The Ectaco jetBook Oxford+ educational eReader

I’ve always thought that the natural place for eBook readers resides in schools, if only to prevent kids from the terrible backache caused by heavy backpacks.  Ectaco have just announced an eReader especially for schoolchildren, the jetBook Oxford+ / jetBook K-12 (they don’t seem to have made up their mind on the title). What immediately strikes you about this is the design- it comes in its own stand with penholders and the Ectaco C Pen arranged to its side. It’s quite an eye-catching design, and the finish is ruggedized, to cope with all those knocks and bumps in the playground.

The jetBook Oxford + comes preinstalled with a selection of books from the reading lists of states countrywide and  has a 5 inch TFT screen, is 15mm thick and weighs in at 220g. It has been designed with the education system in mind, and this is evident from the number of thoughtful features included in the device. The included Ectaco C-Pen allows you to scan printed text and upload it to the eReader, which will enable students to put the majority of work they get given on their device, and get rid of all those ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses.

Included on the jetBook Oxford is a built in microphone and speakers, which allow you to practice language skills. It comes with the Speaking Oxford English Dictionaries and Speaking Oxford English-Spanish Dictionary installed (with the option of 38 extra languages) and is a great way to brush up on those language skills. You also get their Interactive Phonetic Language Teacher program which is a step to step guide to learning foreign languages.

There’s more to this device than just language however, as you also get a range of reference books installed on various subjects, including Maths, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science. There’s an interactive periodic table to play with, an interactive course on US History and they’ve included, Graphing, Scientific and Accounting Calculators.

If that wasn’t enough, you can also use the microphone to store audio notes, or input text notes manually onto the device. Those with learning difficulties will also appreciate this, as they’ve enabled voice recognition and a feedback system to help disabled students navigate around the device. I really like that they’ve included this extra touch- as there should be more products that cater to those with disabilities. It’s a clever addition as well, as by including this, they’ll make it more ‘accessible’ for everyone and allow schools to fill their accessibility quotas- so everyone wins!

It can play a wide range of formats- Adobe DRM 9.1, ePub, Mobi, PRC, RTF, TXT, JPG, PNG- the list goes on.

It will cost approx $250 and be available around February 2011.

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