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Old 11-11-2009, 02:00 PM   #1
kacir
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PocketBook 360° review

EDIT: There is Part II of the review available in the thread.

I was looking for an e-ink device to upgrade my aging Sony PRS-500 reader for quite some time.

Ever since I have seen first proposals for Pocket Book 360° design on The-ebook.org forum I was planning to get one eventually.

So I did get one. Finally. I purchased an original Ukrainian package from our member Forgosigan.

Originally I wanted to purchase black unit, because I thought the screen would appear lighter when surrounded by a black bezel, and I am used to black reader from my PRS-500 anyway. Forkosigan persuaded me to buy "ivory" colored unit. He said that the text appears blacker on a screen with light bezel. Besides, he did not have any black units left ;-)
I have purchased light colored one and I am happy.
The color of the unit is not bright white, it is light "PC case" beige with pearly - silvery, almost metallic surface. There is grey plastic border around the screen. The resulting combination is very pleasing, and indeed, the letters look *almost* "like lacquered chopsticks on a clean tablecloth" :-)

I LOVE the detachable lid. It protects the screen very well without adding bulk to the device. I like the user replaceable battery. You should update the manual, however, there are no markings at the back of the device indicating that this is the door to the battery compartment and reset button. It is also not apparent how to open the door once you start looking for the Reset button. (I did not need it yet, despite my furious tests).
There is only one thing I do not like in hardware. It is audible click when you press the button. I can still read without disturbing my sleeping partner, but I would have prefered a little bit quieter click.

With a few books in internal memory the device boots in under 21 seconds. It also takes less than 21 seconds to boot the machine with an SD card with over a thousand files on it freshly inserted. I am very impressed. Everything is configurable. You can configure the device to take you after the boot directly to the book you were reading when you switch it off, and I used that option when timing "cold boot".

When you insert SD card with 10 folders on it and you have another 15 folders with books already in main memory you are presented with a library that combines those top folders, so in a main library you see all 25 folders plus whatever books you have on the root of the card or in the root of the main memory "disk". You do not see folders with names starting with dot (which is standard Unix and Linux behaviour). There is an icon indicating whether the file resides on a card or in memory.
There is another icon present next to file name. No icon means the book was not opened, an "open book" icon means you are reading the books and reader remembers your position, a "checkbox" icon means the book was finished. The states are saved in a file accessible from main memory when you connect the reader to PC, the "not yet opened", "being read" and "finished" flag can also be reset from the menu described below.
You can manage files directly from PocketBook user interface. Just press and hold the OK button to get menu.
you can do following actions
- Open book
- view information and metadata
- mark as Read (or finished)
- File
. - rename
. - Move to folder
. - copy to SD card (or main memory, depending on where the book is)
. - Move to SD card
. - Delete
. - Mark group
- set view for files as
. - list
. - thumbnails
. - details
. - set screen orientation (any angle 0, 90, 180, 270, or gyro sensor)
- Sort
. - by title
. - by author
. - by series
. - by creation time
- Show names as
. - book titles
. - file names
- find book
I havent, yet, discovered how to create a folder.

There are basically three kinds of book files you can read on PB. Files with rigid layout, such as pdf and djvu files, files that are reflowable, such as fb2, fb2.zip, txt, rtf, html, chm, doc, epub and tcr and comics. In this review I will not talk about pdf files, that will take another long post. I said that pdf files have rigid structure, but according to the manual you *can* reflow, zoom or read in column mode pdf files.
Reflowable files are opened in an application FBreader. FBreader is very configurable. It discards most of the formatting information from rtf, doc and displays text fully justified, in an user selected font.
In FBreader you can configure
- font (face, size)
- encoding (there are quite a lot of options missing, but you can use UTF-8, so I do not see a problem. Encoding options are: auto, Win-1251, Win-1252, Win-1255, KOI8-R, KOI8-U, IBM866, ISO-8859-1, ISO-8859-5, UTF-8)
- line spacing (from 70 to 200%)
- page margins in three steps, starting with no margin
- hyphenations
- line breaks (auto, new line, empty line, line with indent), so PB can display "raw, plain vanilla" Project Gutenberg text file surprisingly well

There are further settings that affect the FBreader under settings icon on the main menu. Among many, many interesting things you can set Apperance - theme, interface font, boot logo, text rendering (Not antialiased, Antialiased, embolded)

Let us get back to the FBreader.
There is a very thin status bar at the bottom of the screen when you read the book, It contains following info:
[page #] / [number of pages], name of the book in a very tiny font, percentage of the book you have read so far, a graphical progress bar, time and battery indicator. When you open the book, or when you change screen orientation or font or size of font there are just three dots displayed instead of page number and progress bar - this is indication that the device is repaginating the book.

