Playdate’s Surprisingly Good E-Reader

Playdate ereader

Image credit: The Verge

Released by Panic and Teenage Engineering, the Playdate has become a popular full-fledged e-reading app.

The app comes with a handful of classic books preinstalled. Its black-and-white LCD screen is great for displaying text, which is crisp and clear. The drawback is that it has no backlight for reading at night, and the screen is tiny. At one point, a single one of Mary Shelley’s sentences took up the entire display.

But, like the device itself, the app is also very charming. You can scroll through books using the crank, which is weird but fun in a tactile way (you can also use the D-pad instead). Instead of telling you what percentage of the book you’ve read or how much time you have left, Playbook has a candle that serves as a progress bar, slowly burning down as you read. It’s less scientific but much more cozy, with the flame occasionally flickering.

There are missing features — there’s no way to jump around in a book without scrolling, for instance, and you can’t highlight passages — but the most significant hurdle might be getting books onto your Playdate. It’s not as simple as syncing your Kindle library. Instead, you must connect your handheld to a computer, put it in USB mode, and then drag and drop files into the correct folder. Before that, you must convert .epub files to .txt, which is relatively painless.

Let’s be honest: a $5 Playdate app will not be your one-stop solution for reading more. It hasn’t been for me. It would be best to have a Kindle on your bedside table still and carry paperbacks wherever you go. But just as the Playdate serves a complementary role, offering unique games that aren’t meant to replace a Switch or PlayStation, so does Playbook.

The app isn’t the primary tool for reading. But it works well enough and — crucially — is convenient enough that it’s great to have around in a pinch. Having a library of classic novels on a device the size of a credit card comes in handy — and, if nothing else, it’s helping keep me from buying another gadget.


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The post Playdate’s Surprisingly Good E-Reader first appeared on Good e-Reader.

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