What Is an iRex Digital Reader, and How Does It Work?

What is an iRex Digital Reader, and how does it work?

The iRex Digital Reader, aimed at the businessman or business professional, is a feature-packed alternative to the Amazon Kindle.As a matter of fact, the iRex Digital Reader is the only other eBook reader I’d want after the latest version of the Kindle.

The iRex Digital Reader is as small as the newer versions of the Kindle without losing many of the features.

The Good Points

The iRex’ newest version has an 8.1 inch touch screen (that’s right — touchscreen functionality) that uses the same E Ink tech that other eBook readers use (it makes text look nicer on the screen). It is Linux-based which makes it extremely open ended for programmers to develop apps and other features.

The iRex reader I had my hands on feels less like it has a plastic housing — there’s none of that “flimsy” feel that the Kindle has, that disalarmingly cheap feeling. The makers of iRex claim that they have industry leading manufacturing and that their screen (which admittedly does have a silky feel to it) is the new industry standard. That screen — described as a touchscreen by the way — is only really activated by touch from a stylus, so that “touchscreen” feature should probably be downgraded slightly in terms of value.

Still, the iRex has some features that the Kindle can’t touch, like built-in access to library collections and special periodicals downloadable over 3G Internet.

The Bad Points

Obviously, a device that has some features that the leading device can’t brag about is going to cost a little more. The new iRex device retails for just under $400, and I’m not sure the device warrants this extreme price.

For one thing, the iRex uses the same library as the Nook — and we know from experience that is a limited library. They don’t have nearly the title range that the Kindle boasts, and many big name books (even bestsellers) are not available.

Yes, the iRex is faster than the Kindle at page-turning, but you lose a little bit in the crystal clear quality of the Kindle’s text and screen.

It isn’t worth bragging about the fact that your device accepts documents in the ePub format (a big boon for people concerned about intellectual property freedom) when you can’t get the latest John Grisham thriller because your device isn’t compatible.

In conclusion, I have to say that the iRex’s short battery life (24 hours compared to in the 40s for newer Kindles) means it is aimed at a less book-crazy audience than Amazon’s famous eBook reader. Professionals who need access to periodicals for a quick glance or who read in short bursts (say on an airplane or in a waiting room) will benefit from the iRex’s quicker speeds and won’t mind missing out on certain titles.

This is one in a series of posts we’ve written about various eBook readers. Some of the other posts in the series include: