In the Philippines, ebook readers haven’t yet achieved the popularity of cell phones. But that might soon change. CDR-King, a popular one-stop media and gadget seller in the Philippines, has come up with its own version of an ebook reader which is functional, looks good, and best of all, dirt-cheap.
Input and Output Functions
Like typical ebook readers, the CDR-King Ebook is designed mainly for output, which means it is not intended to be used to type text or edit files, except to delete them from the memory. It does have a sound recording function, which you can use to record your voice or whatever noise there is around you. The microphone device is at the bottom where the tiny left hole is when you flip the ebook on its back (the other hole is for resetting the device). But basically, what the CDR-King ebook does very well is to display ebook files in PDF and other typical ebook formats, as well as image files typically viewed on computers and the Internet. Files can be uploaded from a computer via a USB data cable. The navigation system segregates the files into books, music, pictures, and video, with options for specific file categorization and functions like Record and Calendar (which includes clock settings).
Ebook Page Viewing
The 7-inch-wide screen of the CDR-King Ebook is satisfying enough for the user to view PDFs that are ideally designed and formatted (using wide margins) to be viewed on an ebook reader. For book text layouts that are either too wide or too small for the screen, a little tweaking of the alignment and magnification level is necessary, although this can be somewhat annoying every time you turn the page. The controls for manipulating the pages may take time to get used to, but all the page adjustments are designated to the pair of buttons on the left and right sides of the frame. Note that clicking these buttons do create a distracting sound which can be audible in a quiet room.
Ebook Reader Navigation
Access to files is managed using the buttons below the screen (if the ebook is set in a vertical position). There’s a Back button which is used like the one on our cell phones, an “M” button for Viewing and play settings, an “Enter” button (which doubles as a layout format rotator), a Play button, a Home button (takes the user to the main menu), and a Magnify button (used together with the screen display). There are three levels of magnification for your viewing needs.
CDR-King Ebook Audio, Music, and Videos
Apart from PDFs and other standard ebook files, the CDR-King Ebook can also play sound and video files. Thus, the MP3s and MP4s that you enjoyed listening to and viewing on your old iPod may be given a second life as background music while you read an ebook. This way, you can add your own soundtrack of choice to whatever it is your reading. If for example, it’s a new Star Wars novel, then you can play the soundtrack of the movie while you read a chapter or two. If reading is not to your liking for some reason, then you can listen to audiobooks instead of just using the ebook for text and image output.
The two-gigabyte-storage that comes with the CDR-King Ebook is enough for a basic playlist that can already provide several hours of satisfying reading and listening time. If you wish, you can even upload a complete feature film, but then you will have to erase everything else. High definition files, of course, will occupy more space, so it makes sense to upload lower resolution video files. The drawback is that you will not be able to enjoy the crisp, colorful, and detailed images (moving or still) that are possible with the CDR-King Ebook. If you wish to add to the CDR-King Ebook’s capacity, you must insert an extra SD card into the prescribed slot.
If you become tired of playing your usual audiovisual files, you may switch to radio mode. But unlike with sound files, the CDR-King Ebook does not allow the radio to play if you’re reading an ebook. Note that while the speakers of the ebook are stereo-capable, their output is only comparable to that of the tin-can type even if you set the equalizer feature to maximize the bass. With the earphones however, the sound is amazingly crisp and full.
Ports and Ebook Binder
The cable ports of the CDR-King Ebook are at the bottom. This seems alright, but when you try to use the ebook with headphones or earphones attaches, it’s a different story. Cables at the bottom simply make it difficult to handle the ebook if you’re lying in bed. You simply cannot place the ebook on your tummy because the wire gets in the way.
Apart from poor placement of the ports, the black binder of the CDR-King Ebook also gives its share of problems. The binder, which has a magnetic lock and metal holders (covered with faux leather) to keep the ebook in place, could use some redesigning. It opens up like a regular book, but if you have the screen view in horizontal mode, the cover gets in the way and you will have a hard time reading in a sitting or lying down position. The overside flap that locks the binder also gets in the way of the screen. It would have been better if it’s attached to the underside. The binder of the CDR-King Ebook actually looks good and contrasts well against the paper-white frame of the device. But if the ebook is in the binder, you will not be able to charge it because the port that accepts the charging cable will be blocked by one of the metal holders. Considering all the design imperfections, the best way to solve the problems with the binder is to simply remove it if it gets in the way of your enjoyment of the ebook.
Power and Charging
On a full charge, the box of the CDR-King Ebook claims a ten-hour reading time, although this is shorter if you use the multimedia features of the device. Charging may require a full three hours if the internal battery is fully exhausted. It’s advisable to switch off the unit when charging. The battery-charging indicator will disappear once the unit is fully charged.
The power switch of the CDR-King Ebook is at the lower back. It uses a switch that has a lock option. The on and off modes are activated by pushing the knob in one direction as indicated by a printed arrow and the words ON/OFF. The switch knob must be kept pushed to the side opposite the lock mode for five seconds for the unit to be switched either on or off. The process of switching can take some practice, but the user will get the hang of it soon enough.
Box and Instructions
If you’re in the Philippines, the CDR-King Ebook reader is a good choice because it is very affordable costing less than a hundred dollars. It is also a handy device to carry if you wish to have a portable on-the-go entertainment center that easily fits in a small bag. The box it comes in is made of hard cardboard with a glossy finish and a magnetic seal, which make for an attractive-looking ebook package. If you’re looking for an instruction manual, you’ll be out of luck. The only guide you’ll find in the box is a piece of paper with pictures of screenshots and their labels. If you’re not a techie person who can figure things out for yourself, ask the sales person to do a demonstration the CDR-King ebook. The unit is made in China and some of the characters that will appear on the screen are either Chinese or refer to China, like the radio screen which says “China Radio” even if you’re not in China. Aside from this, most of the file names are easily changed through a computer.
CD-King Ebook Reader User Rating
I give the CDR-King Ebook a three, out of five stars. It’s well worth the purchase for your basic reading and multimedia needs.
Images are from the CDR-King Ebook product page.