After using – playing with infibeam.com’s Pi, for almost about 4 months I thought to write about it. Many people have been asking me online and offline ‘How is it?’ And could simply respond with ‘Good’!
If you think this is smart device, can do much more like iPad, Galaxy Pad or so, its absolutely misconception. Its very very simple and dedicated eBook reader, and almost nothing beyond that. No wi-fi, no 3G, no browser, no touch-screen!
The device is meant for very specific purpose.
The battery lasts long and the main reasons behind them is the way is designed – no backlight and E-ink screen. This is indeed smart technique, absence of back light and flat simple screen provides very smooth, no eye itching experience. This definitely provides equally pleasant experience as if you were reading physical – paper book. Battery indeed lasts more than a week for me after a complete charging cycle.
Connectivity is pretty simple way, charging and data transfer is possible with mini USB interface. It also has SD card slot, so you every time do not need to connect reader via cable to transfer books.
Ebook reading / formatting:
Though it supports vast variety of formats including, TXT, EPUB, PDF, HTML, and more, the device converts – formats text on its own. For non technical reading, its indeed good. This may result into different placement of image, but is fine as long as you can link the reference!
However, for technical ebooks, this isn’t good. For instance, code snippet or some tips also gets converted and formatted with different font. This makes it little annoying to understand flow. Also, limited screen size may also split continuity. Reference to diagram involves multiple flips between few pages.
The best and i-like-most part is support for major Indian languages. Font support and formatting is really very nice when it comes to Indian regional text.
It has very basic audio player which supports MP3 format. This player is indeed basic, don’t expect rocking sound experience! The ideal purpose, though not highlighted much anywhere, is audio ebook listening, and nothing beyond.
Screen / display:
It has simple 600 by 800 pixels of display which is sufficient for normal book reading. The landscape and full screen book reading experience is good for continuous reading.
- Font families – changeable includes Georgia, Courier, MTX Bold
- Size switches – increase / decrease actually changes font size and reformats text. For ebooks with scanned image type text, text recognition is not there, so can also use zoom in-out.
- E-ink displays image in grayscale.
- Refresh / response time is bit more, so requires patience after button press!
No keyboard, very limited functional buttons, so no confusion for first time users.
Sudoku game, image viewer.
- Landscape mode reading doesn’t show full title of ebook, even if it has sufficient space.
- Header shows date, but not time – crazy!
- For Indian scripts, specially with subscript characters and superscript characters, post formatting gives little annoying experience, for example a signle word is broken in such a way that first line terminates with consonant character and associated vowel goes to next line beginning!
- About section – device says “GNU General Public License – this product contains software which applies to GPL. You may obtain and redistribute the GPL source code.” This is indeed crazy, GPL is license and not any type of source code. And the company – infibeam doesn’t mention which software (under GPL) is used, and from where! (consider it major, if you’re also open source promoter, like me.)
The bottom line:
This is dedicated ebook reader for India, but not as per ‘Indian Price’ – bit more expensive considering set of features. However the available options are good enough for non technical or semi technical reading.
Couple of one liners from my friends when they played with my reader.
“Please remove paper placed on screen and switch it on, I want to see!” (though actually it was on with some book opened)
“If this is offered around Rs.5000, I shall get one.”
“This is a book only, and is thinner than our technical books.” (when I handed over with leather case)
Bonus for readers of this post –
Get your favorite newspaper delivered to your e-mailbox, daily and read using this reader
- Grab copy of Calibre Ebook Management software. It’s free and open source, supports multiple operating systems.
- Install and open
- Click on Fetch news → Schedule news download and you will see a window like below:
- search for your favorite newspaper / magazine and click on the name. Of course, you can also add your own way – own news feed. But this requires little technical knowledge.
- When you select – highlight the item, Schedule option on right side will be enabled, just select preferred time and frequency and save.
- Now click on Connect / Share icon and setup your email account, make sure you enabled auto send option.
- That’s it!
Note, this trick requires software to be open and internet to be connected, for the time you have scheduled. You can use scheduled activity to start / wake up your computer before the schedule and hibernate / shutdown post schedule.
I also recommend Calibre Ebook Management software as it has vast options to convert ebook to multiple formats.
infibeam Pi is just a wrapper and Indian branding of netronix ebook device! I was bit surprised to find this. Also, firmware upgrade is also not smooth. Post upgrade, you may expect some bugs as new gifts!