The Pocketbook InkPad 4 is their latest generation e-reader. It is designed for reading ebooks, digital manga, and audiobooks. Pocketbook operates its digital bookstore, primarily populated with royalty-free titles. The Pocketbook brand’s real power is purchasing EPUB and PDF files from other online stores, such as Google Play Books or Kobo, and using Adobe Digital Editions to load them onto the e-reader. If a user has a collection of ebooks on their computer or MAC, it is easy to drag and drop them with a file manager; Pocketbook supports a wide array of formats.
Pocketbook has always employed quality-of-life features, such as manual page turn buttons. These are positioned on the bottom of the display, so it is easy to hold it with one hand and turn the pages. However, if you want to interact with the capacitive touchscreen display merely, you can swipe, tap, or gesture to turn pages. Investing in the InkPad 4 is a good decision since the company releases numerous firmware updates annually, adding additional functionality and bug fixes. Only a little can go wrong with this device since it runs Linux, which is usually very stable and has good battery life. Pocketbook has around 11 languages, making it accessible to Europeans and North Americans.
The Pocketbook InkPad 4 features a 7.8-inch E INK Carta 1200 e-paper display. With this new e-paper technology, page turn speed has increased by 15%, while the response time has increased by 20%. Its resolution is 1404×1872 with 300 PPI, so the fonts look razor-sharp. Thanks to the SMARTlight function, users can enjoy safe reading in any lighting. The adaptive front light allows you to adjust not only the brightness of the screen but also the colour temperature, choosing a warm or cool tone. Soft light from SMARTlight will enable you to read comfortably even in complete darkness while the e-reader’s screen remains eye-friendly.
The screen is completely flush with the bezel and protected by a layer of glass. The corners are nice and rounded on the bottom of the reader, making it easier to hold, whereas they are more squared at the top. The colour scheme is black on the front, surrounding the e-paper screen. This adds an excellent degree of contrast. Alongside the sides of the bezel is gunmetal silver. There are stereo speakers on the side of the bezel, which is perfect for listening to audiobooks, music or podcasts. However, there is a Bluetooth 4.0 chip for wireless headphones.
Underneath the hood are a Dual Core 1 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There is a g-sensor for automatic screen rotation, USB-C, and WIFI, and it is powered by a 2,000 mAh battery, which should be suitable for three weeks. Pocketbook has managed to preserve battery life using a Linux operating system with great power-saving features. The InkPad 4 is rated IPX 8, so you can easily read books in the bathtub or on the beach. It can withstand immersion into fresh water to a depth of 2 meters for up to 60 minutes. The dimensions are 134 × 189.5 × 7.95 mm, weighing 265 g.
One of the benefits of buying the InkPad 4 is the manual page turn buttons. They are on the bottom of the device and are satisfying to press down on. There is a page forward, page back and home key. You can hold the reader in one hand while commuting or at an appointment and quickly turn the pages with the keys. Since the screen has capacitive touch, you can still tap, swipe or gesture to turn pages or pinch and zoom on PDF documents.
Pocketbook has always run Linux on all of its e-readers. This is the same OS that the Amazon Kindle and Kobo e-readers employ. This OS helps preserve battery life because no background processes are being run. It is also rock stable and seldom ever crashes.
The main home screen comprises a widget at the top, showcasing the books you are reading or has downloaded from the store and haven’t started yet. If there are a few books you are in the process of reading, there is a multi-page layout, which you can swipe on to see the following few books on the carousel. Underneath that are some recommended books from the Pocketbook Store; you will see around nine 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 housed, and you can separate it by formats, author, date and sort by list view or cover art view. If some of your books still need to cover art images because you downloaded them from the internet, there is a metadata system that will look at the book’s title and author and fetch metadata for it. You will likely be on this screen because you buy and load hundreds of books. You can also hit switches on a particular book to flag it as finished, making it disappear from the home screen.