You can use custom fonts. Just copy ttf font into Fonts directory on the main memory when you connect reader to the PC. If you provide device with just one variant of the font, the bold and italic text is simulated, just like on Sony reader. When you load all for variants of the font - normal, bold, itallics and bold itallics the device uses that and you get real italics. (Just have a look at the shape of the 'a' letter to see if you have real italics. See? 'a' versus 'a'. I strongly recommend font Droid that was developed specifically for small displays on Android operating system and released under Apache licence. I very much like the way fonts are displayed, rendered, antialiased, and hinted on PocketBook

I have only one question concerning FBreader for our resident PocketBook resellers. How do I configure FBreader to use left justification instead of full justification? I think have seen description of how to modify a FBreader config file (easily accesible in main memory when you connect the reader) somewhere on the-ebook.org forum, but I can not find it right now.
Another question is, what happens when user deletes system files from main memory? (Do not worry dear readers, there are only some configuration files, files with state of the books and such things in the user mountable main memory, so you can not delete some important system file.) How can this be corrected? Can this be remedied by using "factory default option" oe perhaps by formatting internal memory from Settings or by reflashing firmware? I am NOT going to try, but sooner or later somebody WILL delete some files.

To be continued ...

Now let us see some unpacking photos, shot with a mobile phone camera under very adverse lighting conditions. During weekend I will try to borrow a better camera and make better shots, might be even a video.
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Last edited by kacir; 11-12-2009 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 11-11-2009, 04:45 PM   #2
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Were did you get the books you used to test your 360? I was under the impression that these were able to read DRM material but now that does nto seem to be the case. You talked about 3 book files, sadly I am just learning and my eyes tend to glaze over every now and then. I have alot of content at B&N & Fictionwise & ebookwise mainly because I have an EB1150 but I have never learned to strip drm and really just want to sit down with a book and read, not have to strip and fromat and fiddle for 20 minutes before I read anything. So my question is.... Did you have any trouble finding content that was easy to download and read without having to fiddle to much? Thank you.
Lisa
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:00 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by tufrostie View Post
Were did you get the books you used to test your 360? I was under the impression that these were able to read DRM material but now that does nto seem to be the case. You talked about 3 book files, sadly I am just learning and my eyes tend to glaze over every now and then. I have alot of content at B&N & Fictionwise & ebookwise mainly because I have an EB1150 but I have never learned to strip drm and really just want to sit down with a book and read, not have to strip and fromat and fiddle for 20 minutes before I read anything. So my question is.... Did you have any trouble finding content that was easy to download and read without having to fiddle to much? Thank you.
Lisa
I am considering buying a reader that doesn't read drm, mainly because they seem less expensive, and because I almost never read drm books. There are things to consider like does your public library offer ebooks and will you want to read them? That would require drm reading ability. What books do you want to read? Best sellers and big name authors and publishers will mostly require drm reading ability.

But my point is that there are a lot of ebooks without drm. A lot. I have a blog listing free ebooks, many are drm-free. Fictionwise multi-format books are drm free. Feedbooks and Manybooks.net offer all drm-free, and free, ebooks. I just posted today a link to a list I found of drm-free publishers. Hopefully the list will be growing. You can check out all the places on the list to find drm-free ebooks. A person can have lots of reading material for years and years without ever reading a drm'd ebook.

