Pocketbook is been making e-readers for 15 years and their new Era e-reader just might be the best one they have ever released. Most Pocketbooks tend to be slow and sluggish at times, but the Era is quick and snappy. This is due to the new e-paper display panel they they are using, E INK Carta 1200. This increases page turn speed by 25% and overall performance by 35%. This, in conjunction with some series hardware updates, make this a must buy.
The Pocketbook Era features a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display with E INK Carta 1200 e-paper display panel. This new e-paper technology is only in a few models right now, such as the 11th generation Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Sage. You will notice a 35% increase in overall performance when opening books or navigating around the UI. Whether you are pressing down on the physical page turn buttons, or tapping/gesturing, page turn speed has never been more robust, this is due to the 25% increase.
The resolution of the Era is 1264×1680 with 300 PPI. This will ensure that the fonts are razer sharp, making the reading experience glorious. The screen is protected by a layer of glass and is flush with the bezel. The screen features enhanced anti-scratch protection, which gives more confidence in the device’s safety, even in the most active use. Moreover, waterproof Pocketbook Era is ideal gadget for reading in the bathroom or outdoors. The e-reader is protected from water according to the international standard IPX8, which means the device can be immersed into the fresh water to a depth of 2 meters, for up to 60 minutes without any harmful effects.
In terms of the industrial design, it is very sleek. The color scheme is all black and the back of the reader is perforated with over one hundred lines that provide excellent grip without leaving lots of fingerprints. The sides of the bezel has a nice silver gunmetal accent, but if you buy the Copper model, they have a copper tone along the sides of the bezel. Although this model has a capacitive multitouch display, you really don’t have to interact with it very much if you are reading a book.
There is a front-lit display and color temperature system to read in the dark. There are around 27 white and amber LED lights, so you will get both warm and cool lighting that can be adjusted via slider bars. There is enough customization to craft your own ideal lighting experience.
Underneath the hood is a dual-core 1GHZ processor and 1GB of RAM. There are two different colors to choose from and each one has different storage. Sunset Copper with 64 GB of memory, and Stardust Silver with 16 GB of memory. You can charge device and transfer data, thanks to the USB-C port. You can listen to music via the single speaker on the bottom of the reader or pair wireless headphones or earbuds and take advantage of Bluetooth 5.1. Another helpful feature for those who prefer listening to books is Text-to-Speech which turns any text into a natural-sounding voice audio track. Just two clicks and the device will read aloud any text file in one of the 26 available languages. It is powered by a 1700 mAh battery and the dimensions are 134.3×155.7.8mm and weighs 228G.
One of the things that have changed with the Era is the design. They have removed the buttons and page turn buttons from the bottom of the screen and moved them to the righthand side. This design decision has made the bezels really slim and it reminds of the Amazon Kindle Oasis, the part with the page turn buttons has a wider area, because this is also where the battery is. Pocketbook has some very nice page turn buttons which wrap around slightly to the back of the display. They have a nice tectonic feel to them and a satisfying click, when pressed down. The home button, back button and settings button have been decreased by around 70%. They are right above and below the page turn buttons. If you are reading a book and hold down on the forward button, it will rapidly turn pages, very quickly. This is a similar experience that the latest generation Kobo e-readers employ and also the Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight 4. If you are not righthanded and instead are lefthanded, this does have a gyroscope, and accelerometer, so you can switch the orientation so the page turn buttons would be on the lefthand side and you can also lock the orientations, so it doesn’t automatically switch. You can also use the Era in both landscape and portrait mode.
I believe this is the nicest looking e-reader the company has ever made. It is really different than any of the other e-readers in their portfolio, such as the InkPad Lite, InkPad X, Pocketbook Touch Lux 5 or the Basic Lux 4. This is certainly worth the money, it retails for around $199 from the Good e-Reader Store.
Pocketbook has always run Linux on all of their e-readers. This is the same OS that the Amazon Kindle and Kobo line of e-readers employ. This OS helps preserve battery life, because there are no background processes being run. It is also rock stable and seldom ever crashes.
The main home screen comprises of a widget at the top, which showcases the books you are currently reading or have downloaded from the store, and haven’t started them yet. If there are a few books you are in the process of reading, there is a multipage layout, which you can just swipe on to see the next few books on the carousel. Underneath that is some recommended books from the Pocketbook Store, you will see around 9 bestselling titles. The main navigation has icons, with text underneath them. They provide shortcuts to your library, audiobook player, store, note taking and apps.
Your library is where all of your content is houses and you can separate it by formats, author, date and sort by list view or cover art view. If some of your books are missing cover art images, because you downloaded it from the internet, there is a meta data system, that will look at the title and author of the book and fetch metadata for it. You will likely be on this screen a lot of you just buy and load in hundreds of books. You can also hit switches on a particular book to flag it as finished and this will make it disappear from the home screen.
The Notes section is something that is kind of exciting. It is a dedicated note taking app, which you can use to jot down notes with your finger or use a capacitive stylus. There are 6 different shades of grey, including black and white, which can be used for contrast. You can do multiple pages or delete pages, the files are stored on your e-reader and can be exported as a PDF or PNG. The note taking system is very basic, and it pales into comparison to dedicated e-notes, such as the Remarkable 2, Onyx Boox or Supernote. These all have dedicated EMR or WACOM layers, which adds pressure sensavity and have a slew of advanced features. PB mainly just does this as a service, although the whole note taking experience is better on their color e-readers, since you can draw in 24 different ones. You can simply use a capacitive stylus to draw.
