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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It hurts to be an 'early adopter'.

I've now gone through two 64MB Cybook Gen3s, one EB-100, and one 512MB Cybook Gen3. (The Cybooks are from Bookeen, but only their reading application is made by Bookeen, the hardware is identical - and is from - Netronix, the maker of the EB-xxx series of e-ink ebook readers.)

One 64MB Cybook bit the dust when the screen controller and the power switch broke - this was back in January, 2008. The 512MB Cybook came to me - broken - through eBay, again with a broken screen. (The 512MB models haven't been available before June and I bought it in July.) The EB-100 - since replaced in the lineup from Netronix by the EB-600 which is the same machine except for some memory expansion - I purchased in April and broke - literally in my hands and while I was using it - just last week. Again, the screen broke.

I admit it, the first Cybook broke because it got knocked off a counter and fell to the (non-carpeted) floor in my kitchen. At that time softcover cases hadn't yet appeared for Cybooks so it had no protection. I've been mostly relying upon my EB-100 for general reading AND I've been using a leather softcover case on it in order to avoid the disaster with the first Cybook. Plus, I've gone out of my way to not drop it.

I don't know how the 512MB Cybook got it's screen broken, but I SAW the screen break on my EB-100. I had picked it up from the side table, turned it on, waited until the Library appeared, selected a novel, opened that novel. Up til that point, everything was fine. Then I pressed the 'Down' button on the navigation control and watched in stunned horror as the substrate (beneath the e-ink material) glass fractured and the display spalled in ugly disarray.

Since that fateful day my EB-100 has been sitting on my desk awaiting an RMA number and shipping instructions from Netronix to go and have the screen replaced. And I'm NOT happy about this. I've sent several emails to my personal contact as well as support@netronixinc.com and I've yet to hear back. I wonder... Did all of Taiwan shut down so the populace could watch the 2008 Olympics in Beijing?

And given all the care I've taken to protect the EB-100, and that the EB-100 and the Cybook Gen3 share hardware, I'm worried that my Cybooks will suffer the same fate. I admit that I use the Cybooks far more than most people. Not having an 8-5 job - any job for that matter - I read for 8-10 hours per day. Could the constant holding, pressing, shifting and handling be causing too much stress? Or am I simply accelerating the stress buildup that most devices would accumulate in a year under a 2-3 hour per day use rate?

Only time will tell. But if we start seeing massive numbers of screen failures in a year. Bookeen and the other manufacturers had better be prepared for an angry mob should they continue to charge as much as they currently do.

2 Comments:

Blogger Christine said...

Hi Derek.

I'm happy to see you telling the truth about the Cybook. Your truth, your experience. Too many people are defending it when clearly it's an inferior product. I find it hard to believe that anyone using this product has had no problems. I think we do potential buyers a service when we warn them of the problems we've had. Particularly considering the fact that trying to talk to the company about them gets us nowhere.

I don't think that using the device for it's intended purpose (reading) should break the thing. That would be a pretty big problem with the product if it were true. Yes? I don't think it matters how many hours you read daily. If you're not abusing it, it shouldn't break. Using it for it's intended purpose is not abuse. You bought the thing to use it to read.

My screen has recently started not refreshing correctly. Sometimes there will be shadowing and sometimes only a portion of the screen refreshes. So far this doesn't happen very often, but it makes me wonder if it's going to get progressively worse until it's unusable.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Derek A Benner said...

Christine,

I agree. Just *using* your Cybook should not cause it to fail. Unfortunately, I tend to believe that your unit *will* continue to fail - to the point that you will be forced to send it in for repairs. One of my Cybooks is in for repairs and I've *yet* to get permission to send my broken (screen) Netronix in for repairs.

I believe my next unit will be a Jinke V3 or V9 (whenever Jinke releases the V9). At least Open Inkpot is working somewhat on the Jinke and Jinke already has some support for Mobipocket ebooks.

3:58 PM  

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