Review of the Ectaco Jetbook Mini
Oct
29

Review of the Ectaco Jetbook Mini

By

ectaco jetbook mini

We just got our hands on the new Jetbook Mini e-Reader today and we have tons of pictures and a comprehensive review of the new 5 inch offering for less then $100.00, will it be a must or bust?

The Hardware

The Ectaco Jetbook Mini has a 5 inch screen TFT LCD screen, with a resolution of 640×540 and displays 16 levels of greyscale. It can be switched both to landscape and portrait mode with a menu setting, and has an option for left or right handed people. It has built in memory of a paltry 1.4 MB and has a SD card slot to upgrade it to a maximum of 2GB.  It runs on 4 AAA batteries, which it comes bundled with when you purchase the e-reader. It will allow you up to 90 hours of reading time before they die, but can last for months in standby mode.

The Mini has a mini USB port on top of the unit that allows you to plug it into your computer and update the firmware, as well as loading content on it. You can create directories and manage your content on it. The navigation on is done with 3 major buttons and 2 extensions of those buttons that allow you to scroll up and down in menu and settings.

Settings and Features

There are many different settings and features available both on the main menu and when you are reading a book. The main menu is accessed by pushing the pause button and gives you various options such as Settings, Games, Delete Books and so on. So if you do not want to have the default books that come on the device, you can actually just delete them with the Mini yourself, without having to connect it to your computer and managing it with Windows Explorer.

There are TONS of menu options under settings, most allow a better e-reading experience. You can edit such facets as line space settings, line break, alignment font size and so on. Although one drawback of this is that you can not actually change the font. You are stuck with the default one it gives you.

The other settings include a clock, a screen orientation option, factory defaults, an upgrade option and a few other settings that are not too important. The Screen orientation is pretty slick, as it allows you a veritable 360 degree switching via Portrait and Landscape.

It also comes bundled with two games, a Tetris clone and Suduku. Both games have various difficulty settings to give you a break from reading. No word yet from Ectaco if they will release other games for download and installation in a future firmware update. Speaking of firmware updates the only way you can update your Mini with future upgrades is via SD Card only, so you will have to purchase one. Jetbook as already released a full patch that fixes some SD card issues and allowed Added Calibre UM.

eBook and Content Delivery System

The Ectaco Jetbook mini comes bundled with English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian language options for the interface.

As far as ebook formats this device will read, its very sparse, it only reads FB2 or TXT, but you can use Calibre in order to convert virtually any ebook format, such as EPUB, LIT, LRF, MOBI to this supported format. The device also comes bundled with 11 open source ebooks and the instruction manual.

Ectaco does not run or operate an ebook store, and does not really give you any instructions on how to copy ebooks to your device. When you plug your Jetbook Mini into your computer, all of your ebooks, files and content are all lumped into 1 directory, making it very cluttered, with default settings. If you want to copy ebooks to your device you have one option, manually copy and pasting them. The Mini does not accept DRM books, so it hampers your buying decisions from other companies.

Our Take on the Jetbook Mini

This is a very small e-reader, it sometimes feels slow and sluggish at times. Its more noticeable when you are accessing the settings menu or doing tasks that require menu navigation. It can often take a few seconds for the device to refresh itself in order for your options to be displayed. Page turns though are quick and prompt, and does not have the lag on turning pages like the first edition of the Kobo had, or many other e-readers right out of the box.

One of the interesting facets on this device is that it does come in more then two different colors. The Main Ectaco website only has the black and yellow variants available, which the black is passable the yellow tacky. After doing a bit of research on their new website Jetbookmini.com it appears it comes in a multitude of extra colors. Although you cannot order the Jetbook Mini in different colors yet, it might soon be available. The chassis of the Mini is made of low grade plastic, and does not feel too durable and I lament the possibility of dropping it and the poor device will meet any untimely demise. Although the durability is a trade off to the low price, which makes this device ideal for kids, and students.

My thoughts is that for the price point it might be a solid buy, but the unit does have its share of drawbacks that makes it a hard sell to be competitive in the current e-reader climate. If the price was more like $50.00 this might be a viable consumer item, and could possibly catch on. Currently many retailers are slashing prices, such as the recent Boarders Price Cut, you can buy the original Kobo e-Reader now for the exact same price, and have access to a huge ebook store, great support and larger screen. The Jetbook Mini might seem like a good bargain, but you will have to buy batteries over the long-term. If batteries are not your thing, I would recommend you try an e-reader with a built in battery that charges over USB or a wall plug-in. There are also new e-readers coming out soon that will be powered by solar energy, such as LG and Toshiba.

Now to be fair, this is Ectaco’s third e-reader, with previous iterations including the Jetbook and Jetbook Lite. They do have plenty of experience to bring to the e-reader arena, and have been in the game long enough to retain a brand awareness.

