Hands-on with the Kyobo Mirasol eReader

Korean eBook company Kyobo is now selling the first consumer device with a Qualcomm Mirasol display (although a Chinese company just announced that it’s ready to follow suit). The Kyobo eReader runs a modified version of Google Android 2.3 with an emphasis on eBooks, but it can also play videos, view photos, or perform other activities.

That’s important, because unlike eReaders with E Ink displays, the Kyobo eReader can handle color content and full-motion video… to a degree.

It turns out that tablet suffers from slow frame rates, so video looks choppy. And the screen is pretty underwhelming. Yes, you can view it clearly even in direct sunlight (or under a full-spectrum light at a tradeshow event, as the case may be), but the colors aren’t very vibrant and they look washed out when you view the screen from an angle.

It’s great to see the Mirasol technology in an actual product. Qualcomm has been showing off demos for years. But it would be even nicer if the tablet was faster, the backlight wasn’t so bright, and the overall user experience felt more pleasant. It’s hard to say if the Kyobo eReader is underwhelming because of the processor, operating system, screen, or some combination of the three. But it doesn’t seem to offer many advantages over existing devices for reading digital books.

Qualcomm says the eReader should be able to last for up to 3 or 4 weeks on a charge… but that’s using the same measuring stick applied to E Ink devices (reading for a half hour a day with WiFi turned off). You’re battery will probably run down much more quickly than that if you use the device for extended web browsing or video viewing sessions.