Review: Gajah BK6001 e-reader

I've been waiting for one of these for a while now (you don't want to hear me whine, beg, and plead; it's not pretty).  But I finally got one about 2 weeks ago. I was busy at the time so I didn't post my first impressions (they were generally good). I've posted  about Gajah before; they're a tech company based in Singapore. I've called them the most widely distributed ereader company you've never heard of, which I believe is true. This model is fairly new. Gajah had a dummy at CES 2010, and from what I can tell it only came on the market a couple months ago.

I'm not happy with the pictures I took, so here is a product image from Gajah. It will give you a better idea of the hardware design.

Key Points

  • broad (but poor quality) ebook format support
  • no DRM support
  • looks good
  • feels solidly built
  • reasonably stable firmware
  • limited formatting options
  • limited organization options
  • no image support
  • battery life: did not test
  • in general, a marginally adequate reading experience

Hardware

The 6001 is one of the nicest looking ereaders I've seen. The one I received is black with a gray trimmed edge. The case finish is matte (meaning it's not shiny or slippery). The left edge is rounded, and the other edges 3 are beveled. On the upper edge is the power button, and on the lower edge is the microSD card slot, microUSB port, and head phone jack. There are 11 buttons on the face plate to the right of the screen, and below the screen are 4 buttons and a d-pad (music, menu, d-pad, back, font size). The page turn buttons are in the bottom right had corner.

I like the fact that it has a matte finish. My general rule is that shiny = slippery, and a slippery ereader is more difficult to hold.

I've found exactly one problem with the hardware, and that is the page turn buttons. I couldn't use the 6001 with one hand because they're much too close to the corner. But, this isn't a serious problem and it can be fixed easily. The accelerometer will be enabled in a later firmware, and if I can hold it sideways the page turn buttons will be under my right thumb. Or, Gajah could add extra functions to a couple of the buttons on the side of the screen.

One other issue that might concern you is the microUSB port. It's not one I recognize, so you'd need to be careful about not losing the cable.

Software

  • Menus

The main menu has 6 options: Reading History, Book, Music, Picture, File Explorer, System Settings, and User Manual. You can select the menu options with either the d-pad or the buttons on the side of the screen.

The Book and Music menus are basically the same; you see 10 items per page and the page turn buttons show you the next or previous page. These menus don't have folder support, but since the 6001 does have a file manager it's not a big deal.

You have 3 sorting options: file name, date, and file type. Sorting by the title, author, or some other metadata isn't an option. Again, you do have a file manager so it's not a big deal. You also have the option of searching by file name (you enter the name similar to a text message on your cellphone).

I'm generally satisfied with the menus. The 6001 lacks some library features, but the file manager makes up for it (mostly).

Before I get into the reading experience, I want to point out one shortcoming: the 6001 doesn't have a sleep mode. On the other hand, it does have a pretty fast boot time. If Gajah can't add the sleep mode then they might want to look at adding a boot option, and let the 6001 open to the most recently read book.

  • Reading experience

The 6001 can't do much with an ebook. You have 4 font sizes, bookmarks, and you can jump to a page. The list of basic abilities the 6001 doesn't have is much longer, and it starts with pictures, cover images, dictionary lookup, highlighting, annotation, and support for Epub table of contents.

Because of the lack of features, uncomfortable hand position and missing sleep mode, I would describe the reading experience as barely adequate. Part of the reason I'm disappointed is that I'm pretty sure there are software features that Gajah did not implement. I infer from the format support that the 6001 uses FBReader, and I know that FBReader has quite a few margin, line spacing, justification, and font size options (it also supports images). I think it would improve the reading experience if Gajah adds these features in later firmware.

Opinion

It's an okay ereader, and I'm sure someone will be happy with it. But there are cheaper ereaders on the market that are significantly more capable and have more options. I would not recommend this ereader to anyone unless it is cheaper than the Kobo ereader, or it gets a new firmware.

Where to get it

This ereader is currently available in Australia as the Pico Life 6001. It's carried by OfficeWorks, and it has a retail of 297 AUD ( ~233 USD + tax). Here are the specs (from the Officeworks product page):

  • 6" E-ink screen
  • 8 level grayscale
  • 2GB Flash
  • accelerometer (not functional yet)
  • microSDHC card slot (16GB supported)
  • FBReader
  • music player (MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, AAC)
  • image viewer (JPEG, BMP)

10 thoughts on “Review: Gajah BK6001 e-reader

  1. Thanks for the informative page.
    I wonder if you had any problems reading epub books. I can not get it to recognise any of three publications I downloaded.
    text and pdf read fine but epub although in the documentation as supported does not read.
    One other thing is there any firmware support from gaja, the web site is minimal with no support page.

    thanks John Bennetts

  2. The nice people at PICO Australia wrote back to me and gave me a Rapidshare link, with the promise that the file would be posted on thier page in the near future.
    The link is to a rar file, containing an img file, but no instructions as to how to install the upgrade. For what it’s worth here is the link:
    http://rapidshare.com/files/406090509/PICO.rar

  3. A lesson in frustration is the Pico 6001.
    All major e-book sellers insist on a download of Adobe Digital prior to any e-book download, even if download is requested in e-pub.
    The Pico is not compatable to the Adobe and will not transfer from the PC to the e-reader.
    The only advice from Adobe is info on how to uninstall the Adobe, and that’s all.
    I am unable to locate any web info for Pico and no help from the seller, Officeworks.
    Does this piece of rubbish go to the trash bin, or is there somebody out there that can help me please?
    Regards. John McPherson

  4. The Pico Life saga deepens, Mint is the parent company distributing the Pico BK6001, and don’t not seem to be up to speed. The rapidshare link (a wierd way to distribute firmware) had an .img file but no loader sotfware. After several emails I eventually got another rapidshare link to the the wrong loader. The Arm chip is a Rockchip from China, one of their 27 series, so they sent the flash loader link for the 28 series chip.
    I emailed one of my epub files to them at thier request, and their IT department was able to read it without problem on a BK6001, so no DRM issues. The IT section told me to make another folder on the ebook and put all my epubs in there. Still no go, does not even appear in the book list, and when accessed through the file manager icon, returns an “invalid file format “.
    Not a good endorsement for Officeworks, or Mint, their customer support.
    My recommendation, buy an iRiver or Hanlon, even the Kobe is better than this dog.

    1. I’m in the middle of pursuing the firmware issue myself. Just base on what I’ve seen neither Mint nor Gajah strike me as terribly competent when it comes to tech support.

      1. I have cast a wider net, http://www.myoaxis.com/ has exactly the same line of products as the Gaja, Pico line of ebooks, and even uses the same designation BK6001. I have no idea where they are, but the piccies on the site are identical to the red Gaja BK6001.
        I have asked for firmware and a loader that works, I think the software id “RK27DM for Image v.2/25″, and the firmware BK6001.img

        fingers crossed, before demanding my money back.

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