Budget e-Readers to Avoid

We receive countless emails from users who are looking to either buy an e-reader for the first time or seeking to upgrade. The main problem is that there are many on the market and to the untrained eye they could leave you facing many problems.

There are many e-readers on the market that customers should best avoid if they are looking for the optimal reader. Many on the market do not have WIFI or a built in shopping solution that warrant you jumping through a ton of hoops in order to buy content and load it on your device. Some of them are billed as e-readers but are really just cheap LCD Android based devices.

e-Readers to Avoid

Jetbook Mini and Jetbook Lite – These two e-readers have no content distribution system on the line of devices and even take batteries instead of using a rechargeable power source. They are billed as e-readers, but feature flimsy LCD based display that doesn’t do the reading experience any justice. They are cheap and cheerful in terms of cost, but in this case, you get what you pay for.

BeBook Club S This e-reader warrants our “avoid at all costs” label and with good reason. If you turn it on when you take it out of the box you will brick your unit. Almost every e-reader on the market comes out of the box fully or half charged, which gives you an opportunity to use it. If you power it on for the first time when you’re opening it up, you get a loading screen that locks your device and you just wasted $169.99. When you power it first before loading, the experience does not get much better. It uses wonky navigation pads and the page turn experience is lackluster. It features no content distribution system and no easy way to buy books. Battery life is also weak at around 10 hours.

Kobo WIFI – This was the second generation Kobo to hit the market and the one everyone was selling before the Kobo Touch came out. You will see these for sale at around $99 at most major retailers and you might say “Kobo is a good brand name, why not?” Design wise the e-reader looks awful and will win no awards for design. It uses a D-Pad to navigate and features page turn buttons to switch forward and back while reading. Browsing menus, settings, or reading is tremendously slow. You will often turn a page and nothing will happen for 10 to 15 seconds, so you will hit the button again because you think you might not have hit it correctly, which skips two or three pages and you lose your place in the book. This e-reader is one of the slowest and worst performing ones on the market. It does have WIFI and allows you buy books from the Kobo store, but the entire experience is a gamble with a cheap device and its lag.

Pandigital Nova – This was one of the first e-readers that really was a very cheap Android Tablet. The entire saga of this device was fraught with controversy and alienated many customers. The company released the device with critical problems in the software. They did a mass recall and a month later released a new model with updated firmware. The problems did not stop there. It was loaded with the Borders App if you had purchased it in the USA and Canada, and since Borders went out of business that resulted in people wondering where all of their books went. Apparently, Kobo took over the customers and their books are accessible with Kobo now. This tablet is very slow and outdated with a antiquated version of Google Android. It does not have an app store that is shipped with it, and the book reading app it comes with does not work. You can’t download or browse for applications and there is no easy way to load them on yourself. If you are super tech savvy you will be able to figure it out, but the hardware is feeble and slow. Avoid this device at all costs, even if it’s on sale.

Aluratek Libre and Libre Air – These are two devices that were launched this year and the main difference are the sizes of the screens. These two devices are much like the Kobo WiFi in the fact they are slow and unresponsive. The screens do not use e-ink but a grey LCD screen that the company bills as mimicking paper. This is simply not the case, and the book experience in conjunction with the screen is terrible. These two devices range over $100 to buy them and don’t allow you to buy anything on them. You may see them on sale and think to yourself, “hey this might be good, I like to read.” Stop right there, and listen to reason. These two devices, when we reviewed them, made my head hurt. They are not user friendly at all, and the company provides little to no online resources or community.

Amazon Kindle DX – Yes, an Amazon e-reader has made the list of e-readers to avoid at all costs. The main reason is service and support, which the company does not provide. The DX is the black sheep of the Amazon family and while its entire line of e-readers has seen constant firmware updates and new social features, the DX does not. It has been almost a full year since any new patches were released to give it enhanced functionality. It has a large screen and is good for reading technical documents and PDF files, but that is it. It is very expensive at the regular price $399, but you can often find them for around $200. Amazon provides a great ecosystem to buy books, but the device feels outdated and is already two years old. Rumors abound of Amazon officially discontinuing it and this does not bode well for people getting into the game late. I would avoid this and any other e-reader that the company refuses to support and never states any intentions on upgrading it in the here and now or the future.

Velocity Cruz Reader – This is another very cheaply made tablet that is billed as an e-reader and should be avoided like the plague. It runs an outdated version of Android right out of the box and is around a year old. The company does little to increase the functionality via firmware updates or provide support for the army of angry customers. This e-reader receives the most comments on our Youtube channel and most people are underwhelmed with the purchase. The cost is cheap and many people say, “well i want an iPad, but this is cheaper, I’ll buy this.” DO NOT BUY THIS! Listen to me! Save yourself tons of hardship and toiling in internet forums to get even basic help and support. Save yourself from this e-reader and head for hills in the other direction.

Michael Kozlowski (5220 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com

  • http://www.kvisoft.com/flipbook-maker/ Kvisoft

    The image caused me faint.

