Despite Amazon’s almost petulant reluctance to launch the Kindle in the UK, there are several ebook readers available here. The cream of the crop is probably Sony’s Reader PRS-505, but there are competitors. New to the list is the Pixelar eReader.
At £219.99 in its basic configuration and £239.95 with a leather case and clip-on reading light it is comparable in price to Sony’s offering. Sadly, we are inclined to think Sony’s reader has the edge in many respects, though not in all.
Sony could learn a thing or two about getting data onto the device from Pixelar, for starters. Sony supplies proprietary software for getting data onto its reader (though we prefer the excellent, free, Calibre software) and is not compatible with the Mac at all. The Pixelar e-Reader simply connects to your computer via USB and then appears as an external drive to which you can copy files as you see fit.
The Pixelar e-Reader plays music and supports MP3. A 3.5mm headset slot lets you use earphones. Thankfully for those around you there is no speaker. The headphones connector is located on the bottom of the reader next to the USB connector. Both are under a hinged cover. We’d have preferred the headset connector to be on the top of the casing, and the USB connector was a bit fiddly to use, unfortunately.
The reader is fairly small and neat to carry at 184 x 120 x 9.9mm. It weighs 220g. Its build is not as good quality as Sony’s offering. The black plastic shell is solid enough but lacks the classy looks Sony offers. The optional book-jacket style case is not up to Sony’s standards of build quality.
The screen is a 6-inch, 600 x 800-pixel E-Ink display. It offers just 4 greyscales. You can change font size, with three sizes on offer. When the largest is chosen the display automatically falls into wide format. The largest font size is not particularly huge.
The e-Reader supports a wide range of formats: PDF, MOBI, DOC, WOLF, MP3, HTML, TXT, CHM, FB2, DJVU, PNG, TIF, GIF, BMP, JPG, PPT, EPUB, LIT and PRC. It’ll handle RSS feeds too. There is just 512MB of internal memory, but SD cards are supported and a 1GB card is included.
The ergonomics of use are good. Forward and back buttons sit to the left of the screen, while a round button on the bottom right of the device calls up context-based menus and has a ‘back’ function. There are ten further numbered buttons beneath the screen which you use for selecting menu options, moving through the main books listing and, in some cases, executing second functions such as text zooming.
Battery life is rated as being good for 8,000 page turns, though it will be less if you are listening to music while reading. You can remove the battery which means you could purchase and carry a spare.
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