Icarus eXceL review

Simon Handby
2 Oct 2012
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

This huge eReader has some great features, but they aren't all easy to use and it's very expensive


There are two striking things about the eXceL, which tops Icarus' range of eBook readers. The first is its huge 9.7" E Ink screen, and the second is its eye-watering price; it’s four times as expensive as Icarus' own Pocket model.

Icarus eXceL

It's certainly a fully-featured eBook reader. The vast screen has twice the area of a typical six-inch display, and its 825x1,200 resolution gives it twice as many pixels, resulting in huge, crisp documents. The screen helps in the menu system, too, which has room for plenty of icons, a progress display for the most recently read title and even an analogue clockface. While not a touchscreen as such, a stylus system lets you select, navigate and make on-screen annotations. There's also Wi-Fi, and support for a wide range of file formats including Microsoft Office documents.

The eXceL's screen may be large, but it's quite a slim device and its slim bezel means it’s not too huge. This contributes to a smart look that continues with its controls. On the left of the screen are home and back buttons together with left and right navigation, while on the right is a joystick with a centre push for selecting. Their positioning means it's easy to navigate and read one-handed, but the reader’s half-kilogram weight means you’re better off using both hands.

Icarus eXceL

On the base is a headphone output, a dedicated volume rocker and an SD card slot, but these are all slightly recessed, making it tricky to insert and remove memory cards and some headphone plugs. Disappointingly Icarus hasn't designed in somewhere to stow the stylus. The screen doesn't respond to finger presses like a Kindle Touch, and only works with the special stylus.

The eXceL opened all our test files including Doc and Docx Word documents, although we found that page turning was inconsistent in both types, meaning we sometimes had to hunt backwards for skipped parts of the document. Our test HTML file opened in a browser and caused the wireless interface to switch on unnecessarily.

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