News Ticker

Review: Sharper Image Literati

I got a Literati about a week ago, and I was 1 of 4 blogs to get it. I'm sitting here right now, watching it fail to load my personal ebooks, and I've decided that I've used enough to give my opinion. DON'T BUY IT! At the very least wait for a firmware update. I have a number of complaints with the Literati, and I'll take them one by one. But first I'll give you a summary of its abilities. Highs

  • HTG, I can't think of any
  • poor formatting
  • no annotation options
  • slow to load ebooks
  • buggy & unstable
  • page turn buttons are iffy

The Literati is a Kindle clone that doesn't bother to make use of its keyboard. It has a 7" LCD screen, Wifi, and supports the Kobo ebookstore.  The library is pretty much identical to the Kobo PC app, so I'll skip it here and jump straight to the reading abilities.

The Literati has no annotation options (not even bookmarks). This really bugs me. Why put a keyboard on a device if you don't plan to use it? You have 5 font size, 2 font choices, and you can adjust the brightness (seven settings). There is a dictionary, but you can't select a word on the screen (you have to type it in).

I also don't like the joystick, but there are so many other problems that I'll skip this one.

Page Turns

I'm covering this irritation first because even if you disagree with my other complaints, this one will give you pause. The Literati doesn't have page turn buttons. Instead it has spots on the case that are touch sensitive. I hate it. You can't tap and turn the page; only swipes work. The swipe sensor is also incredibly sensitive. I keep having trouble with it flipping forward, and then back to the page I just read. I also have trouble with it not recognizing a swipe, which irritates me to no end.

I can't load my own ebooks

I took one of my SD cards with my standard Epub library (about 600 titles) and stuck it in the Literati. It can't find the ebooks. In fact, it can't find any ebooks (not even the Kobo ones already on it). I tried a second time with a SD card that had only a dozen titles; the same thing happened.

I've never actually had an ereader fail to load ebooks before. I've sometimes had to reboot, but in the end the books were loaded. This is a pass fail for me.

Kobo formatting sucks

Until I started using the Literati, I didn't realize that Kobo ebooks had such limited formatting. I've downloaded a dozen freebies, and they are all the same. There's space between paragraphs and no indents. I hate it. If you appreciate a well designed ebook then you will hate it too. I'm also annoyed by the large margins, but that's really just a minor problem given the rest of the formatting issues.

The Kobo editions are also significantly less pretty than their counterparts. I have several commercial titles in both Kobo and another format. The Kobo edition always lacks the subtle refinements found in other editions. Heck, Kobo ebooks are actually less pretty than Kindle ebooks, and that's saying something.

And I just noticed that on a couple of ebooks, the Kobo edition doesn't even have the full TOC. WTF is Kobo doing different from everyone else? It makes no sense.

Here are a couple of photos that show the relative formatting. The same title is on both ereaders. BTW, I'm showing 2 photos because the first shows a section break that the Kobo edition doesn't have.

(click  = big)

Update: Mike Cane pointed out that it's not fair to compare the different font size. Well, those are the font sizes I find comfortable on each ereader. Yes, the font is larger on the Literati, but it's the fault of the Literati. I think the font is bigger because I hold it further away.

I just crashed the Literati again

I tried to bring up the TOC and the Literati rebooted. That's not the only bug. It also takes a long time to load an ebook every time I open it. This isn't just the first time; it's slow every time I open an ebook. The Literati isn't recognized as a USB drive. This actually isn't a big deal; I'm sure it will be fixed. But it's irritating nonetheless.


The Literati costs $159, and the K3  Wifi costs $139. I don't see any reason to get the Literati over the Kindle.

About Nate Hoffelder (11117 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

103 Comments on Review: Sharper Image Literati

  1. >>>WTF is Kobo doing different from everyone else? It makes no sense.

    They have their own system. Books reside in an SQLite database. That also accounts for the book opening/loading time (a quote is usually used to distract people from this on the Kobo Reader itself). Bit unfair, that second picture, showing a far larger face size than the K!

  2. Nate the great // 5 October, 2010 at 1:41 pm //

    That’s the comfortable reading size on the Literati.

  3. Isn’t the point of the Literati that it is an 800x 600 colour screen? So, what’s the colour like? How’s the battery length since, I presume, this is not e-ink? Does it have landscape mode for comics or using the SD card a viewer for camera pics?

