Other Gadgets

Infibeam Pi 2 review - Reason enough to go digital

Mahananda Bohidar | Updated on March 12, 2018

CHENNAI, 18/03/2011: A view of Infibeam Pi-2, a new e-book reader. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

It's easily been a couple of years since the Kindles and Nooks saw the light of the day, but the e-book reader market is growing rapidly despite the onslaught of the tablet and the smartphone. The major players are making minor tweaks and changes to duplicate the experience (read pleasure) of reading a book as efficiently as possible. The Infibeam Pi was the first e-reader to be offered by an Indian company. It recently launched an upgraded version, the Infibeam Pi 2.

First impressions

The Infibeam Pi 2 (pronounced Pi Square) is a pleasant surprise with its slim form factor and near-weightlessness as compared to some other e-book readers in the market. The slim, black body houses the Power button on the top left and as you switch it on you have a matrix of options displayed for you to choose from.

Before you start playing around with the Menu, you might want to calibrate the touch screen (with the stylus lodged in the upper right corner). Once you are done with this, you are set to navigate through the e-book reader which is currently the first Indian e-book reader with touch capabilities.

The touch experience exceeded our expectations; it was smooth and accurate. Initially, the response time taken to open an e-book title or even flip from one page to another was much more than we had anticipated. However, this turned out to be just an initial hiccup as the lag was reduced considerably once we'd started using it after a full charge.

Hands on

The device itself feels like a portable e-avatar of ‘Reader's Digest' in your hands. The sleek body has a faux leather-like feel on the back panel. The fascia of the e-reader has a circular D-pad below the 6-inch screen, with two more buttons on either side of it to help you navigate through the device. At the bottom is the 3.5 mm jack, into which you can plug in a pair of headphones whenever you want to listen to audio books or music stored in the device. Next to it is the mini USB connector which you can use to charge the built-in Li-Polymer battery or transfer e-books or other media on to the device.

Our review unit came pre-loaded with a number of titles. From the long list of e-books – a collection of the top 100 titles from www.gutenberg.org - we picked ‘A Study in Scarlet' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to flag off our hands-on experience.

As we got hooked on to the novel that was the world's first acquaintance with the eccentric, cigar-smoking Brit genius, we found it easy to immerse ourselves in the plot not just due to the gripping storyline but also because the non-backlit E-ink display was easy on the eyes.

The pages loaded quickly as we swiped through the detective's workings.

The auto-rotation option was conspicuous by its absence. Every time we wanted to switch from portrait mode to landscape or vice versa we had to choose ‘Settings' and select the ‘Rotate' option.

However, what definitely came as a surprise was a pinch-to-zoom on the resistive touch screen. Albeit a little slow, the option worked quite well, saving us the bother of popping up the Menu to tweak the text size. Each time we ‘pinched' the touch screen it efficiently auto-scaled the font size.

The Infibeam Pi 2, being an e-reader of Indian make, supports e-books in a host of Indian languages. We loaded the epic ‘Devdas' by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay in Hindi. The font displayed without any errors, making this feature a great plus for avid vernacular bibliophiles.

Downloading e-books

We activated the Wi-fi option in the Infibeam Pi 2 and connected to the Infibeam web site. We looked for a couple of titles, most of which were available in digital formats for download. However, the web site does not have any free e-books for you to download which is a negative considering its competitor on the home ground – the Wink XTS – has a section full of free e-books on its virtual store.

Inbuilt apps

When you want to take a break from reading, you can jog your grey cells with the in-built Sudoku in the Pi 2. The touch experience makes the game easy to play but considering the speed (or the lack of it) at which the device processes your moves, chances are you might get bored of it sooner than you think. You also have a ‘Notebook' app in case you want to quickly jot down a couple of points but it suffers from the same issues as the game.

The Infibeam Pi 2 also has a ‘Picture' app that can display .jpeg, .bmp, .png and .gif files. We transferred a couple of digital colour photographs and the e-reader displayed them (obviously in black and white) but the 8-greyscale display doesn't really help the cause.

Performance

You can charge the Infibeam Pi 2 by plugging in the mini USB in its micro-adapter slot and once fully charged, the e-book reader easily went on for more than a week before it showed a 50 per cent drop in power; this with a little more than an hour of reading every day, pretty close to the company's claim of the battery holding out till almost 8,000 page reads.

The internal memory of the Infibeam Pi 2 is about 2GB which would let you load thousands of e-books and audio books, but if you are an even more voracious reader, there is an external SD card slot expandable up to 32GB.

The Infibeam Pi 2 supports around 15 Indian languages including Sanskrit and Hindi and a host of e-book formats - .pdf, .epub, .html, .txt, .rtf, .mobi, .prc, .doc.

The e-book reader comes with a 1-year exclusive warranty that will not come to the rescue if you happen to crack the screen.

Love: Multi-gesture touch screen, supports Indian languages

Hate: Annoying lags, no gyro-sensor

Rs 11,999

Published on March 23, 2011

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