Each button has an LED that lights when the sensor has detected a finger press, and dims to indicate that a ‘long’ press has been detected – useful as the screen can take half a second to respond. By default, the buttons also click but that's just irritating and was deactivated just as soon as we found our way to the appropriate option. A multi-coloured LED at the top is used to indicate charging, charged, booting and such like, but other than that all interaction is performed through the screen.
Novel design: intended for document reading and annotation
And what a screen it is. At 10.2in, 160dpi and 16 levels of grey, it excels at rendering an A4 page, ideally from a PDF file, in a clearly-readable style and becoming easier to read the better the light. If you're familiar with electronic ink, then you'll already know the joy of reading a computer screen in full daylight, if not then you'll be wondering what's the advantage over a laptop screen.
In short the screen is a joy, and the device is so slim and that one quickly starts carrying it around like a clipboard, and using it in much the same way. If you ever wanted one of those electronic pads they're always handing the captain on the Starship Enterprise then this is it. It may not have a colour screen, but everything else is here.
iRex would like you to use the DR1000S to make notes too, and provides templates for taking notes on meetings and the like. As a blank sheet of paper it works, but the slight lag on drawing makes it less comfortable than using OneNote on a tablet PC, even if the featherweight hardware is comfortable to carry. Still, if the company was serious about that level of functionality, it would surely have provided some enhanced features beyond a single-colour, single-width scribbling tool.
But perhaps not, because while the hardware is superb, the user interface is the kind of mess that can only result from engineers being let loose with icons. Luckily the functionality is limited to navigating directories and a few settings, but you wouldn't know that from the appallingly designed processes.
Slick presentation, but limited in function
Take this scenario: imagine one has finished reading a PDF document and wishes to close it and then delete it. Closing the document involves nine key presses, in the correct order switching between side and bottom buttons, deleting the same document takes another eight: get one wrong and you're back to the start. We've not seen interfacing this bad for a very long time, and with good reason. Navigation requires at least two hands, ideally three, and generates a frustration, which is only partially offset by the simplicity of the tasks one is attempting to complete.
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.