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Wink e-book Reader on Croma Shelves by Sept. 1

Bangalore-based EC Media launched "Wink", which they proclaimed is "India's first e-book reader". Well, in the beginning of this year we'd heard of an Indian-origin e-book reader already, but oh well. Then, there's always the Amazon Kindle that supports delivery to a 100 countries (India included). But custom duties have to be bourne and books have to be purchased in dollars.

EC Media is trying to capture the Indian reader's grasp by selling a device that can be picked up from a local electronic store. They've partnered with Croma, a biggie Indian electronics chain, for this. They also have apparently solved another key piece of the puzzle -- the content. Their PR sheet claims to have more than 2,00,000 titles as well as newspapers, magazines and journals that you can buy in Indian rupees. Check their store to see if they have your favorites.
Their repository will also have books written in Indian languages.To start with, they've populated it with Hindi, Marathi among a few other languages. They said soon they will get content from all Indian languages onto the Wink. Books will generally sell for 50 to 75 percent of the cost of a paperback. So for voracious readers, this device could spell a considerable saving in the long run.


The Wink XTS model will start selling on September 1 for Rs. 11,500. It has a 6-inch screen that shows content using e-ink technology, just like the Kindle. The e-ink display emulates the appearance of an actual printed book. It is not backlit like an LCD display on the iPad. So you'll need light to read, just like you would to read a book. The display looked fairly readable indoors; I tried reading under sunlight and it actually looked better. The device is just 11mm thin and weighs as much as a Sidney Sheldon novel. Another good thing about the e-ink display is its low power consumption. On fully charging its 1500 mAh battery, it can run for 300 hours continuously, which is great.

It has 2GB built-in memory and has an SD card slot for expansion. A 3.5mm ear-phone jack and a miniUSB port lie at the bottom of the device. Yes, you can also use it like an MP3 player. The USB cable can be used for charging or for transferring books to the device from a computer. The XTS model on display supports Wi-Fi, while the X3G model supports Wi-Fi and 3G (it sells for Rs. 15,000). An array of formats are supported by the device including TXT, RTF, PDF, DOC, HTML. A QWERTY keyboard underneath lets you input stuff like Memos or search for words within a book. There's also a mail client if you want to use it to send/receive e-mails.


While using the Wink, I felt the build quality to be slightly plasticky. In my usage, the interface had a noticeable lag that didn't make me feel too good. The QWERTY keys aren't the best to type on, and fast typing resulted in missing characters from time to time. Anybody with a typing speed of above 10-15 words per minute will find this irritating. Hopefully, the version that sells in stores will have taken care of these niggles.

The Wink will sell for Rs. 11,500 in India. However, 12 grand for an e-reader is going to be out of the reach of the common Indian man; and will rather be a buy for the upper-market audience. It is two and a half times cheaper than another "pro-reading" device; the Apple iPad. But again, it isn't an fair comparison since the iPad does much more than just displaying books.

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