An overview of Officeworks’ eBook readers


opinion I was recently surprised to see in my local Officeworks store a range of eBook readers (admittedly, I had to look down as they where stocked next to W-Fi dongles in one of the strangest shop fittings I have ever seen).

Now the range is rather varied in price, from the Stash W950 at $129 right up to the Hanvon BC10C Touchpad at $898.

I quickly looked at the Pico, which seems to be the brand name for the e-ink version of the Stash, as well as the Stash itself. On paper, both look impressive, with 2GB memory, a wide range of format support, and reasonable prices.

The stats for the Stash (thanks to AprilHare fom Mobilereads for the data):

  • Display: 5″ TFT LCD

  • Built-in memory: 2GB
  • External memory: SD/SDHC up to 16GB
  • Battery life:
eBook up to 7 hours, eBook & music up to 5 hours*
  • Resolution: 800×480
  • Digital file formats:

  • Preloaded with 100 free books
  • 12 months manufacturer’s warranty

And the Pico (from Officeworks’ Website):

  • Display: 6″ e-nk 8 grey level
  • Built-in memory: 2GB
  • External memory: Micro SD, up to 16GB
  • Battery life: eBook: 4000 pages (up to 20 hours), eBook & music up to 7 hours
  • Resolution: 800×600
  • Preloaded with 100 free books
  • 12 months manufacturer’s warranty

So off to Mobileread forums I go, where a really great blogpost from Chris Grey highlighted some issues with the Pico.

Some interesting quotes:

The positives:

It feels great in your hands, and the weight (a mere 156g) is evenly balanced and considerably lighter than anything else on the market. The page turning buttons on the back are a welcome change from most readers, and even being a southpaw they’re still more handy than front navigation. The internal 2GB memory seems more than enough for a dedicated eBook reader without having to use an SD card. Plugged into USB it becomes a mass storage device, so it’ll play friendly with Linux and anything else you throw at it. Even though you could drag and drop books onto it, you’ve got full Calibre support to make life easier.

Unfortunately, the many negatives:

The obvious kickers with a no-frills reader; no touchscreen, no Wi-Fi, no 3G, and no dictionary. Piano black finish is a terrible fingerprint magnet, but great for forensically proving who deleted your bookmarks. The screen, although bright (and with that trademark light-catching background) has a fair degree less contrast than a regular book. The feather-touch navigation buttons on the bottom are all too easy to press accidentally while reading, and recovery is made more difficult by the confusing menu system.

Format-wise, ePub worked fine as did plaintext, but I couldn’t get plucker books to work at all. I didn’t test PDF, although the manual states that PDF rendering is so intensive that MP3 support is turned off during reading. Forget trying to change the font if it’s not your style; the only one available looks a lot like Arial. There are five sizes, although anything beyond the smallest two are laughably impractical for reading. Although the page turns are what you’d expect from an e-ink screen refresh, there seems to be a distinct lag to certain operations such as changing the font sizes.

There’s no slipcase or cover to protect the screen, and with it’s odd size and protruding navigation button, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything off the shelf to fit well. The operating system is not designed for readers, with several confusing levels and really ugly UI. The box states that you expand the memory with micro SD, yet the slot is for regular SD. Worse still … The single worst negative is the false advertising — both on the box, online and in store.

Chris takes the effort to do a grayscale test on the Pico and found it to be 4 shade greyscale and not the advertised 8 shades. Four shades makes the price cheaper, but it is illegal to improperly advertise the wrong specs in a product. Hopefully Officeworks will fix this glaring issue.

For me, one important fact is that neither the Pico and the Stash have any DRM whatsoever. Yes, DRM is poopoo bad, but it means that these two devices can not be used with ANY commercial eBook store in Australia is rather disappointing. Devices like these will not endear themselves to eBook retailers, and seem to be marketed at the people who actively avoid DRM or use less than ethical means of obtaining books.

The Stash is a very cheap reader, in my opinion, at a great price point at $129. Howwever, LCD screens are power-hungry compared to e-ink, and 7 hours is not great. However, both the Stash and Pico both have audio playback function, making this a good compromise between the bare bones Kobo and the full featured Kindle and nook.

My recommendation, if you don’t care about buying books through Australian eBook stores is that the Pico and Stash are very good value. If you do want to purchase commercial books in Australia, this is not the device to use with our DCMA-inspired Free Trade Agreement legislation.

Darryl Adams is a government worker and internet tragic. A former IT worker, he still pines for the days of IBM keyboards that go CRUNCH and the glow of green screens. He can be found on on Twitter or on Facebook. Check out his site for more articles about e-book readers, retailers, formats and news (or will have when Darryl can be drawn away from reading Delimiter).

The views expressed here do not reflect the views of his employer, the ATO.

Image credit: Officeworks


  1. Hi Darryl,

    Many thanks for bringing the grayscale e-ink panel levels to our attention. We have looked into this and the manufacturer has confirmed that Pico W960 has a 4 greyscale e-ink panel whereas the Pico 6001 has an 8 greyscale e-ink panel. You’re absolutely right, there was a misprint on the W960 packaging – it should in fact read 4 greyscale and not 8. The manufacturer is in the process of amending the packaging which we aim to have in our stores ASAP.

    Thanks again for your help, it’s much appreciated.

    Felicia Booth
    PR Manager

  2. That’s good to hear, although I do still wonder if the 1500mah batttery claim is true – the other rebadged units in other countries are only 1000mah.

    I do feel sorry for OfficeWorks here, they jumped in (much like those selling the Kobo) at exactly the wrong time. If they can meet the new market pricing, great, but a $200+ ereader has to be very special to compete with the new Kindle models and what Sony is releasing soon.

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