The Pocketbook 301 is a simple Ukrainian eReader device which does the basic text reading tasks fine, but which is quickly becoming obsolescent. It is actually a variant of the Netronix EB-600, the most copied eReader design in the world (a pity it isn't particularly exceptional). It has the same basic hardware as the the European Cybook Gen 3, the UK COOL-ER and Elonex, the Polish eClicto, the South Korean Soribook, NUUT and the US eSlick and Astak Mentor Lite. We understand it is soon to be superceded by a Pocketbook 302 model.
It is an adequate eReader for text, but is showing its age, and is only capable of displaying eight greyscales (compared to 16 for the latest Amazon, Sony, and iRex models); fine for text, but not the best for graphics.
The design is pleasingly simple, with only an on/off button, a four way directional control pad, delete, menu, and music buttons--in fact the user can re-assign buttons to different functions as desired. The screen doesn't take up quite as much as room as you'd think though, and the margins of plastic are larger than we'd expect in a more modern eReader.
Not much ergonomic thought appears to have gone into the page flipping mechanism, which on most eReaders is a large, long button on the edges which responds to a gentle press; on the 301 the button is small and requires quite a click. This may seem a minor point, but since you'll be clicking it thousands of times to flip the page, more thought really should have gone into the mechanism.
The Pocketbook 301 comes with a meager 256MB of memory out of the box, but can be expandable by SD and SDHC card to up to 32 GB. However, software allows you to get RSS-News, Calendar, Notes, and (in a rare inclusion for eReaders) Sudoku.
It can play MP3 and AAC music files via (nonstandard) 2.5mm jack earphones, but no speaker. The lithium ion battery should last some 8,000 page turns or around 2 weeks of heavy reading.
Pocketbook is based in Kiev, Ukraine, and has a reputation for good develops who listen to their user base in updating firmware and such. They have since produced the surprisingly good Pocketbook 360 and are working on the Kindle DX-sized Pocketbook 901.
Connecting: The Pocketbook 301 has no internet connectivity and must be plugged into a PC via a USB 2.0 cord.
Accessories: For an extra $25, when you purchase you can also get a wall charger and 2GB memory card, which we highly recommend if you decide to purchase the Pocketbook 301.
Price: $275. At the moment it is sold in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, EU (Baltic countries, Germany), Israel, and since October 2009 the United States as well.