The iRex 800SG: A DNF Review

imageWhen the wireless iRex was announced online, with the news that it would be available at Best Buy online an eventually in stores, I was so supremely curious. Even though the price tag is still way high, and way out of reach for most people, I ordered one thinking that if it would solve my Kindle problems, and perform the way I wanted a wireless reader to perform, it might be a better option for many.

Currently, I’m using Kindle II for most of my reading. I was using a Sony 505, but it had a very sad and unfortunate accident with the leg of a table, and half the screen doesn’t work. Plus, I have difficulties loading the content onto the 505 because I can’t always connect external devices to the computers I’m using.

I like using the wireless connectivity to load books on the Kindle. I like how light it is. I like the sticker I have on the back. I especially like that I can buy .mobi files from vendors other than Amazon and, by using Calibre’s preference set for Kindle, email those files to my device.

But I freaking HATE that I can’t organize my files. Holy crap, it makes me miserable, that hot mess of content organized by date added or date read or by author. “Most recent” could be the last file I looked at (because it arrived on the device with a name I don’t recognize) or the last file I sent (and I have to peek at it multiple times to see what it is).

So when I saw the iRex 800SG with onboard 3G wireless, along with on-board links to bookstores like Barnes & Noble, AND I found a link to a a potential hack to enable file organization, I thought, OH HO. This might work!

Alas, my impression of the IRex 800G: utter lamesauce. This is the first digital reader that I’m tempted to give a DNF review to – it’s that bad.

imageThe good alluring points:

- HUGE screen. One big screen – that’s touch enabled!

- Wireless on board!

- Potential file organization – I can’t tell you how much that file organization possibility makes me giddy in my pants.

The fail parts:

You. Can only. Use. The Stylus. To Interact. With the Screen.

Seriously. I poked at the screen, pushed the buttons on the side, looked at the back. I handed it to Hubby and asked if he could figure out how to turn the page. Both of us were all, “WTF?” Then, I realized: it wouldn’t react to my fingers or my fingernails.

Just the stylus?

Yes. Just. The stylus. The screen will only react to the stylus, and not my fingertip, as do the Sony Touch and the iPhone, and other touch-sensitive device.

No damn way. I have to hold on to the subway pole with one hand and hold a reader in the other. There’s no way I can use this practically, to say nothing of the fact that the stylus is TINY.

AND there’s no place for the stylus to be stored on the device. Just a pocket on the case. This thing is asking to get lost.

What a shame. This big huge beautiful screen, and it looks spiffy, I must say. The menu screen is very easy to read, and the available categories make sense. I used the stylus to connect to the BN.com bookstore – piece of cake. The wireless didn’t hang like some carriers tend to do in my area (*ahem* AT&T) and the menus for the store and the book navigation were not unclear. Except for turning the freaking page.

Stylus only? No, thank you. You can NOT call it a touch screen if touching it with your actual finger does nothing!

The other shame is that I couldn’t get the file organization hack to work. This may be because I am not so good at hacking a file system, despite four tries on two computers.

So I remain on the Kindle, and await the iPad to see if my retinas scream at me in rage and ire at being asked to stare at a lit LCD screen all the time. Heck, maybe the color Kindle will have file organization please for the love of all that is digitally awesome.

But alas, as much as I was super excited to try it, the iRex is not for me.

It is, indeed, “Reading at ts Finest.”

image

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    HeatherK says:

    Oh my, that stylus wouldn’t last a day around here without getting misplaced, just plain lost, carried off by the 8y/o man child who would think it’s a new stylus for his DS, or eaten by one of the dogs.

    This review of this device is why when I had nearly enough money this weekend for an iPad with hubby promising to make up the difference, I decided to pass. NO USER REVIEWS. I’ve gotten into the habit of meticulously researching any new tech, gizmo or gadget I want to purchase, and without user reviews, that leaves me with nothing but tech specs to go on and we all know how clear those things can be at times. So, I’m putting off the iPad for a year, when hubby has promised to buy me one if I still want it. I probably will, but one never knows for certain.

  2. 2

    Good review.

    BTW, what’s a “DNF review”?

