JetBook Mini Buyers Beware

jetBook Mini

The jetBook Mini is starting to show up for sale on several retail websites (even in packs of 10 in some cases), but there are a few important details that consumers need to know about this device before ever considering buying it.

The $99 price tag and eight bright color choices the jetBook Mini comes in may catch the eye of someone looking for a budget ebook reader, but if you aren’t careful and don’t do your research before buying you’re probably going to end up with a $99 paperweight.

So what’s the big bad secret about the jetBook Mini, you ask? Well, they can call it an ebook reader all they want but the fact remains that the jetBook Mini doesn’t support any ebook DRM formats. In fact, it doesn’t even support any ebook formats that are readily available from any major English-language ebook websites.

That’s right. The jetBook Mini only supports FB2 and TXT formats. The most misleading part is that if you don’t read the specs carefully you may end up thinking that it supports a whole laundry list of formats because Ectaco lists the following formats that can be converted to FB2 and TXT using Calibre: LIT, MOBI, EPUB, HTML, PRC, RTF, PDB, and PDF.

Another gripe with Ectaco’s specs is they say the jetBook Mini is the lightest ebook reader in the world. Not true. The Sony PRS-350, PocketBook 360, and Cybook Opus all weigh less—and the latter two have been on the market for quite a long while now.

The strange thing about all of this is that Ectaco’s other ebook readers, the jetBook and jetBook Lite, are both very popular and support DRM formats as well as several non-DRM formats. And the jetBook Lite often drops down to $99 at Amazon and JR—a much better value for the money.

In the end, the jetBook Mini just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps in countries where FB2 format is readily available and ereaders are hard to come by, some may find a use for it, but here in the US where there are so many options, the jetBook Mini hardly qualifies as an ebook reader and is way overpriced to boot, especially considering you’ll have to frequently buy AAA batteries to keep it running.

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7 Responses to “JetBook Mini Buyers Beware”

  1. I think the Jetbook Mini’s main advantage is the long life it gets from a set of batteries. I think it is roughly twice what the Jetbook Lite gets. That might also be why the unit has such limited format support (Though perhaps they will include ePub support in the future). In any case, you can always get a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries, and get the best of both worlds.

    The original Jetbook originally had similarly restricted support for other formats — better support came later. I wouldn’t buy the Mini based on the hope that better support will come, but it might.

    I would say the Jetbook Mini is probably best suited to those who get most of their reading material from Project Gutenberg.

  2. We all know that when Ectaco came out with the original jetBook it was also running way behind in functionality. Even though i believe the jetBook mini is a perfect first release for them, im sure they’re going to keep updating it with user requests (this is what they told me in an e-mail btw) and the update process is A LOT easier than on the previous editions as well!

    So here’s my history with the JBM: I purchased the jetBook mini and am really impressed with the design and new options like line spacing (which is awesome for those who are picky on how spread apart sentences should be!)

    They have a lot of cool features and battery life is by far its top selling point, since its purchase i have yet to replace them.

    I read 1 book every two weeks so i take my time and have no problem with the conversion since there is a jetBook mini option on Calibre and the text comes out perfectly.

    My take is if you want to save money this season and go with a legit quality product then get one as im sure it can only get better and better as we’ve seen in the past.

  3. Did Amazon pay you to write this or something? Maybe Sony. (yes im a jetBook Fanboy i guess you can say).

    1)Just because the DRM scam isn’t supported does not make it any less of an eReader.

    2)TXT and FB2 not readily available? So 2 million eBook found in these formats online aren’t readily available? Oh and Converting a file to TXT and FB2 takes about 30 seconds (such a hassle i know)

    3)”if you don’t read the specs” Oh so you mean i have to read the description to know what i’m getting? I prefer the “click buy and assume” technique when buying technology.

    4) jetbook IS lightest in the world. Remove the batteries and its in the 4’s for ounces. (I did this myself).

    5)”especially considering you’ll have to frequently buy AAA batteries” HAHAHA you see no parallel between this and becoming FORCED to buy amazon books once you get a kindle. Funny…

    I think its quite obvious that this review was written with an extreme bias towards the product. Maybe if you step out of the sheep heard for a second you would be able to see the true goal of the jetBooks.

