When we reviewed the PocketBook Color last year, we loved the device and the fact that true e-readers could finally display color, but its six-inch screen made it hard to use for reading comic books and magazines which work much better on tablets. The new PocketBook InkPad Color tries to remedy that with a larger 7.8-inch screen that uses E-Ink’s next-generation color electronic paper technology.
The InkPad’s larger screen, which makes it look more like an iPad Mini and less like an Amazon Kindle, is what’s going to draw more people to color E-Ink devices because it allows documents that can’t easily be resized (change the size of text and it can reflow to fit a screen, but that’s not an option with illustrations) to be enjoyed without having to constantly zoom in and out to make text legible. On a device that’s powered by a 1 GHz process and just 1 GB of RAM, zooming and panning large documents isn’t the smoothest of experiences, so while the InkPad isn’t as pocketable as the original PocketBook Color, the actual reading experience should be much improved.
PocketBook is the first company to introduce an e-reader using E Ink’s new Kaleido 2 screen technology, but it’s not a quantum leap for color electronic paper. In black and white mode the InkPad’s screen offers a resolution of 1872×1404 pixels at 300 PPI. But in color mode, it can still only muster a third of that resolution, just 624×468 pixels at 100 PP. Color reproduction is also still limited to just 4,096 different shades, compared to the 16 million+ colors an LCD can reproduce. But according to those who’ve gone eyes on with the new InkPad, with Kaleido 2 E Ink has improved the color accuracy and saturation of the screen, while also improving the performance of the black and white mode. The changes under the hood might be minor, but they apparently make a big difference to the eyes.
Other improvements made to the new PocketBook InkPad include an upgraded color filter array (the tech that makes color electronic paper possible) that’s optimized for the device’s white LED sidelights so colors still pop while reading in the dark, and a USB-C port for charging and syncing, although documents can also be loaded using a microSD card allowing the tablet’s 16GB of internal storage to be infinitely expanded.
In North America, at least, PocketBook isn’t a brand as well known as Kindle or Kobo, but if you don’t get your e-books through online stores like Amazon or Rakuten, or mostly use these types of devices for perusing work or academic documents, it’s a brand potentially worth considering because it supports almost every digital document format imaginable: including EPUB, MOBI, CBZ, CBR, and PDFs. The InkPad also includes Bluetooth for streaming audiobooks or really any digital audio file to a pair of wireless headphones, as well as a text-to-speech function that works in 16 different languages.
The original PocketBook Color was $230, but because of the larger size and screen, the new PocketBook InkPad is slightly more expensive at $329, available now from online stores like NewEgg. We’ll be going hands-on with the tablet next week to see if the InkPad is the perfect e-reader for comic books and magazines, so keep an eye out for our full review.