The jetBook from Ectaco.

The jetBook is a charming little machine from Ectaco.

These guys suggest the jetBook is the newest generation of handhelds and is an example of eBooks finally coming of age. While I think it’s still a little early to call that one, it is a sharp looking device.

jetBook eBook Reader

jetBook Reader

First of all, the price is similar at $299.00 and is in the range of most devices on the market. Still pricey, though I have to say I do like the available color/shades and its got fun, stylish lines.

Mac and Windows-based PC compliant, the jetBook e-Book Reader supports .txt, .pdf and .jpg file formats. The jetBook also supports books in the new and popular Linux-based .fb2 format. Click here for an overview  or here to visit the fb2 site.

It comes with translating dictionaries installed, which I think is a cool development. I mean, what’s next? That little whirring do-hickey that Dr. McCoy used to check your blood alcohol level?

With USB hookup for eBook file transfer, and 112MB internal memory expandable to 2GB SD card for “thousands more books” the jetBook looks like it answers most of the questions I’ve ever had about eBooks Readers.

They boast its high contrast TFT (5-INCH VGA MONOCHROME REFLECTIVE-TYPE TFT LCD) display runs at a much faster refresh rate than screens using e-ink. They also provide a fairly detailed comparison chart between the jetBook, Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle right here. (I’d like to see more of this, yah? Especially if these Readers are taking so long to get into the shops for us to play with… (I’m telling you guys, these things sell themselves!)

There doesn’t appear to be any exclusive jetBook eBook library deal you have to make with Ectaco (ala Kindle or Sony) and they say they’ve got 500,000 titles that are available for FREE. Either they’ve discovered the Library at Alexandria or they’ve got some complicated copyright deals going on–perhaps through an offshore account. That remains to be investigated, but they claim all titles are free.

They’ve built an Mp3 player in for audio files, etc. and I’m starting to think that this is the fly in the ointment for eBook Reader designers. How much do we want an eBook Reader to do? Do we want it to receive email, telephone calls and play video too? They’re trying to invent the next iPod, and that’s tough. Especially when you know the winning design will become the standard–and make someone millions of dollars.

And you can see why it’s a tough job. When you consider that with the onset of new devices on the market, iPods, phones, cameras, etc. we’ll soon need a utility belt like Batman’s to lug the gear around. Likewise, if they’re going to keep loading up the individual devices with crossover functions, i.e. it’s a phone, music player, camera and moustache trimmer, we’re going to need advanced degrees in engineering to operate the damn things.

It’s an exciting time in eBook development, yah!

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