Pocketbook 360 Plus Review

Overview

The Pocketbook 360 Plus is a new and improved version of the earlier Pocketbook 360. The Pocketbook 360 Plus is fairly small with a 5" screen which has an eInk display (Vizplex). The device has Wi-Fi connectivity and some other features such as a calendar and a dictionary. The Pocketbook 360 Plus is ideal for travelling due to its smaller 5" screen and cover, making it easier to transport the reader with the knowledge that the device is safe and will not be damaged.

pocketbook 360 picture

Hardware and Features

New and updated processor and twice expanded operating memory (RAM). Not only this but the speed of page turns is extremely fast and almost twice what the predecessor (Pocketbook 360) had. One amazing feature of the Pocketbook 360 Plus is that the processor used is fast enough to run the 3D video game 'Doom' therefore the performance for viewing documents is incredibly efficient. The Pocketbook 360 Plus also has built-in wireless connectivity and web browser meaning that the user can not only browse web pages but download books whilst on the move. The memory of the in-built storage on the device is impressive, with enough room to store around 4000 books, not only this but the Pocketbook 360 Plus has SD card slots, allowing the memory to be expanded up to a massive 32 GB meaning the user can store whatever they wish on the device. The high resolution eInk Vizplex screen provides the user with a clear and crisp image and no glare on the screen, meaning the Pocketbook 360 Plus can be read even in direct sunlight.

On one single charge the reader lasts for 8,000 page turns, around ten books, meaning that the user can rely on the reader and doesn't have to worry about charging the device all the time. The Pocketbook 360 Plus has everything needed to get started straight away and does not necessarily need to be connected to another computer in order to run. BookLand.net is the library by the manufacturers Pocketbook, making it easy and convenient to find and download books for the device.

Specifications (Of the Device)

Screen: 5" Vizplex eInk 16 shade grey scale display – This allows the reader to be able to view the display even in direct sunlight, not only this but the eInk display conserves battery life of the Pocketbook 360 Plus as battery is only consumed when a page is turned.

Memory: 2GB in-built, SD memory card slot (expandable up to 32GB) – The built-in memory on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is fairly large with 1.4 GB being accessible to the user and the ability to expand the memory of the reader means that users do not have to worry about running out of space on the device.

Connectivity: Wi-Fi – This allows the user to connect the Pocketbook 360 Plus to the internet whenever there is a Wi-Fi connection available, this could be at home, out and about or in popular public places such as café's.

Battery Life: 1 month (8000 page turns) – This is the battery life of the Pocketbook 360 Plus when wireless connections are disabled, this is a long time and allows the reader to read up to 10 books.

Supported Formats: UB DRM, PDF DRM, HTML, DJVU, RTF, TXT, PRC, CHM, DOC, TCR, FB2, FB2.ZIP, - This are the formats listed in the technical specs for the Pocketbook 360 Plus however it can also support graphic files such as JPG and GIF.

OS: Linux

Hardware: 533 MHZ Samsung Processor, 128 MB RAM - This allows the The Pocketbook 360 Plus to run extremely fast and also store temporary information, allowing the device to browse the web fairly quickly.

What's in the Box?

The Pocketbook 360 Plus comes packaged in a fairly simple black and green cardboard box with an image of the device pictured on the front of the box. The lid of the box flips up to reveal the Pocketbook 360 Plus presented to the user, it is packaged fairly well and is secured in place with the additional protection of a polyester style material wrapped around the reader, and therefore there are no worries about the reader getting damaged in the post! Underneath the cardboard insert which holds the Pocketbook 360 Plus is the USB 2.0 cable, used to connect the device to the computer in order to charge and also to transfer files on to the reader. There is also the standard warranty for the product and a quick start guide/manual to help the user get the reader up and running. Disappointingly the Pocketbook 360 Plus does not come with an AC adaptor to charge the device from the mains, meaning the only way to charge without paying extra for an adaptor is to connect the device to a computer.

Pocketbook 360 Vs...

How does the Pocketbook 360 Plus compare to other readers on the market?

