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Old 04-07-2011, 05:12 PM   #1
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smallhagrid's Avatar
Posts: 180
Karma: 132498
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Vermont
Device: EZReader
Cool One user's experiences and opinions.

I have to say that getting an ereader has for real changed my lifestyle, and in a totally positive way in&of itself.

The hardware and fiscal aspects of it however have not been very friendly most of the time.

Anyone considering entering this realm should take note that a great many vendors of ereaders are EXACTLY that -just- vendors and NOT manufacturers.

This is a critically important distinction because when 'some co., inc.' takes your $$$ for 'their reader', in reality LOTS of them have a product to sell as in the following rough example:
  1. They contract with a foreign hardware maker
  2. They contract with a (possibly foreign...) firmware maker
  3. They contract with a name badge maker
  4. They contract with a packaging maker
  5. They contract with a packager/fulfillment center

So when you lay your $$$ down, those who profit have barely ever laid hands upon what they are profiting UPON, and barely (if at all...) took part in the development process of what they are actually selling you.

Their goal is to sell-sell-sell and to support just as little as possible because
frankly, it costs BIG-$$$ to be too deeply involved and cuts into their profits as a result.

I say all the above because the ereaders I have personally had and used all 100% fit some variation of the picture I've presented above. (YMMV)

Correct me (please) if I am mistaken about them, here's the list of them:
  1. Ectaco Jetbook
  2. Augen TheBook
  3. Astak Mentor
  4. Astak EZ Reader
  5. Pandigital Novel
  6. Sharper Image Literati

My tale to tell...:

The Jetbook was a dandy little unit - once I got past the desperate need for help with a defective unit, including many, many wasted calls to Ectaco during which it became plain that their existing non-english speaking reps thought VERY poorly of english-speakers (This situation may have improved since, however, with the addition of a man called Jerry - but it was too little/too late to be of any real help for me.).

Ultimately I gained satisfaction by exchanging the bad JB with the original seller and all was well with that until I needed technical help. (Ouch.)

The JB did great with 2 major exceptions:
- No PDF support at all
- Battery life & charging times were AWFUL. (Actually more like abysmal !)

Whilst awaiting my replacement JB the Augen ereader was tried out for a couple of weeks.

I definitely enjoyed it's clear, bright color LCD display, and it was really no trouble, but at the same time it was heavy, clunky, had a slew of extra & useless buttons and their 'support' was an outright joke - demanding (then ?) for people to PAY to use their forums, even just for questions ?! Feh.

There was nothing to be done for it's crude/heavy design and it was returned.

Next I got a great deal on an Astak Mentor which oddly enough was not marked as one - but the price was good and it was my intro to e-paper.

Nicely designed - nice size - good in a single hand for long reading; I was enjoying it immensely EXCEPT that the supposed 1000's of page turns per charge was PURE fiction - mine did MAYBE 250 turns between charges (I kept track...).

When I tried to get support from Astak it was again - AWFUL - and again the same nonsense with disdainfully unhelpful non-english speakers.
This changed for me when I made contact with Jenifer, and on ALL subsequent calls I refused to speak with anyone BUT Jenifer.

Once again I was told it was a defective unit, and it would have to be replaced, and they made LOTS of noise about my getting a bigger-screened unit...a whole inch bigger, for a $10 fee and they insisted that I pay the return shipping (another $10 via USPS) as well as their $17 fee for signature-required shipping to me. Right then.

Guess what ?
They profited on their shipping charge-> NO signature was requested (that service was not even added) and the reader ?
EXACTLY the SAME size as what I had - and I mean EXACTLY !!!

Having gone through all THAT, I now have a very nice, stable ereader which gets very good battery life and just pleases me immensely - BUT, I still have need of a separate device for technical reading as I do not wish to switch between books in progress on my EZ Reader.

I was in the right place/time to get a great deal (so I thought...) on the Pandigital Novel...

Silly, silly me - I hadn't checked first to see there are very serious differences (besides just the color) between the white/black models. Woof.

I got a black one. It was just plain NASTY.

No buttons on these things - and the worst possible touch screen too.
Fingertip ? No responses; took 3-5 tries for a page turn with HUGE lag times when it did work...
Stylus ? Mostly didn't work at all.

Worst of all - it had an actual/physical switch to save power by turning off the (useless to me) wireless...BUT, every single time it came on it STILL wanted to check in with B&N. WHY ???!!!

I have zero use for B&N, Borders and Amazon and do NOT want a device that is tied so tightly that it MUST waste my time/life 'checking in' each time.

So the non-upgradeable, sort of lobotomized Android-based Novel went back as defective because the touch screen was useless.

Now to the present...
Woot had the Literati for $50 as someone informed me and so I ordered from them.
HAHAHAHAHA-> more than 2 weeks from time of order to time of delivery ?

Must have come by pony express - and FOR SURE it tracked from TX to CA to VT...and as I said on their blog; why not via Australia instead ?
(I knew to expect a cheap/minimal reader, but in today's world I could have gotten one just as cheap and WAAAY faster otherwise. No more Woot for me.)

The Literati is like a shrunken down Augen reader, with the same useless extra buttons, but seems smaller & lighter.
The color LCD is also nice and bright.

I really got it for reading PDFs for work.
When in full-page mode it is tiny; when magnified it adds these incredibly obtrusive arrows which are good for exactly nothing that I can tell except for covering what I want to read. Waaah.

As to the rest of it's usability:
It made a friend when it said it needed 6 hours of charge but came to life the second it was plugged in and worked just fine when charging too.

It does NOT charge via it's mini-USB plug so when it's dinky charger plug/socket dies the reader will likewise be dead.

It came out of the box with really ancient FW; lacking for any wireless I found and downloaded the much newer FW and loaded it via USB.
10 minutes later it was a changed machine - MUCH BETTER !

I could then delete the preloaded public domain works that they say are worth $150 on the box, and proceeded to load my own PDFs as 'documents'.

Here's the rub:
Zero - or if possible - less than zero support for TXT, RTF and other file types
This thing only displays PDFs (poorly) and EPUBS.
I have lots of PDFs, but to read them in comfort I'll need reading glasses for the itty-bitty type it displays in...maybe that'l be OK, we'll see.
I didn't expect much, but this one is less even than what I expected.

It gets very high marks for looks and cuteness though; a shame they don't provide greater readability !!!

Best Wishes to All for Happy Reading.
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astak, augen, jetbook, literati, reviews

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