Review: The Stash eBook reader W950


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.

review The Stash eBook reader is one of a range of eBook readers for sale at Officeworks. Priced aggressively at $129, it is a TFT screen reader with music, video and multimedia capacity.

The first thing I noticed was the box is way bigger than the device, which gives a false impression of its size. See above for an illustrative reason why:

Secondly, this is not an e-ink device, so you would expect a vibrant colour screen. Yet in comparison with the Kobo eReader, the Stash is very dark to look at. While there are 5 backlight options, even the brightest was dim compared to an iPhone, and the darkest setting was very dark indeed while still illuminating the screen. While this may be needed to get longer battery life, it is also a poor use of the technology.

Another issue I found with the screen is the viewing angle. Comparing with the Kobo and an iPhone, the read angle is very tight (it must be close to perpendicular to the eye for viewing). The iPhone and Kobo can be viewed at any angle. If this is a problem for users is hard to determine, but it is a step back from the good viewing angles in LCD screens we take for granted today.

The formatting of the eBooks does not have the polish of other eReaders. The menu system looks good, with a springbound book user interface. However, when browsing the books, the text is not formatted. Headings and page breaks are not rendered well, and the text looks like the books have been converted to text file format. Page turning in eBooks is very quick, however as it should be for a non e-ink device.

Also, if you do not use a program like Calibre to catalogue books, the Stash uses file names to display books. This is not a problem, except that the Stash’s free books all use obscure file names (an example is “B017(B).txt”). This is inexcusable, as there is no other way to search for books except for by file name.

The formats supported by the Stash are quite good: ASCII, Unicode TXT. LRC, PDF, HTM, FB2, ePub, WTXT. No MS Reader support, and there is no DRM support whatsoever. So this is not the reader to use for any Australian based eBook retail site.

As stated, the Stash also has multimedia support, with MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, WAV, OGG audio formats support, Real Media, AVI, FLV (Flash), MP4, DAT, VOB (DVD), MPEG, MKV (Matroska) and MOV (Quick Time) video support. Image support includes the JPEG, BMP and GIF formats.

PDF rendering is good. A graphic-heavy PDF shows up on the screen in full colour. The default setting is full page, and an A4 size page renders small on the screen. You can increase the size of the text, and the rendering is quite similar to the way the Kobo renders PDF, with a pan and scan required to read the whole page. If you love the Ken Burns effect for PDF, this is great, but makes it harder for most other uses (to be fare, the Kobo also shares this fault).

As a TFT device, battery life is not on the same level as with e-ink products. The device claims 7 hours with eBooks, 30 hours of audio (without backlighting) and 5 hours video playback. I have not tested this, but will endeavour to do so.

The actual physical design is a strong point. The page turn buttons (left and right) are in a good location for both left- and right-handed people. The buttons are well designed, and are actually more responsive than the Kobo. The only issue I had was the menu (m) and return buttons were not intuitive at the start, but I quickly learnt how they work.

Storage is very good, with 2GB internal memory and a SDHD card that can take up to 16gb. It also acts as an USB disk drive when connected to a PC. The box contains a power adaptor (almost mandatory for this type of device), USB-USB2 cable and earphones.

For an initial review, I am not overwhelmed by the Stash. It is very nicely priced, and the hardware is impressive but it has the feel of a cheap knockoff device, especially in the software and user interface (UI) side of things. If it had a better OS, this would be a very nice product indeed, and I almost have the urge to port a Linux OS onto the device.

A larger screen would also have been nice as well — the 5″ screen is just a bit small for my liking. It also has the advantage of being widely available in Officeworks stores, and would be easier to buy than even the Kobo for those who use brick and mortar stores.

Image credit: Darryl Adams


  1. i just bought a stash ebook yesterday, for me currently the problem is loading new books onto it and i agree, the way they have named the ebooks on there is most inconvenient, but i bought it because it was easy to buy, and fairly priced as well as the very simple manner of the device, once you get to know what you do have on the device it is easy to work out where it is e.g. the books first letter it the author’s last name’s first letter, so it is simple a matter of quickly opening and closing them to find the right one, speed is a bonus as well… anyway i think that they do the job ^.^

  2. Thanks for your review. I bought a Stash 3 days ago, as my first ever ebook reader and I LOVE it. Yes, the free book names are appalling, but it was so cheap ($109 without card), plus it’s backlit, and I can read in bed at night without a light on, which is a real plus given that my partner is not a reader, and hates me having the light on to read. I was amazed at how quickly I was reading comfortably – I thought it would take a few days till I was comfortable reading on screen, but it’s just like reading my paperbacks.
    The big problem is buying books, especially as I’ve got $210 worth of giftcards for Angus and Robertsons, and their ebooks won’t work on Stash (Catch 22 – spend the money on a Sony or Kobe reader, which will cost more than I’ve got, then have no money left to buy ebooks.)
    Any recommendations for overseas websites where I can buy ebooks that work with my Stash?

  3. I was given a STASH W950 last weekend – my first eReader. I have been enjoying playing with it and geeting to know all features etc. Have just purchased and downloaded as epub (format) book from Borders web site. It appears that I will have to read it in pdf format. I can only hope that loading it onto my Stash will correct any opening problems, although a 2 kb file does not seem to be large enough for a James patterson book.

  4. I’ve had one for about six months now. As said above, not bad for the price, but it has it’s problems.
    It definately has the feel of a cheap knock off. Half the time you press one of the buttons and nothing happens.
    Reading anything other than a .txt file means no bookmarking, last viewed etc.
    Particularly annoying in large word documents of pdf’s.
    Features which i would expect to work on all documents.
    It plays music just fine.
    Some video file formats it struggles with and occasionally freezes while playing them.
    Rotating, enlarging and reading A4 pdf files with using the scroll up/down/left/right is a really clunky way to read.

    The file name thing is annoying but easy (though time consumingly) fixed by copying them onto you computer and re-naming them.

    It’s reasonable value for my first foray into ebook readers.

  5. I have this device.about pdf rendering it is so very poor. pdfs over 30mb of size cannot be rendered. the microform pdfs , the pdfs of improved compression methods and pdfs with good amount of meta data are shown every page white empty!!! just download an important book bilingual from and see how impossibly it is impossible to read such epub,txt,html rendering it is week in showing unicode standard characters as 2 books and pages of English literature i got are rendered with full Chinese characters!!!!

  6. After using my Stash for just over twelve months I have discovered that the memory card has become difficult to remove. I think there was a small spring which helped push it out of the reader. This spring does not seem to work anymore – maybe due to the fact that the card has not been removed for months. Whatever the cause it is a nuisance.

    Other than this the Stash has been a good ‘friend’ keeping my company on a Cairns holiday early in 2011 while holding around 100 of my books, plus the classics that were already on it plus photos, YouTube videos and it still has over fifty percent of its capacity free. If it does malfunction I will be seeking another e-reader as it is a great way to carry one’s reading, photos etc. I would not be without one!

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