Hands on Review of the Sharper Image Literati E-Reader

sharper image literati

We just managed to get our hands on the new Sharper Image Literati color e-reader! It’s one of the oddest ones we have ever played with, from a design point of view. It’s powered by Kobo, and for the price, it may be a winner.

Let’s talk hardware before we get into our thoughts of the device. It features a full QWERTY keyboard, with a full line of numbers at the top. It also has symbol buttons for slashes, stars and the @ symbol. It’s a full color device with 7 inch screen and resolution of 480×800. It also has around 250 MB of internal memory and you can increase the memory to 8 GB via a SD Card.

Sharper Image has partnered with Kobo for their official bookstore and you can download up to 2 million titles in one click. Once you configure the WIFI you can shop for ebooks as soon as you configure your Kobo Account.

As far as eBooks go, you can shop with Kobo or you can load your own ebooks you have purchased or downloaded from other stores. The Literati supports ePub, Doc, PDF, and txt. Its very easy to just copy ebooks directly to your device if the ebooks do not have DRM. If they do, you can simply use Adobe Digital Editions.

Now that we have looked at the eBook formats, let’s talk about reading on the device. You have capacitive touch screen page turning buttons to go forward and backwards. They have these on both the right hand and left hand side. So no matter if you are right handed or left handed, page turning is a breeze. Page turning is robust, and although we did notice a little bit of lag, the developers have assured as that they will soon release a patch to fix this. When you are reading, you can hit the menu button to get different features such as jumping to the table of contents, looking at the dictionary, and jumping to specific chapters.

Although the E-Reader is full color, there aren’t any books that come loaded with the device that really take advantage of it. Sharper Image has told us that in October they are going to be offering magazines and cookbooks that really make the Color aspect of the e-reader, more viable. Speaking of up-coming changes, in November or December a number of reading enhancements will be rolled out, such as; Night Reading Mode, Custom Bookshelves, and “Dog Ears,” which is a good way to bookmark a specific page.

As for menu and features, you have different font and brightness settings so you can increase the font sizes. You are stuck with the default fonts of Serif and San-Serif. Really, the menu features are pretty bare bones.

Now that we have covered all of the details on this device, let’s talk turkey. What impressed us about the device was the full color LCD that gives you nice resolution and is not crashing and bug prone like the Pandigital Novel. Partnering directly with Kobo gives you long term feasbility in terms of dealing with a great company and loading your own books on it is a snap. The casing is also firm, not cheap plastic, it has a nice feel and weight to it.

What did not impress us is that there is no audio on the device. There are no speakers or a head phone jack, so there is no way to listen to MP3 or audio books. There is also no books – other then the sample Winnie the Poo book – that take advantage of the full color aspect of the e-reader. There is no way to access or install apps on the device, such as a web browser, email or otherwise. The WI-FI aspect of the device did not work at all, we tested it on a Encrypted and Non Encrypted WI-FI network and nothing worked. Sharper Image has told us that an October firmware update will fix this issue. There was also lag on the page turns and some unresponsiveness in the D-PAD and menu functions. Most of these issues can all be easily fixed in a future firmware update, so it did not a make or break our opinion with some of these drawbacks. One of the big negative aspects on this device is that the screen is very long up and down. It does not switch between landscape and horizontal mode. That is to say, it does not have an accelerometer or gyroscope.

All in all, for the entry level price of $159.00, it is a GREAT entry level e-reader. Obviously you are not paying $300.00 or more, so a lot of the features lacking in the device are not that bad. It functions good as an e-reader, which is what it is being billed as. It also comes with 150 free open source ebooks, all in epub format, so you will have no shortage of things to read when you buy the device. We dig the fact that Kobo is behind these guys. Compared to a lot of other colored e-readers out there, this is one of the best bangs for your buck. If you compare it with other pseudo e-reading devices such as the Augen Gentouch78 or the Pandigital Novel, this is a great item to buy for the holidays.