  3. 3
    SB Sarah says:

    At least, with the number of pre-orders of the iPad (over 100k I think) there will be a SLEW of reviews when it comes out. I’ve ordered one, so I’ll be posting what I think. I’m less giddy about it, though, as a reading device, since, like I said, my eyeballs may hate me within an hour for making them focus on lit screen like that.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    Nate: DNF means “Did not finish,” and is for books that I don’t finish reading. This reader was so uninteresting to me, I didn’t load any books on it, or try using it for more than an hour before I put it back in the box and sent it back.

  5. 5

    Wah! Am awaiting the ereader that gets an ‘even a Luddite caveman could use it’ review. Thanks for sacrificing yourself on the altar of stylus stupidity for our bennie!

  6. 6
    HeatherK says:

    Agree with reading on the iPad, I know trying to read on my iPod Touch isn’t easy, though I plan to give it another go with the brightness turned own. But I want the iPad more as a digital notebook, portable word processor. I plan to stick to my PRS-505 for reading. I know there are other devices out there that would work for what I want, like the netbooks, but they’re Windows based and I’ve been burned way too many times by Windows crashing without warning or good reason. HATE Windows with a passion.

  7. 7

    It seems incredibility…well, chose one:
    A) shortsighted
    B) naive
    c) lazy to a point of possible shadiness*

    for a technology company to design a product that uses an interface that was cutting edge in the early 2000s. A stylus? That’s like going to a car dealership where they hand you the keys to an awesome, sleek, new model that’s perfect except for…the hand crank.

    *Did they advertise the fact that the “touch screen” has to be touched with a very specific implement? If not, that would boil my blood. I’m a mostly cheerful Apple user (I read on my iPod Touch and find the experience pleasingly adequate, though not perfect by any means) and I feel that for all their faults, they have still set the bar for usability. Apple has delivered enough on their promises of shiny magic joy that consumers now expect new products to have—if not bells and whistles—the best available components (like a proper touch screen.) Putting out a product that relies on an outmoded UI is sort of insulting. If they did so without fair warning…well that just rubs all my fur that Apple so meticulously coiffed in the way-wrong direction.

    Thanks for the Consumer-Bitch Report, Sarah.

  8. 8

    “Chose one”? Typo not my fault. My keyboard’s stylus is on the fritz.

  9. 9
    Joy says:

    Might want to check out the B&N nook. While the B&N software doesn’t actually provide wireless-everything or file organization, the ability is there due to the Android OS and the hackers at NookDevs have created an alternative package that does.  I haven’t softrooted mine yet, but it’s in my long-term plans.

  10. 10
    Brooks*belle says:

    STYLUS!!!  What technodinosaur came up with THAT idea???

    Lame.  It’d be a DNF for me too.

    I’m totally on board with you on the iPad thing—not sure my eyes will cooperate with a lit screen.  So a Kindle it is for me.  Even though my files are essentially a big wad of paperwork crammed into a virtual manila folder.

    …oh and how freaking hard would it be for them to make the Kindle password protected?!?!?!  Arrrrghhhhhh.

  11. 11
    Dottie says:

    Totally agree, stylus….no way!  I’m interested in taking a peek at the Asus ereader IF it’s ever freaking released.  The ipad has my attention because of the size and multi-functionality.  Hope it’s as good as it’s press.

  12. 12

    Wow. Total ereader fail. And the “ts” on the packaging? I don’t get it? Just a typo? Goodness!

    You don’t mention anything about pricing though. Was it expensive? Returnable guarantee?

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:

    Oops – it was $399.99 at Best Buy. I returned it and should be getting a refund to my credit card as I did so within the time limit.

    But the terms for returns are very short for refund vs. store credit, and you can’t return it to a store like you can other Best Buy stuff.

  14. 14
    Kwana says:

    That is sad. So sorry but thanks for the review.

  15. 15
    Jill Shalvis says:

    Interesting, and sad.  I’m loving the Sony 505.  The only things missing for me are the wireless capability and that i sometimes still can’t figure out which damn version I’m supposed to download, but I manage to live.

