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Old 08-19-2010, 03:52 PM   #1
smallhagrid
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Lightbulb Jetbook->TheBook->Mentor. Oh My. (opinion)

I took the plunge a wee bit over a year ago and when the JB pricing got below $200 I got one.
Being a lifetime dead-tree book devotee I was doubtful I would like using a reader, mostly based upon my extreme dislike of PDAs and their tiny awful screens and goofy data entry methods.
I was wrong - very, very wrong !!! After a week I was addicted for good.
(So much so that the paper books soon went into safe storage which delighted me as my living space is about closet-sized.)

Fast forward a year or so and the JB had been used daily, worked hard and was locking up too often - and a FW upgrade was suggested - and I did it.
BIG mistake. (Note to self: If the device seems tired upgrading FW will NOT make it un-tired, but it could make it simply go INSANE.)((It did too.))

ACK - NO READER - NO, NO - this simply cannot be.
I found Augen's offering at my (only 45 minutes away...) Kmart and zoomed off to get one. Used it for a while and got a bit used to it and was also uncomfortable with it

Suddenly Newegg went nuts with price reductions - wow - JBs for $70 ?!
Other ones for $99 ? Time for research...
I was enchanted with Foxit's offering until I saw it has been axed; The Bookeen Cybook got fabulous reviews and sold out instantaneously - and the Mentor got mixed reviews, but looked pretty good, so I grabbed one before they also sold out.

Now I've become reasonably familiar with 3 different readers and as promised it is now time to share my opinions and observations of MY time with them.
Certainly your experiences may differ from mine - but this is ME telling MY tale and I invite you to add yours to the wealth here so folks who need info can make their own comparisons of reviews before buying their first reader...

The Jetbook adventure.
I knew nothing...nothing ! This made the JB seem, well-> great !
Pretty much it was too - small, light, and with it I could carry a library big enough that I'd never get it all read....
A very good starting point and in my opinion, at $100 - 130 it is a good first reader - very good for someone to see if they like this way of reading.

Likes:
  • Small and light.
  • Buttons wisely placed for convenient one-handed reading.
  • Page turns reasonably quick.
  • Opens to where it was left off pretty quickly.
  • Uses standard SD cards.

Hates (dislikes is just NOT strong enough here...):
  • Rotten - horrible battery runtime - 5 hours TOPS then 5-6 hours to charge.
  • NO usage when charging (changed in newer models/FW).
  • Horrible, really bad PDF rendering - unusable.
  • Power button sometimes iffy.
  • Many lock-ups requiring resets.
  • Ghastly company with horrible customer service/tech support.

On a scale of 1 - 10 the device gets a solid 6; the company falls below the scale at -3.

Visiting with Augen TheBook.

The TheBook (how goofy is that ?) has lots going for it conceptually, visually, and has an attractive price too. ($89-99 usually.)
It took some getting used to - as expected - and was....OK.
It arrived 100% fully charged and made a friend instantly with that !
The color screen is nice too - but this guy only reads in B&W.

Likes:
  • Nice, clear display even when set at low brightness to lengthen battery life.
  • Renders PDFs very, very well IMO.
  • Power-up is almost instantaneous and reliable.
  • Returns to last place very well.
  • G-sensor makes screen rotation cute & fun.
  • Menu navigation is easy and pleasant.
  • Battery life is OUTSTANDING for an LCD device (with wifi OFF).
  • Buttons work well.

Dislikes:
  • Ergononically null - cannot say what manner of creature the controls are placed for, but it ain't made for a 2-handed, 5-fingered humanoid AT ALL.
  • It's NOT light enough for my spoiled tastes.
  • After a 5 inch screen, the 7 inch screen is too big for me.
  • Heavy enough as to work poorly for extended one-handed reading.
  • The...stupid...useless...keyboard; like an extra arm out the top of my head ?
  • And did I mention it is heavy ?
  • Does not charge via USB - needs it's own charger 100%.
  • No car charger and the plug is odd enough that this is a problem.
  • Sometimes 'loses' the SD card and your reading place completely.

On a scale of 1 - 10 the device gets a 7; the company is very busy and somewhat inattentive IMO and gets a 5.

