Monday, May 23, 2011

Review - Pocketbook 360 Plus

Near the end of April when the screen cracked on my original Pocketbook 360 (Christmas present from hubby) the only thing that kept me from being devastated was the fact that I had a backup eBook reader and that the Pocketbook 360 Plus was due to come out soon. The videos of Doom II running on the eBook reader seemed to be a good indication of the increased processor speed. I couldn't wait, I pre-ordered my very own as soon as I could: April 29, 2011 I placed my order, May 3, 2011 it shipped, and May 18, 2011 it arrived!!!

Don't be concerned about the fact that the screen on my original 360 cracked, I have owned both versions of the Cybook Gen3, a BeBook One, a BeBook Mini, the 360 Original, and now the 360+, that's 6 eInk devices since 2007 and all but 1 of them are still going strong. Yes there is a glass substrate, yes we need to treat these devices with care and no we don't have to wrap them in bubble wrap and read them in a padded room. The only time I ever wrapped one of them in bubble wrap was while I was waiting for the cover to come in for my BeBook Mini. I really wanted to take it with me but refused to transport it without some kind of protective covering. I have taken them camping, read in the bath (don't fall asleep!), read in the car, read on an airplane, and on the ferry. I take them with me everywhere I would take a paperback. I'm just a bit more aware of how I pack it in my bag. The only reason the screen cracked is because I got careless and left the 360 on the coffee table with the cover off. This is a dangerous thing to do when there is an active 7 yr old in the house! I didn't see the 360 get landed on, but some things you don't need to see to believe.
The Review

The form factor is the same as the original; so it didn't take long to feel at home with it. Here is a size comparison of the PB 360+ with the BeBook Mini showing the starting screen of each:

Speed: This is where we see the difference made by a faster processor.
  • The original 360 took about 8 seconds to load, which isn't too bad, the 360+ takes only about 4 seconds to load.
  • Loading books is even better. I used get a bit frustrated opening books on the original, it took almost 7 seconds. My first dedicated eBook reader was the Cybook Gen3 which did some 'pre-loading' of all eBooks during bootup allowing for very fast opening of books, I got spoiled. Once again I am feeling spoiled, the 360+ opens a new book in less than 3 seconds. There is no time to start wondering if it will ever open, or if the DRM isn't compatible, it just opens.
  • Page turns are almost instant, I have had to retrain myself, I can no longer click 'next page' just before starting the last line of text, the page goes away before I'm finished now!
The new processor was worth it for the improvement in bootup speed, book opening, and page turns alone. I'm positive that internet refreshes with WiFi would not have been pleasant, if possible, with the old processor.

: The big mickey mouse buttons on the original 360 have a loud click and require quite a firm press to activate, so I was interested in seeing if there were any changes. The Plus version still has an audible click, similar to pressing the direction button, but requires a much softer press to activate. The difference is significant enough that I find myself using the mickey mouse buttons by default now, where I would rarely do that with the original.

Themes: The same themes work for both 360 versions, so I was able to load my favourites with only one issue. As soon as the theme is changed, from any theme to any other theme, the applications in the Applications folder aren't recognized anymore. This is because in the Original 360 the applications were saved in the "Games" folder. The issue is easily fixed by making a copy of the "Applications" folder and renaming it to "games". Unfortunately you will need to repeat this process each time you change the theme; for some unknown reason the "games" folder gets deleted when the theme is changed. Since I tend to stick with a theme for a while I don't see this as a huge issue. If you see this error message on your Pocketbook 360+ you will now know what to do.

Fbreader180: I really enjoyed being able to fully customize my old 360 and got addicted to the wrist flip to change pages. Unfortunately this wasn't as easy a transition to the Plus version. The firmware is 15.4 so I tried the 360 fbreader180 software "graynm76-fbreader180-app-0.11.3", no go the program wasn't recognized. Once I installed "fbreader180-app-fw2.x.x" I got better results. I now have access to all the same options as before font/margin/line spacing/etc. However, even though I have the options for 'page turn' I am not able to change pages with a wrist twist.

