The Ectaco jetBook Mini is the more modern version of the ill-fated Ectaco jetBook Color Deluxe, a larger 9.7″ e-reader that tried so hard to be an allin-one educational reader, but which failed at nearly every step. Has the company been able to improve things since then?
It has a 5″ 640 x 540 display, with 16-levels of greyscale and a featured ‘no glare’ technology. It measures 116 x 126 x 20mm at its thickest point, dropping to 10mm at the thinnest part. It’s reasonably pocket-sized, but the design is really quite awkward, with an almost game controller look to one end of the device.
The jetBook Mini comes with 2GB of memory, 1.4GB of which is left available to the user. There’s an SD card slot, though, which can expand the storage capacity up to 16GB, and you’ll find a mini-USB port to connect it to a PC for updates and transferring any content. Oddly, rather than using the tried and trusted method of a rechargeable battery, Ectaco has decided that the jetBook Mini will run off four AAA batteries instead. According to the blurb, this should give you up to 90 hours of reading, but in reality it’s more like 12.
Whereas the previous jetBook models had their roots firmly in the educational sector, bundling SAT practise tests and so on, the jetBook Mini is purely an e-reader, but you can choose from a number of languages to set the Mini up with. Incidentally, there are also a few games bundled with the Mini, which include a Tetris clone, sudoku and a kind of strange Nokia Snakelike game. They’re unnecessary really, and do nothing to improve the appeal of the Mini.
The problems of the jetBook Mini are plentiful, but first and foremost is the horrible screen. It never really looks right, in that if you hold it one way the text is too wide apart in a landscape mode and the other way makes it seem too squashed together. Also it’s not totally clear either, and you find yourself reading the same line several times and getting some nasty eye tiredness as well.
Secondly, it’s a very awkward device to hold and use. The shape of the Mini isn’t one that feels comfortable, although it does only weigh around 160g, and it’s quite small. It’s almost like it’s trying to mimic a Game & Watch device from a few decades ago. In short, it just doesn’t work.
We weren’t overly impressed with the Ectaco jetBook Mini. It’s an awkward shape, with a poor display, and generally it’s more hassle than it’s worth. At £130, you could easily buy the Amazon Kindle and have a far superior e-reader with change for a few novels as well.