  16. 16
    Eric says:

    You didn’t prod at the buttons enough evidently…  the large bar is actually 3 buttons: left, right, and select.  You turn the page forward by tilting the bar right, backward by tilting it left, and in menus select something by pressing it.  It’s actually the most natural one-handed reader I’ve tried.  Navigating the home screen can be done with the left and right actions too, so you really only need the stylus when actually drawing on the screen

    The software has a very beta feel to it though, which is its biggest shortcoming right now.  The hardware I love.

  17. 17
    DS says:

    I have a Nokia 800n touchscreen tablet with a stylus—about the size of a ipod Touch—but at least it has a handy place to stash the stylus and the ereader program does let me turn pages with a finger tap. 

    Spamblocker:  hands97

  18. 18

    I use the DR800.  I don’t really deny or contest any of your complaints. I acknowledge that what you like is what you like.

    But I do have a another perspective:

    * One reason I chose it because it has 1 button = turn page.  That’s what I do 99% of the time when I read. I don’t type, or browse or watch videos while I read.

    * In order to accomplish the 1 button trick, you need a second way to interact with the device. A stylus/touchscreen with the resolution of the Wacom is perfect for this purpose.  You don’t accidentally interact with the touch screen when you don’t intend to, no matter how you are holding the device.  But you don’t really need to interact with the device much—I read for hours without touching the stylus.

    * Screen is great. It is big enough to read letter-size pdf. It is clear sharp and comfortable.  Yet the device is barely larger than a Kindle. DR800 has the largest ratio of screen size to device footprint around.

    * Side-loading content with USB from Windows and Linux have worked quickly and flawlessly. Simple and fast wins over network configurations and having to install desktop apps to support the device (everyone really loving those 90MB iTunes updates ever few weeks?)

    * I have bought and downloaded books from B&N. This is clunky compared to reading on the device, but not difficult.

    * Note taking is missing, but supposedly coming with an update in April.  We’ll see…

    * I purposefully chose a reader-only device. No browsers, apps, keyboards, etc.  Convergence devices must fit in my pocket (iPhone—I have and like, Swiss Army Knife—ditto)  But you don’t overhaul an engine with a swiss army knife.

    * I also chose a reader that is not vertically integrated (single-source for device, content, desk top apps, web sites) because I wanted to maintain choices for content and interactions with my other computing environments.

  19. 19
    Maisey Yates says:

    I have a Kindle 2 and now a Sony 505. The organization on the Sony is cool, but I much prefer the feel of the Kindle. I can forgive my Kindle for it’s disorganized ways because…well…I’m disorganized.

    People always tell me I need a wallet so that I can keep my purse from turning into a nightmare of lost debit cards and wads of receipts. Problem with that? I would have to use the wallet. Which I would. For one day. Then everything would get thrown into the main part again as I hurried through checkout at stores with children screaming at me about wanting toys and candy.

    Love me. Love my mess. Love my Kindle…well, I must love its messy pile ‘o books too.

  20. 20
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I especially like that I can buy .mobi files from vendors other than Amazon and, by using Calibre’s preference set for Kindle, email those files to my device.

    I wish this worked in reverse (it doesn’t, does it?).

    And I’m feeling you on the files thing. The Mobipocket Reader said that the new update had files, but I can’t figure out where or how . . .

  21. 21
    Lily says:

    I consider myself a physical book purist, but this weekend I reached my storage limits and just can’t let another book in this house – there is nowhere to put it, I’ve got books coming out my ears and am headed for firetrap territory.  So I started researching ereaders even though I was adamantly opposed to the idea up to last week.  The Kindle 2 screen looks too small to me, the Kindle DX is bigger but as expensive as the new iPad that does more, and I so need to be able to buy my books from Amazon because I can’t be trusted to remember what the hell I’ve already bought and read and they can tell me.  So I broke down and pre-ordered an iPad with the hope that Amazon plays nice with the Apple people so I can read Kindle stuff on it.  I hope I’m not disappointed and that I don’t go nuts with the LCD readout and short battery life.

  22. 22
    SB Sarah says:

    @ Eric:

    You didn’t prod at the buttons enough evidently…  the large bar is actually 3 buttons: left, right, and select.  You turn the page forward by tilting the bar right, backward by tilting it left, and in menus select something by pressing it.  It’s actually the most natural one-handed reader I’ve tried.

