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Sharper Image Literati Review

Screen: 7" LCD Screen
Internal Memory: Not Published
Connectivity: WiFi, USB
Dimensions: 8.5" x 4.5" x 0.5"

By: JM Butler Pashmina Developers

Introduction

The Literati from Sharper Image, a name that used to be synonomous with high tech gadgets, is one of the few dedicated ebook readers that features a 7" color LCD screen as opposed to an electronic paper screen. In my opinion this almost defeats the purpose of a dedicated ereader and turns the unit into a tablet computer that lacks tremendously in functionality.

Print Legibility/Display Performance 65/100

Literati Key Features

  • 7" Color LCD Screen
  • 800x480 resolution
  • Kobo Bookstore
  • 150 Free titles included
  • Night Reading Mode
  • WiFi
  • Includes Case
  • Dimensions: 8.5" x 4.5" x 0.5"
  • 8 oz

The 3 3/8ths x 6 1/16th inch (7" diag.) color LCD screen appeared blurry, no matter what angle I held it at the screen had no color uniformity and fonts showed jaggy aliasing. To make it at least somewhat comfortable to read on I had to raise the font size to 3 times what I keep it at on an electronic paper screen like on the Nook or the Kindle. This makes the paragraph flow look terrible and makes reading uncomfortable. The LCD screen is matte rather than glossy like an LCD television which helps for reading but reduces depth and clarity when looking at a color image in a magazine.

The screen is fairly large for an ereader but it is also quite narrow. With large margins it's more like reading a one column article in a newspaper as opposed to reading a book and in landscape mode it's not tall enough to be of much use. Some people may enjoy the backlit screen for reading in the dark without disturbing others but we find reading like this tiring on the eyes.

Page Turn Speed 70/100

The page turn speed would be considered average to quick alongside today's other ereaders but the big problem with turning pages on Literati is the page turn "buttons" on the unit. They are not actually buttons at all but touch sensitive areas on the unit itself. This design poses all sorts of problems when trying to read with the Literati. The buttons don't register with a tap, they only register if you drag your finger across the area. Sometimes it seems like they don't register at all but when you swipe it again it turns two pages. If you adjust your hold on the unit and brush one of them the page turns. There is no feedback when you turn a page like other units that have an actual button you press to turn a page.

Page turn speed is also very inconsistent. Sometimes the pages turn fairly quickly while other times there is a delay of around two seconds before anything happens. Combine this with buttons that do not provide any tactile or aural feedback and you will be turning two pages far too often.

Compatibility 90/100

The Literati can open most types of e-Book formats and it also uses Borders' Kobo bookstore for wireless book shopping. It has built in WiFi for connecting to the KoBo cloud and USB connectivity for transferring e-books and documents from a PC. It also has an SD card slot that can be used for loading material onto the unit.

Appearance and Added Features 70/100

At first glance the Literati is not a bad looking device but whoever decided to make something you hold in your hands with a glossy, piano-black finish was not thinking clearly. Pick it up for 5 seconds and the shiny black finish is now a mass of smudgy fingerprints. It's the thickest ereader we've reviewed yet and though it weighs near-as-no-difference to the Nook, all the weight is at the top of the unit so when holding it in your hand it always feels like it wants to tip over backwards. This makes it feel much heavier than other units and the lack of balance in weight distribution has the Literati feeling clumsy and awkward any time you are holding it.

The Added Features section of this review will be rather short as the Literati has basically no added features. It has a full color screen and WiFi but no web browser, it has an SD card slot and no image viewer, it has a full keyboard but no annotating or bookmarks making the QWERTY keyboard an almost useless feature. It does come with an included case for the device but that's about it.

Battery Life 70/100

The battery charge went away with astonishing alacrity. I used the Literati for around 45 minutes only to see it drain more than 30% of the battery. You wouldn't want to use this on a long trip without some way of charging it close by.

Value 70/100

The Literati sells for around $120 which makes it less expensive than the WiFi only Nook or Kindle models. It has a full color LCD screen that is, well, terrible and it lacks in just about every feature that you get in other ereaders. After using the Literati for about a week I can say that I couldn't find a single redeeming feature for it as an ereader or a tablet. I still think buying a regular book is a better overall value for the reading experience. I cannot recommend this device to anyone for any reason, there is much better out there at a similar price and even the more expensive units are wholly justifiable when compared to the Literati.

Overall Rating 72.5/100

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating below 70 in any category indicates a significant flaw.

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