Apart from Amazon’s now aging 9.7in Kindle DX larger screen readers are pretty rare, but good for some niches – the consumption of technical PDF files, help documentation and so on – and this is the only other way to get it.
The PocketBook Pro 902 features a 1200 x 825 9.7in E Ink screen, and it’s a nicely made piece of equipment. It’s slim and light (only 570g), and the white and silver plastics both look and feel smart.
Fittingly, file format support is broad. Along with the usual suspects, the 902 supports CHM, DVJU, RTF, HTML, DOC, TCR and FB2 files. Elsewhere, the 902 is equally well specified. There’s onboard Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, plus a web browser that allows you to download books directly to the device. It comes with 1000 Gutenberg Project texts preloaded, has a 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom for playing audiobooks, and there’s even an accelerometer that rotates the screen automatically.
It coped well with most of our test documents. A map-heavy academic text with a two-column layout and a manual for a D-Link wireless router both displayed in a readable manner, without the need for zooming. If you need to zoom in, the 902 also has a customisable column-reading view, akin to one found on the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, plus a reflow option that pulls out only the text and displays it full-screen. CHM files didn’t display cleanly, though: instead of frames, files were displayed flat and the result was a confusing mess.
There are further problems, too. First, the 902 feels sluggish to use. Page turns are glacial, with EPUB page turns taking a full two seconds. General navigation is just as slow and the onscreen keyboard is jaw-clenchingly frustrating. Second, screen quality isn’t great, with text looking slightly greyer and the “white” background looking distinctly darker than the best in the Labs.
The PocketBook Pro 902 may appeal to some with its file format support, PDF-friendly 9.7in screen, and huge range of features. But the high price and poor performance means that we can’t give it a good score.