- BUY Hit eBay to find cheap tablet PCs. Look for older models like the Motion M1400 or Fujitsu Stylistic. Expect to pay around $200 for a fully functional one, or a little less if you're willing to fix it or get missing parts elsewhere.
FORMAT Strip down Windows XP by removing programs you don't need (check out extremetech.com or lifehacker.com for help). Next, go to Control Panel and then Display to change the look of the system. Choose "high contrast/white" for the background, and increase the size of the icons so you can tap things easily with the pen. You can even make the interface black and white to look more Kindle-like. Use the D-pad mapping software included with the tablet or the reader apps to change button functions -- for example, I mapped Page Up and Page Down to be "next page" and "previous page."
LOAD Install reader software like Calibre (calibre.kovidgoyal.net), Adobe's PDF reader (get.adobe.com/reader) and ComicRack (comicrack.cyolito.com). Also try Zinio (zinio.com) so you can view digital editions of magazines like PopSci. Install RSS readers such as FeedDemon (newsgator.com) to download news with the tablet's Wi-Fi connection. (If your tablet has Bluetooth, you can also connect through your cellphone.) And bookmark newspaper sites like the New York Times Article Skimmer version (prototype.nytimes.com/gst/articleSkimmer) and sites like Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org) for no-fee, copyright-free books.
- READ Sit back and enjoy. I've read more classics and PDFs lately than I ever expected. Now my girlfriend and I sit around for hours without talking to each other, transfixed by electronic text. Perhaps this wasn't the best idea after all.