February 21, 2010

How To Turn A Netbook Into A Full Page eReader

How To Turn A Netbook Into A Full Page eReader

by Staff Writer – February 21, 2010

So, you have a netbook that you find handy for different computing tasks. Well, with a little effort, you may find it easy to use a netbook as a full page eReader. That’s right, full page – not just a section of a graphic novel on the screen at a time. Plus, being able to view material in full color is something that dedicated eReaders cannot do.

Screen Rotation

First, let’s do a little research – pick up a paperback or hardcover book, and look at the width to height ratios. Do you see how it’s taller than it is wide? Okay, now let’s look at your netbook. Well, this is no good, it’s just the opposite – the netbook is wider than it is tall. But we can fix that.

We are going to use an Asus 901 for our example, but you can check any netbook reviews, to find a suitable netbook – they tend to be very similar in their hardware.  Now, in order to get the screen to turn sideways, the easiest thing is to find a driver that will accommodate it. This is the easiest path, and luckily Intel provides a more than capable driver for these chipsets.

As you can see from the driver screen shot, I only have to assign a hot key to rotate the screen when needed. I use <ctrl><alt> + arrow keys so that I can rotate any direction at will, but you can map as you see fit. The important thing is that you want to be able to pull up the reader and then rotate your screen, and get back from it after your reading session is over.

Get The Reader

Okay, we now have the screen rotated, how about the reader? Well, for most graphic novel works, I like the cbr/cbz format, which is basically a zipped or rar archive of the book images. You can find many comics available on the web in this format. But for the reader itself, I suggest you look at the program Comical. From the readers I have tried, this is one of the fastest and most dependable.

Download Comical and install it. Now, you will need something to read, so as a test try downloading Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now. Download it, and load it into Comical. Go to view/zoom/fit height, and then right click/full screen. With a little luck, you will have the following on your screen:

As you may note, the screen is hard to read, and there is a lot of black dead space on the sides of the comic. But now hit your rotate hot key assigned above, hold the notebook rotated in your hands like you would a paperback,  and you should have the following:

While the Cory Doctorow image above is made smaller to fit on the page here, you can see that it is a full page image, and quite readable. Instead of having to scroll up and down to see the page, you just have to change pages.

Fix the Keys

And this is where the next detail of our task comes into play. Again, netbooks vary, but on the Asus 901 the page down key requires a function + down arrow to work. This is rather awkward when you are trying to read, so we need a better solution.

The answer is in a free program called KeyTweak, which can be found at This program will allow you to remap the keys as needed for a number of uses, which in our case is a simple page down mode.

Download and install KeyTweak, and set up your new key assignment. After you do that, it will be simple to hit a key to go to the next page while reading without having to hit the function key.

Beyond Graphic Novels

Of course, it can be used for more than just Comics. For example, below is a technical PDF shown full page on the netbook:

As you can see, the entire table is on the screen and readable in the actual size full screen view, something that would be impossible with the standard orientation.

So there you have it, a simple way to turn a cheap netbook on its side, using the screen in portrait mode for a full screen display, and even how to map a custom key to make it easy to navigate. Once you try using a turned netbook for full page reading, I think you will find it to be a capable eReader for a wide variety of material.  ingredients in viagra Even laptops would work great as an eReader, and as laptop reviews show, there are many from which to choose.

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