eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers: A Sucker’s Bargain?

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.

And finally:
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 iPod Touch 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!

Via The Digital Reader

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

6 Comments on "eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers: A Sucker’s Bargain?"

  1. erinlindsey524 | March 28, 2010 at 4:23 pm |

    I’ve had two of those PDA’s from HP IPAQ. One died on me (under warranty! yay!) and I ended up getting a new one that I still have (it’s 2yrs old now)

    I absolutely HATE reading on my IPAQ. I use it on vacations so that I can check the news on the free wifi that a lot of hotels have…probably wont do that anymore now that I have an iPod Touch and an Acer netbook that I can take with me. (I love my Touch…works way better than my IPAQ ever did!)

    I use the Kindle app on my Touch, but I dont really care much for reading with it. It’s backlit and irritates my eyes. I prefer my Kindles (K1 and K2) for reading ebooks.

    Not sure what I’ll do with my IPAQ PDA now that it’s becoming a bit obsolete to me…(sell it on eBay as an e-reader?? just kidding!!)

  2. [blog] eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers: A Sucker's Bargain … http://bit.ly/bZG4s3

  3. eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers A Sucker's Bargain … http://tinyurl.com/yldmec8

  4. LOL!

    Seriously, though…depending on what iPAQ model it is you might get some money for it on ebay. There’s demand for PDAs among people who hate cell phones, but there’s very few PDAs to choose from…

    Of course, if it’s an older model, you could always use it as a drink coaster. Makes for an interesting conversation piece if nothing else!

  5. eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers: A Sucker's Bargain …: Looks like some intrepid eBay sellers are tak… http://bit.ly/djPAAV

  6. eBay Sellers Offering PDAs as eBook Readers: A Sucker's Bargain …: Looks like some intrepid eBay sellers are tak… http://bit.ly/cK5dIC

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