The Store is something that Pocketbook has been working on for a long time. They have been ironing out deals with publishers to actually stock bestsellers and books you would like to read, and just not open source royalty free books. When you buy a Pocketbook, some of the titles might only be European titles or the price you pay might be in Euros. All you need to do is contact the company and give them your serial number and they can change the region to where you are based. We do this all of the time with our review units, so it only shows English books and Canadian dollars. There is a stared rating system, a sample download is available and you can read the description, standard fare. Although Kindle and Kobo both have wider selections of content, since they both have self-publishing platforms, such as KDP and KWL. They also stock millions of books, in different markets, all over the world. Pocketbook might have a few thousand, but at least they are working on expanding it. They also introduced an audiobook section too, so you don’t have to sideload everything, you can just download and listen to them on the audiobook player.
The Apps section mainly comprises of all the different Pocketbook apps. Like Send to Pocketbook, Pocketbook Cloud and a few games like Chess. You cannot sideload in your own apps and what you see is what you get. This is because Pocketbook is running Linux and not Android.
I really like the Pocketbook software. It is really easy to configure WIFI, add in your Adobe Digital Editions account information to sideload in paid files or ebooks you have purchased from other companies, such as Kobo. You can also load in library books you have downloaded to your PC from Overdrive or Hoopla. Sometimes it feels a bit sluggish, but only if you expect it to work like an iPad or Kindle Fire, and not an e-reader. You have to have patience and wait when you click on UI elements or adjusting the slider bars for brightness levels. E INK is just fundamentally different, but the little wait times, more make up for the benefits, which is easy on the eyes and long battery life.
The Pocketbook Era supports a myriad of ebook formats, such as ACSM, CBR, CBZ, CHM, DJVU, DOC, DOCX, EPUB, EPUB(DRM), FB2, FB2.ZIP, HTM, HTML, MOBI, PDF, PDF (DRM), PRC, RTF, TXT. Pocketbook pays Adobe a monthly fee for the Content Server. This allows users access to Adobe Digital Editions to sideload in ebooks in EPUB or PDF that are purchased from other bookstores. You can also use Digital Editions to load in library books that you have borrowed from a company such as Overdrive. Pocketbook is very versatile in this regard.
The physical page turn buttons on the side of the screen are going to likely be the way you turn pages. They are the best buttons Pocketbook has ever employed on an e-reader. They can easily turn buttons and accidental miss clicks are rare. If you hold down on the page forward or page back, you can rapidly turn pages in any given direction. This is similar to the system the Kobo Aura One Limited Edition and Kindle Manga Reader used.
The stock ebook reader is what you are going to use on a daily basis to read ebooks, since there is no other options. You can tap or gesture to turn the pages of book. One of the coolest new software features is the ability to pinch and zoom to change how big you want the fonts to be, instead of having to go to the ebook settings menu. This makes it more intuitive for new users to e-readers. You can also increase the size of the fonts with a slider bar, and there are around 50 different fonts that are pre-loaded, but you can also install your own. Of course, like any e-reader, you can adjust the margins and fonts. If you highlight a particular word, you can look it up in the dictionary, look it up on Google or make a note. If you are reading a DRM-free book, you can make notes with a keyboard or a stylus.
Reading PDF files will never look as good as they do on a 13.3 inch e-reader, that reads A4 documents natively. However, the 7-inch screen of the Era is no slouch either. Pinching and zooming are pretty quick, quicker than the InkPad or InkPad X. Once you let go of pinching and zooming it does take a couple of seconds for the page resolution to complete. This is because when you pinch and zoom, you are engaging in an A2 mode, that is supposed to make this process quick. Page turn speed, even in the largest PDF file file is quick. There are also some additional settings that you can use to customize your PDF viewing experience. When clicking on the settings menu you can change the orientation, fit to width, fit to height, establish a preset zoom level, so every page will automatically have the same zoom level. There is also a page reflow system, which will strip away images and convert everything to text.
One of my favorite settings on the Era is the visual settings. You can change the contrast, saturation and brightness. This is really useful if your reading a scanned document or maybe the text is too light and you want to make it darker.
Pocketbook is one of the rare brands out there that have native support for CBR and CBZ, two of the worlds best manga formats. It is very easy to find these online or buy from other stores and load them on your PB. You can basically treat these two formats as file containers that have a bunch of pictures inside of them. The easiest reference is think of a ZIP file full of pictures, but you don’t need to unzip the file to view them. It is very easy to find these CBR/CBZ formats online. However, most of the big bookstores like Amazon, B&N or Kobo sell all of their manga in EPUB files. So if you buy manga from Kobo or B&N you can sideload them the Era, since it supports DRM content from EPUB or PDF files.
This is by far their best eBook reader they’ve ever made. One could argue the InkPad X is also up there, but given the size and the price, I’ll exclude that from my thoughts This is everything in e-reader should be. Sleek, sized properly, and have a high resolution screen with physical page turn buttons. Not only that, they bless you with onboard audio and an audiobook player, music player, and a dual toggle bookstore so you can buy and download audiobooks to your heart’s content
The glow light is phenomenal, the side bezel buttons are rewarding to press, and design-wise it’s absolutely very fitting to the name, this definitely is an all new era for Pocketbook and a perfect way to celebrate their 15-year anniversary.
- E INK Carta 1200 Display
- Physical Page Turn Buttons
- Excellent build quality
- Supports many book and audiobook formats
- Not a whole lot of storage for audiobooks or PDF
- 16GB Silver or 64GB Copper Models
- No SD
- Can only buy it online
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.