Reading: the future?
Review The time of the eBook reader may have come at last. With Amazon’s Kindle leading the charge and Barnes and Noble working with UK OLED display maker Plastic Logic for a similar offering next year, there’s growing awareness of the possible market for electronic readers. Interead’s Cool-er is an independent reader, trying to carve itself a niche.
Interead’s Cool-er: another page in the eBook’s development
There’s undoubtedly more interest in eBook readers than there was even a few months ago and the Cool-er device from Interead aims to service a slice of this. Styled like a large iPod and in a range of candy colours, the cases are disappointingly plastic and there’s no slip-sleeve to protect case or 6in E-Ink display.
E-Ink is probably the best know supplier of electrophoretic screens and is used by Sony and Amazon. The big advantages are that the screen has high contrast – though the background isn’t completely white – and that it takes no power to maintain an image; in this case, a book page. The only power is taken when the page is turned and the screen refreshed.
The Cool-er has a set of buttons down its left-hand edge for sound, orientation, exit and menu and a toggle button on the right for sound volume. On the front panel, below the screen, is a ring of navigation buttons and a central one to make a selection. All the buttons are too stiff to be comfortable, but in their favour, are also hard to press in error.
There’s no denying the high contrast of the E-Ink screens
The reader uses a Linux variant as its OS and runs the Adobe Mobile Reader. It shows folders and files for eBooks you’ve loaded from the Coolerbooks site, where there are over 300,000 titles available, plus another million free, public domain, ones. Contemporary fiction eBooks tend to be more expensive than from Amazon, but at least when you buy one, it’s yours and there’s no mechanism, as there is in the Kindle, for anyone to delete it from your Cool-er.
bought one, gave it away.
it was a good device and i had turned off the autoshutdown so that the book was left on screen so i didn't need to find and open it again.
the thing that i missed most was the lack of find. i've been reading etexts since i had a psion. on using palm, nokias and now stanza on an iphone. it needs a find. that drove me nuts so i gave it to my brother who just wants to read a few books. will have to see how he gets on with it.
The replacement Cool-er, just over two days old went grey screen last night and gave up the ghost. It's gonig back today for a refund and I'll look at a different make of reader.
I have found out that their support staff are based in Miami. So even though you are calling a UK number, no-one will pickup or answer your voicemail, or emails for that matter until around 2pm GMT. Not brilliant.
I bought my Cool-er back at the beginning of September, and as noted elsewhere found glitches with the pre-loaded firmware, primarily the lack of bookmark facility (it didn't create a list) and the need to re-open the last document read, even though the user guide stated that these should be present. But other than that I was quite happy with the product. Two weeks ago I downloaded and installed the firmware update. And that's when things started to go wrong. Fine it opened at the last page read, but it started to have the annoying habit of getting stuck in the start up cycle. The re-set button wouldn't stop this, the only thing to do so was to hook it up to my computer and put it in charge/USB mode. I contacted technical by email who queried whether I had installed the firmware update correctly. I answered their response but over a week later I've heard nothing back from them. The thing is it didn't start instantly after the installation, it took a few days for it to occur. I've since re-downloaded and re-installed the firmware. Five days later I've again got a Cool-er stuck in start up.
I took it back to Argos who offered a replacement. That was yesterday. Now i'm not able to register my new Cool-er because my email address is registered to the first one. And I've tried ringing customer support since early this morning but other than an automated answer there is no response there.
I was really impressed with the product but things of late are beginning to tarnish it's sheen. I don't want to download the latest firmware just in case that was the problem rather than the first unit itself. I'm also beginning to wish I had waited a bit longer until it had proven itself in the reliability stakes.
Decent Little Device
I got my Cool-ER back in July and thought it was a great little device for what I wanted it to do - mainly, read books! That's what it's designed for and that's what I've used it for since and it does it well, whether the book's in epub or pdf format (the only one's I've tried). The only issue I've had in this respect is when a pdf's had an image in the center of the page, the reader tends to decrease the font size so you can view the full image. You can't really fault the device for this though as all e-readers have issues with pdf's since they are a page based format.
Anyway, I was happy until about a month ago when I started the device and got what I have dubbed the greyscale rainbow of death.
It would not boot, even after an attempted firmware upgrade.
Anyway, it's been with the manufacturer since, who have informed me that they've sorted it and it's now on it's way back.
So, to sumarise, I was happy with the Cool-ER, and will be happy with the Cool-ER when it comes back to me because I don't expect it to do everything for £185. If I'd bought the iRex at £500 and it pulled this shit I'd have been going crazy, but for what it does and the document formats it supports, this little thing is all I need right now... just don't expect it to do much more than let you read a novel.