100_5133I received my review unit of the Sharper Image Literati last night. I haven’t really had the chance to do much with it, but I did take some unboxing photos. I also took a video with my webcam, though I’m a bit undecided whether to make it public; the audio quality isn’t great.

One thing I noticed was that the section of the packaging with the device itself in it had already been slit open; not sure whether they did that just to make it easy for me to take the thing out, or whether someone else had the review unit before me, but I didn’t really care much either way.

100_5132 100_5134 One thing that struck me was the shape of the screen. It seems subtly wrong somehow; it’s like the proportions are off. But I realized that’s largely because I’m so used to the 1.5:1 ratio of the iPod Touch, or the 4:3 ratio of the iPad or standard computer monitors. For that matter, the screen is proportionally narrower than most book pages, too, and the addition of the keyboard on the bottom makes it look even thinner.

100_5136100_5137I noticed that at least a portion of the very same Winnie the Pooh book that comes free with iBooks was bundled on the device, allowing me to do some iPad comparison shots right out of the box (bearing in mind that flash photography tends to make backlit LCD look worse than it does in real life).

I’m not sure at all I like the wideness of the margins on the Literati; they’re about the same width as those on the iPad but since the screen is narrower it feels like losing more horizontal space. Consequently, the amount of text on the screen actually feels about the same as I would have had on my old iPod Touch. I couldn’t find anywhere obvious in the settings to adjust margin width.

Although the packaging and the promo material said that the device was supposed to come pre-loaded with 25 books, I only found 6, including the Winnie the Pooh. Three of them were Hungry Girl cookbooks, and one was some sort of Project Runway thing. I’m not really too bothered by this, given that I’d be reading mostly stuff I already had on it anyway, but it would have been nice to see what the titles were.

I haven’t had the chance to try the device with any of my own content yet, as I couldn’t get either my laptop or my desktop to recognize it when I plugged it into the USB with the provided cable. (Update: They’re sending me a new mini-USB cable; this one may be defective.) I copied my 400-plus-titles Calibre library onto the SD card I normally use for my camera and have dropped it in the slot.

The device churned away “processing new content” for 45 minutes…and then told me “no e-books available” after it finished. What? Presumably because the books were in a subfolder, rather than the root directory. Lame. (But even so, there were a couple of EPUB and PDFs in the root directory…why didn’t it notice them?) I’ll say more about the device once I’ve had the chance to play around with it some more.


  1. If the Literati has some version of the Kobo software and sqlite database in it, then possibly one (or more) of the books on your SD card is causing some trouble. Although, come to think of it, usually the Kobo locks up and fails to finish processing. I’d be interested in a Kobo-Literati comparison, since the Literati uses the Kobo bookstore, if I recall correctly.

  2. Hi Chris,

    Just finished up the Literati review and had the same problem getting my computer to recognize the device. I kept plugging and unplugging at it finally worked.

    Didn`t have any trouble with the sd card but I don`t have that many books on mine. What about ADE? My review unit said that it authorized with ADE but would not work when I tried to open DRM books. I`m wondering if it has something to do with the fact that it is a review unit and perhaps has a different authorization since it comes with a few ebooks that have DRM. Do your DRM`d ebooks work?

  3. Ouch! If you could look at the sqlite database you could see which ones weren’t there – but it’s not recognized by USB yet…
    Usually it’s an epub file with a huge (>10KB stylesheet), but with 400 to look through, it’s probably not feasible – DRM or not. Can you find any free books in the Literati/Kobo store? Just to see some not-pre-selected files…

    Or send it back – “not suitable to purpose” 😀 – Just kidding, but it is annoying, I know.

  4. I’d be interested to know how the unit performs with colour material. I doubt if “informed” consumers will buy this if they really want a full functioned b&w reader. At around this price point there are some pretty good readers: Kindle, Kobo, Nook and every the 5″ Sony.

    So the capability of colour is the driver of purchase, I’d expect. My understanding is that this is Kobo software. That *ought* to mean plugging it into a Windows XP or higher computer or a Mac so that the first thing you do is load the desktop app. That will register the device with any other Kobo apps / devices you have on your account so they sync together.

    But it does seem that colour content is the sizzle on this steak. Hopefully someone will run it through its paces from a colour e-book (not colour full motion multimedia) perspective?

  5. This is a post I wrote for MobileRead forums last week:

    Sharper Image Literati
    Since I just bought and returned the Literati I thought I should write a very brief review of it.

