Technology

PocketBook 301 Review

Overview 

The market has many different eBook readers. They can be classified into two types. The first type has readers similar to Kindle. It’s manufactured by Amazon, a major company, is optimized for a certain format and provides excellent online support via Whispernet.

These eBook readers are relatively inexpensive because the company makes most of its money on the sales of eBooks. Because the reader is optimized for the DRM format of the company that manufacturers the reader, you are pretty much forced to purchase books from the company.

Then there are readers from firms such as PocketBook. Companies such as these are not as big and their profit is based solely on the sale of ereaders; this means that they are relatively more expensive. In compensation, readers like this are not bound to one specific format and can read many different kinds.

PocketBook 301 is definitely among the latter. Although it is more expensive than Nook or Kindle, it supports the majority of main formats currently available, as well as a number of games and other applications.

PocketBook 301 is a version of Netronix EB600. Many variations exist, different only in design and firmware. While nothing stands out about Pocketbook 301’s design, the firmware is something else entirely.

Positives
Lightweight, easy to deal with and navigate and its battery has an exceptionally long life. There is satisfactory file format support and the screen quality is superb.

Negatives
Although the button layout and control pad are fine, it would have been preferable to have a larger and better-situated button just for turning the pages.

Bottom Line: 
Touch screen, wireless, keyboard and built in eBook store are not included with the PocketBook 301. In addition, it is priced the same or higher than many readers which offer these features. It’s worth what you spend, though, because it’s so versatile and flexible.

Online, the PocketBook 301 retails for around $220. Though not an inexpensive reader such as Kindle or Nook, it is worth the price due to the reader’s performance and versatility. I believe the purpose of your using the reader is the bottom line.

This reader will not be suitable for you if you intend to work primarily with books containing DRM encryption or if you have a large collection of DRM-protected books like those used on the Kindle. However, if you mainly read e-books without DRM, this device’s versatility and ability to read multiple formats could be appealing.

Appearance and Feel: 
For an eBook reader that features a 6″ screen, the Pocketbook 301 is quite light. Weighing in at 6.1 ounces, or 174 grams, it’s almost half the Nook’s weight and around 60% of that of the Kindle. The device measures 118 by 118 by 8.5 mm. Four colors are available: Black, Green, Grey and Pink. This is primarily a right-handed device.

On the left edge of the screen, four buttons can be found. Additionally, a 5-position joystick and direction keys sit on the screen’s bottom right corner. The firmware’s excellent device makes navigation intuitive and simple. The buttons respond well, and the menus are simple to get around. Left-handed people can use this device, but it’s not as ambidextrous as the PocketBook 360.

Readability: 
A 6″ E Ink Vizplex display with 16 level gray scales and 600 x 800 px resolution is featured on this device. It is possible to read in a daylight environment, and there is no backlight. As with the PocketBook 360, you can customize all of this device’s buttons. Twenty button options exist with more than 30 commands to select from. There is an additional function on the buttons so you can press them longer.

Supported Formats: 
Among the Pocketbook 301’s biggest strengths is how many formats it can read. To read eBooks in different formats, different software apps are utilized.

For eBooks lacking DRM, it employs FBReader, an open source eBook reading application. Supported file types include: FB2, FB2.zip, TXT, RTF, HTML, PRC, CHM, DJVU, DOC, EPUB and TCR.

Adobe Reader is employed for EPUB and PDF books containing DRM-encryption. You can also use PDF viewer to access PDFs. You can pick a particular application for opening an eBook.

Available Books: 
In contrast to Nook or Kindle, there is no online library of books for PocketBook, but it is possible to read almost any non DRM book using this reader. With newer titles, DRM-encrypted PDF files or EPUB eBooks are available; these can be read using Adobe Reader, which is included on the device.

The device doesn’t only have eBooks, but comes with apps including RSS News, Calendar, Notes, and games like Sudoku and Chess. Developer’s kit for Pocketbook 301, a learning programs and terminal emulator are available to the open source community, for anyone who is interested in developing applications for this device.

Performance: 
Like the PocketBook 360 and others in the PocketBook line, performance is very good. Its speed at page turning, loading books and starting up is wonderful. It also has excellent battery life. The battery has a capacity of 1000 mAh and uses Li-polymer technology.

The back compartment, which closes with a screw, houses the battery, which a user can replace. The stated battery life is that one recharge lasts for 8000 page-turns or refreshes. 512 MB of internal memory along with 64 MB of RAM are included. There is also a slot for a SD / SDHC card if more memory is needed. Memory expansion can go as high as 32 GB.