Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pico life e-book reader W960 review

Why would I need an ebook reader when I already have an iPad? The iPad is a fantastic device and works wonderfully indoors, but I wouldn't take it to the beach and it's not too good even in normal outdoor light.

Officeworks are now selling a range of ebook readers and today I plunked down $238 for the Pico W960.

pico front on table.jpg

E-ink screen, superior to the old Sony one I've had for years. 2GB of internal storage and a slot for an SD card (not micro SD as the box says by the way). 800 x 600px, support for text, pdf, epub, html, unicode text, lrc, pdb, fb2 and wtxt.

It also plays music in mp3, wma, ape, flac and aac formats.

The best feature is the e-ink display seen here in direct sunlight:

pico sunlight.jpg

Opening an epub book, like the one above takes an intermidable 15 seconds so you'll be looking at this a bit:

pico please wait.jpg

(That's an epub book I purchased from O'Reilly and it works just fine).

Page turn speed is typical for e-ink displays. You change pages either with the four-way rocker on the front or with the up down buttons on the back - this is a great feature and saves putting little buttons on the edge that get clicked by accident.

pico rear.jpg

The device comes loaded with 118 text files from Project Gutenberg but they are so poorly named (A065.txt, A123.txt, etc) that I just took a copy and deleted them all. It's too slow to go in and figure out what each one is.

You plug the device in to your computer using a Micro USB cable and it simply mounts as a storage device.

pico ports.jpg

I had a few minor issues using it with my Mac - the hidden .Files that MacOS creates show up in the book list and so I use Hidden Cleaner to get rid of them, also as soon as you unmount the device it mounts again right away meaning that my quick unmount and unplug action normally leaves me with a warning about unplugging a mounted disk.

After changing the books on the device you need to select "Content Update" to get it to realise they are there.

The buttons on the front, marked home, music, zoom, and back are touch sensitive and potentially a bit too easy to trigger. Oddly the button with a home icon on it is called the "options" button in the manual and doesn't seem to work at all on my device.

All up it's a useful gadget for the money and it's great to see a range of book readers on the shelves at low prices.

Update: doesn't like some epub

I tried to open a commercial epub "Python in a nutshell", it said "please wait" so I did for about half an hour. The reset button is the little hole between the up and down buttons on the back.

It will open smaller epub files but it simply shows the text content devoid of any images or even basic text formatting. Annoyingly all text is justified.

PDFs do show up in graphical form but any A4 pdf it too small to read so this isn't really useful.

My conclusion is that this is a good little reader for just reading text files. For real books I'm going with the iPad.


Jeanna said...

I purchased this e-reader from Office Works last week for $10. I downloaded 50 Shades of Grey [as a girl would!!] but when I tried to port it from my pc [e-machine] to the e-reader, it came up saying 'Digital rights management (DRM)'. Is there a way around this on this machine, and also how do you delete the book files that are already on it?....Thanks - Jeanna

Peter Marks said...

Hi Jeanna,

The Pico life is a pretty basic ereader. If you plug it into to a computer, from ancient memory, you should be able to see the files and delete them there.