An eReader that's as easy to use as it is comfortable to hold. It's just a little too expensive to be a winner
Icarus’ Pocket reader is the newest addition to its range, designed as an entry-level, highly portable device that comes without added extras of more expensive models. It’s a smart-looking eReader that makes a great first impression; it’s about the same size as the Kindle Touch, and is finished in a soft-feel plastic that’s easy to grip. It weighs just 213 grams and has left and right navigation buttons on each side of the screen, so it’s perfect for comfortable one-handed use.
Although this is a basic reader, Icarus hasn’t cut important corners. There’s a 3.5mm headphone socket for audio file playback, a generous 4GB of onboard storage (of which about 3.2GB is usable), and a microSD card slot for adding more. There’s also an intuitive set of controls comprising a four-way rocker with a central OK button, bracketed by home, menu, back and refresh buttons.
The refresh button seems like an odd addition until you begin to use the Pocket, at which point you discover that the screen quickly begins to show the ghosts of previous pages. The refresh button triggers a full redraw, and there’s also a menu option to fully refresh the screen each time the content is updated – we prefer the slightly slower update times of a full refresh every page turn over distracting ghosts, but it’s good to have the choice.
The Pocket’s menu system is generally good, with a clear and attractive homepage that displays the most recently read title along with icons for other recent reads, the entire library, a file manager and other key functions. The dedicated navigation buttons make it easy to move around, and the reader and screen are quick to respond.
It’s not all perfect, however. Enter the library and titles transferred to the reader via Adobe Digital Editions are listed alongside non-protected titles found in other storage. In the default, icon-based menu, the book title and author of PDF books is crammed onto the icon on a single line: ‘Dracula, by Bram Stoker’ is just legible, for example, but ‘eBook of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte’ isn’t – you need to open some eBooks just to find what they are.
Switch to the list view and things are massively improved. It’s easy to see a book’s key details and there are options to sort by name, author or type, or to search for titles – though unfortunately not by author name. The Pocket was slow to open some file types, and our Office documents were displayed with imperfect kerning, but otherwise it coped well with all our test files. Page turns were snappy with the exception of a specific page in the reader’s own manual which contained a diagram; while it was quick to load, it consistently took the reader more than 15 seconds to leave this particular page again.
While reading, options include text searches, bookmarking and jumping to a page number, and easy access controls for background MP3 playback – which sounded particularly clear. The screen can be rotated manually through four positions, and there’s a comprehensive set of font, spacing, margin and zoom options. It’s an impressive set of useful features, although text-to-speech and annotations are notable omissions.
We found that the Pocket was sometimes reluctant to switch on, requiring several power button presses, but this quirk aside it’s great reader. However, it’s only £9 less than the much more sophisticated Kobo eReader Touch, so misses out on an award.
|Memory card support||microSD|
|Battery and charge options||Lithium ion, included USB cable|
|eReader Battery life||8,000|
|Wireless networking support||N/A|
|Ports||Mini USB, 3.5mm headphone|
|eReader TXT support||yes|
|eReader HTML support||yes|
|eReader RTF support||yes|
|eReader PDF support||yes|
|eReader ePub support||yes|
|eReader MOBI support||yes|
|eReader Amazon AZW support||no|
|eReader Microsoft Word support||no|
|Audio MP3 playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA-DRM playback||No|
|Audio AAC playback||No|
|Audio Protected AAC playback||No|
|Audio OGG playback||Yes|
|Audio WAV playback||Yes|
|Audio Audible playback||No|
|Image BMP support||Yes|
|Image JPEG support||Yes|
|Image TIFF support||Yes|
|Warranty||one year RTB|