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Godspeed eBible Review

The Hardware | The Software | A Comparison and Final Thoughts

A Comparison

In an interview with TechTV, Walt Wilson said, "I didn't think of [the eBible] as a Palm Pilot for the religious. I just thought of it as a product that would integrate various aspects of my life. And that was the spiritual aspect which was not included on my Palm Pilot." While this is true out of the box, programs can be easily added to Palm OS or Pocket PC devices to include the spiritual aspect. As I stated at the beginning of the review, the eBible seems to be targeted at people who only want an electronic Bible or an ebook reader so comparing to PDAs is a little unfair. Ebook readers and PDAs are aimed at different people and so inherently have different features and functions by design. But there is enough overlap between the two and most people are not going to carry both so ultimately the question will still arise, how does the eBible compare to Palm OS or Pocket PC devices.

Palm OS Comparison

For a grayscale (black and white) screen device, the Sony Clie SJ20 costs $150. It has a high resolution screen (320 x 320), 16MB of RAM, a Memory Stick expansion slot, and a jog dial. It doesn't play MP3s without the Clie Audio Adapter for $100. So for $250, it's a fairly comparable device.
For $50 more, the just announced Sony Clie SJ33 adds a color screen, a faster processor, and a built in MP3 player.
The HandEra 330 has a large screen with a virtual Graffiti area and a resolution of 240 x 320. I think it's over priced at $300 (the price hasn't dropped since it's introduction several years ago), but a refurbished unit costs $150. It features a voice recorder, a CompactFlash and a Secure Digital slot, and a jog wheel. It doesn't play MP3s and it uses a serial connection instead of USB.

Here are two different software packages for comparable features to eBible's

BibleReader with KJVFree
Devotions and Spurgeon's Morning and Evening$10
MyBible with KJV or NLT$30
DailyReader with By Faith Alone$23

Pocket PC Comparison

There isn't a grayscale Pocket PC currently available, but there are several color devices for $300. The HP iPaq h1910 has a 240 x 320 screen, 200MHz processor, 64MB RAM (48MB user accessible), a Secure Digital slot, a microphone, and Windows Media Player which can play music and video files.

Here are two different software packages for comparable features to the eBible's.

BibleReader with KJVFree
DailyReader with By Faith Alone$23
PocketBible with KJV or NLT$30
DailyReader with By Faith Alone$23

Comparison Conclusion

For $274 to $321, I can get a Palm OS device that is nearly identical in software features to the eBible. For $50 more, I can get a color Palm OS device. If I don't care about listening to music, I can subtract $100 from the cost, making it as little as $174. For $344 to $374, I can get a color Pocket PC that has all the same software features as the eBible. While I do have to purchase and install the software separately, I have a wide variety of choices of devices and software to choose from. I can choose all or some of the features. I'm not limited to what came in the box. However, I don't get a large screen of the eBible which is nice for reading (albeit grayscale) and it does require hunting for software if I don't know where to look.

Final Thoughts

The Godspeed eBible does have some nice features, especially for it's target market. The eBible's display is one of the largest for handheld devices, it has Bible software and other tools are preinstalled, it has an ebook reader with nice highlighting features, it plays MP3s, it can record voice recordings for several hours, and it has basic PIM software. Godspeed has a good library of Christian books and materials for the eBible and is continuing to expand it. If that is all you want to do with a handheld device, then the eBible is a good choice. The eBible is ready for you to use when you pull it out of the box (be sure to charge it first).

If you are looking for a device that does one thing more than what is listed above, a Palm OS or Pocket PC device is a much better choice for you. The proprietary operating system with no third party developers means the only programs available are already on the device. After using a device with a color display, I would be hard pressed to use a device with a grayscale display again regardless of operating system. For me, color isn't just for games, color is easier and more comfortable to read. While Godspeed has a good selection of religious books available, there aren't that many popular books available for the eBible. The PIM software is very basic and the calendar program only schedules events in half hour blocks. Comparing the features of the eBible's Bible software to Palm OS and Pocket PC Bible software puts the eBible's software about in the middle. It does have some very nice features but also suffers from some quirks and problems. PDA users will notice one feature that is missing from the eBible, the IR port. Without that I can't send information and programs to another devices as I frequently do. According to Godspeed's web site, they will be releasing Bible software for the Palm OS. I don't know if they are just expanding or hedging their bets. Either way, I hope they bring something new to the Palm OS.

The eBible is expensive at $300, but spending $300 for a device that does everything you want out of the box isn't bad. And that becomes the deciding factor for if you should buy an eBible or some other device: does the eBible do everything you want to do with a handheld out of the box? If it does, then the eBible could be a good choice for you. If it doesn't, then a PDA is the better device for you.

Price: $300

-Preinstalled Bible software and tools
-Large 5.6" display
-Good battery life
-Removable battery
-Built-in MP3 player
-Voice recorder
-Expandable memory with Smart Media cards
-Readily available ebooks

-Not designed for left handed users
-Slow processor
-Grayscale display
-Not Macintosh compatible
-No third party developers
-Bible software is average

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The Hardware | The Software | A Comparison and Final Thoughts

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