The eBook phenomenon has been around a long time but in India, it seems to have taken off alongside the tablet craze. Suddenly, the market in India has quite a few eBook readers.
The Infibeam Pi2
Infibeam runs an online store that sells a load of products and books. We run their new Pi2 eBook reader through the paces.
The Pi2 has a 6-inch e-Ink display, which more or less is the same size as a paperback novel. The Pi2 has a resistive touchscreen unlike many other eBook readers. The Amazon Kindle for example has a QWERTY keyboard to type. The resistive touchscreen on the Pi2 can be used to access the onscreen keyboard too. A folding stylus fits into the body of the reader.
Fairly thin and low profile device
The Pi2 has an internal memory of 2GB, which is good enough if you’re going to be using it to read eBooks. There is also a microSD card slot which will allow you to increase the capacity to 32GB. Files can be transferred to the tablet using the microUSB port at the bottom and music playback is possible as well through the 3.5mm analog audio jack.
Accompanying stylus to use with the resistive touchscreen
The controls on the Pi are simple. There is a directional joystick at the bottom of the tablet, an options button and back button. The control to move to the next or previous page is positioned on the side. Left-handed users might find this to be a minor inconvenience.
Web browsing using WiFi
A status indicator is present on the right top, which keeps flashing from time to time. This can be a little annoying after a when you’re focused on reading the eBook. If you want to take a break, you can always switch over to the Browser the internet using the WiFi connectivity or play a game of Sudoku on it. There’s also a Notebook application that allows you to use the stylus and take rough notes. The utility itself is basic and the accuracy of the touch not very good. It’s useful only for some really basic note taking.
In terms of formats, all of the popular document formats are taken care of including Adobe’s PDF. Books are installed by dumping them into the device using USB or the external microSD card.
Design and Build Quality
An eBook reader is something that will be used outdoors and indoors. You’re bound to carry it with you on your way to work and use it there and at home as well. So it ought to be sturdy and the Infibeam Pi2 is. The body of the Pi2 is predominantly plastic but it has a textured back and the quality of material used is good. It’s sturdy and can withstand some level of pressure. A free bundled carry pouch would have been nice to have. The screen is prone to damage without it.
The Pi2 is a pretty decent product but the text rendering itself isn’t the best. The text and patterns aren’t as dark as we’d like. The refresh time to switch pages takes a tad more than some of the other readers we’ve seen. Still, it’s no more than a second or two. The text rendering is somewhat uneven and the edges of the text. Text sizes can be changed as well and bookmarks set. It’s not the most intuitive of interfaces but a few hours with it and you get used to it. The touchscreen is good enough for the basic functions but the same can be managed with just the directional joystick and control buttons.
Using the reader as a digital notepad
Clarity in day light is decent although in some cases, the screen reflects quite a bit. This is most because of the touchscreen panel. The outermost screen layer has a matte finish though.
There is some amount of burn-in visible as some menus could still be visible after it was disabled. This only happens occasionally and usually gets fixed within a matter of minutes.
Image viewing on the Pi2
Audio playback works great and the quality of the bundled earphones is fairly decent. It lacks bass but it renders highs and mids somewhat well. Images although black and white look fairly detailed. Loading doesn’t take too long either.
We faced no stability issues whatsoever and there were no instances of the tablet locking up. Battery life is good and there’s absolutely no heating up from this sort of device.
Priced at Rs. 11,999, it’s expensive when you compare it to any other piece of hardware that you might buy for that price – for example, a phone, a netbook or a tablet. It’s a little difficult to form a verdict on it. The Infibeam Pi2 is primarily a light-weight eBook reading device that can let you carry ton of books without the baggage. As a book reader, it’s good but the asking price could have been lower. At around Rs. 9,000, it would make sense. All of its other features are a bonus and we hardly found ourselves using them. The Amazon Kindle is almost definitely a better eBook reader (that sells for around the same in India) but the easy official availability makes the Infibeam Pi2 worth checking out.
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