iRex Digital Reader DR1000S
Review iRex extended its electronic book line back in September last year, but it's taken us more than a couple of weeks to get used to its new DR1000s Digital Reader and understand that this is really a new class of product, rather than an evolution of the smaller readers of the past.
iRex's Digital Reader
Electronic-ink screens have been pushed into the role of electronic books but, like Amazon, iRex has realised that the real money isn't in electronic books at all, but in electronic document readers. Executives, or journalists – who have to plough through enormously long documents – will pay handsomely for a device that enables them to easily read, and make notes on, such documents with the minimum of fuss.
Indeed, that's the market that Amazon's latest, the Kindle DX, and the iRex DR1000S are aimed. Yet, the DR1000S isn't exactly comfortable for reading books. At just under 27 x 22cm and a smidge under 12 mm thick, it's much closer to a clipboard than a paperback, even if it is six hundred quid's worth of clipboard.
Still, scribbling in the margins is allowed, as the DR1000S has in-built graphics tablet functions. It’s basically a capacitive touch-screen that responds to a stylus rather than a finger – so you can annotate documents in the margins, just like on paper.
Around the edge of the screen are nine capacitive buttons that are dedicated to fingertip use – they won't respond to the stylus – such is the price of capacitive technology. The three buttons on the sides mirror each other in providing up, down and select, while the three at the bottom are for left, right, and accessing the menu screen.
Landscape too, but don't expect an accelerometer, this is a menu-selected option
On the bottom left is an SD Card slot, occupied by the 1GB card supplied with the reader. The centre houses an unspecified expansion slot and to the right is a mini-USB port that's used for both charging and data connectivity. Alongside, is a tiny, recessed, reset button, which can be pressed using the stylus that slots into the top of the device.
iRex need to stop taking the proverbial and slash their prices
This gadget is way too expensive, the price should be under £100 before I'd even look at such a pathetically under featured device, only 1GB, that's nothing! Even most businesses would choke at the price here, you can get a damned sweet laptop for that price, even a tablet, or a fliptop!
I bought a 'netbook' because I could see it was vastly better value than these overpriced e-ink toys.
An owner's opinion (after 3 months)
The author of this article is correct about the interface, it is bad. Really bad!
I have gotten somewhat adjusted to it's limitations after a while so that it is not quite as bad as when you first begin using the device; I guess I've just stopped trying to use the device for certain task to avoid the user inferface weaknesses.
I think the current UI is fundamentally broken, I don't think it can be "fixed". I think it would be best to completely redesign it from scratch. There is no feature of the current UI that I like. I hope an upcoming firmware release will introduce a replacement interface, but I have not heard any news that iRex is planning that.
An example of a limitation that I find completely maddenning is it's inability to easily jump to some arbitrary page number. This makes it impractical to make use of an SD card loaded with a bunch of technical reference manuals. My most common usage is not supported by the UI: I would want to open a book and go immediately to the index. even if I've never opened the book before within the reader. I might moveup and down a page or two to find the topic I'm looking for, and then jump to some arbitrary page. I have found this series of tasks so frustrating and impractical to complete that I have not even attempted my 2nd most common book task: going back to the index, and then jumping to a different arbitrary page if the first one didn't contain what I was looking for.
The hardware is great, the rendered pages are very easy to read, and I think all my complaints (I have more that are unmentioned) could be solved in firmware.
The device is really good for reading materials where you start at page one and continue forward one page at time. For now I am only loading it with materials that I intend to read that way.
The device would be killer if it could be made to behave more like a real book. It won't come close until it becomes easier to jump to an arbitrary page number.
Interesting device-- almost more of a tablet PC than an eReader
I wonder how this will stack up against the Plastic Logic document reader when it comes out. PL are being very copy about the price.
For that price, I think I'd want WiFi and a web browser!
will build something like the iphone but bigger and with 50 other extra functions..and a prettier screen with colour.. this thing has some uses but when that mooted iTablet or whatever they're going to call it comes out with full Mac Os and such, this might look a little too like a dinosaur/niche product.
nice enough but too early in this market to justify purchase..
also, i'm not a HappyAppleSlapper, i don't own a single product of theirs. I can just see better things coming and the most likely source would be the Tw@tablet.