First Impressions of the Pocketbook IQ

Last night Pocketbook uploaded a new firmware update for the Pocketbook IQ. I got the IQ on Tuesday, and it had been sitting on my desk. I had played with it a couple times, but I was busy with other devices and I was going to get to it eventually. I thought the firmware update was excellent opportunity to try the IQ and tell you what I think. There are a couple short videos mixed in.

First, a little background on the hardware. The IQ is basically the same hardware as the Cruz Reader and the white Pandigital Novel. It's based on a 7" LCD screen and it has a resistive touchscreen, 2GB Flash, Wifi, a SD card slot, accelerometer, and a custom Home screen designed by Pocketbook.

The Home screen on the Pocketbook IQ has the ugliest color scheme I have ever seen on a device. The general layout is okay, but I have seen better color palettes in the abstract artwork of college students. Pocketbook apparently thought it was a good idea to have a yellow to blue fade running left to right as the wallpaper. What's worse is that the 8 default icons are grayscale. *shudder*

My guess is that their genius user interface designer is color blind, and no one noticed when he was hired to work on Pocketbook's previous ereaders (they all had  grayscale  screens). But when the IQ came down the pipeline, no one thought to double check his work. Actually, I have an alternate theory. Perhaps Pocketbook's UI designer suffered a blow to the head and they let him keep the job out of sympathy. That would explain this monstrosity.

I thought this was supposed to be the new and improved version of Foxconn's 7" tablet. It can't be all that much improved, becuase it takes a really long time to load anything, and I often can't tell if it's loading or if I didn't click quite right.


I can't install apps. The IQ ships with Slideme, but whenever I try to download something Slideme gets stuck in a loop.

I tried to reboot in the hopes that it would kick Slideme out of whatever rut it's in, and that's when I discovered that every time I boot the IQ, I have to go through the setup process again. That's not fun. Oh, and the home screen sometimes crashes on boot, and it looks something like this:

And now I can't load the anything at all. I'll go reboot it again (I think this makes the 6th time since I started writing this post).


I was really hoping that I could install Aldiko. Every time I exit a book the IQ forgets my place, and this is starting to piss me off. But on the upside Pocketbook had the good sense to let me use the volume buttons to turn the page. (They got the pairing wrong, but you can't have everything.)

Page turns are rather slow; my K3 is actually faster. Don't beleive me? Check out the video:


Speaking of loading ebooks, there's something wrong with the file associations. The file manager doesn't know to open Epub with the reading app.

Also, the file manager they're using wasn't a good choice. A well designed file manager would make it easy for you to find the user accessible storage first (SD card and Flash) and make it slightly difficult to see the rest.   A person shouldn't have to know the Linux file system in order to use this tablet.


I'm really not impressed with the IQ. It seems to me like Pocketbook released an Android tablet simply becuase everyone else was doing it.  That's not good enough, IMO.

About Nate Hoffelder (11462 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."

22 Comments on First Impressions of the Pocketbook IQ

  1. Now imagine all that crap software with a Mirasol screen. I shudder.

  2. about blue to yellow fade: maybe they use the colors because they are Ukrainians and they are proud of their flag 🙂

  3. Did you try with the new and the old firmware?

    Is your experience typical with other IQ owners? Perhaps, you received a defective unit.

  4. funny video…I was thinking about purchasing one but I not anymore lol

  5. You are the only one who has a trouble with IQ.
    I’m sure that you have a defected one or there is something wrong with yours.

    Others in Pocketbook forum look very happy with this new firmware and it worked really well. You missed every decent point it has and misleading people by posting this review. Bad for you and bad for people who will read this post.

    You are the first one I’ve ever seen who has such a negative attitude on this device. It has really nice touch response and everything I installed worked well. You need to check what you did in installing apps or try it again. Android 2.0 is not such a stable OS.

    Most of all, in terms of ereading apps this device is great. Except for all the reading apps such as (Kindle, moon reader, alkido etc.), its own pocketbook reading app became really fast after the update. It handles PDF files quite well super fast than other apps.

