Review: Elonex 500EB

This ereader has popped up in several places over the last year. We first saw it on the JCPenney website last November, and it then showed up under the Copia brand. Both fell through, and it finally showed up under the Elonex brand. I've also been told by the manufacturer, Gajah,that it will be sold in Russia by Nexx.

Hardware

The Elonex 500EB is based on a 5" (800x480) LCD screen and it has a SD card slot, accelerometer, and headphone jack (but no Wifi or touchscreen). Yes, it's a basic ereader, but it's the prettiest one I've seen in a while. Format support includes Adobe Epub, PDF, FB2, and txt. BTW, Elonex are also selling a 500FB with the same hardware specs but without support for Adobe DE DRM.

The power button is on the upper edge, and the page turn buttons are on the right edge. Below the screen are 6 buttons and a d-pad.On either side of the d-pad are the menu and back buttons. Below the d-pad are a second set of page turn buttons, font size, and music.

The d-pad has the standard problems shared by most d-pads, so I won't cover them here. (I've been meaning to post on d-pad and joystick design - someday.) Actually, the d-pad would only bother people who know what's wrong with it, so never mind.

I should probably tell you that my review unit developed a hardware fault. It now has a high pitched whine which surprisingly is in one of the few tones I can still hear. I still like the ereader, though.

One important detail that I almost forgot: The 500EB does charge over USB, so you don't have to bother carrying the power supply around.

Software

The 500EB also has music and video players, a photo viewer, and a file manager. They're all accessible under the menu button on the library screen. The video player can take a 720p at 30fps and show it without dropping frames. The image quality isn't all that great, though. A lot of the subtleties in color and texture are lost.

The only annotation option is bookmarks. But, you do have some customization options: screen brightness, font size (6), font color (6), background color (6), and screen orientation. It also offers a page jump option and auto page turn option.

It does support PDF reflow, which is great. But you need to remember that if you reflow a PDF with graphs or charts, you'll lose them.

The library menu has a couple serious shortcomings. First, the font size for all the menus is small and you can't adjust it. Second, you can't sort the ebooks by title. Instead the 500EB mistakenly offers you the file name (but you can see the author, which is weird). This will be a problem for me becuase a lot of my ebooks have numbers for file names.

Opinion

Pictures don't do it justice. Seriously.

Right now I'm waitting to hear back from Gajah on whether they'll send me a replacement. If they won't, then I'll start bugging Elonex.  If that doesn't work I'll seriously consider buying one.

I like it becuase it has a near perfect placement of page turn buttons. They are in the middle of the right edge, which puts them in just the right spot for me to hold the 500EB in my (rather large, male) left hand and read one handed.

Addendum: I just now noticed that it has a neat trick in the menu. If the file name is to long to fit the screen the 500EB will scroll the file name left and then right.

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.

9 Comments

  1. Jason Evans14 December, 2010

    What is your impression of the battery life? I’m speaking here of just reading with medium back light, and no music or movies playing.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great14 December, 2010

      I would estimate the battery life at 4 or so days.

      Reply
  2. Tedc15 December, 2010

    Just had a look at one in Waterstones – looks a nice screen and does not have the annoying (to me) white to black flash when you turn a page as on e-ink readers. I was told that you get used to this – but I am not sure I want to !

    Reply
  3. Elizabeth8 January, 2011

    Do you know if I can download a driver for the 500EB somewhere? I had mine a month, and it worked perfectly at first, then a week ago the thing just stopped working, and I mean literally stopped. At first it just would only load 5 of the 10 books, and then all of a sudden even the five that did show were gone. I did a soft reboot, and nothing changed, then I did a hard reboot and the next time I plugged it into my computer it showed up as a 700EB. After that it just went dead. When I plug it in now my computer makes the tone that indicates that something is plugged in but it can’t read the device. I emailed Elonex but they said I have to send my query to Elonex Africa (I live in South Africa) and I have not heard back from them yet. Thing is though, I remember the first time I plugged it in after the Hard Reset it popped up that it couldn’t locate the driver files. That is why I am thinking maybe if I can install the drivers manually I can get it to work again, but I cannot find drivers for the 500EB. Any advice would be great.

    Reply
    1. Nate the great8 January, 2011

      I don’t know. Have you checked with Elonex?

      Reply
  4. […] I’ve had my hands on the Elonex 500EB, and it’s a pretty good eReader. The dimensions and button placement are just right for my large male hands, and the reading experience was good. But when it comes to video, the 500EB did not have a good screen or CPU. For more details, check out my review over on The Digital Reader. […]

    Reply
  5. dan21 March, 2011

    hi, does anyone know where i can get a coloured cover for the elones500eb i can oly find black ones and i wold like a nice red or purple thanks .

    Reply
  6. Disappointed14 December, 2011

    I would not recommend this to anyone. Pdf reading in landscape mode impossible. SD card is unmounted in the middle of watching a movie. Extremely slow when opening big file.

    Reply
  7. Wendu28 March, 2014

    I have the same problems as Elizabeth, my ebook is dead, it doesn’t even register on my computer via the USB port. No response from support South Africa, and no help on their support page. I did try and get a fix file, but that has bombed my reader – it doesn’t even switch on anymore. What can I do?

    Reply

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