The device will be on sale mid October and you can purchase it from new Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and others.

Lastly, we want to extend our thanks to the people at Sharper Image that managed to send us out a unit before they even go officially on sale!

Visit LiteratiReader.com for more information.

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Michael Kozlowski (5221 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

  • Guest

    Get your facts straight mait… the Pandigital is a much better device after firmware upgrade…

  • Cassandra5800

    I just bought one and I can’t wait to open it for Christmas!

  • Disappointed

    I just bought one, too. They still haven’t fixed the wireless issue. It doesn’t work. I’m taking it back.

  • aggravated

    I bought a book from Kobo and I downloaded Adobe Digital Editions.
    How do I copy it to my Literati?

  • http://twitter.com/careylj Joe Carey

    I bought my Literati a week ago and have a few observations. Overall impression: mixed; don’t love it, but don’t hate it either.

    After charging overnight, turned it on and configured the wireless connection with no problem. Immediately the device downloaded a firmware upgrade and restarted without incident. This tells me the manufacturer is still making improvements to the firmware.

    I loaded a few books via the USB cable. Epub documents are recognized by the device and can be read/navigated with relative ease. PDF files are another story; they are difficult to read. There is supposed to be a zoom feature but it is not intuitive.

    Downloading and installing books from the Kobo store is painless and works well. Once a book is loaded, paging through it seems fairly snappy using the paging keys along the right or left side of the frame. But loading the book for the first time is sluggish and seems to take unusually long.

    The navigation wheel is awkward to use, because the center “click” button is raised above the up, down, left, and right directional buttons, which makes clicking on these buttons cumbersome.

    So far, I have had one issue where the wireless connection became “lost” and no matter how much I tried, I could not restore it until I reset the device to factory defaults and reconfigured all over again. Hopefully this does not continue to happen, but again this is only my first week.

    My device came with 512 MB of memory. It has an SD card slot that is supposed to recognize SD cards up to 8GB. I bought a new 4GB SDHC and inserted into the slot, but the device would never recognize it. I tried formatting the card in a PC, in a Mac, and in a camera, to no avail. I put in an older 1GB SD card and it was recognized. I cannot state with conviction that the 8GB SD card spec is believable based on my experience.

    Today the device again downloaded a firmware upgrade.

    Pros: Color screen, price, book selection from Kobo, firmware upgrades frequent

    Cons: Sluggish performance, battery life, firmware upgrades frequent (marketed before its time), navigation controls

  • H.A.S

    I just got the literati and I cannot get the wifi to work right. Is there any way to change which IP address I want to use for the Wifi? It is automatically choosing an IP address I do not wish to use.

  • philicia venning

    I would like to know how get the bible and i don’t know how

  • MEC

    I just bought the Literati and am very disappointed with the design and technology. I should have done more research. Does not connect easily to wi-fi. When it does, it is very slow and unresponsive. Get ready to hit a button and wait. Once books are loaded, it is OK for reading. You cannot connect to a PC to download from interenet. You can only do this through wi-fi. Live and learn. Go with the name brands.

  • Redneckcowboy83

    your 4GB SDHC is high capacity and some devices won’t take hight capacity. Your older SD card was not HC and that is why it worked. I had the same problem with my camera.

  • heather

    I just got the Literati about a week ago. I have been playing around with it and haven’t had any problems. I was excited to get a color screen to read children books to my 4 year old son on it. However, Kobo has an awful selection of children’s books for that age! I guess I will not be using it for my son’s bedtime, however, it will work just fine for the books I want to read. It has a back light to read in dark places which will be nice! I only paid $89 for it after a rebate. And then I got $20 in store bonus cash. So it was a great deal! I would recomend it.

  • heather

    I just got the Literati about a week ago. I have been playing around with it and haven’t had any problems. I was excited to get a color screen to read children books to my 4 year old son on it. However, Kobo has an awful selection of children’s books for that age! I guess I will not be using it for my son’s bedtime, however, it will work just fine for the books I want to read. It has a back light to read in dark places which will be nice! I only paid $89 for it after a rebate. And then I got $20 in store bonus cash. So it was a great deal! I would recomend it.

