Friday, August 8, 2008

Micro Fondle: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

I stopped into J&R today and happened to peer into the cabinet housing the Sony Reader.

I saw something I’d never seen before. In fact, I wasn’t certain when I’d last heard about it. Further, I thought it was something only being sold in Asia!

It was the ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader!

Photos taken today, Friday, August 8, 2008 with the Philips crapcam.

L-R: Sony Reader red cover, 2 Sony Readers, the jetBook

Another angle of same lineup

jetBook on, firstmost menu

Library of eBooks

eBook open in portrait mode

eBook open in landscape mode

The screen held under direct light

Another attempt at direct light (FAIL!)
Note here my thumb is over paging controls!

Better direct light, but crapcam does its FAIL!
Note here my thumb is over a collection of control buttons

What these photos don't convey:

* How small it is! Really, it makes the otherwise svelte and friendly Sony Reader look ginormous and old!

* The eBooks are all in Russian! Flummoxed me! I don't know why they were. All menus and controls were in English.

* How they ripped off mimicked paid tribute to Sony's excellent eBook reading design with many buttons just where Sony has them.

* This is not an eInk screen. It is reflective VGA TFT! There is no flash when turning pages! In addition, not photographed, there are overlaid menus (like Kindle sometimes has)!

* The power button is on the bottom -- I mean literally, the bottom edge. It's tiny, about 3-4mm. It presses in, even though it looks like a slider.

* The top edge has an SD slot and a USB port covered with a rubber lift-off latch.

* On the left side is some weird chromed plastic thing that I couldn't figure out the function of. It seems to slide up and down, but what it does, I couldn't ascertain.

* J&R's price: just $299.00. The website lists it as a whopping $349.00 (yes, go ahead and laugh!).

I didn't realize when I micro fondled it that it wasn't an eInk screen. I did notice that it was a very crisp and a very white screen and that when I turned pages, something seemed to be different (it'd been so long since I tried the Reader, I'd forgotten about the flashing!).

There's a detailed comparison table pitting it against the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle.

Here's the cut to the FAIL:
.TXT, .PDF, .JPG, .GIF, .PNG, .BMP, .MP3, free format

Basically, unformatted text or slit-your-wrists-in-frustration PDF.


If I wanted crappy unformatted text files, I can do that on my rotten LifeDrive! But I don't want unformatted text files, and that's why I don't read any of the free eBooks ECTACO touts in that table.

I'll have to read some of the reviews that have been published. I missed seeing all of them when they ran (I bet most of you did too!). I suspect all of them lament the same thing I do: the inability of it to do even HTML formatted text.

Right now, with the $199 iPhone (and $299 iPod Touch) offering eReader formatted ebooks (via eReader) and hopefully-universal ePub formatted ebooks (via Stanza), I'm really hard-pressed to imagine who would wind up buying the ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader -- at either $299 or the website's staggering $349.00 price!

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