  4. I bought the literati. I cannot get on the the bookstore using wi-fi. I called the number on the guide it connected me to kobo books. they were no help. The literati might look good but it may be better to invest in the nook or kindle!

  5. About a week ago i received a literati as a gift. I have used it a few times since then and now all of the sudden it won’t turn on. I cannot find any help for this problem.

  6. Nate the great // 7 December, 2010 at 6:36 am //

    It sounds like it’s broken. Try to find a way to return it.

  7. I bought a Literati at a good price PLUS a $30 rebate. I, also, used it for only a few days & it crashed on me – can’t start it up! I called the technical support & they will be sending me a new one. If I’m not pleased (after reading all the negative reviews), it will be going back! Wish me good luck!

  8. Just exchanged the literati I purchased on black friday and now I will be returning the replacement. What a piece of junk!!! Will not recognize wi-fi, will not recognize it is connected to my computer! I purchased one book from kobo and my bank charged me to exchange to canadian money???? Ok I do not understand that!!! I think I shall stick to reading BOOKS!!

  9. Nate the great // 10 December, 2010 at 2:36 pm //

    Convert to CAD? Seriously?!?

    That’s a new one.

  10. [email protected] // 12 December, 2010 at 10:56 pm //

    Good Lord People, DO NOT BUY HIS PIECE OF YOUR KNOW WHAT! Kust received this today as a birthday gift and as soon as I took it out the box it began to flash. Perhaps I accidentally hit the power button but it just continues to blink nonstop with a splash screen. Manuals blow and quick start is also useless. Wow what a disappointment, the person who bought feels even worse cause they can’t get it to work either. STAY AWAY, BE WARNED PIECE OF JUNK! SHARPER IMAGE YOU SUCK, Let the real ereader builders make these thing…you just stay out of the way.

  11. Wow, I am absolutely floored by this device. It is a total waste of money. I read somewhere about a blinking issue figured it was nothing, got mine and gues what…a feaken blinking issue. I used the reset button and that does nothing. I tried holding down all kinds of buttons and letters to see if I can try that with reset btn and still nothing. My screen just continues to blink with the words literati… Its going back tomorrow to BestBuy. For those of you thinking about buying this; it may look nice and be affordable but appearance is all it has. People don’t waste your time or money, those saying otherwise must be plants by marketing to sell this item. It is full of bugs and useless to me; I’ll spend $80 more and get a Nook.

  12. If you don’t have access to Wi-Fi, don’t buy the Literati. Despite what the user manual says, you CAN NOT use the Kobo desktop app to purchase books.
    Kobo told me that yesterday when I phoned Kobo support,( as i was unable to successfully download/install the Kobo desktop app, from Desktop app will be available “sometime in the future” the support tech said, but he was very kind in letting me know that the Kobo ereader, can use the Kobo desktop app.

  13. It has been “processing” new content for hours now, how do I fix it? It is frozen or something?

  14. Nate the great // 16 December, 2010 at 6:48 am //

    When it happened to me, it was becuase the Literati wasn’t processing the the new content, and this was supposed to be fixed in an update. It sounds like they still haven’t released a firmware update yet.

  15. A peice of sh_t. Don’t but it. I could never get on te wi fi or connect by computer. Whats the usb cable for once you download the driver it just another device that wont do anything and the only thing that shows up on the screen that tells you to remove your hardware saftly by unpluging the item from the computer before removing the usb cable from th literati you can’t get into the book.

  16. Mike Koscileniak // 25 December, 2010 at 11:18 pm //

    I recived it for christmas and it works perfectly! maybe the keyboard doesnt have a good use but otherwise I LOVE IT!

  17. Kobo desktop is already available.

  18. Maybe all of you should try downloading the instruction manual??? Every one of your complaints on here can be solved by reading this simple and easy to understand manual.

    I got one yesterday, downloaded the manual, followed the instructions, and am reading my ebooks transfered from my laptop, the ebooks that came with it, and even some of the free ones they offer through their store. And the Kobo desktop is downloaded to my computer, which also has the safe unplug for the usb on it for your reader.

    The dictionary is fantastic. Used it to play Scrabble with the family tonight.

    Most important thing is follow the first instruction of charging at least six hours before attempting to do anything with it. Just like a cell phone, shouldn’t use it until fully charged.