  • Mrkno2

    i bought a kobo wifi and it is great. it changes pages just fine. easy to use and feels good in your hands. i read about two or three books a week from the library and it works great. after a year of heavy use the battery is not in good shape. for a starter it is great.

  • Bkro

    Jetbook Mini and Jetbook Lite – These two e-readers have no content distribution system

    This is incorrect.
    jetBook Lite support epub books available from B&N website. No any other readers aside of Nook works with BN books.
    jetBook mini is the best ebook reader for travel – you don’t need charge it, just use standard AAA batteries. 

  • LynndEss

    Velocity Cruz– bought it and returned it within a week. The model was running Borders reader app, which sucked, so I immediately downloaded (or rather, side-loaded) Aldiko Reader app which was better, but then it “gray screened” on me when switching apps. It also had one of those resets where you stick a paperclip into the tiny hole next to the power button… I returned it and saved up for the iPad 2.

    Also, my preferred just-for-reading device is the Nook Simple Touch. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000110073910 Ryno Bones

    The white Pandigital Novel was my first e-reader.  It is essentially the same unit as the Cruz Micro (and often shares the same forum space) so I won’t get into the lackluster performance.  I picked it up for $85 after a bunch of coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  After rooting and loading custom roms and taking it apart to put in a larger microSD, it was worth the $85.  I had a lot of fun with it and it was a wonderful beginning Android experience.  Was it worth it if I wanted to use it exclusively as an e-reader?  Kind of.  I like a resistive screen on an e-reader as it is a much more bookish experience to me.  The resolution left a LOT to be desired, but the B&N reading app is top knotch. 

    I picked one of these up for my mom for Christmas 2010, and she still has it.  She doesn’t often use it, but I enjoy using it once in a while when I’ve left my e-reader at home and need my book fix.

    I would never recommend it over an e-ink device, or any other e-reader, but it was fun to mess around on.  The WPDN was a device with a certain place and a certain time.  Outside of that place and time it is really a hunk of garbage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000110073910 Ryno Bones

    a.  Pandigital works with B&N.  Also, any tablet device running the Nook app can work with B&N.
    b.  That actually does sound okay at first glance, but then I remember my Kindle 3 (or even my old Kindle 2) that only needed to be charged once every month (or less).  So when traveling I would charge the night before a trip and I’d know the battery wouldn’t poop out on me.

  • LawGuy305

    Wow, i think this title should be ‘eReaders I Am Misinformed About’ Lets start from the beginning:

    jetBook Lite: Reads formats from B&N, and just about anywhere i found besides Amazon. The “Flimsy led” display on mine has been doped on its face over 5 times and hasn’t broken or cracked. Also this flimsy display you talk of is produced by Samsung if i remember correctly. 

    jetBook Mini: From what i read on MobileRead it comes with the same screen , batteries that last for 90 hours (holy crap) and no DRM virus. So for those people who are not sheeple, you can download books anywhere and work some magic.

  • Ross The BOSS

    I hope this isn’t a sponsored post by Amazon or B&N…..or written by someone who has NO KNOWLEDGE WHATSOEVER OF EREADERS!

    The jetBook lite was my first eBook Reader and i couldn’t have asked for a better device. The page turns were instant, the contrast great, and when i was on a plane going from New York to Hong Kong and back i would stock up on AA batteries (since this was, and still is, the only eBook Reader running on AA batteries) so i would never run outta juice. Content from everywhere except Amazon – aka YOU HAD TO PAY FOR NOTHING = the best deal ever!

    I stuck with the jetBook series and got the mini for my entire family last Christmas and even my grandparents are obsessed with it. I moved on to the mini as well since it was portable for my trips. My son loads any book i want to this unit and i couldn’t be happier.

    I just pre-ordered the jetBook color as well since i’ve always stuck with a brand that’s so about their customers and save SO MUCH MONEY for people who read a lot. I need the color screen for work.

    Readers That Should Be On The List:

    Amazon Fire and NOOK Color

    Are you kidding? Reading off a backlit screen? Schedule an appointment with your optometrist since glasses will be the only things you need after staring into that nonsense (unless you use them for movies – which is pleasant)

    Completely misleading review. 

  • Michael

    Jetbook has no content distribution system built into their e-readers making new users have to jump through adobe digital editions or calibre. This is beyond most peoples abilities. The build quality for jetbooks are flimsy plastic and they feel like a device from the 1980’s. We have extensively reviewed every e-reader the company has ever made and we feel that we can’t recommend this for new users or people looking to upgrade their device. 

  • Michael

     Yes, but you can’t BUY books on the device, there is no mention of Barnes and Noble ANYWHERE on the e-reader, you must be tech savvy enough to know where you can buy adobe EPUB DRM ebooks and then transfer them to your device with ADE.

  • http://www.allyoucanbooks.biz/ All You Can Books

    I also had an Amazon Kindle DX and I had only problems with this device! I paid a lot for it, but I learned my lesson and I bought a Nook 😀 It’s much cheaper than Amazon Kindle devices and it has many great and interesting features! In my opinion, if you want to buy something, it’s important to search for feedback or reviews on the Internet…you’ll read interesting stuff for sure!