Last edited by cmbs; 11-11-2009 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 11-11-2009, 05:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
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I was under the impression that these were able to read DRM material but now that does nto seem to be the case.
Lisa
I have a beta firmware that supports DRM'ed EPUB (as I am buying the majority of my books, that was critical for me).

cheers,

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Old 11-11-2009, 06:27 PM   #5
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Correct the new firmware supports the ADE DRM'd ePubs.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:04 PM   #6
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Thank you for the review!

I've been (not so) patiently waiting for reviews to pop up. I am planning to replace my Sony 505 with the 360 but wanted to read some feedback before I hit the BUY NOW button.

I'm also holding out for the retail box and hope it's ready by the end of this month. Being a lefty, I know I'll enjoy the rotation feature that I miss so much from my old GEB1150 days. Also, I am very interested in the folder functionality and hope someone knows of a way to create them.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:36 PM   #7
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thanks for the excellent review, kacir ! it sounds like a great device.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:44 PM   #8
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Awesome review so far. My Pocketbook 360 just came this evening and I have been putting it through its paces. I was even able to read the html output from my decrypted eReader format books complete with pictures. The html renderer is nice. It even figured out the dodgy encoding that ereader books are created with. The pdf reflow does work. I was able to reflow an arabic pdf. Can't wait to find an arabic font andread me some Mahmoud Darwish (my son's namesake). I did notice two issues wirth the stock firmware: many covers did not show up in thumbnail view, despite the fact that they show up on my Cybook and Sony 700 and second, I noticed that tables of contents (and internal hyperlinks) are not handled well in epub. They work very well in mobi. Is this just a limitation of FBReader? Are these issues addressed in your beta firmware, which I assume uses the adobe sdk?
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:35 PM   #9
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Are you using mobi on your pb360?
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Also, I am very interested in the folder functionality and hope someone knows of a way to create them.

Here is how to create a folder:

1. Highlight a book using the 4-way button/key

2. Click and HOLD the selection/OK button. This will bring up the menu which lets you mark the book read, add it to favorites, change the sorting of files etc

3. Select "File" and click OK or click right on the direction key. this opens the next menu tree which allows you to rename the file, move it to or from the SD card, delete it etc

4. Select "Move to folder" and click ok

5.Click OK again on the Book folder

6. Now you can select a folder to move the book to or create a folder

7. Click "Create Folder" and type the name of your folder then click OK

Your Done

Alternate Method:

1. Connect your PocketBook 360 to your computer with the USB cord
2. Open the drive to view the files or select view files when prompted by windows
3. Right Click in the window and then select New and then Folder
4. Name your Folder and hit Enter

Remember to click "Safely remove hardware" before unplugging the USB cord.

Your Done

Last edited by Dulin's Books; 11-11-2009 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 11-11-2009, 10:57 PM   #11
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I am considering buying a reader that doesn't read drm, mainly because they seem less expensive, and because I almost never read drm books.
There is actually already a beta version of their firmware that adds the Adobe SDK and ADE DRM support. There is a link to it on another thread here somewhere. Several MR members are using it and say it works great.

Not sure if it supports both the Adobe ID (most stores and libraries) and Social DRM (Barnes & Nobel)... though.

BOb
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:29 PM   #12
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There is actually already a beta version of their firmware that adds the Adobe SDK and ADE DRM support. There is a link to it on another thread here somewhere. Several MR members are using it and say it works great.

Not sure if it supports both the Adobe ID (most stores and libraries) and Social DRM (Barnes & Nobel)... though.

BOb
Yes, I saw that. Thanks.

I really don't read drm'd ebooks hardly ever. It would be a bonus to have the ability, but I think I'd do ok without it.


Now I'm a little concerned about the epub rendering. It's done with fbreader? or adobe digital editions? Because fbreader doesn't display ebooks very well. Adobe does.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:32 PM   #13
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Now I'm a little concerned about the epub rendering. It's done with fbreader? or adobe digital editions? Because fbreader doesn't display ebooks very well. Adobe does.
From my understanding the original firmware uses fbreader, but the switch to the newer firmware with DRM support uses ADE.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:55 PM   #14
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From my understanding the original firmware uses fbreader, but the switch to the newer firmware with DRM support uses ADE.
Thanks. What about Mobi? What software does it use to display mobi files?
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:57 PM   #15
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So were would you get books for it?
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