  19. I just got this device yesterday for Christmas, charged it fully, read all the instructions, and am quite disappointed, mostly by the fact that it is very slow to turn on and go through the menu selections in the Kobo bookstore. I also am not happy by the fact that the Kobo bookstore does not offer its customers a way of previewing the books they are buying with any user reviews or book text before they buy them like the Amazon Kindle website does. I don’t want to spend $12.00 on a book when I have no idea if I will like it. Using the free Kobo and Kindle PC apps on my netbook solves the speed problem, so I think I will return this and buy Kindle books, where I can preview the books for free before I buy them.

  20. Updated the firmware date Dec. 10th which helped but it still crashes a lot so keep a paperclip handy. Thinking I may return this to Best buy if then don’t fix the constant crashes with another update.

  21. If you have constant crashes then I’d return it now. The frustration isn’t worth it.

  22. this peice of garbage is a total waste of money. it has a 3 hour battery life , wont recognize documents , wont sync, and NO tech support except for the wifi. I gurantee the battery will go dead before you get a book older than the preloaded huck fin on it.

  23. I bought a Literati last weekend. I fully charged it, used my wifi and browsed through the book store and purchased a few books. I have read a bit of each and all have been bookarked for me. I goes right to the correct page each time. It is a bit slow but all in all, without having tried its counterparts, I like it.

  24. Yulia Petroffska // 28 December, 2010 at 7:49 am //

    I bought this device at Best Buy Miami last moth. It doesn’t connect to pc via USB (I tried in a XP and Vista laptop). I could also not access PDF files stored on an SD card.

    The manual says that I can use “drag and drop,” Adobe digital editions, or Calibre to load files onto the Literati, but none of these methods seem to work. The device doesn’t seem to recognize the existence of any files.

    I connect Kobo library via wifi. It seems the only way.

    I sent a message via Sharper Image’s web for that product 3 weeks ago and nobody answer us !

    I am very disappointed with the device and with political customer of Sharper Image.

  25. Sharper Image should be ashamed at releasing this non-working totally bogus, deceptive piece of JUNK!!!!

  26. Received this as a Christmas gift. Turned it on once, only ONCE, and at the next startup it would only flash the Literati logo again and again. Screen would only cease blinking when I held in the miniscule paperclip hole in the back (reset button). Did not stop flashing even by holding in the power button. Had to wait for the battery to drain and then charged it again, but COME ON. I don’t want to have to tweak a new device endlessly before it begins to work. Customer service was no help. Will be sending it back asap for a refund.

  27. For $49 – It is a steal.

    But you have to have some tech savy folks…

    First – immediately after charging it over night – restore it to factory setting.

    Then get it on your WiFi. This requires manual entry of your WiFi security codes.

    Do the two updates, which happens automatically -if not start again with the restore to factory setting. You’ll have to reconnect to your wifi as above during this process.

    Then the thing runs just fine.

    PDF files can be landscape or portrait, an option in ‘display’ when accessing PDFs.

    Works great.

    I would rather have an iPad, but $699 or $49 to read some books and work PDFs.

    At $49 it is a steal…

  28. I purchased a Liberati from Kohl’s pre-Christmas. After sale, coupons, $30 MIRebate, and Kohl’s cash, the thing ended up costing about $39. It was a “little” buggy before the latest firmware update. I’ve downloaded a few books from Kobo including many of the freebies, AND I’ve converted a Kindle book purchased from Amazon to a format that Liberati can read (took 2 minutes) …downloaded and enjoyed reading half of the 129 page book already.

    This is my first experience with any ereader. I’m fairly technically competent. I’ve found pages flip in approx. 0.3 seconds and few crashes. I do wish we could add more bookmarks manually (and label them), but maybe that will be in a future firmware?

    Battery life has been about 5-7 hours depending on screen brightness (?) and usage (continuous vs. intermittent). The touch sensitive F/R buttons along either side work great for me.

    I don’t have anything to compare this against, but readibility seems fine. My eyes aren’t tired even after several hours of reading. For $39, I’m not complaining!!! I had to buy 2 to qualify for the rebate, so have an extra to gift to a friend.

    J. Bond 007 (N. California)

1 2 3 4

3 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Sharper Image Literati gets reviewed: finicky, buggy & generally bad - SlashGear
  2. Black Friday e-reader sales roundup
  3. Kobo launches OEM program to bring Kobo software to 3rd-Party eReaders - The Digital Reader

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.