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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 …

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Alien

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.

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I've had one for a few months now

Not sure how many months.

It's been a great piece of kit - and, for me, more importantly, the company behind it, InterRead, has been outstanding - personal customer support, and, when I sent in some comments and suggestions, a thoughtful and considered response, and the opportunity to visit their premises and discuss my thoughts with them.

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K
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FUGLY..

That is all!

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A start

This is a start, now all they have to do is produce a 10 inch display unit at a reasonable price, not the eye watering 700 euro that iRex want for their offering.

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Anonymous Coward

Same Hardware As Bookeen's Cybook?

The button layout is exactly the same as the Bookeen Cybook, the light in the top right is in the same place too - but instead of a square nav button, there's a circular one. Are eBook makers using the same hardware underneath and just slightly modifying the casing? I'm sure I've seen another eBook that looked almost identical to Bookeen's but with yet another brand on it.

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New firmware

The newer firmware does return to the last read page when you turn on the device. The buttons are way to stiff. And yes, it's just a Netronix EB600 with a modified case.

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@moylan, A/C

moylan: the latest firmware has "Search" - I haven't tried it (reflashed the firmware this morning, to be greeted with lots of odd anime characters - not very intuitive at all!), but, there is an option, and pop-up keyboard, which one navigates via the click-wheel. My gut feeling is that I would not want to rely on it too heavily. Sadly, I still cannot find the source code for the GNU GPL components, which would make it reasonably easy, I'd hope, to implement a FITALY-based keyboard. (And, perhaps, encryption...)

A/C: yes, it's the same as the Bookeen, I believe. One of the files in the firmware image also indicates that it's a "Netronix E-Book"

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Paris Hilton

Cool-er died after less than three months - no sign of a refund or replacement

As an unfortunate early-adopter of this product, I would say that the Cool-er doesn't even display the hallmarks of a Version 1 product - it feels like something that's still in alpha.

After a string of missed shipment dates and accidentally over-charging me £10 (which was eventually refunder), my plasticky new Cool-er arrived in mid-July.

By early October, I'd experienced countless crashes, a half-dead screen, the ink on the 'next page' button rubbing completely off and - finally - a firmware update that completely bricked the reader.

After returning it, I was told that the screen damage 'was not covered by our returns policy' and that I'd be informed of a a price to replace the screen (I'd not knocked or damaged it in any way). I explained to Interead's customer service rep that I was not at all happy with this and wanted a refund, and was told that somebody senior would get back to me. That was twelve days ago.

I agree with most of the comments in your review - although I'd like to correct the statement that it takes no power to maintain an image. It shouldn't - But when I left my Cool-er showing a page overnight, the battery was completely drained the following morning. I know that the OS takes some power, but running out of juice overnight is not acceptable - particularly as, according to your review, Interead recommends disabling the auto shut-off.

I don't want to be too harsh, as there can be teething problems with brand new products, but it's all about how you deal with them. And, in such cases, there is no excuse for shoddy customer service.

Avoid, at all costs.

Paris, because she's plasticky and overpriced.

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FAIL

Why always those displays?

I mean, yes, I get it. Weeks of use without charging. But do I need that? A rather basic TFT display with some low-power CPU and graphics chip can easily be made to run 8 hours or so on a single charge. And it is cheaper, much faster and more capable. I don't read more than a few hours in a row and I have to charge other gadgets, too. I'm familiar with that. I'm not used to unusable menu-systems, a second for a screen refresh and hardly any feedback on the screen.

I've read more than 120 books now on my iPod touch (using Stanza) and I'm quite happy with it (obviously, because I wouldn't read so much with it otherwise). The screen could be a bit larger, but otherwise I wouldn't even think of buying a device that can just read books and is slow and awkward and then not even cheap.

I think these things either need to get much cheaper very soon or they will go down as a footnote to IT history very soon. Pure book lovers are few and far between, most people like their glossy magazines and colourful pictures and maybe even something moving on the screen now and then.

I think the ebook market will come in two variants: Either very cheap and basic, so the readers can be given away almost for nothing or not so cheap but really good and book-like: With books having a real layout and nice fonts and a cover and pictures. The current readers are expensive, basic and boring. Books are more than just bytes and if you reduce them to just that better make sure they're really cheap.

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Boffin

vaguely related

For a "UK OLED display maker" PlasticLogic has a somewhat alarming grasp of geography.

http://www.plasticlogic.com/about/index.php

(they're based in Cambridge UK) Clearly the brits don't run the website, or maybe its all those organic compounds....

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How good is the PDF handling

I've been looking at ebook readers for some time now, as I'm doing a PhD and need to read a lot of papers. One of my friends tried the Sony Reader but it garbled all the mathematics whenever you zoomed in enough to read them. Its a pity really as I'm currently plowing my way through trees in having to print them off to read.

Does anyone know the performance of these things on LaTeX-generated pdf files?

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OLED?

The reference to "UK OLED display maker Plastic Logic" caught my eye. Everything I've seen to date, including Plastic Logic's demo videos, shows their products to be based on E-ink displays. Did I miss something?

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@ uhuznaa

'Why always those displays?'

Simple - they look astonishing out of doors. Whereas LCD screens get washed out unless you crank the backlight to 11, or they just become reflective messes, the eInk displays get crisper and brighter the more light there is.

There's also no flicker which makes prolonged reading much more pleasant than on an LCD.

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@ Adam41: LaTeX in .pdf rendering

You can do "one page per view", and so see the pages exactly as converted to .pdf, so, if the .pdf page renders correctly, so will it on a non-zoomed rendition on the screen here.

However, when you start applying zoom, to make the font size more readable, you run into problem, with line breaks (or whatever you call the horizontal dividing line in an equation) disappearing, and bits of the equation appearing in odd places. I'm not a mathematician (as this clearly demonstrates), but, other than on a non-zoomed view, which makes reading very hard indeed, since it is small, I would not feel comfortable trusting the display of complex equations.

For example, Formula 20, on page 54 pdf / 28 paper of:

http://tex.loria.fr/general/mil.pdf (Grätzer's "Math into LaTeX" guide)

appears on a slightly-zoomed screen on my device as:

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/5396/coolerlatex.jpg

(Green balance adjusted slighlty, otherwise, image as taken on phone)

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New firmware

Since installing the new firmware it now takes me straight back to the page I was reading when I switched it off.

It also adds a very useful feature that the font size can be changed simply by pressing the Volume + and - buttons. So much better than going through the menus.

It also adds a search facilility though the on screen keyboard is too fiddly for it to be of much use.

I would reccommend it as a no-frills stop-gap until better screens arrive, but do install the latest firmware.

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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.

http://i37.tinypic.com/2h3mqfs.jpg

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.

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Second Cool-er

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.

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Re: davebalme

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.

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Alert

Second Cool-er.....

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.

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