The Store is something that Pocketbook has been working on for a long time. They have been ironing out deals with publishers to stock bestsellers and books you would like to read, not open-source royalty-free textbooks. When you buy a Pocketbook, some titles are only European, or your price might be in Euros. All you need to do is contact the company and give them your serial number; they can change the region to where you are based. We always do this with our review units, so it only shows English books and Canadian dollars. There is a starred rating system, a sample download is available, and you can read the description and standard fare. However, Kindle and Kobo have more comprehensive content selections 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, so you don’t have to sideload everything; you can download and listen to them on the audiobook player.
The Apps section mainly comprises all the different Pocketbook apps. Like, Send to Pocketbook, Pocketbook Cloud and a few games like Chess. You cannot sideload in your own apps; what you see is what you get. This is because Pocketbook is running Linux and not Android.
I like the Pocketbook software. It is straightforward to configure WIFI and add 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 library books you downloaded to your PC from Overdrive or Hoopla. Sometimes it feels sluggish, but only if you expect it to work like an iPad or Kindle Fire rather than an e-reader. You have to be patient and wait when you click on UI elements or adjust the slider bars for brightness levels. E INK is just fundamentally different, but the little wait times, more make up for the benefits, which are easy on the eyes and long battery life.
The Pocketbook InkPad 4 supports a myriad of ebook formats, such as ACSM, AZW, AZW3, CBR, CBZ, CHM, DJVU, DOC, DOCX, EPUB(DRM), EPUB, FB2, FB2.ZIP, HTM, HTML, MOBI, PDF (DRM), PDF, PRC, RTF, and TEXT. Pocketbook pays Adobe a monthly fee for the Content Server. This allows users access to Adobe Digital Editions to sideload ebooks in EPUB or PDF purchased from other bookstores. You can also use Digital Editions to load library books borrowed from a company such as Overdrive. Pocketbook is very versatile in this regard.
The physical page turn buttons are on the bottom of the screen, which is less intuitive than having them on the sides of the screen. With that out of the way, Pocketbook has the best page-turn buttons in the business; they are easy to press down and have good build quality. Accidental miss clicks are rare. If you hold down on the page forward or back, you can rapidly turn pages in any 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 will use daily to read ebooks since there are no other options. You can tap or gesture to turn the pages of the book. One of the most excellent new software features is the ability to pinch and zoom to change how big you want the fonts to be instead of going to the ebook settings menu. This makes it more intuitive for new users of 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, on Google or make a note. You can make notes with a keyboard or a stylus if you read a DRM-free book.
Reading PDF files will never look as good as they do on a 13.3-inch e-reader that reads A4 doc.uments natively. However, the 7-inch screen of the Inkpad 4 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 Inkpad 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 VIZ, Kobo or B&N you can sideload them the InkPad 4, since it supports DRM content from EPUB or PDF files.
If you are into audiobooks, the InkPad 4 has a great audiobook player with all of the core features you can expect. Not only can you listen to audiobooks, but you jump ahead 15 seconds or jump back. There is a sleep timer, so it will automatically shut off at an appointed time. You can browse different chapters if you wanted to really skip ahead. If you want to sideload in your own audiobooks it supports M4A, M4B, OGG, OGG.ZIP, MP3, MP3.ZIP.
Pocketbook has released or is going to release many new e-readers this year. The Pocketbook InkPad 2 Color with Kaleido color e-paper is shipping now. The Viva with Gallery 3 e-paper will be shipping in June and the company is going to release their flagship InkPad X Pro, which if the rumors are correct, it will be running Google Android and be an e-note. The InkPad 4 is a good ole e-reader, that retails for about $289, making it one of the best on the market. The build quality is very solid, manual page turn buttons are rare in the e-reader world and with so many supported audio, pictures and ebook formats, you can literary use this as your daily driver.
Pocketbook InkPad 4$289.99
- E INK Carta 1200 Display
- 300 PPI
- Supports many ebook and audio formats
- No SD Card
- Slow at times
- Have to sideload in almost everything
- Pocketbook Store might have some good books, but not a lot
- Primarily a European Brand
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.