I did a comparison between reading ebooks on the Kindle and on the Pandora a couple of months ago, and one of the key strengths of the Kindle was the integrated dictionary function. A tap on a word, and you get access to the dictionary definition. Unfortunately it was not possible, so far, to do the same on Pandora, but the recent release of Artha changes everything.
In the last week Artha was released, and in case you missed it, it’s an application that has an offline access to the Princeton Wordnet 3.0 database. So, it can act as a dictionary as well as a thesaurus. It’s very rich and can be used for many things. What’s interesting is that Artha has a hotkey function that makes it possible to call it from another program. You just highlight a word in any application, while Artha is running minimized, and Artha would popup in no time once you press the key combination. It’s certainly not as fast as tapping a word on the Kindle, but at least it works, and very well, at that.
You can use two modes: the default mode or the notify mode. In “notify”, the definition of the word would simply be displayed in a small notification window at the bottom right part of your screen, in a very unobtrusive way. Note that it only works if you are not in full screen (since it’s a system notification), and that this function only shows the first definition…
Personally I don’t mind having the whole Artha window popping up with more details, and anyway on the Kindle you usually see a new page when you want to see more details about a definition.
Note that I tried both FBReader and CoolReader with Artha, and for some reason the above trick does not work with CoolReader. It’s too bad, because CoolReader is very… cool… as well. But FBReader remains my favorite, and with Artha there’s now one more reason to prefer it over CoolReader.
So, while it’s not as visually pleasing as the Kindle’s interface, Artha fills a gap in the book reading category in a clever way. Now you have another reason to use the Pandora to read ebooks.
PS: in case you were wondering, the ebook presented here is Boneshaker from Cherie Priest.