Pocketbook 360 Plus vs. Kindle 3

The Pocketbook 360 Plus was released in May 2011, and is therefore very new on the market, as a result it can be compared to many of the other readers on the market which have similar features. One of the most popular readers around which the Pocketbook 360 Plus will have to compete with is the Kindle3 (read our Amazon Kindle 3 review), which is slightly older than the Pocketbook 360 Plus however is much more expensive. There are some similarities between the devices, some which the Pocketbook 360 Plus handles better than the Kindle 3, and vice versa. Firstly the inclusion of wireless connectivity, this is one of the most sought after features on modern reading devices as it gives the user much more freedom. Both of the readers support Wi-Fi connectivity and because of the high speed processor on the Pocketbook 360 Plus the reader can handle this well and browses the web at a good speed. The Kindle 3 also fulfils this role very well and is something that Amazon have been including in their Kindle range for a while now. In terms of speed the Pocketbook 360 Plus and the Kindle 3 are on a par. There is however one difference between the devices when it comes to connectivity and in this case is the fact that the Amazon also supports 3G on the Kindle with their own 3G connection available free to users.

In terms of display quality and screen size the two readers are fairly close cut. The Kindle 3 has a standard screen size of 6" whereas the Pocketbook 360 Plus has a slightly smaller 5" screen. There are advantaged for both sizes of screen, as surprisingly, the inch makes the difference and is definitely noticeable. The 5" screen featured on the Pocketbook 360 Plus makes the device much smaller than the Kindle 3, not only this but as the device does not include a QWERTY keypad, the Pocketbook 360 Plus is much less bulkier than the Kindle 3, this makes the reader much more portable and may be a massive advantage to users who are planning to keep the device with them a majority of the time. On the other hand the Kindle 3 offers the 6" screen which is slightly bigger and some people prefer this to a smaller screen as they find the larger screen easier to read from. The choice is ultimately preference, and therefore if you really don't want a smaller screen then the Pocketbook 360 Plus is probably not the right reader for you. If portability is important to you however then the Pocketbook 360 Plus is perfect as it is one of the smallest readers on the market, specifically as it does not have a QWERTY keypad to make use for, in terms of portability this is an advantage. However the lack of a QWERTY keypad means that it can be hard for the user to locate files on the device and also makes it hard to browse the web as it can be hard to try and key in what the user is looking for.

Pocketbook 360 Plus vs. Sony PRS 350

Another reader on the market which is very popular amongst consumers is the Sony PRS Pocket Edition (read our Sony PRS 350 review), this is the reader that is most comparable to the Pocketbook 360 Plus. As the names suggest, both of the readers are fairly small, featuring 5" screens. In terms of quality the screens used are exactly the same, using an eInk Vizplex display. This allows the reader to view the reader in direct sunlight without a glare that will obscure the user's vision. Not only this but the use of an eInk display conserves battery as it only consumes battery every time a page is refreshed. The only problem with the Sony Pocket Edition is that it features a touchscreen. As the Sony Pocket Edition was released a fair while back, the most up to date technology in terms of touch screen was a layer over the screen which allows the touch interface. There are some problems with this, as although the touch screen on the Sony Pocket Edition is fairly responsive to the users touch, it also causes a glare in direct sunlight which can make it difficult for the user to read what is on the screen.

In terms of supported formats the Pocketbook 360 Plus supports much more than the Sony Pocket Edition and also has the facility for expandable memory. This is an extremely useful feature for the user as the worst thing is buying a device just for the memory to fill up extremely quickly. I find this a massive problem for the Sony Pocket Edition due to the fact that the purpose of a reader is to read books, and as there are constantly new books being released it is a case of more and more files being available to users that they want to store on their readers, therefore the user will never run out of content. The most desirable feature of having SD slots on a reader like the Pocketbook 360 Plus has is the fact that the reader can in effect have unlimited memory, although the memory is expandable up to 32GB (which is still a massive amount) the user can easily buy more than one memory card and store their files over a range of cards which can be easily swapped around.

The one advantage of the Sony Pocket Edition is the touch interface, due to this choice the Sony has an on screen touch keyboard which makes it much easier for the user to interact and search for certain titles. Unfortunately it is fairly wasted on the Sony Pocket Edition as the device does not have Wi-Fi or the ability to browse the web and therefore the reader will only require the user to input text if they are searching for a certain title. It is a shame that the Pocketbook 360 Plus does not have the same interface as it would be extremely useful for the user to have this interaction to browse the web as the interface on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is fairly slow and does affect the overall browsing experience for the user. Another disadvantage for the Sony Pocket Edition is that the battery life is quoted at around two weeks, much less than the 1 month (8000 pages) that the Pocketbook 360 Plus allows its user, this is of course off one single charge.