    That is really interesting and makes me ponder whether my model was defective. I prodded those buttons like buttons that needed prodding. I love the one-handed reading options for most of the digital readers I’ve tried that had them. It’s definitely a key feature for me personally as I ride subways.

    @Scott: You and I are remarkably similar. I don’t really want a multifunction reader, either. Reading is the only time of my day where I’m only doing one thing, and want something that allows me to read, and that’s all.

    Simple and fast wins over network configurations and having to install desktop apps to support the device (everyone really loving those 90MB iTunes updates ever few weeks?)

    LORD HAVE MERCY that is driving me NUTS, yes.

  23. 23
    Ridley says:

    If anyone cockblocks Kindle reading on the iPad, it’ll be Apple, not Amazon.

    I find Apple products really hard to use. I’ve grown up with PCs, so I think Apple’s “there’s only one way to use this device, so let me get that for you” design model just bugs me. iTunes has made me want to put my fist through a wall like ZOMG. Nothing about the iPad thrills me.

    Currently I use the Sony PRS-600. It’s not perfect – the screen picks up glare from incandescent and CFL lights, though it’s great in sunlight and under my Ott lamp – but it does everything I want an ereader to do. Five font sizes, bookshelves, e-ink, USB (curse Apple’s proprietary nonsense, it’s USB or GTFO), ac adapter, epub support, touchscreen, expandable memory and not too heavy.

    I’m holding onto Mavis, as I’ve named her, until full color e-ink or similar comes out so I can read graphic novels as well. LCD doesn’t thrill me.

  24. 24
    Lynette says:

    Sort of off topic queston, sorry: Can someone link me to how you can get your Kindle using the .mobi files using Calibre?

  25. 25
    Wendy says:

    Great review. I’m curious about one thing, though: does size really matter? (Ooo-er missus!) No, really.

    A lot of the feedback I read about e-book readers (including this review) mentions the size of the screen, and bigger seems to be better. I confess, I don’t understand the preference for a large device with a screen that holds as much text as a mass-market paperback page. I like that my iPhone is so compact. I like that it does more than just show me books, too. As for screen size… well, the font is adjustable, as is the contrast (white on black for reading in the dark), and if you can turn a page with a light touch, does it really matter how many times you have to do it? (I will readily admit that a book on the iPhone has way more pages than a print copy of the same book, how does that work on Kindle and Sony, et al.?)

    Curiously,
    Wendy

  26. 26
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I’m curious about one thing, though: does size really matter?

    I think this is going to be a personal preference issue. I recently downsized from a 6” screen (CyBook) to a 5” screen (CyBook Opus) and I couldn’t be happier. The Opus is the smallest and lightest reader on the market, and that was of prime importance to me.

  27. 27
    Lisa J says:

    @ Kalen Hughes – I have a Sony 505 which I love, but my dad is looking for a reader and I have been looking at the Opus for him.  do you really like it?  Doesit handle PDF files well?  It appears to have expandable memory (which is one of the reasons I love my 505) which he really wants, plus the price is right.

  28. 28
    MaryK says:

    Nothing to say, just getting email comments.

  29. 29
    Brooks*belle says:

    I’m curious about one thing, though: does size really matter?

    I think this is going to be a personal preference issue. I recently downsized from a 6” screen (CyBook) to a 5” screen (CyBook Opus) and I couldn’t be happier. The Opus is the smallest and lightest reader on the market, and that was of prime importance to me.

    I have a Kindle 1 and I do wish the screen was a wee bit bigger.  I’m a fast reader and wish I didn’t have to flip the page so often.  (I read at the size 2 font—second smallest).

    I can barely tolerate reading on my iPod touch—that screen is way to small for my taste.

  30. 30
    Andrys says:

    Sarah, I agree re the lack of folders etc.  The customer support team announced on their forums and on their area at Facebook that they’re doing a special update for Kindles that will provide file organization and said it’d be ready before summer.

    Lynette,
      .MOBI or .prc files will work fine by just moving them to the “documents” folder of the Kindle via the USB cable.  Calibre’s not needed for that.  But if you need to use Calibre for additional book mgmt on your computer, then you should contact Calibre support. 

      – Andrys

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