If you haven’t heard of Astak, they are based out of San Jose, CA and manufacture cameras, DVRs…and now lucky for us…ebook readers!
The Astak 6″ EZ Reader is the North American name for the Jinke Hanlin V3 (a Chinese company).
My favorite feature of the EZ Reader is the fact that it has native support for an enormous list of file formats: PDF, TXT, RTF, EPUB, LIT, PPT, WOLF, DOC, CHM, FB2, PRC/MOBI, HTML, DJVU, MP3, TIFF, JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, RAR, and ZIP.
The 6″ EZ Reader comes in a well-designed box that is covered with all the jazz you’d expect from a portable ebook reader.
Inside, you find an instruction manual, an AC adapter with USB input, a USB cable, earphones, and of course the device itself in a nice leather case.
Already I’m happy to see that Astak hasn’t decided to use any proprietary cables or adapters (cough…Apple…cough) and has made everything as simple as possible.
As soon as I unpacked the EZ Reader I plugged it into a wall socket. There’s a small indicator light on the top left that indicates how charged the battery is (either yellow or green). It turned to green (full charge) quite quickly (less than an hour), but I’m guessing that the battery was pre-charged when it was manufactured so it likely had some life in it already.
As you can see from the picture above, the EZ Reader has a black frame with buttons along the bottom and side. The USB port is in the bottom and there’s an SD card expansion slot on the top. Without even reading the user manual I could easily figure out what all the buttons did. Astak really did a good job making the unit simple and easy-to-use!
The screen uses eInk technology so that means it’s easy on the eyes and can be viewed in direct sunlight, unlike many other electrical devices.
At 7 ounces and (7.2″ x 4.7″ x .4″), the EZ Reader is of average size and weight for it’s class of 6″ devices. The battery can reportedly handle 8,000 page turns on a single charge, which is also pretty average. However, the battery is removable / replaceable, which is great!
There’s 512 MB onboard storage, which the average reader should find adequate, but if you want more you can plug a 4GB SD card into the expansion slot. Very handy!
The leather case that it comes with is well built and there’s magnets to help the ebook reader snap into place. Clever!
My only complaint about the design is that the body of the EZ Reader looks and feels a bit “cheap”. It’s not as polished and “flashy” as the Amazon Kindle. But it seems durable enough – I imagine it could withstand being repeatedly dropped or generally just treated poorly.
The buttons of the EZ Reader are well thought out. The menu system uses a folder system to organize ebooks, and the numbered buttons at the bottom of the unit are used to navigate through the folders and select files. To turn pages, there’s two buttons on the side, but if you’d prefer two of the bottom numbered buttons can also function as page turners.
The “zoom” functionality is quite powerful and has 4 or 5 different settings. Unfortunately images don’t zoom but that’s not entirely important for the purposes of a portable ebook reader.
The time between page turns leaves a bit to be desired (approx 3 seconds). Hopefully Astak improves the hardware for the next model.
Hooking up the EZ Reader to a computer is simple! It’s just a matter of plugging in a USB cable. No extra software or drivers necessary (at least not with Windows XP). A new removable drive gets automatically mapped in “My Computer”, and then all you need to do is copy your ebook files into it.
I tried a PDF ebook because those are the most common. It copied quickly and looked great on the screen of the EZ Reader. As I said before, I’m a huge fan of devices that use standard cables, formats, and interfaces, all of which the EZ Reader excels at.
The Astak EZ Reader is priced fairly competitively ($235), is easy-to-use and navigate, and can handle nearly every ebook file format known to man. It’s not the prettiest, fastest, lightest, or most feature-packed portable ebook reader, but for the price it’s hard to beat!
If you want the flexibility of being able to read any type of ebook you find online, give the EZ Reader serious consideration.
Plus, did I mention that you can get it at Buy.com? How convenient!