    As some background info, I own an Ectaco Jetbook and Jetbook Lite, a Sony PRS 500(the first one sold by Sony) and a Sony PRS 300. I am very familiar with all the different types of ebook files (.lrf, .eub, .mobi, .pdf, .lit, .rtf, .fb2 etc, etc.) I have purchased ebooks from Sony, Border’s, Amazon, and most recently, Kobo. So I consider myself pretty ebook-literate.

    With that said I decided to buy the new Literati. Out of the box it looked very nice. It came with a nice case, power charger, and USB cable. It has wireless access to Kobo’s online ebook store. But you cannot use it to browse the internet as there is no built in browser.

    After setting it up with the time, date, and some other info. it goes to the main page which is tabbed for Books, Bookstore, and I think another tab was for open books (currently reading).

    All worked fine. I logged on to Kobo’s site and it automatically downloaded the books which I had previously purchased (after pressing “sync” icon). By the way, although it is a color screen, it is not a touch screen.

    The first problem I noted was when I inserted my 1 gb sd card into the reader. Although it recognized that a card was inserted, it would not read the card. I tried it three times ensuring that the books on it were not inside any folders. No luck.

    When I connected the reader to my computer running Win 7 the computer said that an unknown device was connected but it did not have the proper driver. The Web site did not have any info or downloads to help rectify this situation.

    Also the box said the reader can go into night reading mode, where the screen goes black and the print white. There was no way I found to do this, and the instructions did not mention anyway to do this.

    Finally you cannot read a book in landscape, only portrait, which seems a waste as the the screen is very long and narrow. Since I could not get a pdf on it I have no idea whether it has reflow.

    So I packed it back into its nice box and returned it to the store.

    Too bad, because I wanted to like it. Unfortunately it just does not hack it as an ereader.

    Back to my Jetbooks which can read anything I throw on them. They are probably the best readers available for the price and for their versatility.

  6. I’m throwing this garbage in the trash. Not only can I not go to the online store with it hooked up to WiFi, but I can’t use the Kobo Desktop App and drag books to my literati. It says there is an error. I called Customer Service and the first guy told me that as of right now you have to access your books through the store on WiFi because it doesn’t support Kobo desktop. I called again, and the second guy said that I had to do the required updates on Literati when I hook it up to WiFi (it should automatically tell you that you have to update) in order to access the desktop app to add books. Well, I hook up to WiFi and it won’t find any automatic updates, and there isn’t an option to make it find them. I’m SO disappointed in this garbage.

    • Just to note, the version I had was an early preview version. They shortly afterward sent me a production version, but I’ve been so busy what with my job and the holidays and all that I haven’t even had time to open the box. I anticipate giving this newer one a fuller review soon.

  7. To access the Store you have to first connect to an actual WIFI connection not a hotspot. This device does not work with a hotspot or limited wifi connection. Connecting to a wifi connection will prompt you to update yo Kobo’s latest software update. Current software version is 1.9. Once you are updated you should be able to access the store. Issue with your device recognizing epubs or pdfs are usually fixed by authorizing your device through Adobe Digital Editions. From your desktop with your device plugged into your computer with the usb cable(Download Adobe Digital Editions–>Install software—>Authorize your computer with your Adobe ID–> Authroize your ereader through Adobe Digital Editions.

  8. Also a factory reset fixes allot of issues. Menu—>Settings—>Advance—>Then select to reset the device. The device will pwoer off. Manually turn the device back on, wait for your device to start up. (note: it takes up to 5 or 6 minutes to reboot. Its unpackging the new software and installing it onto your device. Do not interrupt this process as it may brick your device. Make sure your device is fully charged so it doesnt die. Then attempt to reconnect to wifi. This should fix the issue. When you try to SYNC device with the sync button on the home screen
    it should take you to the KOBO sign in page. Enter your Kobo account info and it will reload your books back onto the device.

  9. I received the Lierati reader as a gift. I did not have some the aforementioned problems, but I have not yet tried an SD card or the computer hook up. It has the 25 books on it. I was able to access my WIFI network, the update prompts showed up automatically. I accessed Kobo store, from which I downloaded one of the free books that I was entitled too. Not real happy with the page turning points, usually use the right and left sides of menu navigator button, which may eventually wear it out. I like being able to read at night with out a light on (makes my wife happy too). I like the black screen night mode with the white text, it is easy on the eyes. So far my main gripe is the battery life. Having never used another e-reader I am not sure how it compares. How many hours can you do you get usually get?

  10. All – there is new firmware – v2.0 available. I also had problems with the pc installing the drivers when connected via the usb cable; saw on another site that turning off wifi prior to connecting is a fix – I tried it and it works, device recognized and installed.

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