  • Djdub2000

    1) get a room at any hotel
    2) look in the nightstand
    3) shove it in your bag

    -hope this helps

  • Nenasforever

    i need chicago suntime or tribune? hello

  • E4opening

    Just got a Literati as an xmas gift. Like the color display and the fact that I can download PDF documents. As a researcher I do a lot of reading of technical documents. Also like the fact that you can add an SD card – still need to check it out. Need to check into the cloud storage feature too. I had a little problem with the wireless connect. I had to disable the WEP encryption on my router in order for the Literati to connect. Once connected it worked fine.

    Drawbacks that I see are: Short battery life. Seems to be about 4 hours. Also, would be nice if there was an app to highlight a word and do an automatic dictionary look up. Right now, I have to keep exiting out of a book or document to dictionary and then back again.

    Overall I’m satisfied with performance v.s. price – I got what I paid for, it is a no frills device that does what I need it to do.

  • Kim

    I just got it for Christmas and I love it. I have had no problems with it at all, no lag, no problems with the wireless. I would highly recommend it.

  • Tyler

    I know they have the LDS Standard Works in the Kobo Store for 5 bucks. Also you can download a PDF version of them here. http://lds.org/gospellibrary/pdfindex/0,7777,579-1,00.html

    In case you’re thinking “I don’t want a corrupt mormon bible” don’t worry, we use the traditional King James Version of the Holy Bible. The PDF for it is here http://lds.org/languages/gospeldoctrine/oldtestament/Holy_Bible.pdf

    And the literati supports PDFs

  • frustrated

    We bought one for Christmas. I want to love it, but we can’t get the wi fi to work, I tried downloading books from the desktop and it won’t do it. Yesterday the battery ran down. I plugged it in overnight and this morning it is still dead. I don’t want to give up on it. I e-mailed the support address and immediately got a message that there was a problem with thier e-mail. Whenever I call the 800 number I push 1 for the Literati help and it hangs up on me….any ideas?

  • Heather

    Have you downloaded any books from Amazon on it. We cannot seem to get the Adobe digital editions to work. Downloaded it twice and when we try to open the book we get a content is locked use your Adobe ID to authorize your ereader to view. This was a gift and I cannot take it back so I am trying to get it to work.

  • frustrated

    How did you get the wireless to work. Mine says I’m connected, but when I try to go to the store I’m not registered, and can’t find how to do that.

  • Dutch


    check out the youtube video I made. Here is a hint, it is positive. I paid $53.18 at Kohl’s using a $30.00 rebate and a 15% coupon at the register, plus a $10.00 off coupon out of the paper. The battery life is a negative but I keep it on my charger and have never ran out of juice. It has 25 preloaded books, mostly classics, and another 125 you get for free after you sign in using WiFi, not a problem. I subscribed to PC magazine, $1.49 and I understand their are more titles each month. The colored screen is great. Yes, no earphone, I can read audio books on my netbook. I am watching out for the new Motorola xoom, this is going to be the pad to get. Google Android, my mouth waters. Nothing wrong with my literati, good Christmas present. dutch

  • http://missyschranz.blogspot.com Melissa Schranz

    HI, aggravated! I had your same problem,too, but what I found out is if you”drag” the book you want over to the Literati and “drop it” right over it it, it will show up on your reader. Hope that works!!

  • Vliscony

    For me ADE editions have worked just fine, and I have at least two that have DRM, and have had zero problems with them. Do not know what to advise, try customer service. No idea what might cause your problem.

  • Jolane

    Just ordered this for my mother and hope she likes it. The directions are not too well on charging directions and I can’t find the nite reading selection on the screen like it showed in the demo – anyone can help?

