Blio – More than words

I signed up some time ago for the release of the Blio Ebook reader. I was looking for something like the ipad book reader app but for PCs. I had heard a little about what was planned and yesterdays announcements got me interested enough to download the app and kick the tires a little.
The press release mentioned
WELLESLEY HILLS, Mass. (Sept. 28, 2010) – K-NFB Reading Technology, creator and developer of the Blio[TM] e-reading software, today announced the launch of Blio, the most advanced, flexible, interactive and engaging e-reading application available to consumers. The free application can be downloaded immediately to all Windows-based devices at the newly designed, with applications for iOS, Android and Silverlight platforms available soon.
“Beginning today, readers of all ages will be able to enjoy a digital reading experience that truly harnesses the power of an e-reader,” said Ray Kurzweil, inventor of the flatbed scanner and character- and speech-recognition technologies, and founder of K-NFB Reading Technology. “By providing a full-color, flexible, and interactive experience, Blio redefines the boundaries of the e-book, opening up entirely new categories of multimedia content and, as a result, engaging new groups of readers of e-books.”
Which if only from the breadth of platforms anticipated seems ambitious. I used the application to download and browse some free books. The narration worked well on those that had the rights to do so. The highlighting and notation worked but I was a little surprised that notes were not indicated on the text when added but thought the addition of being able to look up items through google and other search engines – directly in the application through the included browser – was very seamless.
The main points for the app are summarised as
  • Blio displays books in full color, with fonts, pictures, and layout as the publisher intended.
  • Blio lets you sync up to 5 devices so your books can go wherever you go.
  • Blio’s BookVault lets you access all of your content, and download it to your device from anywhere you have an internet connection.
  • ReadLogic mode intelligently zooms to the next logical text block to simplify reading even on the smallest devices.
  • Multiple reading views, including: text only mode, single page, dual page, tiled pages, or 3D “book view” for realistic page turning.
  • Create a personalized list of reference websites for one-touch look-up of highlighted phrases.
  • Look up phrases or topics in the included browser, without ever leaving the context of your book
  • Have Blio read the selected book to you, highlighting each words as it does.
  • Insert text, image, or hyperlink notes directly into your content. These are saved, and can be exported to create lists or study materials.
  • Full support for audio and video embedded within interactive books
  • Supports touch interaction for touch-enabled devices
  • What I thought was lacking was the ability to add your own existing stock of ebooks in pdf or epub format – perhaps this is yet to come ?