The Sony Pocket Edition and the Pocketbook 360 Plus do not have any audio playback on the devices, a feature seen in other readers on the market, however I do find this odd, particularly as the Pocketbook 360 Plus is a newer reader, simply because it has seemed like such a popular feature on other devices, however the exclusion of this feature does mean that there can be more concentration on other aspects of the device and also means that the battery life on the reader will be much longer as audio playback is detrimental to battery life of the reader, as is Wi-Fi.

In terms of design the two readers are very different. The Sony Pocket Edition uses aluminium to make up the body of the device, and can be purchased in both pink and silver for this particular edition of the PRS range. This is a nice touch and allows the user to personalise it by colour preference, however I do feel that the choices of colour are limited and do seem fairly sexist. A trait which continues through to the design options for the Pocketbook 360 Plus which offers both white and black, I find both of these colours neutral and applicable to all audiences, however the Pocketbook 360 Plus has cover which features patterns, the white has a swirly design on the cover and the black has a series of squares embossed on the case, this yet again is personal preference and the designs do look nice however it would have been better if the Pocketbook 360 Plus has been kept plain as it seems to limit consumers to ideals. The material used to make the Pocketbook 360 Plus is plastic and in more ways than one is much more practical than the aluminium that the Sony Pocket Edition uses. Firstly the metal used on the Sony reader is likely to scratch and wear very easily, unlike the tough plastic that is used on the Pocketbook 360 Plus. Although the Pocketbook 360 Plus feels sturdy and well-built, the reader does not feel as strong as the Sony Pocket Edition, which is also surprisingly light. In design aspects the two products are hard to compare as ultimately it is personal preference that will decide. It is nice that both of the readers have options however.

Connectivity

The Pocketbook 360 Plus has built in wireless connection. This was to be expected of the reader due to its current release. Connectivity on the reader is fairly important as it gives the user much more freedom, allowing them to download files to their device when they are out and about, also giving the user the option to browse the web as the Pocketbook 360 Plus has a built in web browser. The built-in web browser on the Pocketbook 360 Plus isn't that strong and this may be down to the fact that is has not been developed much yet. With the Pocketbook 360 Plus manufacturers promising new firmware downloads in the future it is hoped that this will be improved in future upgrades for the device, which is something that all users can look forward to them. In terms of speed the web runs fine and the processor can easily deal with downloading and browsing, it is the viewing of pages which is the problem as users end up with a mess of graphics and words. In terms of PC Software there isn't any specifically developed for the Pocketbook 360 Plus. Freeware such as Calibre can be downloaded which is compatible with the Pocketbook 360 Plus, other than that the reader works as a mass storage system by simply connecting the device to the computer and dragging and dropping files on to the reader.

Supported File Formats

The technical specifications for the Pocketbook 360 Plus lists UB DRM, PDF DRM, HTML, DJVU, RTF, TXT, PRC, CHM, DOC, TCR, FB2, and FB2.ZIP as the supported formats on the device. This is a huge range of files and as a result, most books will be supported on the Pocketbook 360 Plus. The Pocketbook 360 Plus also supports graphics on the reader such as JPG and GIF so that the reader can see graphics on web pages they may be browsing and also so that they can view book covers on the device. This works well due to the 16 shade grey scale on the device which shows images in a fair amount of detail. The Pocketbook 360 Plus does not support audio files as is seen on many other devices in the current market and there is not much hope that this will change in future firmware upgrades due to the fact that there is no headphone jack on the device.

Memory

The memory on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is definitely a strong point of the device. The internal memory on the device is 2GB, which leaves 1.4GB accessible to the user. This is a massive amount and will store a good amount of books, a couple of thousand to be exact, which is more than likely more than enough. Not only this but the Pocketbook 360 Plus has SD memory card slots so that the user can purchase an SD memory card in order to expand their memory. The device allows for storage to be expanded by up to 32GB however this can in theory be unlimited as the user can easily buy more than one memory card and swap them around as and when they please.

Battery Life

The battery life on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is quotes at around a month, and to be more exact, 8000 pages off one single charge. This is a fairly decent amount of battery and means that the user can rely on the device and not have to worry about charging the device all the time. These quotes are for the Pocketbook 360 Plus when the Wi-Fi is disabled and as a result when the connectivity on the device is enabled the battery life will be less than quoted. This is the case in any reader that supports wireless connectivity and the only way to solve this problem is to control the connections sensibly, for example making sure that the Wi-Fi connection is disabled when not in use so that it is not running down the battery for no reason. Other than this 8000 pages is a vast amount and it is nice that the Pocketbook 360 Plus gives an accurate description of battery life so that the users know exactly what they are getting when they purchasing the device.