    You have had to check whether your impression can be generalized before writing this crap.

  6. I’m still testing my IQ and I haven’t tried other Android webpads but my experience has so far been “good enough”.

    I’m not coming in expecting it to be an iPad or even an Archos 70, much less a TabletPC; not at that price.

    I did find that the IQ bogs down if the SD card has a *lot* of epub files because the PB Reader app tries to index the entire file system in the background. (Not the wisest choice.)

    I had the Black Mask collection on my SD card (27000+ epubs) and the thing was 13000 deep after two days and I was wondering about my buy.

    Then I learned my way around the system enough to find the process manager and kill the index process. Night and day. With only a few hundred epub books on the card the thing now feels snappy to *me*. The index client is satisfied and not running and I have no problem with launch speed and overall performance.

    Responsiveness of the resistive screen is what I expected (I have a Dell Axim 51v so I knew what I was getting in) and I’ve found it depends on the quality of the app coding. On the best apps it is as snappy as the iPad ads, on others… not so much.

    I’m making my way through the list of Android readers and so far I’m not impressed. And it’s not because of the underlying OS or the hardware but because of the apps themselves. One of apps couldn’t even open its own sample files, another gives you 500 settings to customize the display (yay!) but strips the character formatting of a Calibre-generated epub; no italics or boldfacing.

    Verdict on the reading apps? One reading app shines for its quality. Kindle. Fast, clean, responsive, and it doesn’t care how many prc’s I throw at it.

    On the webpad front, I’ve found Dolphin HD as default with Skyfire as a backup to deliver a full desktop browsing experience, FLASH and all. Dolphin renders the pages (but not the embedded videos) and clicking on a video seemlessly brings in Skyfire. Documents-to-go runs fine as well as many of the iPhone dedicated apps. (Pandora and Last.FM interest me, most of the others not so much.)
    Of the Pocketbook signature apps from their well-regarded eink line the only one approaching expectations is the standalone dictionary app.
    The rest are clearly and (by open admission) unfinished. Especially the reader and media app.

    Bottom line?
    It’s a webpad built off a cellphone OS and like the chess-playing dog it’s a miracle it works at all. If your expectation is for a miniature TabletPC forget about it. If your expectation iss an oversized PocketPC you will be pleasantly surprised.
    I was hoping for a color Kindle that could surf the web and my expectations have been met. I’m not regretting my purchase.
    The hardware itself is solid and lives up to its modest specs, especially at its price.

    In the past, Pocketbook has been dilligent in fixing and updating their firmware so there is a decent chance they will eventually (say early 2011) deliver on the promise of the spec-sheet but right now the IQ is strictly a good buy for hobbyists and techies interested in learning about Android.

    Mainstream consumers are not the target audience for the IQ just yet and they really should wait until the firmware is actually finalized sometime early next year (hopefully) unless they are satisfied with an *open* generic Android webpad (*I* am) that runs Kindle beautifully (even bland Caecillia looks decent on the IQ).

    Oh, and yes; the PB startup page is dreadful. But you *can* replace it with a generic Launcher App like Launcher Pro.

    It’s a work in progress from an outfit that until now has built a reputation for delivering. They may yet live up to it.

    Or not…

  7. Is there any Android tablet’s that are any good? I have not seen or heard of one.

    • Depending on how you define good, none is clearly good.
      Like most Google software, Android’s best feature is that it is somewhat “free” of cost. But the architecture suffers some head-scratching architectural features that detract from the value of even the cheapest of webpads.
      It is no accident that the biggest supporters of Android are hardware companies that traditionally don’t do software right.

      I can see why HP chose instead to buy Palm outright to get a halfway decent mobile OS.
      What I can’t fathom is why MS hasn’t promoted the CE ecosystem more actively; even ten year old HPC Pros had a cleaner architecture than Android. Give it a few contemporary apps and even cheap contemporary hardware and it would run rings around the android.

      As is, Android is prospering, not because of intrinsic merit, but because of the availability of good-enough apps.