CoolReader: I got adventurous and loaded "pkb-cr3-pb-pro-0.0.4-3" the "Pro" version, this was a great success. I love having choices.

Dictionaries: I was pleasantly surprised to find the Websters 1913 dictionary already installed on the 360+, one less thing to fuss with. The following dictionary files are installed:
  • English_English.dic
  • English_German.dic
  • EngRus_korolev.dic

Calibre: Currently the 360+ isn't recognized as a device in Calibre. However, I am able to transfer books to the 360+ using the 'save to disk' option with no trouble. I sent all the required info about the 360+ to the Calibre team and have since been told that it will be recognized starting with version 0.8.3, this is good news.

WiFi: When WiFi first starts you will need to choose your network, once you have connected to the network you will see the message below, it appears that updates can be downloaded via WiFi instead of having to use the SD card. This is theory of course as there aren't any updates yet.
The keyboard is split into sections to make it easier to 'type', this seems to work OK. I wish it didn't return me to the centre section each time though, it would be nice to be able to hit 'w' 3 times in a row without making my way across the keyboard to it each time.
The results page showed up with very little delay, almost like a real browser!

Calibre library and Wifi: I was able to access my local Calibre using the default browser. However I wasn't able to drill down to actual books. I could see the number of books grouped by tags, authors, etc., but the screen at the book level seemed to be stuck in "loading". I will have to play with it some more.

Doom: Unfortunately Doom II does not come pre-loaded on the 360+, I'm not sure where I would go to download it, or if it would be worth having... other than to be able to say I could play the game if I wanted to.

Now for the important but boring specs:
Display: 5" E Ink® Vizplex
G-sensor/Accelerometer: built-in
CPU: Samsung® S3C2440 AL-40 533MHz
Operating system: Linux
E-Book formats: FB2,, TXT, PDF (reflow), RTF, HTML, PRC, CHM, DJVU, DOC, EPUB, TCR
DRM E-Book formats: Adobe (PDF, EPUP)
Image formats: JPEG, BMP, PNG, TIFF
Additional Software: RSS-News, Calendar, Notes, Sudoku, GamesConnectivity: Wi-Fi, Mini USB
Memory: RAM 128 Mb, Internal 2Gb, User-accessible 1.5Gb
Memory slot: microSD, microSDHC card
Battery: Li-Polymer (1000 mAh)
Cost: US $149.95

I would definitely recommend this as a great eBook Reader for someone who reads mostly fiction in any format, or non-Fiction in most formats including reflowable PDF formats. I don't think I would want to read a technical PDF on it with lots of detailed pictures and/or diagrams, the pan & scan after zooming might not be much fun. It is the perfect size to throw in my bag and with the included hard cover I don't have to worry too much about the screen. I do take basic precautions to avoid twisting of course. A big selling point for me was the ability to natively read the many eBooks in Mobipocket format which I purchased for my old iPAQ PDA and for Cybook Gen3, as well as being able to read the lastest eBooks which are only being released in ePUB. Both Mobipocket and ePUB eBooks look great on the 360+ with the included software, being able to customize the look with Fbreader180 and CoolReader just makes this device even more appealing.


  1. I have a normal PB360 and love it. Is the plus worth the upgrade?

  2. Hi, I just got my 360+ and still newbie on everything about it. I'm especially interested on Coolreader and already follow your link to Mobileread, but I couldn't get it work on my reader. Could you tell me how to install it? Thank you.

  3. Jon: if your normal PB360 is working well I wouldn't bother upgrading. The changes are significant but I wouldn't have bought it if my original PB360 hadn't cracked.

    NennyS: If you are having issues loading Coolreader on your 360+ I would post a comment on Mobileread. The folks there are very helpful and would be happy to point you to detailed install instructions.