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Innovation

Review: Astak EZReader 5 inch Pocket PRO ebook device

Last week I posted my first impressions of the Sony Reader Touch Edition and spent this rainy weekend either watching soccer games or reading ebooks I checked out from my local Pierce County library. I was sent a new ebook reader to evaluate for 30 days, the Astak EZ Reader Pocket PRO, and decided to compare this one with my Sony PRS-505 and new Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition. I also had my wife and daughters pick up each device to see what their "newbie" first impressions were of each model. They did not all agree on which they liked best, but the EZReader Pocket PRO was pretty compelling
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

Last week I posted my first impressions of the Sony Reader Touch Edition and spent this rainy weekend either watching soccer games or reading ebooks I checked out from my local Pierce County library. I was sent a new ebook reader to evaluate for 30 days, the Astak EZ Reader Pocket PRO, and decided to compare this one with my Sony PRS-505 and new Sony PRS-600 Touch Edition. I also had my wife and daughters pick up each device to see what their "newbie" first impressions were of each model. They did not all agree on which they liked best, but the EZReader Pocket PRO was pretty compelling as you can see in my image gallery. Check out my video and read below to find out more about the EZ Reader Pocket PRO.


Image Gallery:Check out several product photos of the Astak EZReader Pocket PRO and some comparison photos with other Sony Readers.
Image Gallery: Pocket PRO in hand
Image Gallery: Retail box

Color options and box contents

The Astek 5" EZ Reader Pocket PRO is available in six different colors, including Alpine White, Onyx Black, Slate Blue, Classic Maroon, Powder Pink, and Metallic Purple. I was sent the Onyx Black unit to evaluate for 30 days. The retail box is attractive with a glossy image of the device on the front and the list of specs and supported formats on the back. Inside the box you will find the Pocket PRO, leather cover, USB cable, A/C adapter (USB cable plugs into it for charging), stereo wired headset, and manual.

Initial impressions

This is the first ebook reader I have tried that was not an Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I pulled the reader out of the box and my first impression was that it felt awesome in my hand with the entire casing made of soft touch material. It was much lighter than I thought it would be too, weighing in at 6.8 ounces. The device was placed in the included leather case, which is quite nice and a welcome addition to an ebook purchase.

I turned on the display and was pleased to see it looked very well and IMHO is the 2nd best one I have seen, with the Sony PRS-505 reigning as the king of the ebook readers.

My wife decisively stated the EZReader Pocket PRO was her favorite device and with the support for our local library checkout ebook system she said it may actually have her reading more since she could take it in her purse and read while waiting in lines and in the car for my daughters while picking them up from activities. My oldest and middle daughters both chose the Sony 505 as their favorite with the Pocket PRO in second above the Sony 600. They liked the thinner hardware and whiter background on the display more than the smaller size and soft touch feel of the Pocket PRO.

Around the hardware

The front is dominated by the 5 inch with nine letter buttons and two other buttons (located around a circle) below the display. Some of the numbers have special functions, such as the 7 being the catalog button, 8 being the zoom button, 9 being the previous page, and 0 being the next page. The two buttons making up the circle include the exit and menu buttons. There are two arrow keys to the left of the display for next page and previous page.

An indicator light is also shown in the upper left part of the device above the display and is used to show charging and power status.

The right side has a rather unique controller that is a third way for you to turn pages. The thumbwheel is an easy way to go forward or back and you can press it in for menus as well. Unfortunately, after you open a menu using the controller moving the thumbwheel up and down does not scroll through the menu. There is also a small opening in the upper right that is used for one part of the three bracket case holding mechanism.

The only thing on the left side is the other side opening for securing the device in the case. There is a 3.5mm headset jack on the bottom. Along the top you will find the power button, miniUSB port, and SecureDigital card slot. The miniUSB port is used for charging and book transfer.

There is a reset button and accessible back battery cover on the back so you can carry a spare battery around for long periods of reading.

Specifications

The EZReader Pocket PRO 5 inch includes the following:

  • Eink Vizplex display with 600x800 pixels resolution
  • 8 levels of grayscale
  • Epson Broadsheet controller
  • Samsung S3C2440 400 MHz processor
  • SD card slot
  • Removable 1000 mAh Li-Polymer battery
  • 6 ounce weight

Using the Pocket PRO

With three different way to turn pages the Pocket PRO is quite easy to use in just about any way you hold the device. The display looks excellent and refreshes as fast as any other ebook reader I have tried. You can choose from eight different font styles and then from 3-5 font sizes. The number of font sizes/zoom levels depends on the document format and what is supported. I personally prefer the smallest or next smallest font and find the other ones too large to be very usable on the five inch display.

Supported formats

The EZReader Pocket PRO supports a reported 20 formats, including ADE (Adobe Digital Edition), PDF, TXT, PDB, DOC, HTML, FB2, LIT, MP3, EPUB, PRC, WOL, CHM, PPT, TIF, PNG, GIF, RAR, ZIP, DJVU, JPG, and BMP. I test it out with my local Pierce County library and found it was simple to transfer books from my MacBook Pro to the device via USB. When I connected the Pocket PRO it appeared in the file explorer and then I just launched then Adobe Digital Edition software to then drag and drop books onto the reader.

There are some online ebook stores where you can find PDF content and hopefully soon when the Sony Connect store transitions to all EPUB format you will be able to use this format and store with the Pocket PRO.

The EZReader Pocket PRO supports text-to-speech (TTS) for certain formats and you need to have the headset plugged in to enjoy the content.

Final thoughts

The Astak EZReader Pocket PRO 5 inch device is a pretty compelling pocketable ebook reader and if I was looking for something more compact than my Sony Reader 505 I would strongly consider this device. I think the closest competitor to this model is the new Sony PRS-300 Pocket Edition, but when you compare the features and functionality the Pocket PRO wins in almost all areas. The Pocket PRO has external storage capacity support, removable battery, and 400 MHz processor while the Sony Reader PRS-300 Pocket Edition has no external storage (same internal storage), no removable battery, and 200 MHz processor. Both are currently available for $199. The Sony model does support buying books from the Sony Connect eBookstore, but we may see support for this coming to the EZReader soon too with ePub transition.

The eInk looks fantastic on the Pocket PRO 5 inch device and while the Sony PRS-505 remains the champion in this area, I think many may find the Pocket PRO display to work even better because it doesn't have the whiter background.

Oh yeah, so to close the loop on my ebook purchases, I decided to return the PRS-600 Sony Touch Edition and buy another red Sony PRS-505 before they can no longer be found available. The Touch Edition is nice with the dictionary and notes capability, but I rarely use these features and the display on the 505 is just too good for the 600 to beat. Once ePub documents from the Sony eBookstore are confirmed to work on the EZReader Pocket PRO I am pretty sure I will pick one up in blue or black for $199.

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