IMPORTANT LATER ADDITIONS:
1: Since writing this post, I have been overwhelmed by the interest and positive comments from so many of you about this device, that I have changed my views on it, and will shortly be writing a hands-on review of the device.
The bottom feeders have arrived!
On my arrival here in Australia, my Daughter in Law, Caro, shoved a flyer into my travel exhausted hand, which I peered at blearily, and saw it was a gaudy ad for $98 ereader, of a make I had never heard of.
It seems that we now have a whole plethora of cheap ereaders available to us from the shops that work on the principle of “stack ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap”. Once I realised what it was I was looking at, I set to and hunted around the net to see if this was a one off, or a new development in the ereader world. I quickly discovered that without my noticing it, lots of similar stores, both high street and online are now offering what they blithely call ereaders for sale at well under $100 in Australia, America and at least one in Europe.
What these ereaders all have in common is that they are cheaply made Chinese ereaders, not made by one of the large and reputable Chinese companies, but knocked out in the sort of back street “factories” I saw so many of while I was living in China, and thus they are really rather nasty devices, not something I would dream of recommending to anyone.
The particular one that Caro showed me is called the MiGear ereader, and is sold both online and in the stores of an Australian store, called BigW,and I shall discuss it as a typical example of this development.
Not surprisingly, given the unit price of a real e-Ink screen, this one has a TFT screen (similar to the screen on a laptop) as these can be purchased at a very low unit price by such factories, which means it has all the normal problems associated with such screen technology, glare and short battery endurance between charges, on the other hand, it is colour, which some people prefer.
No DRM support… thus no copyrighted books work on it:
This screen is a pleasantly large 7 inch one, so that part of it is OK, and it supports all the normal formats for ebooks too, but, and this is a big but, it does not support DRM protected ebooks, which unless there is a work around to this (I shall look into this matter soon) means that one can not read any books one has paid for, but only use it for ebooks that are copyright free.
What I mean by a work around is not can you strip the DRM from your ebooks, I know you can do that, if you are reasonably nifty with a computer, but if it is possible to work legally with Adobe and this ereader.
I have waded through lots of threads on various Australian websites about this device, and the general finding was that it is slow, almost no functions apart from being able to read your non-copyrighted ebooks on it and a whole litany of other complaints on just about every aspect of the thing. Added to which, if you should buy it in the store, they mostly refuse to open the box and let you try it out in the store… so you have to buy the thing on the basis of the description on the outside of the box…. Whilst the handbook claims it gives you a 1 year warranty, BigW only offer a 21 day return policy, and then only if the thing is defective… So the fact that it is almost useless doesn’t count I would imagine.
I have just been told, both by MiGear themselves and by several readers of this blog, that it now supports DRM, and for those who bought their MiGear before 1st December, you can download the necessary software to enable DRM from this link: http://www.migear.biz
I feel very strongly that ereaders such as this one are to be avoided at all costs……. They will give a completely wrong impression of the pleasure one can get from using an ereader, and turn people completely off the whole idea.
Given that one can buy a perfectly good, fully functional ereader for about $40 more, I see no point in buying such a device.
Not everyone hated it:
Having said that, I came across a number of comments by people who, recognizing the limitations of this device, were none the less perfectly happy with it, as they only wished to read out of copyright ebooks, which they felt it did perfectly well, or others who were computer savvy enough to know how to strip the DRM protection off ebooks, and thus could buy and read ebooks from any ebook sellers…. So, as with everything, if you know what you are doing, and don’t mind having to sort things out for yourself, this could be a useful device.
As a phenomena, it is interesting however, as it shows clearly that the concept of ereaders has definitely arrived, since shops like this never stock items they are not 100% sure they can sell, so shortly we shall see lots more of these cheap devices, piled up beside the MP3 players that are shaped like small pink dogs or whatever……
Anyhow, for what it is worth, here are the specifications of this particular example of this development:
Price: $ 98
Product Height: (CM) 23 cms
Product Weight (KG): 0.465
Product Width (CM): 15
Battery Life Up to 8hrs of constant reading.
Built In Memory 2GB
Colour Screen: Yes
Display Type: TFT colour screen.
Expandable memory: Micro SD card (not included).
Memory Card Slot :Yes
Playback Function: View your photos and play music.
Screen Size (Inches): 7
Supported Formats: Supports eBook formats PDF, TXT, EPUB, CHM, RTF, HTML.