Pocketbook 302 Review, pt 2

The Pocketbook 302 is just coming on to the market, and I was lucky enough to get one of the first review units. This is part 2 of the review. I posted the first part of the review last week, and it has a fair amount of detail. If you haven't read it yet, you should. This part will cover entirely different material. Also, you might be interested in the hands on videos I shot.

My Opinion

I'm putting this section first, rather than last, because I think I spent a little too much time pointing out the flaws of PB302. I like it. I could easily see having one as my main ereader. It's the first dedicated ereader that I've seen that really lives up to the term ereader. Most every other device is just an ebook reader; the PB302 is more because it has an RSS Reader and a browser. These features are slightly flawed, yes, but they are features that you can't get on any other ereader without a hack (Nook, Iliad). (The Kindle doesn't count because in most countries you can't use the browser).

In my opinion, the only ebook reader that can compare with a PB302 is a (hacked) Nook. I've thought about this for some time, and I can't say that one is clearly better than the other. This is great news for the PB302; it costs $80 more. I think I would go for the PB302 myself; I prefer its hardware design.

Reading

I was planning to simply say that the 302 uses Adobe RM and FBReader, but I'm beginning to realize that that would be inadequate. The software is on so many devices now that the qualitative differences between one implementation and the next might be a deciding factor. I think it's worth noting that FBReader is fully implemented, and has enough options to satisfy the pickiest of users. On the other hand, I'm not happy with how the 302 handles annotation under Adobe.

Highlighting is not supported, but bookmarks and note taking are. The PB302 handles notes slightly different from other ereaders I've used. You can make a note by copying part of a page, only you're not copying text. Instead, you're taking a partial screen shot and saving it as an image. Once you create the note, you can then draw or write on it. There is no text based annotation.

The note taking is a disappointment. You can't access notes from inside a book; you have to exit the book and go back to the main menu. I'd say the note taking really has no value until they fix the accessibility issue.

The Shiny Screen

Like I said in the first part of this review, I'm happy with the PB302 as a reader. Even though the screen doesn't bother me, it might bother you. It is nearly perfectly reflective. I used it as a mirror one morning; it's that shiny. If you are concerned about the screen, then you might want to wait for the later matte screen. Also, I've been told twice by 2 different people that Pocketbook will replace the shiny screens upon request.

Battery Life

My testing was not all that rigorous, but the battery lasted about 10 days with a lot of reading but not much Wifi use.

Apps

The PB302 comes with 9 apps (and you can install more). The 9 apps include a calculator, chess, solitaire, clock, dictionary, Snake, Sudoku, and a web browser. The games are a nice diversion, but they're really nothing special. You might find one that you love, but I wouldn't pick the games as a reason to get the PB302.

The web browser is very useful, and when the bugs are ironed out it will be even more so. But before I enumerate the bugs, let me say that the browsing experience is good enough that the bugs are actual disappointments. I like browsing on the PB302. In comparison, the Kindle browsing experience is poor enough that I would not have bothered to complain about these few bugs.

There are 2 bugs in the web browser. The text entry parts of web pages don't display correctly (this prevents you from logging in anywhere), and the other bug is that when the browser downloads a file, it tries to open it as text.

Here's what I'd like to see as an app: an email client. It's the only type of e-reading that I can't do with the PB302. I can read blogs, forums, RSS feeds, and ebooks, but I can't read my email. Even if all I could do was view the emails (and not respond), it would still be useful.

RSS Feed Reader

This feature is reasonably well thought out and implemented. Rather than pulling the feeds itself, it instead contacts Pocketbook's servers. The servers check the feeds for updates, gather the new posts, and create ebooks for you to download (one per feed). Using external servers results in a very fast process. The only delay is the time it takes to download the ebook.

But it's not quite there yet. There are a number of parts that need to be improved, including how you enter the feed names, link support, and the file format used. I had to type in each of the feeds one at a time. I follow nearly 200 feeds, and I would much prefer to simply upload a list. I also think they should change the file format used. They're currently using FB2, and they should use Epub. Switching to Epub should also fix the problem with html tag support. Also, it would be good if the links leading out of a feed post worked. This last point is well within the abilities of the 302.

Like the browser, this is almost (but not quite) the WOW factor for the PB302. It's very useful, and it works rather well. Even though I have issues with it, I still think the RSS reader is one of the best things about the PB302. If I kept the ereader, I would use this feature.

2 thoughts on “Pocketbook 302 Review, pt 2

  1. Hi, Nate,

    I appreciate each of your comments and I hope PB reads and follows every one of your suggestions. As a philosopher and designer, I think Pocketbook has come closest to properly implementing e-ink, which I regard as one of the most important inventions of the last 500 years.

    Most critical to me is your excellent point that one’s correspondence–arguably the most important thing one can read–should be readable on an e-reader. And that you began your point with a wish for an email client. Here’s why:

    E-ink device manufacturers have overlooked for years the simple, extremely fruitful fact that e-ink e-readers can and should also be *e-writers*. After 30 long years, we writers still need a replacement for the typewriter, which the personal computer never really has been. Why? Because refreshing screens disturb not just the eyes but thought and emotion as well–an uncomfortable set of conditions for writing, to say the least. Only e-ink is neutral like paper and ink in that, once inked, the screen *holds still*. Writing on a device that thus leaves the writer undisturbed subtly yet radically affects what gets written–and every action taken on the basis of what is written–for the better. McCluhan is still dead-on: the medium is the message.

    I do *not* need WYSIWYG or color screens with video-capable refresh rates. Just a text editor with its basic cut/copy/paste/save features. These, after all, were what made nearly everyone abandon typewriters for computers despite the sharp drop in image quality. It’s time to even the score in favor of the creators of all that we read, of whom there are exponentially more than there were 30 years ago. This means making an e-ink device writable out-of-the-box using a proper external keyboard for touch-tying. The keyboard should be connectable by USB, not just bluetooth, so no other batteries or chargers are required and existing keyboards will work.

    E-ink may seem like it is exploding in the market but in fact is performing poorly compared to its *viral* potential. It will achieve this only when people can, like cellphones, use the device in a *circuit* not only to download and consume content, but also produce and deliver it back to the network independently of personal computers.

    Hmm. Maybe e-ink will achieve its viral potential when makers implement it as the best screen technology for a new kind of personal computer limited–for now–to the most essential applications: fileviewing, note-taking and line-drawing, word processing, browsing, and email. Which reminds me of something Larry Ellis envisioned years ago: the NC (network computer. It’s funny that whenever anybody gets close to realizing that idea, like today’s netbooks and the iPad, amazing things happen for them in the market. Too bad, due to the screen, you can’t use those devices without acquiring low-level Attention Deficit Disorder. Here’s hoping that PB appreciates what it has in its hot little hands.

    Thanks for writing and reading,
    Andrew

    1. I have PB302 and his display without any reason burnt .I read the review with same problem and found that it’s maybe just happened in different atmospheric situation.

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