    • Larry,

      I let the first comment slide but now I’m going to have to call you out since you’ve decided to accuse me of working for Amazon or some other ereader company. How ironic that accusation is. (For those of you reading this, grab something to drink, sit back, this is about to get really interesting.)

      Whenever someone leaves a comment on a blog, WordPress records the user’s IP address. In the IP address for the comment left by “lovelyread”, the second comment from the top, the marker ectaco.com follows the IP address. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the point of view of that particular comment.

      The next comment left by “Larry1310″ does not have the ectaco.com marker in the IP address, but the commenter did use the same exact email address as the one used by lovelyread (he obviously went home and posted that comment from a different computer). Clever.

      Now for the rebuttal.

      What prompted me to write this article about the jetBook Mini was the fact that I’ve started seeing it advertised on several websites lately alongside all the other ereaders.

      The vast majority of people shopping for ebook readers know little to nothing about them, especially when it comes to all the confusing formats and DRM formats. These people need to be informed about what they are buying, but unfortunately many of them are not.

      When these people see an ebook reader advertised for $99 next to all the other more expensive ereaders they are going to think it is a good deal. And then when they skim through the specs they see this long list of supported formats. In fact, it looks exactly like this:

      Support for LIT, MOBI, EPUB, HTML, PRC, RTF, PDB, PDF via Calibre conversion to TXT and FB2.

      What kind of insane, misleading way is that to advertise an ebook reader’s supported formats? The first time I saw it it had me fooled. I didn’t notice the “conversion” stipulation at the end of the sentence. By that very same logic Amazon could claim that the Kindle supports EPUB format via Calibre conversion to MOBI. Do you think Amazon would get away with that?

      In your comment, Larry, you say that the fact it doesn’t support DRM doesn’t make it any less of an ereader. I do agree with your jab at DRM being a scam (somewhat), but the fact that it doesn’t support any DRM format does make it less of an ereader if you can’t buy ebooks for the thing from 95% of ebook stores—no bestsellers, no popular new releases, no major publishers or authors.

      The only option is public domain ebooks and ebooks sold from websites that don’t use DRM (like Smashwords, for instance). That leaves the jetBook Mini severely hampered in the ebook department—a core purpose of an ebook reader, I’m afraid. And it’s funny that you say that Amazon forces you to buy their ebooks—at least that’s an option. If you don’t want to you don’t have to. You could read same exact public domain titles and get the same exact DRM-free ebooks elsewhere that are available for the jetBook Mini.

      Another thing that prompted me to write this article was the fact that I came across a website selling the jetBook Mini with some crazy misinformation. I will not link to that website or mention its name because sites like that don’t deserve any recognition at all. Anyway, this is a quote word-for-word from the jetBook Mini’s description:

      When price-comparing to the Kindle, don’t forget that the Kindle’s $19.95 monthly fee adds up to $239.40 a year. This is a cost you do not have in the jetBook, jetBookLITE, or jetBookMINI, which read more file formats than competing products such as the Kindle.

      I have no idea where they came up with that part about the monthly fee. The Kindle has never had a monthly fee.

      In the end, this blog/website isn’t trying to tell anyone what to buy or not to buy. Its purpose is to inform consumers about ebook readers so that they know what they are getting and what to expect from the products mentioned on this website.

      Larry, accusing me of working for Amazon or some other ereader company is out of line, especially considering the fact I’m 99% sure you are an employee of Ectaco yourself. I take this website and blog very seriously and am completely open in how this website generates revenue through various advertising and affiliate marketing programs, as outlined on the disclaimer page and about buying page.

  4. I used to have original jetbook (gave to my brother). It was the same story: they made it with limited formats and no DRM to catch Christmas and then added DRM and formats during the year.
    I like Mini. Fits everywhere I put it and I can read when kids play baseball. Combo of price, size and battery life makes it a great gift. I bought a few for Christmas and already loaded SDcard with my favorite books for my folks

  5. It is beyond me why the employees (or otherwise) would be making such comments. The Jetbook LT and regular are decent products for what they are so I see no reason to defend this new product for more than it is – a new product. If the manufacturer plans on supporting more formats in a few months then that would be a great defense alone.

    Thanks for the balanced and honest review!

    Steve