  8. Hi Nate

    I honestly think that you got a bad piece of hardware there. Let me list what you got right and what you got wrong here:

    1) PocketBook reading software is really not up to scratch yet, DRM is not yet working and TTS is not there yet
    2)Of course you can install whatever application you like. How to do it: Download or put directly on your SD card, use the explorer to navigate to the card, click on application and away you go. That’s simple.
    3) I don’t even begin to understand how you did that no reaction video? That is NOT the reaction of a normal IQ by far.
    4) You’re right about the colorblindness of the home screen producer. But install a launcher application and you can get rid of that strange home screen
    5) Reader software running without problems: Aldiko, Kindle, kobo, ereader, txtr, VuDroid(for PDF), Adobe Reader 9, ACV (for comics).
    Kindle, Aldiko and ereader are really fast. nook seems to be unable to run, Laputa does not work either (hanging all the time). Aldiko changes pages so fast that you don’t even see the page turning itself.

    We (PocketBook) will develop our own reader software further to make the IQ also a reader for easier access for everybody.

  9. Not bad, especially with such price

  10. I bought this device and it works quite well. I awas not expecting and ipad experience since i only paid 150 but for that price i am very happy. I have the Sony 900 or my hardcore reading, but this covers for recreational (comics, pdf’s). I am very happy with my purchase…now if i could only get rid of the book collection bottom of thehome…well worth the 150.

  11. > I can see why HP chose instead to buy Palm
    > outright to get a halfway decent mobile OS.

    Now if they’d only come out with a handheld general purpose device using Palm OS with hardware as good as the old Clie TH55 (sigh) … I still haven’t found any portable reading device to match that antique.

  12. Reviewer:
    I bought three of these, as gifts, and have been working on them around the clock, literally, since they arrived on Dec. 2. You have a bad machine.

    Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
    1)browser–use Dolphin HD 4, not the beta upgrade, with Skyfire for video watching. I had a terrible time finding the Dolphin add-ons, but finally used those found on Handster for HTC tattoo (I don’t actually know what any of that means, but the apk files downloaded AND ran!) I CANNOT find the youtube downloader that used to be out. Huh?!?

    2) ebook reader–I got everything except Nook to load (and I tried several versions), but the default reader does non-DRM as well as any of the others. The only way to buy current bestsellers is to download and use Kindle or Kobo. Don’t buy from B&N, because there is no way to tell what Calibre can translate and what it can’t until you actually try. And since Nook won’t run, you might have just bought a book you can’t read. You can use the free books from Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, feedbooks, and the free books from Borders, but not from Google eBooks, Books a Million, or Entourage.
    3) apps: this is tricky. Some apk files will not download. Some will download, but not install, and some will download, install, and then not run. Anything that is only on the Market, you do NOT have access to. The IQ cannot read the QR code, and the pages won’t open on either the IQ or your PC. Some of the other app markets are the same way (Android tapp, Phandroid, Androlib, androidfreeware, appBrain, AndroidZoom, Entourage). The app markets I was able to download shopping apps and download apps on are: SlideMe (but first upgrade to SAM4), AndAppStore, Androidpit–lots of trashy apps so I’m not loading that on my gifts, Freewarelovers. I have also gotten a one-month subscription to 4shared, and downloaded a lot of apk files there. Again, some of them must have originally come from the Android Market, and don’t run. (The same with the files I have downloaded from AppPlanet.) To download and install apps, you must have a SD card. Once they are installed, most of the apps don’t need the card any more.
    So! I’m just about ready to wrap these up and put them under the tree. If only I could find that youtube downloader for the Dolphin:)

  13. hi Nate, i’m pretty sure your device has some kind of technical problem, because, by all of the other reviews i have seen the pocket book IQ works just fine, you can download apps, you just need to put them on the SD card , once you know how to use it it will be easy, and also you can get rid of the home screen with a home launcher. but i speak for myself. im only 13, and im getting it for my birthday in 2 weeks, so im exicted,

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