Looks like some intrepid eBay sellers are taking advantage of eBook popularity. They’re repackaging old iPAQ PDAs and selling them as “eBook Readers”. While it sounds like a great deal (“Look! An eBook Reader for $60!), it’s really not.
The language in the seller listing is VERY misleading if you don’t know your way around the ebook world. Check this bit out:
Q – What is the deal with ebook formats?
Ebooks are stored in computer files. The problem is that some ereaders use one type of file, while others use a different type entirely. That is why we provide several reader programs, so we can cover the widest possible range of ebook types.
Another problem is that some types of ebooks do not look right on anything other than a full size computer screen. For example, pdf files look great on a computer monitor but are not made to be viewed on a mobile device. Although we include software to allow you to read these types of ebooks, we have a better solution. We also include free software to let you convert to a different ebook format. This only takes a few seconds and makes for a much more enjoyable reading experience.
Q – Why should I buy your ebook reader instead of, for example, the Kindle?
A – All machines have pros and cons. We would point out the following factors:
Price – we are much less expensive. Other machines start at around $189.00 and go up from there.
Versatility – with most readers you are stuck with one or two functions only. Our ebook readers are incredibly versatile, and if you are willing to learn, you can literally use it as a mini – computer and use the thousands of available programs to run your business or your life. You can even program it to work as a remote control for your TV or other devices.
Screen – Brilliant color screen with backlighting. No backlighting on Kindle or Sony ereaders. Try reading in the dark to see what we mean!
Portability – Our ereader can fit in a large pocket.
Compatibility – our ereader can read more types of ebooks than anyone else.
All this is technically true, but they don’t address a few important points. Namely, digital rights management compatibility on an older Windows Mobile PDA is limited to eReader and Mobipocket formats. That means those Kindle and Sony books won’t be readable without hackery like DRM-stripping. Of course, battery life is not going to be great on a PDA either.
If you are very comfortable with both computers and ebooks, these aren’t a bad deal. My concern is that for someone who does not know ebooks well, this will likely be a waste of money. The whole listing is written as though someone was thinking “Oh, I’d like a Kindle” and thought they’d comparison shop with a random PDA instead. It feels super scummy, even if it is on the level.
If someone came to me and wanted the cheapest ebook reader they could find, I’d suggest something more modern. For example, a Jetbook Lite can be found for $129.99 at Newegg. And if they really want color, there’s always a refurbished for $169.99 (and probably cheaper if you hunt eBay). Yes, both of these options are far more than $60, but you get what you pay for!