The Amazing ECTACO Jetbook Ebook Reader
It's definitely a sign of the times. Paper books are disappearing, and
the age of ebooks is upon us. I'm sure we'll still have paper
books around for a long time, but the ebook readers are ready to make their
I used to carry around a pocket novel when I or a family member had a
medical appointment. It gave me something to do in the waiting room. In fact,
anytime I thought I'd be in a waiting situation, I carried a book. But a few
times I was too near the end of a book for it to last through the waiting
period. What then, two books? I tried that, but it started to be a bit
A good solution, I found, was my ECTACO Jetbook, which lets me carry
dozens of books with me whenever I need something to read.
At left you see my ECTACO Jetbook, one
of the more compact and more affordable ebook readers on the market. The
version shown here includes a rechargeable battery. There's also a Jetbook
Lite, which has most of the same functionality, but uses standard AA
As you can see by the menu displayed in the image, the Jetbook is more
than just an ebook reader. It can also play back MP3 audio books, and be
used to view pictures in a number of formats.
The Jetbook handles a number of ebook formats, including:
Fiction Book (.fb2), Plain Text (.txt), and PDF.
For audio books, the Jetbook supports the MP3 format.
The picture display function can handle JPG, GIF, PNG, and BMP
Controls Are Convenient And Easy
Selecting a category from the initial menu is done by moving up and
down with the up and down arrow keys, and selecting with the OK
Also visible in this image are the paging keys (left side of image under
open book icon). When in a book, touching the left key moves to a previous
page, and touching the right key moves to the next page. You can also page back
and forward using the left and right arrow keys on the arrow keys toggle that
surrounds the OK button, and you can even page by using the slide bar along the
left side of the Jetbook (first image).
If you select Books on the initial list of selections, you'll be
treated to a menu something like shown in this image.
The folder icon indicates a directory of books, usually by subject or
author. As you add more ebooks later, you can create folder names as you
choose. Also in the Books folder is the Jetbook Manual, indicated by a
PDF icon. To make perusing the manual quicker, I copied it to my
computer and view with a PDF file viewer.
You can navigate book folders the same as with the initial menu, using the
slide bar, the book paging buttons, or the left/right arrow keys.
You can use the numbered keys along the right side of the Jetbook
to directly select a folder (or ebook) on the current page by selecting the
numbered key that matches the item number on the menu.
Multiple Display Modes
As the two images above show, you can select whether to view an ebook in
portrait mode or landscape mode. You can also select font size,
or zoom amount for PDF files. So adjusting the Jetbook for easy reading
is a snap.
The Jetbook doesn't have a back-lit mode, it depends upon ambient light.
But it has a very readable screen, even being perfectly readable in direct
Ample, Yet Expandable Memory
The Jetbook comes with 112MB of memory, some of which is already
occupied with a sampling of Public Domain ebooks you may find interesting. If
not, of course, you can delete them. The supplied memory is a reasonable
amount, especially if you use the Plain Text file format. I've added a few
ebooks in this form by raiding the Gutenberg Project, which
offers a growing free library of Public Domain works.
If you should run short of memory, you can supplement the Jetbook with an SD
ram card. The image at left shows the SD ram slot, accessible by opening the
small cover on the top edge of the Jetbook. There you can insert up to a 2GB
SD card, enormously expanding the Jetbook's available memory.
The small slot you see in the above image is the mini USB slot, which
lets you plug your Jetbook into a USB port on your computer. This allows you to
either backup ebooks, audio books, or pictures already on your Jetbook, or add
more items to your Jetbook collection.
The Jetbook Manual warns against messing with the root directory structure
(Books, Audio Books, Pictures, and Settings). But within these directories you
can delete selections you don't want, and create new folders and add more
To do that, simply turn on your Jetbook, then plug in the USB cable. In a
few seconds the Jetbook display will reveal that it's in a connect mode,
allowing access the same as any USB disc or USB stick.
The Jetbook has a smallon/off button placed on the bottom edge of the
Jetbook. You'll probably need to press it with a fingernail. This design
insures that the Jetbook reader will not easily be accidently turned on when
The on/off button doesn't turn the Jetbook completely off, but puts it in a
sleep mode. This is done to allow the Jetbook to turn on more quickly. To turn
the reader completely off, you must use a paper clip or other thin object to
press a reset button on the back of the Jetbook.
To the right of the on/off switch is a mini-plug for your earphones, which
you'll need for listening to background music or audio books.
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Simple To Use Controls
Navigating menus and ebooks have already been addressed in this web page,
but the controls offered by the Jetbook don't stop there.
This augmented image of the Jetbook control panel gives brief explanation of
the non-arrow buttons. Notice that a touch of a button will let you select
fonts, change view mode, step back from a menu to a previous menu or operation,
or select a Utilities menu.
The utilities button pops up a menu with a number of selections, including:
|1 || Dictionary
|2 || Bookmark List
|3 || Bookmark This Page
|4 || Find
|5 || Jump To
|6 || Settings
As you can see, this is ebook reading with a big plus.
If you select the Dictionary option, the first word on the current
ebook page is selected by default. You can use the arrow keys to navigate to
the word of interest, then select OK. The dictionary definition of the
word, if found, will be displayed.
The Bookmark This Page selection will add the current ebook and page
to the bookmark list, and of course the Bookmark List will show the
current bookmarks for your selection.
The Find key lets you enter a string, and it will look (from the beginning
of ebook) for the string. You use the alphanumeric keys down the right side of
the ebook to make your entry. The keys are initially in numeric mode, but you
can use the page navigate keys on the lower left of the Jetbook to select the
mode of the alphanumeric keys.
Jump To lets you enter a page number using the alphanumeric keys
along the right side of the Jetbook. The Jetbook will then jump to the
indicated page in the current ebook.
Settings takes you to the settings menu, where you can select
from the following list:
|1 || Font Size||Select Font Size
|2 || Auto Turn Page||Set Auto Page Turn Delay
|3 || Rotate||Change View Mode
|4 || Alignment||Align Left or Justify
|5 || Encoding||Select Character Set
|6 || Dictionaries||Select Lookup or Translation Dictionary
|7 || Background Music||Control Background Music
Pros And Cons
I've used the Jetbook ebook reader now for several weeks, and I will give
you my impressions of it in use. I admit that I haven't used it for audio books
as of yet, but have used it extensively for ebooks, mostly in the Plain Text
First, the things I like:
The Jetbook is small enough to be convenient, and big enough to easily
The Jetbook can be recharged with either the supplied AC charger, or your
computer's USB port.
The Jetbook files are easy to maintain.
The Jetbook returns you, for each book you've visited, the page where you
The built-in memory is sufficient for dozens of books.
There are a few things I'm not as crazy about, but I point out that these
are only nitpicks.
The Jetbook doesn't shut completely down, so there's a slow discharge
on the batteries even when not in use.
The Jetbook loads Plain Text file pages adequately, but is a bit slow
on PDF file pages.