DR-800 Review Page 2
The DR-800 has most of the basic features that you'd expect—bookmarking, item search and word search, screen rotation, 4 adjustable font sizes for EPUB (none for PDB).
The menu can be viewed as icons or as a list. Books sort by title, author, date added, and recently opened. There's also a folder that lists recently added material.
The iRex DR-800 has an adjustable setting for margins: none, 1/8", 1/4", and for the huge border enthusiast 1/2". This feature works fantastic for EPUB ebooks, but needs to be set on 1/8" or higher for PDB files to display properly, and doesn't work with PDF files at all.
The flipbar is unique to iRex's readers. Nudge it to turn pages. Hold in either direction for two seconds then release and it skips a few pages ahead or back. The flipbar can also be used in lieu of the stylus to move the cursor box while navigating through various menus. The direction it moves is customizable in the settings menu.
Overall, the flipbar has a good, solid feel and works well. The only drawback is that you need to use your left hand to do all the page turning. It would be nice if iRex implemented a software update that allowed for adjusting the rotation 180° so that you could switch to the right hand on occasion.
Memory and Battery
The DR-800 does not have any accessible internal memory; instead, it comes with a 2GB microSD card already installed. To access the card and battery one screw needs to be removed from the back of the device. The card is replaceable with a larger one if you prefer.
Upon arrival, the battery in the iRex is completely dead. So dead that the orange light doesn't illuminate when you first plug it in to charge. After about 20 minutes the orange light comes on to indicate that it's charging; at this point you can turn the device on to see how it works while it continues to charge.
By my experience battery life is pretty decent: 10-14 days without using wireless and around 5-10 days using wireless, depending on usage and signal strength. Charging using the AC adaptor takes about 8 hours.
Text formats: Adobe PDF and EPUB, eReader (PDB), Newspaper Direct (NP)
Images: JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, BMP
Update: The DR-800 has gotten a firmware update since this review, so make sure to read this blog post for the latest features and improvements.
There are a few key features missing from the DR-800 that keep it from being an elite ebook reader.
- Can't jump to a specified page (extremely annoying for books without TOC).
- No note-taking or highlighting.
- No dictionary.
- No web browser.
- Limited PDF functions (see below).
- Can't go back after following hyperlinks.
- Doesn't support audio.
The iRex DR-800 and PDF Files
After trying a number of different types of PDF files, it's safe to conclude that the DR-800 is underachieving in this category. The Sony PRS-900 has it beat hands down, even the PRS-600.
There are three problems with PDF files on the iRex DR-800.
- No margin cropping. There's a customizable margin setting in the menu that works excellent for EPUB ebooks but seems to have no affect on PDFs.
- No zoom.
- Landscape mode is atrocious. It fits the page by height instead of width, giving it 2-inch margins on the sides.
The above isn't necessarily a deal-breaker for viewing PDFs, quite the contrary. The screen is big enough that the text is generally legible. But again, it's definitely underachieving and could easily be much more capable with a zoom and improved landscape mode, not to mention note-taking.
The DR-800 will reflow PDF files in four different text sizes. Reflowing changes the layout and usually removes tables and images, but generally works well enough for text-based files. The best option is to get all your ebooks in EPUB format.
Additional PDF features include: text searches, table of contents, and active hyperlinks (but there's no way to go back unless you remember to set a bookmark).
While the DR-800 still has a ways to go feature-wise, it's a nice alternative for those who prefer a device with a larger screen or don't like the reduced contrast of Sony's touchscreens.
The DR-800's best qualities are its large, high-contrast Wacom touchscreen, the free wireless, its support for Adobe EPUB and PDF, and its fast page turning ability.
Compared to other wireless ereaders the iRex is priced too high, especially since it doesn't come with a cover. Both the Nook and Kindle sell for $259, and the Sony PRS-900 sells for the same price at $399 but comes with a cover, case, and has better PDF handling, note-taking, and a dictionary.
iRex has mentioned adding note-taking in the next firmware update, but if that's something that you really want now, I'd recommend not buying the device until it has the features that you want available.
- 8.1-inch E Ink Screen.
- Wacom touchscreen.
- 16 levels of grayscale.
- 768 x 1024 pixel resolution at 160 DPI.
- 4 text sizes.
- Adobe DRM compatible.
- Free 3G via Verizon's wireless network.
- Access B&N's ebook store and Newspaper Direct from ebook mall application.
- 2 GB microSD card included (1500 ebooks).
- Linux operating system.
- User replaceable battery.
- Dimensions: 7.6" tall x 5.9" wide x 0.4" thick.
- Weight: 12.6 ounces (360 grams).