The ViewSonic VEB620 is an ebook reader with 6in black-and-white display and 2GB of onboard storage

There's nothing out of the ordinary with ViewSonic’s ebook reader, the ViewSonic VEB620. It features a 6-inch electronic-ink display with 800 x 600 resolution – a good display with crisp highly readable text – but improves on similar devices with a reasonable 2GB of storage.

All the usual file suspects are covered: ePUB, PDF, FB2, TXT, HTML, and XML, although not Microsoft Excel or Word documents. Multimedia support includes JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, and MP3 files.

Documents are loaded into the ViewSonic VEB620 via USB cable, either by drag and drop or syncing through Adobe Digital Editions. This ensures support for copy-restricted books bought from Waterstones and similar online sellers.

The ViewSonic VEB620 doesn't have WiFi, or a touchscreen. But our experience with book readers suggests that keeping things simple improves the reader. Slow processors and slow E Ink screen refreshes on most ebook readers don't sit well with touch browsing or internet surfing.

If you disagree, Viewsonic has the VEB625 model further up which sports both touchscreen and WiFi. But if you really want a touch-screen handheld device with WiFi connectivity and a colour display, you’re be better off with an iPad. Or waiting for the imminent arrival of countless Google tablets.

Like all electronic-ink displays, battery life is measured in page turns rather than hours – in the case of the ViewSonic VEB620, 8,000 pages.

One feature the ViewSonic VEB620 does include is auto-rotation. ViewSonic refers to this as the G-Sensor, to determine which way you’re holding the VEB620 to adjust the display accordingly. It requires manual calibration but after that simple process seemed to work effectively. The effect is ruined though by the Please Wait alert that lasts 9 seconds between changes.

The ViewSonic VEB620 is nice looking in slimline white plastic, standard for such products. Viewsonic has thoughtfully included a white leather case with magnetic clasp, giving it a more executive look.

Buttons on the ViewSonic VEB620 are thoughtfully laid out, and like the Amazone Kindle it has thumb buttons on the side for page flipping. The slow processor prevents it from being snappy though, and we found navigating menus to be a chore.

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ViewSonic VEB620 [PCA]: Specs

  • eBook reader
  • 6in (800 x 600) 166dpi E Ink screen
  • 16-level greyscale
  • auto rotation
  • 2GB flash storage
  • USB 2.0 port
  • SD card slot
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • speaker
  • ePUB, PDF, FB2, TXT, HTML, XML
  • JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • MP3
  • leather cover
  • 188 x 126 x 10mm
  • 220g
  • eBook reader
  • 6in (800 x 600) 166dpi E Ink screen
  • 16-level greyscale
  • auto rotation
  • 2GB flash storage
  • USB 2.0 port
  • SD card slot
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • speaker
  • ePUB, PDF, FB2, TXT, HTML, XML
  • JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP
  • MP3
  • leather cover
  • 188 x 126 x 10mm
  • 220g

OUR VERDICT

The ViewSonic VEB620 does one thing well which is display the text of ebooks. We prefer the simplicity of the ViewSonic over more technically crammed e-ink devices. It’s no match for an iPad, but it holds its own amongst rival readers. At £199, though, it’s expensive against the Amazon Kindle ($189). At a good £50 less, and with free 3G for downloading books, the Kindle 2 is the better choice.

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