The Sharper Image Literati Wireless Reader – review

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Most of my reading is done in bed with a flashlight.  It’s a habit I’ve developed and I enjoy being able to just set the book and flashlight down and go to sleep.  It helps me wind down and I actually look forward to it each night.  It’s sometimes awkward to lay in bed and set the flashlight just right to shine on the book and not roll off, but it’s worth it for me.

While ereaders have been something I was interested in, I hadn’t taken the plunge in getting one because I’d still have to deal with the flashlight, and for the way I read it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

With my new Literati Wireless Reader from The Sharper Image, I’ve been able to put away the flashlight and still read in the dark!

Our Digital Reader gives you instant access to millions of reasonably priced and nearly 2 million free book titles from the Kobo bookstore. Extremely portable, the Literati Reader goes wherever you go, and integrates with your computer and smart phone. With the Reader device, you can turn the page, and adjust type size and the screen brightness with the touch of a button on this 7” color screen.


  • Has a 7″ backlit color LCD screen
  • Built-in connection to Kobo (a global eReading service with access to nearly 2 million titles) through your home or office wireless network.
  • List price is $159 (will likely drop as we approach the holiday season)
  • Comes with a protective case/cover.
  • Is rechargeable using the included A/C adapter.
  • Is not a touch screen, and has a keyboard to perform searches in the bookstore.
  • Enough storage space for hundreds of titles.
  • Adjustable screen brightness.
  • Adjustable text size.

I’ve been using the Literati Reader for a little over a week now and honestly I have a love-hate relationship with it.  It has some really “good” features for me but also has some “not-so-good” things going on with it for me.

Is the “good” enough to out-weigh the “not-so-good”?  I think so.  Let’s take a look…


Backlit LCD

The Literati fills a definite need for me.  Where other ereaders are designed to mimic the look of paper, whereby not allowing night reading without an additional light source, the Literati is backlit and is perfect for night reading.  The screen brightness is adjustable and I really love not needing a flashlight.

Color screen

The Literati screens are in color and really attractive to the eye.  I enjoy seeing my books on the screen as if I was looking at a bookshelf.  Being able to see the covers in full color as I select which book I want to read next helps make it more of a tactile experience – more like reading an actual book.

Size and feel

The Literati comes with a protective case that opens like a book.  The unit fits in it really well and I like the feel of the case.  It helps protect it but also adds to the feeling of actually reading a book because of the way it opens.  The unit itself is a great size overall.  It’s a tad long because of the keyboard at the bottom, but it is slim and fits nicely into a bag.


The Literati makes it easy to search for books in the bookstore and it’s very nice not to have to plug the unit into the computer every time you want to download a book.  Having a wireless connection to buy books is very convenient.  The numbered keypad on the bottom is fairly easy to use and searching for a book is quick and easy.

Sleep mode

The literati on/off switch, when pressed once quickly, puts the unit to sleep so it doesn’t drain your battery but you don’t have to wait for the full load each time.  It saves your place in the book and turns right on to the last place you left off.  This is a nice feature because it is as easy as opening a book to start reading.  It’s instantaneous.


(make sure you read my updates below as some of the issues I had originally have been corrected)

I’ve had a bit of trouble with some of the functions of the Literati.

  • The strap on the case that holds the unit in place covers up the power button.
  • Some of the letter buttons stick when I am searching the store causing me to have to cancel out and start over.
  • Connecting to the store wirelessly is buggy at best.  I usually have to reset the unit using the button on the back (I do not lose my downloads) and then it will connect.
  • The adjustable text size is nice but I wish it would go a step or 2 smaller, it still seems larger than the print of a book on it’s smallest setting.
  • The page navigation on the sides to turn the page sometimes require pressing 2 or 3 times to get the page to turn.
  • My computer will not recognize the Literati (a known bug) so I cannot manually add PDF’s or other books I might get elsewhere besides Kobo.  I also cannot get the Literati to read from the SD Card.
  • The battery life before requiring charging is measured in terms of hours rather than days – meaning it doesn’t last as long as other ereaders.  I think the backlit LCD is the culprit so I can’t complain too much since that is my favorite feature.
  • The battery life indicator does not show up while you are actually reading a book and it doesn’t give you enough time to get to the plug to plug it in before it shuts off.
  • I purchased Carol Burnett’s autobiography (I’ve always wanted to read it) and while each chapter has pictures, the pictures do not show up on the Literati – just the caption, which is pretty annoying.
  • The Kobo bookstore claims to have 1.8 million FREE titles.  I can only find a couple hundred.

On a day-to-day basis, using and reading with the Literati Wireless Reader has been a great experience.  It fits into my lifestyle, and has some great features not available on other comparable ereaders.  The “not-so-good” features are minor annoyances when looked at individually.  When looked at collectively, it is quite a laundry list of items, but I still find myself leaning more towards the “love” end than the “hate’ end of the spectrum, because for me, the night reading is my main use of the unit and it really makes it easy for me.  I am optimistic that The Sharper Image will provide the necessary software updates (the manual states the unit will prompt when updates are available) to fix some of the “not-so-good” things I mentioned.

I hope so, because the Literati Wireless Reader is on the cusp of greatness!

UPDATE 11/21/2010: Today my Literati did a wireless update.  I turned it on and it informed me that a software update was available, so I clicked ok to download.  It took roughly 20 minutes then insisted on restarting.  It locked up.  Would not restart.  So I pressed the reset button on the back.  The Literati restarted, clearly had done an update because a new option was available in the menu, and the best part is that now my computer recognizes it!  Yay!

UPDATE 12/30/2010: Because this was a blog tour sponsored by Mom Central, the unit I received had had a software update done before I received the ereader that apparently caused a number of problems with many of the reviewers participating.

So, in an effort to ensure we experienced the Literati the way a consumer would, they sent us new units.

I do not have the same issues I had with the original unit, but as I mentioned, the original unit also improved after a wireless update a few weeks after I started using it.  I do however, still have a few minor issues.  The page turn buttons do not always react and I occasionally have to hit them quite a few times for the page to turn.  Also, if the battery runs out, the unit resets, forcing me to re-input the date and time and it loses my bookmarks in any books I was reading.

All problems aside, I do LOVE my Literati.  I now read every night, sometimes staying up well past when a reasonable person should go to sleep reading.  I can take it anywhere and have a whole library of books at my fingertips.

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of The Sharper Image and received a Literati eReader to facilitate my review.”

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  1. LSRRNENS4 says

    I have a master’s degree in Software Engineering and I cannot figure out why I cannot “drag and drop” books from my computer to the Literati. I bought this for my husband at a very good price as I have a Kindle 3 and love it. I would not recommend this eReader.

  2. Jazz says

    I received literati for my birthday and have had it for 1 month. The battery does not last long, I have to reset it at least once a day because it freezes. the page turn arrows dont always work. I dont think it is a good buy for someone who reads alot. I am bringing it back to the store to see if maybe something is just wrong with my unit. Will keep you up to date

  3. says

    “Actual user experiences may differ” – Overall I think the price point for what the Literati is selling for makes it quite reasonable as an intro e-reader to consumers who have never used one before. For the occasional user, I think the Literati will work out just fine. Thanks for an honest review of your personal experience!

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