The Bangalore based company EC Media would like us to stop reading and start winking. The reason is simple, the Wink e-book reader is here so that reading books will never be the same again. The company right now has two e-readers to offer – Wink XTS and Wink XLite with 5 and 6 inches of screen real estate respectively. However, the XTS e-readers rely on Wi-Fi to get online though the company also has a 3G version in the pipeline for a market release sometime soon.
Also, if the e-readers do look familiar, it’s all because the form factor reminds of the Kindle with the all too familiar e-ink display followed by the keypad at the bottom. But then, the majority of e-reader around the world sports the same layout. It’s just that Kindle was the first off the block and all the other players who came in the scene later are still following a similar layout.
Now coming to the Wink e-readers, the Wink Xlite and the Wink XTS e-readers have a lot in common specification wise. Like the e-readers come with 800 x 600 pixel display (this also applies to the Xlite even though it has a 5 inch screen), a 400 MHz processor on all three and so on.
Of the two, the Xlite is more portable thanks to the smaller 5 inch display. Built around a 400 MHz Samsung 2416 processor, the Xlite is based on the Linux OS and weights just 200 gms. In fact, the latter bit makes it one of the lightest e-readers around. The Xlite also supports 16 shades of grayscale and is compatible with a wide variety of image, music and e-book file formats. It’s got a 128 MB ROM and RAM though on board storage can be expanded up to 32 GB via SD cards.
The Xlite also boasts of a g-sensor and gets its juice from an 1100 mAH battery which is enough to support about a week of usage involving e-reading. The e-reader comes with a 2.2 mm stereo audio jack as well as a USB 2.0 port. Other features that the Xlite comes with include FM radio, MP3 playback, calendar, clock, and full image zoom. Also, everything with the Xlite has to be accomplished with the numeric keypad with 5 way navigation keys along with the special function keys. The absence of any page turning keys built into the two side bezels means one won’t have to be extra careful while holding the e-book reader while turning pages can be done with the keys itself. The Xlite is currently selling for INR 7990 which is about $182 USD.
Coming over to the other e-reader on offer from EC Media, the XTS with its 6 inch display is clearly the bigger of the two though could have done with a more lean and thin form factor. Also with a 260 gm weight, it’s slightly on the heavier side compared to its domestic competitor – the Infibeam Pi that weighs 180 gms. Compare this to the Sony PRS 650’s 215 gms, Kindle’s 244 gms, or the Kobo’s 220 gms weight.
The rest of the XTS’ specification reveals a 400 MHz ARM9 processor along with 2 GB of internal storage, which is further expandable up to 18 GB via the SD card slot. Also, unlike the Xlite which requires a PC to add books to it, the XTS is better off as it can connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. So users have the option of connecting to the Wink e-book store and download from over the 300,000 titles available, making it one of the largest in India. The company is also in the process of developing the 3G version of the XTS which will be identical to the Wi-Fi only XTS in almost every other aspect.
These apart, the XTS also includes other features such as a USB 2.0 port, stereo headphone jack, text-to-speech support and so on. The 1500mAh battery ensures up to 8000 page turn on a single charge. The XTS e-book reader is now available for INR 8990 which comes to about $210 USD. Of course, while at this price there are better options available in the market including the latest gen Kindle that would turn out to be even cheaper, the one aspect where Wink e-book readers excel is their support for 15 languages, something extremely important for a multi-lingual country like India. In fact, its one feature that not even the Kindle can match as of now and its here that the Wink has an edge, in spite of a relatively higher price tag. With the 3G version coming, Wink will have a more robust portfolio, that’s for sure.
Further, EC Media also has to offer some nice innovative features that promises to make e-book reading with them a wholesome experience. Like the WikerActiv service that aims to create a community feeling among all fellow Winkers by allowing one to have an idea of the current reading trends, recommend book to others, have a peek at what others are reading and so on. Users will also be able to write their own reviews as well.
WinkWire is another of the company unique service, which they claim is world’s ‘first eTabloid exclusive to eReaders.’ To put it in simple terms, the service will let users have newspaper delivered on their Wink e-readers everyday containing only the news items that they are really interested in.
EC Media is also keen to enter the publishing realm, something that they have named WinkPublish. For this, the company has secured the services of established writers and plans to comes up with their own books covering every conceivable topic. EC Media has also tied up with some of the best known publishing house such as Penguin, Roli, Oxford University, Harper Collins and Permanent Black and is pushing hard to have on board half a million e-books. The company is also believed to be developing a 9 inch sized e-reader for the high-end segment along with Android versions of Wink as well. The company is aiming to sell at least 25,000 Winks by the end of 2011.