Screen Quality

The display used on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is an eInk Vizplex display. In general, eInk screens are very popular in the market due to the fact that they are the screens that most closely resemble paper and therefore are perfect for an e-reading device. In terms of the Pocketbook 360 Plus the Vizplex display that is used is not actually the newest model with most other readers on the market using eInk pearl displays now. There is not much difference between the two and both offer a lengthened battery life as they are not backlit and therefore only consume battery life when the page is refreshed, which in practice is every time a page is turned. Not only that but they both allow the reader to use the device in direct sunlight. Just like the eInk pearl display the Vizplex used on the Pocketbook 360 Plus has a 16 shade grey scale which allows the user to view graphics in a fair bit of detail. Much more detail than seen on an 8 shade grey scale which is used on the Cybook Gen 3. In terms of size the Pocketbook 360 Plus is much smaller than other readers on the market with the standard screen size of an eReader being around 6". This has its advantages and disadvantages as it makes the reader much more portable but can be a nuisance to those who prefer to read from a larger screen.

Build Quality and Design

The design of the Pocketbook 360 Plus is not the best that has ever been done however it does have some nice touches. Aesthetically the reader is fairly pleasing, the choice of ivory or black means that the user gets to personalise the reader slightly by choosing the colour of their choice, both of the colours look nice. The build of the reader is strong and has some good practical design features. For example the cover that comes with the readers, not only does this add to the visuals of the device as it is embossed with patterns that add some decoration to what would otherwise be a fairly boring device. The practical side of this is that the Pocketbook 360 Plus can be transported easily without the worry of any damage happening to the screen as the cover protects this. The one floor in the design of the Pocketbook 360 Plus is the fact that there is no keypad for the device which would have improved the performance of the device as it would allow the reader to interact with the device much easier, particularly when browsing the web as the interface on the Pocketbook 360 Plus is fairly poor and can take a few attempts to get right.

The Good

The Pocketbook 360 Plus has its strong points, as does any reader. Firstly the portability of the device is amazing, as the name states, the reader really could be carried around in the users pocket. The smaller screen and the lack of a QWERTY keypad means that the Pocketbook 360 Plus is much less bulkier than some of its competitors. Not only this but the cover that comes with the Pocketbook 360 Plus stops the reader getting damaged when in transition, always nice when on other readers this would be an added cost. Which brings me on to the second advantage of the Pocketbook 360 Plus, which compared to other readers such as the Sony PRS range and also the Kindle range by Amazon is much lower, yet still provides all the same features that the other readers offer, this is always an advantage as most of the time money will be the deciding factor on goods such as e-readers, which are not necessities. Lastly the processor that is seen in the Pocketbook 360 Plus is far more superior to any other reader on the market which really is an advantage as it means that the device runs extremely well and will not struggle to support files or the internet browsing on the device, making the Pocketbook 360 Plus a very efficient device.

The Bad

Like any other reader the Pocketbook 360 Plus also has its disadvantages, for starters the reader has a poor web browser, particularly when in comparison to other readers on the market such as the Kindle 3, however this is not the worst thing in the world, browsing the web is far from a pleasurable experience on the Pocketbook 360 Plus. Firstly the web browser turns the page that the user is viewing into a jumble of words and graphics, in addition to this, actually searching for information on the internet is a nightmare simply due to the fact that there is no easy way to type text into the Pocketbook 360 Plus. It has been one of the biggest complaints and does make me wish that the Pocketbook 360 Plus had included a QWERTY keypad or a touch screen interface so that the user would be able to navigate their way around the device much easier. Another downside of the Pocketbook 360 Plus is the fact that there is no audio playback, which has been seen on many other devices, although this is not a necessity there is the fact that most other readers hold this feature, in addition to this it can be useful when in public in order to block out surrounding noises so that the user can concentrate on their reading.

The Bottom Line

For the price of the reader the Pocketbook 360 Plus really is a good investment. In terms of reading books on the device, there is the support for most of the books on the market. To add to this, the memory on the device is much large than would be needed, and this means that there is the scope to store an unbelievable amount on the reader. The Pocketbook 360 Plus really is a good value for money device and although it lacks some features such as audio playback like other readers, the positive of the reader really outweighs the negatives on the device. Not only this but the design is not too bad, there is some choice and the reader is extremely portable.

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PocketBook 360 Plus

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