Binatone Kidzstar eReader review
The Kidzstar brand is owned by Binatone, and as the name implies this eBook reader is aimed at children. Although Binatone doesn't suggest an age range, a small graphic on the box declares it unsuitable for children younger than four. At first glance it certainly looks kid-friendly; the reader is encased in a thick, removable silicone rubber bumper that provides ample protection from knocks on five sides. There's no screen guard, however, and it's not splashproof, so it's unlikely to prove indestructible if your kids are particularly determined.
Inside the bumper the reader itself is near-identical to Binatone's ReadMe Colour, which isn't a particularly good thing. While the bumper means there's little need to touch the eReader's hard, textured plastic, its control layout remains frustrating. The right-hand bezel contains up and down arrows along with a right arrow, while the left bezel has only a left arrow. This means that while you can flip pages when holding the reader in your right hand with the up and down arrows, you can’t change pages or navigate the menu when using it left-handed. The reader weighs nearly half a kilogram, though, so you’re unlikely to want to hold it one-handed for long.
Switch the reader on and there are signs that the kid-friendliness is more than skin deep, at least. The Kidzstar's menu is set out like a cartoon bookcase and displays the current book, history, favourites and the library. At the foot are cute icons for the audio, video and photo functions, with technical features sensibly tidied away behind a More icon.
The graphics are appealing, so it's a shame that Binatone couldn't think of more child friendly text than 'Continue Reading' or 'Read Records' (which displays recently-read eBooks). It's also unfortunate that selecting any of the media playback features displays a far drier, more technical file list. While the library view does share the fun graphics, it's not much fun having to trawl through it by filename; it's not possible to list books by author or title, or to do a keyword search.
The reader supports a fair range of formats, with the only notable omission being HTML. We found that TXT files were typically quick to open, but that ePub and particularly MOBI files were quite slow – the latter isn't listed among the supported formats, but our test file was displayed with no errors.