Ectaco Jetbook – a brief review

The Jetbook has been out for some time now, and it has been reviewed endlessly. But I've never explained why I like it, and I think that merits a brief review.

Ectaco released the Jetbook in early 2008. The hardware was designed by a Chinese company called JCNIP, and is sold in China (under the original firmware) as the M218. BTW, I'd avoid the M218 unless you already know how to convert to a format it uses, or you know how to replace the firmware. The Chinese firmware is for the mainland Chinese market. The ebook formats it uses are rather funky.

Hardware

The Jetbook has an unique 5" LCD screen. This grayscale screen was designed by Toshiba as a low power alternative to traditional LCD.  it has buttons for 0-9 to the right of the screen and a slider bar to the left of the screen. Below the screen are the page turn buttons (to the left), and a D-pad, OK button, and 4 menu buttons to the right. The purpose of each button is obvious, so I won't discuss them here. But I will say that I like the design; very rarely do I press the wrong button.

Reading Experience

This is one of my preferred ebook readers because the abilities it lacks are more than outweighed by the very low cost (I found it on sale at $150). The current firmware is limited; highlighting, annotation, TOCs, and hyperlinks don't work. I didn't realize until I bought it that there are times when I don't care if I can use those features. I have any number of ebooks in my collection that all I want to do is advance one page at a time.

I also like the Jetbook because it uses FBReader, and does a decent job of displaying Epub. I prefer to read in landscape mode. This lets me hold the Jetbook in my left hand with my thumb  next to the page turn button. I feel I have a firm grip, and turning the page is easy.

Pros:

cost
weight
ergonomics

cons:

limited features
no DRM support

Availability

The Jetbook can be bought at Fry's, Newegg, and BB&W. You might also want to consider the Aluratek Libre, which has the same hardware but different firmware.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

8 Comments

  1. Luqman5 February, 2010

    I thought the Jetbook now supported eReader DRM. They never issued the updated firmware?

    Reply
    1. Nate the great5 February, 2010

      There is nothing official yet, no.

      Reply
  2. Mediacom Jerry-Book E60 | Bookbee19 February, 2010

    […] Ectaco Jetbook – a brief review […]

    Reply
  3. Jessica Simon26 February, 2010

    Will the Jetbook support eReader DRM? I am hoping so that my mother is happy with the gift we bought her. Right now it was a waste of our money. She likes the Jetbook itself but is disappointed that she can not get the books she “wants”.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great26 February, 2010

      I would think that they would eventually make a firmware for the Jetbook, but I haven’t heard anything.

      Reply
  4. Doug C11 November, 2011

    As of November 2011 I’ve had an Aluratek Libre for a year and a half and like it, since it does all that I need. It DOES accommodate DRM, though I’ve never used it. Its current firmware allows TOC for some titles. It’s light, easy to hold in one hand–while I lie semi-recumbent in bed to read. It requires (a) light, as books do. When I got it I paid close to $120 with coupons, etc., but since then it first became available at Sears and KMart for less than $100–even as low as $79–but has since become less available than the presently touted touch and color version which go for more money.

    Reply
  5. Chelsea23 January, 2012

    I bought my Jetbook in early 2009 when it was on sale at Newegg for $175 and it is by far the best piece of technology I have ever invested in. Jetbook has updated the firmware quite a few times since then to fix bugs and expand format compatibility. I have read more books than I can count and suggest it to anyone who wants an ereader that is JUST and ereader, as it is an amazing little device.

    Reply
  6. Chelsea23 January, 2012

    I’d also like to add that I have dropped this thing way too many times, even on harder surfaces and it still works perfectly.

    Reply

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