The Jetbook Mini e-reader might not fare too well in the North American market, due to the increased competition in higher quality e-readers at more competitive prices. Suffice to say their European and regional target marketing might very well be their greatest strength. Ectaco is starting to build a mild Eastern-European presence. It is beginning to foster and develop strong relationships in countries that traditionally do not have much of an e-reader market. For example, on Oct 14 2010, Ectaco formed a partnership with entire schools in the Ukraine to sub out old textbooks and go with their e-readers instead. If they begin to do more of this type of thing in the smaller markets, Ectaco might succeed long term as a company more then say, a company named Cool-ER did. Also, their language support options are really good. Its refreshing to see a company release a product that can basically support the localized language in MANY different countries.

Personally I have played around with over 10 different e-readers and this is certainly not the worst, or the best, but i implore you to make your own judgments. For the more budget conscious end user, the price might seem right, since it is only around $99. There are plenty of drawbacks in my opinion, mainly the fact that it lacks structural durability and the fact it has no internet connectivity and no real way to get content on the device. The only content you can copy to the device is VERY limiting. No ebook stores I know of sell anything in FB2 or TXT, its all EPUB or exclusive formats. The Jetbook Mini is verified to have NO DRM support at all. So forget shopping on many different stores such as Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Borders, Kobo, Sony and others. You will likely have to be content with shopping on Smashwords, iPulpfiction and other independent eBook stores.

There are plenty of other e-readers at this price point, such as the Aluratek Libre, Kobo e-Reader, Barnes and Noble Nook WIFI or the Kindle 3 WIFI.

If you would like to the Jetbook Mini, order it today and have it shipped to you internationally. Simply visit our retail partner Shop e-Readers.

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Michael Kozlowski (4524 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


  • Ali

    great device

  • Laslo5

    I recently bought 4 of them at the show in Hong Kong. It makes absolutely a great gift when you load there you favorite books and give to the loved ones. I paid $88 for each and I think it is not the lowest price yet. My opinion: if you need to make a gift – buy it. The quality is much better than in some more expensive units

  • Farat

    I am not sure about the black color, but I really enjoy the other options with pink, blur, red and such – they look fun. And from what I gather they are not bad at all when it comes to the actual tech. side

  • Rick

    I like the design, AAA and 90 hours of reading time. Do you have any information when more colors will be available? I may purchase it for my kids and load with school books.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hey, no word yet on when the different colors are becoming available, we know they have a new website thats up, showing tons of different colors, but right now you can only order it in Black or Yellow. Black seems to be the nicest looking one right now, and Yes, you can’t really go wrong buying this for the kids.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Yes, the quality is not too bad at all, and yes, even more expensive e-readers do not have the best quality around, its a trade off.

  • Grammy1310

    I got the jetBook mini just a few days ago and i love it. Its easy to use which is perfect for someone of my age. Even at 67 i know how to convert all of my books to the necessary files. I am getting them for my grand son and 3 grand daughters for the holidays.

  • Antique1968

    And I bought one for my Gramma, one for my wife and myself. Very easy to use. It makes a great gift. Cannot be better

  • Markiz

    It’s a great idea! Christams is comming.
    Do they provide discounts for bulk purchase?
    I need 7 units.

  • prawns82

    i think this should be a holiday season hit. the whole color scheme brings a fresh look to the standard grey/black/white eReader world. btw, has anyone seen these specs that show how the new TFT has actually a sharper contrast than eInk? I found the data on a forum

    TFT (jetBook) – 1:12
    e-ink (Kindle, Nook) – 1:7.5
    Low quality newspaper – 1:9.9
    Laser printer print – 1:21

  • prawns82

    btw, i forgot to add, the greater the second number in the set the higher the contrast.

  • John

    Wow, this little baby looks awesome! I’ll definitely consider buying one for my daughter and I bet she’s going to love it! I especially like that fact that the jetbook mini takes regular 4 AAA batteries which is quite convenient when you travel to another country. And the screen contrast seems to be very nice.

  • Tanya

    very nice little jetbook :) I would prefer blue or green color ))

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hey, send us an email, we would like to get more information on LCD VS e-INK for a feature article we are working on.

  • Elmonica

    Predictably the employees from Etaco are here plugging their device, just as they did at the Good Ebook Reader blog when they did a review.

    I wouldn’t buy an ebook reader that didn’t support EPUB and that includes this device.

  • Nata

    Does it read other languages than English? Or I can change just interface language. Cuz I downloaded russian book and it reads just english words everything else is coded. If yes, how to change it?

  • Dan Schmidt

    Three years ago – kind of a cool little gadget. But, TODAY, when I can buy a droid for less than a hundred dollars, this is a joke.