Battery life is also disappointing – the capacitive screen draws power even if the display doesn't, and we found a fully charged battery would rarely allow 10 hours of reading. We were using complex PDF files, and taking lots of notes, but we would still have hoped for longer. Luckily, the DR1000S will turn itself off after being ignored for half an hour, unlike its predecessor, the iLiad.
Digital doodles come at a price
On the desktop side, things are much improved. The Companion Application software is pre-installed on the device – which appears as a USB drive when connected to a computer – and will automatically execute if you happen to be running Windows. For electronic books, the Reader will support Mobipocket, at a push: but the DR1000S is not intended for reading books. The Companion Application software has a slick interface and appears to offer better functionality, but initially didn't work as it couldn't recognise PDF files until ‘show known file extensions’ was enabled on the PC.
The value of this class of device is in the ability to make a load of scribbled notes onto a PDF file and then merge those notes into the PDF file for viewing elsewhere. The open nature of the iRex Iliad encouraged hackers to create applications that stripped out pages on which notes had not been made, and changed all the notes made into red marker – functionality that has proved invaluable to anyone forced to read, for example, long regulatory documents from Ofcom.
Unfortunately the DR1000S won't do that, as yet. The Companion software is limited to merging scribbles with PDF documents. There is a third-party application that provides additional functionality, but it's Linux-only for the moment and we didn't get a chance to try it.
Despite the disappointing software and outrageous price this is, quite simply, the most effective way to read and make notes on long documents. If you have to do that regularly, then the RD1000S is the best tool for the job, but try to get the company to pay for it. ®
More Tablet Reviews...
Electronic book readers
2710p tablet PC
iRex Digital Reader DR1000S
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.