Thursday, July 23, 2009

iRex DR1000S 'Paper tiger?' - DX size $989 US

First, I ran across a few more interesting stories and they're linked at my Twitter page, so if you're interested in additional news items that I don't expand on here, you can get them at where we're limited to 140-character alerts but can still link you to the full stories.

The iRex Digital Reader DR1000S is reviewed by Bill Ray, of Register Hardware, and he subtitled it "Paper tiger?" which sums up his appraisal, amplified by the 55% Rating he gave it.

  Expectations can be high when the suggested price of this unit, somewhat larger than the Kindle DX, is more than twice the cost of the DX -- at $989 US (£599) for the iRex DR1000S vs the DX's $489, often referred to as "too expensive."

  He says it's not exactly comfortable for reading books due to its size, but I thought I'd feel that way about the DX and have come to find the size just fine.

  The screen is 10.2 inches (in diameter, I assume) with the same 16 levels of gray as the DX, and he finds that it "excels at rendering an A4 page, ideally from a PDF file" and describes it "a joy" and slim enough so that it feels like a clipboard.

As with the iRex iLiad (reviewed by AlexOnLinux after a year of use), it uses a stylus which has slight lag time.  While calling the hardware "superb," Ray writes that the interface is a "mess" with "appallingly designed processes" and:
" 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..."
The battery is affected by the capacitive screen if not much by the e-ink display and "would rarely allow 10 hours of reading."  On the other hand he was "using complex PDF files. and taking lots of notes"

For e-books, it supports Mobipocket but he says the model is "not intended for reading books."
  What?  The iRex iLiad (normally $850) deals with all kinds of file formats, so I don't know what he means, unless he means the device is mainly for pdfs, excel sheets and office documents. He adds:
" 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 iLiad model is open and has encouraged hackers to create apps that strip out pages with no notes and which change all notes into red marker -- really useful for ultra long documents.  But this model won't do that, for now.

His "Verdict"
" 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. "
See the article for far more details and many photos. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. Oh, man! I had settled on choosing between this and Plastic Logic, after PL has been out and road tested for a few months. However, some of these review notes give me serious pause. Nice to have a fairly broad review, though; thanks for the link. Maybe by the time Plastic Logic has been on the market for a while iRex will have addressed some of these issues [or my mid-life acquired gadget fever will have subsided somewhat ;-0]. Take care.

  2. I might add an item tomorrow about one reviewer's super-frustration that Plastic Logic does not seem interested in going after the Kindle, as now is the perfect time to go in for the kill, per that writer.

    Makes me wonder why they hope to see that kind of thing before even knowing what the new kid on the block is actually like !

    Thanks for the feedback, Batman.

    - A

  3. Andrys,

    You're quite welcome; I enjoy the site. Yes, it bemuses me to hear many discussions of these products framed as "killers" of one device or another, as if it's necessarily a zero-sum game. It seems to me that as consumers we can only benefit by the marginal advances made by competitors in the industry. Thus, while the Kindle DX doesn't currently suit my purposes for a large form device, maybe Amazon can learn something from the good features of Plastic Logic, iRex, et al. (and vice versa), to incorporate in future versions. But, I'm sure I may be preaching to the choir here :-). Take care.


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