Irex Ain’t No Kindle-Competitor, Says Mossberg

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In his review of the new Irex eReader–the first targeted at the US market, with 3G and an interesting “mall” concept for buying eBooks–Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walter Mossberg says the Irex has some good features, but “poses no threat to Kindle.” Harsh!

Mossberg notes that, in comparison to the Kindle, the Irex DR800SG, which costs a hefty (for an E-Ink device) $400, has a handful of smart bells and whistles: a larger screen (8.1″); fewer buttons and a sleeker design; plus a new concept for wireless eBook buying that allows users to shop at multiple stores from the device, though right now it only only offers access to Barnes & Noble’s eBook store as well as NewspaperDirect for periodicals. But, says Mossberg, these enhancements turn out to have their clunky sides, such as navigation via stylus and the necessity to sign in to multiple accounts to use the eBook mall.

Here’s more from his review: “I found the Irex much clumsier to use than the Kindle and, because of that, I still prefer the Amazon device. For instance, the Irex requires a stylus–an ancient and fading navigation device—for some operations. Yet it lacks a holder for this pointer except in the leather cover, so the stylus is easy to lose. The Irex also lacks a Home button, a note-taking function, any way to highlight text and a built-in dictionary.”

Amazon’s still got everyone beat, it seems, on convenience–its eBook store, notes Mossberg, is just easier and faster to use. And if you’re going to spend as much as $400, you might as well just pony up an extra Benjamin for an iPad, right?