  • Eddie

    omg all those books i have on mine

  • Bklyn1926

    I received a Literati for xmas. Within 2 weeks the reader broke down and had to be returned for a refund. My wife also has a Literati which is still working however each time she downloads a new book the reader deletes the books she bought prior to that purchase. I will not go back to a Literati , thats for sure.

  • loly

    i bought one and never could get to the kobo store . I return the literati and the manager of the store open 3 literati to see if something was wrong and what we found was that there all on the same issue of not connecting to the kobo store

  • JCooke

    Hey Tyler. I downloaded a free NIV Bible in epub format. I”m having difficulties navigating the chapters… did I do something wrong? I can find the lists of chapters (books of the Bible) but cannot “open” that book or even select or navigate to a chapter…. any thoughts or ideas? Hmmmm…. THANKS

  • wd

    Bed Bath and Beyond has this on clearance online and in the store for 39.99. Today is 02-04-2011.

  • rk

    do NOT buy this e-reader. IT is horrible… the worst purchase we made EVER!

  • Allison

    I just bought one of these (2-4-11) at Bed Bath & Beyond for the aforementioned clearance price of $39.99. Actually, I got it for $32 with a 20% coupon. Awesome price.

    So far I’m happy with it; I’ve had NO issues with my wireless, it had its initial firmware update, and aside from a couple chokes it’s worked just fine. Kind of clumsy to navigate, but it feels nice to hold, and is comfortable to read (text is fully adjustable in size, and the backlight has a nice range of brightnesses). I’m not entirely thrilled with Kobo (hard to search for certain titles/ genres, and there aren’t many magazines/ newspapers to choose from), but there is a large selection of titles and it’s very easy to purchase them (you can also get coupon codes for anywhere from 15-35% off titles, which is great). I also appreciate the full qwerty keyboard (with numerals), and a dedicated period key. It also comes with a slick-looking case. However, I might use my ninja-like arts and crafts skills to make the cover a bit more rigid, as it bows after some use. They clearly didn’t pay attention when making the cover, because the straps that hold the device in to said cover go right over the power button, making it a real pain to turn the device on and off. Clearly a huge oversight.

    I haven’t had any issues with the battery failing or it crashing. As of right now, I’ve used it several times and bought books, a magazine, and uploaded a host of my own books (easily converted to the .epub format with the use of the Calibre program). However, I wasn’t able to delete all of the titles that came pre-loaded (when am I going to read the Canterbury tales, I mean, really??); I deleted a couple, but the others won’t even appear when I connect the device to my computer.

    Overall, I’m happy with the device, though. Yeah it has a couple of kinks, but seeing as it was only $150 originally, I wasn’t expecting anything top-notch. I don’t need anything fancy–I just wanted a way to read all of my books, without any gimmicks. As it is, I might pay $100 for it, but not the full-price. I’m thrilled to have been able to pay so little for it (since the Pandigital novel sold better at BB&B instead of the literati).

  • JCooke

    @Allison – I agree. I got mine for $39.99, less 20% coupon plus on 1/31 there was still a $20 rebate available…. making it $14.55 total! SCORE! I’m actually quite thrilled with mine too at this point. Yes, sure there’s a few “sluggish” issues, but not nearly as bad as some comments posted. I’ve been able to purchase some FREE and cheap books from other sources and loaded them via the USB cable without a hitch. Yes, it takes a little jumping through hoops to get them there (ie: ADE) but WELL WORTH $40!!!

  • JCooke

    Charging = plugging the charger into the unit and plugging in. DONE!

    Nitetime setting – can be adjusted while reading a book by pushing the “menu” button, select display, then select nitetime… :0) Hope that helps!

    Check out the complete owners manual here: http://literatireader.com/pdf/literati-manual_white_v3.pdf

  • Talgai

    Had a Literati as a gift. Find it difficult to hold without triggering the paging buttons. Also the white arrows on the buttons are starting to fade.Only one I have owned but life is easier withe the ipad. Text visibility is great. Keyboard fiddly.

