Using the iLiad
One of the things I was expecting to be able to do with the iLiad was read RSS feeds. Since the iLiad has WiFi, I would like it to collect all of the pages linked by a given feed in the morning and then let me read them offline (sitting in the park or on a train), like a newspaper. Unfortunately, this isn't possible. I'm not sure why iRex advertises the iLiad as supporting RSS—I haven't yet found a way of doing it. It might have something to do with some Windows software, but I haven't owned a Windows machine for several years, and I don't feel that I should need to install Windows to use a Linux-based device.
The easiest way I've found of getting content to the device is to remove the multimedia card and put it in a reader attached to a computer (although this setup has a habit of crashing the device). In theory, the iLiad has the ability to get things from a CIFS share, but I couldn't make this trick work. There is an rsync port, so eventually I'll probably set up an unprivileged account on my laptop and have it rsync with my iLiad. Unfortunately, this option is available only when I'm at home, since the iLiad refuses to connect to ad hoc WiFi networks.
This isn't a huge limitation, since some news outlets have started to provide PDF versions of their content. The Guardian, for example, provides five PDFs per day, and a simple script can grab the latest one. These PDFs render quite nicely on the iLiad, although you lose the color in the images (and Hillary Clinton looks really creepy dithered to four shades of gray).
Reading books on the device is very nice. I use the service at Feedbooks.com, which takes public domain books from a variety of sources and typesets them using LaTeX specifically for this device. The result is a PDF with no borders on the pages, and each page is exactly the size of the iLiad screen. I've read several books on the device, including The Count of Monte Cristo (at almost 2,000 pages), without any eyestrain or tiredness. Most of the time the device remembers where you were in a PDF, and goes back there when you reopen it. Sadly, if you let the battery go flat, it loses this information. With no "jump to page" feature, getting back to where you were in a 2,000-page novel is incredibly difficult. You can click approximately where you were on the progress bar and then skip forward and backward five pages at a time by holding the flip bar, but that arrangement is far from ideal.
One feature I haven't used much is annotations. If you draw on a page with the stylus, the iLiad stores your drawings in a separate file. A friend of mine wrote a simple Mac application that runs the resulting jottings through the OS X handwriting recognition engine (Ink) and lets you search the results. (Unfortunately, most humans have problems reading my handwriting, and it's far beyond the capabilities of a machine.) The community version of the viewer allows you to jump quickly between annotations, which means that you can bookmark pages easily and jump back to them.