As a book lover and tech gadget enthusiast I have been on a self appointed quest of holy artifact. This magical trinket, this temptation of men, this device which contains all the good and evil in this world can be think of as my personal Holy Grail. For 6 long and futile years I have searched and not found.

This sacred device is none other than an E-Book Reader. To me, a portable library is one definition of wealth. Imagine the sum of human knowledge that can fit comfortably on the palm of your hand. I have trouble remembering everything I see, so the idea of having information at the tip of my finger is extremely attractive. For the longest time I thought about buying an iPod and use it as a document reader. My friends called me crazy. They denounced my plan as a criminal waste. Yet, through all the disbelief and chuckle, I couldn't get the idea out of my head.

There is this image in my mind, of a man holding up an Apple, standing in the Garden of Eden. To possess the Apple is to know Good and Evil. Simultaneously, I would imagine me, holding an Apple iPod, and peering into depth of its screen.

Alas, this purchase would not be economical. For the price of 80G iPod at 350 dollars, I can buy a cheap laptop that not only read documents, play music, show movies, but also run programs.

This is a common problem with all the e-book reader devices. Sony Reader costs $300. The iLiad costs $700. Hanlin eReader V8 costs $300.

I know it is ironic, for I have just proclaimed the pricelessness of a portable library then I turn around and complain that $300 is too much.

I confess, I am full of contradictions. I keep working towards a sense of consistency, of harmony. Sadly I have not yet achieved that inner peace.

If you are familiar with Arthurian Legend, only the pure of heart may possess the Holy Grail (In my case, the e-book reader). The notion is made particularly memorable by Monty Python and the Holy Grail, "He who is valorous and pure of heart may find the Holy Grail in the aaaaarrrrrrggghhh..."

We don't know where aaaaarrrrrrggghhh is located. Life is like that, directions aren't always very clear even with Google Maps and GPS. In fact, even when I do achieve my Holy Grail, I might find the reward vastly different from what I have imagined. Having sums of knowledge in my hand is not the same as knowing or understanding.

"This brings us to another point of view on the Grail", Tracy Twyman said it best in her paper, What the Hell is the Holy Grail:

[T]hat it is a spiritual experience. The Grail is described as the most worthy thing that one can seek, and those who embark upon the quest for the Grail must be completely pure of heart. One does not merely “find” the Grail; one “achieves” it, and at that point is initiated into its secrets. Just seeing it causes an overwhelming, trance-like state of awe and reverence, and the experience causes a complete transformation of the soul.
I hope you have your own Holy Grail Quest. Maybe it is a girl or perhaps that new job. It is the journey towards your treasure that will transform you.

Einstein sums up this mythical moral lesson of Arthurian tale well, "You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created." Therefore, in order to achieve your dream, you must grow into it, and make it real. For me, that means before I can go buy an e-book device, I must go and raise my income level =)

~Random thoughts on pricey e-book devices.

P.S. I am also debating if I should buy the following items

Digital Camera:
Canon SD850 Combo [$389.97] or Canon SD1000 [$206.99].

Graphics Table:
Cintiq [$2499]
I don't need it, I am not skillful enough to utilize it, but by all that is holy I want one.

External Hard Drive:
My Book Essential 500GB 7200RPM [$124.99] or My Book Premium [$179.99].
I bought the premium one.

Computer Upgrade: CPU and Heatsink
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Toledo 2.0GHz Socket 939 Processor [$69] Bought it.
Cooler Master RR-CCH-L9U1-GP 92mm CPU Cooler [$26.99]

I will probably hold off on the digital camera, I don't take that many pictures. I want to buy the Toledo and update my computer in Taiwan and add the My Book Premium as a file depository between my Macbook and Desktop.

I also have this desire to build myself another custom computer and transform my Taiwan desktop to a XP/Ubuntu system. This plan is tentative, I will have a better idea once i get back to Taiwan.