Thursday, July 2, 2009

A certain bias in the minds of reviewers?

We all know that very often a bad review can kill a promising new gadget or device. Likewise, a fair and impartial review that comes out liking a device can boost it enormously.

So it is with eBook Readers! New devices are coming out and many of them have innovations and nuances that are important to the industry.

It is no secret that Kindle and Sony dominate the eBook Reader market. That, by itself, is a shame as it limits competition in the marketplace.

What I am railing about today is a well-intentioned but unjustfiable misconception by the press... specifically the reviewers of eBook Readers.

Maybe I can help! Most of you know that every day I am on MobileRead Forum. This week MobileRead Forum celebrated its 39,000 member. This is no small audience... and represents an incredible proving grounds for ideas and suggestions that I do not think you can find anywhere else amongst the most informed segment of the public on eBook Readers. In short, when these people talk they know what they are talking about. I utilize them for Astak for everything from color choices on our products to naming our devices. I also bounce ideas off them and gain valuable insight. NO other eBook Reader Manufacturer has a presence on MobileRead Forum that I have seen.

One thing I have relentlessly asked about is the subject of wireless versus drag-and-drop. Amazon, of course, uses wireless exclusively. WHY? Really because Amazon wants to ensure that anybody that buys a Kindle MUST buy eBooks from them. They will be the first to say that they make their money off of the sale of the eBooks. Surprisingly, I am not writing today over this way of doing business by Kindle. I am writing based instead on the feedback I have received on MobileRead Forum over the last year.

Reviewers seem to feel that there must be an inherent desire in all Americans to want wireless.
This does not hurt too badly until they grade down non-wireless devices as somehow lacking. Let us set the record straight. About HALF of the people on MobileRead Forum like wireless and about half do not. THAT is my point, friends. WHY is a device deficient for NOT having wireless?

Non-wireless has some great advantages! There are no carrier fees to pay or "plans" to sign up for. You have a record of every book you purchased on your desktop or notebook. You can drag and drop your work files, pictures, word documents, and your MUSIC easily and efficiently into your eBook Reader, AND IT COSTS LESS TO THE CONSUMER TO BUY A NON-WIRELESS DEVICE.

Now, recently I have seen some reviews that seem to dismiss non-wireless devices as inferior or difficult or sadly lacking. Astak has come out with numerous new models that do not use wireless. They have been easier to use, less expensive, and have worked flawlessly. Somehow many reviewers take their own bias for the height of high-tech into their reviews and that is not at all fair.

There are some outstanding examples of eBook Readers where the manufacturer has chosen to go non-wireless and put the savings into other features! Witness the Astak EZ Reader Pocket PRO. This has made a huge technological JUMP. It is a 5 inch device, but it has an Epson Controller and 400MHz processor for blazing page turns. It is quicker than the Kindle 1, 2, or DX. It has Adobe Digital Editions... which can reflow .pdf. It displays 14 formats and 20 languages. You can buy eBooks from hundreds of websites... MEANING you can find books and materials that Amazon does not offer. It comes in a choice of six colors. It has Text-To-Speech! It has 8 levels of grey scale. And it costs around $200!!

I am NOT saying let us compare the Pocket PRO to a Kindle 2. I am saying that its lack of wireless is irrelevant... neither a plus or a minus. It IS what it is.

So, please Mister of MRs. Reviewer... open your mind to the fact that half of the public, maybe more, does NOT want wireless. Astak is coming out with wireless devices too. WHY? To serve the other 50%. I see this as a real PLUS and not a minus. Just as Atak devices are made for both left and right-handed people... we are trying to serve the entire public and not half. That is a good thing!!


  1. I agree that I don't see "wireless" as a plus OR minus.. like you said, "it just is". For myself, I like the smaller size of the Sony 505 vs. Kindle. But many people prefer Kindle's larger size or other features. One is not better.. each fills different needs.

  2. True, im an avid reader from Mexico who wants to buy a good eBook Reader (my first one) and i want to start with the Astak EZ Reader Pocket PRO.

    Not having wireless/3g is not a big deal for me, but all the "extras" you say the EZ PRO have is what is making me wait until is released to the public (and import one here to Mexico and show to my colleagues at work)and not buy any other likethe Kindle or Sony.

    I just hope the eReader dont takes too long to be released to the public and i can get my hands on one =D

  3. I agree 100% with everything you said. Now, pretty please with sugar on top, sell me a Pocket PRO.

  4. I somewhat disagree. To not have wireless *IS* a minus. However, to not support open formats on a memory card is a much, much, much larger minus. I would never, ever buy a device that requires wireless (or proprietary or DRM'd formats).

  5. You need to put this in your marketing material, Robert. "50% of ebook buyers have indicated they prefer a device without wireless. Astak is giving these readers the choice they want." Also, not offering wireless allows you to keep the price point down (as you've already pointed out).

    It's really just as easy to pop an SD card into your computer, load the book there, and pop it back into your reader. I still impulse-buy, I just download the book later.

  6. One factual correction. the Kindle can connect up to a computer via USB and have ebooks loaded by drag&drop. The Kindle reader for iPhone/iPod Touch cannot (well, not without hacking).

    I don't see much point in wirelesss in an ebook reader myself. It's just another way to waste battery life.

  7. Anonymous is right, you can do Kindle without using wireless. I know because I need a device that is not wireless. I often live and work in China for up to a year at a time, where Kindle's wireless network and Sony's ebook store are not available. I want to use an ereader because I'd like to travel without bringing pounds of books, and acquire new releases without paying for international shipping. Plus, even using wireless I'd like to have my library backed up on my computer--I'm one of those. The point is: wireless is only an advantage if you want to use it. Just because it's more advanced technology doesn't mean we need it. I have done my homework and am ready to buy a pocket PRO...hurry up! Please and thank you.

  8. I own the EZreader and have had it since early March I love it and I cannot wait for the new firmware. I am in the IT field and I use it to read pdfs that I format for the reader using word then publish as pdf this works great and does not take that much time. I do not like the devices with wireless and I see wireless as an invasion of my privacy.

  9. Greetings-
    I've recently started to look around at getting an eReader. I looked at many many reviews and was just about ready to purchase the EZ Reader when I learned of the up-and-coming Pocket Pro version. However, it seems like the approximate release date has come and gone and there is no update on when it will be available. Do you have any further details?

  10. It is more important to lower the price of the reader. I would like an eInk reader, but not at the current prices. I have read books on PDAs before the mid-90ies and am quite happy to continue. €300 for the 6" reader in Europe is a ridiculous price for a device that can only read books, is too big to always carry and is monochrome. Cut the price in half before the mobile phones take the market.

  11. Hi Robert,

    I am from Malaysia and greatly interested in your eBook Reader. Will there be support for people outside the US?

    BTW about 99% of my eBooks are in PDF. The fact that PDF displays well on the eBook Reader is very important for me.

  12. When are the Pro's coming out? They should not put a limit on the card capacities either. It should be sdhc up to the max available and still the capacity should be extended to greater with firmware. Remember 640K was all you would ever need? If someone wants to use a 32GB card and even a 128GB when they will come out for they will. I already have more than 14GB of ebooks and when I travel I go away for long periods. Open ended systems build large followings.


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