Ectaco Jetbook Color Ships with Incomplete Software, Disappointing Screen
My Jetbook Color arrived just over 2 weeks ago, and I was hoping to have the review of the my new favorite toy posted by now. Unfortunately, it is missing so many features that I don’t think I can review it fairly.
The Jetbook Color got a lot of attention at CES a few weeks ago, and well it should. This is the first ereader to hit the market (in Russia) that is using the 9.7″ Triton E-ink screen. I’ve been lusting after it ever since I saw it for the first time at CES, where Hanvon (they originally developed the hardware) had it on display.
The idea of having color E-ink screen has tempted me, but the unit sitting on my desk just doesn’t live up to my expectations.
First and foremost, this is not a review. I do not plan to post a review until there is actually something positive to say about it. This post is intended to give teachers and schools a better idea of the JBC’s current state.
The JBC is missing so many of the features promised on the product pages that you would be better to define it by what it can do. It can display EPub. The touchscreen works. And a lot of the educational add-ons are present (calculators, translation, reference guides, and lot more).
- For a complete list of current features, click here.
- If you want a better idea of what it is supposed to do, click here.
But as an ereader, it is woefully incomplete. The Wifi and browser are coming in the second update, along with USB host. Handwriting recognition and annotations will be coming in both the first and second updates. TTS is also due to show up in the first update.
It’s missing so many features that at this point you would be clearly better off with the iPad. Even if you had to shell out for educational add-ons it would still be a better buy.
But I will note that the JBC has weeks and weeks of battery life. I know this because there is no sleep mode. I’ve had to leave it running for all this time (unless I want to turn it off). This being 2012, can you believe that someone shipped an ereader without the ability to put it to sleep?
But that’s just the software. Guess what I think of the hardware?
First, the screen is gray. It’s so gray that I plan to call this ereader Dorian.
It’s not the pale gray that you might see on the Nook, Kindle, or other ereader. No, the JC screen is so gray that I think it is darker than the screen on the original Kindle. It is certainly darker than the screen on my Kindle DX. BTW, a small part of the problem is the white bezel. Ectaco really should have gone with black shell; that would have made the screen seem at least a little lighter than it is.
Next, the screen refresh rate is slow. It’s not just slower than any of my 6″ ereaders; it’s also slower than my Kindle DX (the 2010 model). The KDX can refresh the screen at nearly twice the speed of the Jetbook Color. I have no word on when this will improve, but I hope it will be addressed in an update.
Finally, yes, the JBC does have a color E-ink screen. Unfortunately, the dominant color is gray. No other color is nearly as strong.
Given its incomplete state, if you need a textbook platform right now (February 2012) I think you should get an iPad instead. Of course, that might change in the next few months, but today the iPad is the better deal. (Android is also good, but at this point you can get more work done with the iPad.)