks again!

  3. Clay on November 12th, 2007

    Nice quick and easy solution, Matt.

    If you want to keep the formating, a great tool for converting among eBook formats is the fantastic (and free) BookDesigner:

    http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/Book_Designer

    It’ll read most formats and allow you to do a “Save As…” to HTML.