  • Maxicow

    I love my Literati, which I received as a Christmas gift. Once I was able to figure out how to download free books from the Public Library to my reader, I realized I have lost the power cord. Unfortunatley connecting with the USB does not charge the reader. I have searched everywhere, including E-bay, Craig’s list and other websites for the cord, and cannot find it. Does anyone know how or where could I purchase a replacement?

  • Literatifan

    Contact the company – I got one replaced…..

  • Gllimmerglasspeg

    Don’t move…or do anything out of the ordinary…

    Sig other bought this for me to get my own NYTimes subscription. He has a Kindle.
    Free downloaded books were fine.
    Purchased books were fine.
    Downloaded NYTimes issues seemed to work fine, although earlier this year they had an issue with the publisher and twice I couldn’t get that day’s issue until very late.
    Once I skipped a day, and downloading 2 issues caused it to freeze and have to reset on the back.
    Sig other has high speed, I have satellite, but until today, this was never an issue – sometimes the reader was quirky, but eventually straightened itself out.
    Today I downloaded 3 missed issues, and they weren’t accessible after being told the download was successful – did this twice myself, 3rd time w/ tech support, and she finally had me totally reset the machine from the beginning. I then had to reload EVERYTHING I had on the reader – futsing around, phone calls, downloading took a couple of hours.
    This resulted in the device now freezing up, and not being able to turn pages! First the side arrows stopped working, then the buttom arrows.
    They are offering me a new reader, are _mailing_ me the label, and telling me I have to be without while I wait for a replacement.

    I would guess if you are going to use this device in one place, and update your subscriptions daily, you will be fine – just don’t download using different wireless internet servers, or skip a day of a subscription…it can’t handle it!

  • Verypissedoff

    Complete Junk! Do NOT waster your money, check the internet, all kinds of problems with the Literati, from wifi problems to loading books and not recognizing SD cards, mine worked on USB for about a week then nothing, multiple resets later still nothing, the engineer(s) that pushed this out should be taken out on the front street of their homes in plain view of the public and be beaten repeatedly in the head with a ball bat. In this economy your going to push out a shit product like this and let people waster their money, I hope hell has a special place for you!

  • Marisa

    I can’t get any of my books to download. Are you using Adobe epud formatted books? I can’t get ANYTHING to load on my Literati!

  • Dorothy Randall

    I have a literati ereader. I downloaded a bible on it that has the chapters within each book of the bible.  I can’t get my literati to click on the chapters. When I click on next chapter, it takes me to the next book in the bible. Is there a fix for this. Or can you recommend a bible that I can download that I don’t have to turn page by page?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brandon-Conner/100000099381405 Brandon Conner


  • Doorem99

    looking to get a users manual, bout mine on ebay with no manual, having some trouble
    any one know where i can get one?, thanks

  • Airabaxter


  • Sharon

    charged mine for 6 hrs and it wont even turn on any1 have any solutions to why it wont turn on help plz send me e-mails at sharonsassysweet@aol.com would really appreciate it alot thx again

  • Lbwright2

    Anyone know how to change the e-mail?  Mine got typed in wrong and I have no idea how to change it.

  • Dave

    I got a Literati e-reader Christmas in 2010 and went away for about 2 wks just recently and discovered that I left it on charge all that time. I can’t turn it on now, it is dead. I thought it was the charger and bought a new one and it still won’t work. Does any one know why? Yes I reset it to no avail If you can help give me shout @ drmillc40@yahoo.com  “Baffled”

  • jensopine

    Hi Dorothy – a little late in the day – I bought a bible from Kobo. I found the bible’s chapters finally – today, after having shelved the device for several years (4). Took it out again and now that I finally got to the list of chapters I also CANNOT ACCESS EACH CHAPTER – NOTHING HIGHLIGHTS FOR ME… IT JUST GOES FROM ONE PAGE TO THE OTHER. And now that the product is out of business – well, anyway. Guess it’s time to go to Kindle or Nook.