And now...the Mentor (Or is it ?)

It arrived with Newegg's usual quick efficiency. Was so near to dead out of the box as to be scary - and needed a LOOOONG charge to get going.
I like this reader, and the thrill of it being able to be just set down when not in use is just terrific ! The Green Book FW got right under my skin and HAD to go. The Cooler Reader FW suits me much better and was no trouble to put in.
This is a keeper. Hopefully it's lack of a visible logo means nothing and it's maker has better QC than the JB makers do...

Likes:
  • E-ink display can spoil a person - it's very nice.
  • The power button is used nice and seldom and it is always ready for me.
  • Nice case.
  • Nice and small and light - well suited for extended one-handed reading.
  • Battery life (thus far...) is impressive.
  • Uses SD cards reliably.
  • It just does what it is supposed to, and rather well too.

Dislikes:
  • Seriously needs another set of buttons for use in landscape mode.
  • The screen flashes VERY annoyingly during page changes.
  • Side buttons are very poorly placed, get hit by accdent and are hard to tell apart.
  • Navigation is clunky and book lists are poorly laid out.
  • When leaving a book to select another in the same folder it often goes all the way back to the root which is very annoying.
  • Rubber-ish cover for the charging port is dinky and hard to open.
  • Instructions are like badly translated Asian and could be LOADS better.
On a scale of 1 - 10 the device gets an 8; the company is unknown to me as yet and so gets a null, hopefully forever, from me.

Mind you I do anticipate this experience being superceded at a later date; perhaps by an Android powered tablet, or something even better in a few years, but for now I am happy with what I have for the most part and the Newegg sourced Mentor was wll worth the $103.
It appears to be opened-box only there now and around $200 at other places.
My only advice to a person just starting into e-reader land is to be sure they like using a reader already - or be OK with a ~$200 'tester'.

There. My opinion is in the open. Hope it doesn't ruffle too many feathers !
: thumbsup:
mark

Last edited by smallhagrid; 08-19-2010 at 03:57 PM. Reason: eye fickseddid it.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:15 PM   #2
Lady Fitzgerald
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I'm not impressed with the Mentor. It has failed twice on me; I still need to email their service department (ADD inertia is holding me back. I love the screen but the lack of zoom for images severely restricts its usefulness for me. I was considering flashing it with Coolreader firmware but couldn't find instructions I could understand.

Instead of the JB, I got the JBL. I love its zoom but the screen is not as readable as the Mentor's in lower light conditions; light coming from the side, such as from a window is also problematic. Since the batteries are field replaceable with AAs (I will be using rechargeables which I already carry in my purse), battery life is not a huge concern although I'm still running the alkalines it came with (mayhap 3 hours worth of use?) and the battery gauge hasn't budged yet. Once a book has been loaded, turning on the JBL quickly returns me to the book. Turning it on into the menu or getting into the menu is noticeably slower so I appreciate the design of the firmware bypassing the normal loading and going directly into the last book being read exactly where I left off.

The screen aspect ratio of TheBook is attractive (very similar to a standard paperback) but, with the added key pad, TheBook (that IS an awkward name!) is too long to fit in my purse so I haven't even bothered to look at one.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:26 AM   #3
bill_mchale
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My general impression of the Jetbook was much more positive than yours. I have had it for almost 2 years. My big complaint is that the case of the reader is not very durable and mine is now falling apart. Occasionally, I did find that one or two epub books did cause the unit to essentially lock. Not a big deal, I would just use calibre to convert them to mobi or html.

As for PDF support, the only problem I had with its rendering was the 5" screen. Early on, before later firmware revisions added support for epub and mobi, I routinely converted books into pdf's sized for 3"X4" page size. With a few minor annoyances, it worked like a charm. There was a short delay in page turns, but no worse than the page refresh on eInk readers.

As for battery life, you might have gotten a bum battery. Even after two years of pretty steady usage, I probably get 8 hours between charges, early on I would say I would get somewhere between 12-20 hours of use. Though now that I am using my wife's PRS-505, I definitely notice how long the latter's battery lasts.
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