MIBOOK DIGITAL PLAYER - COOKBOOK
REVIEW

miBook Digital Cookbook


What is the miBook?

This digital frame is billed as “the first multimedia book that revolutionizes traditional cookbooks, travel guides, pregnancy and parenting primers, crafts books, home improvement guides, children’s books, and more by bringing them to life with video clips, images, and sound."

So what exactly is a miBook? Perhaps it would qualify as an e-book reader. But it goes further than an e-book reader by combining text with video and sound.

I would have to say that this product is more like a PDA (personal digital assistant) which can also double as a digital picture frame and a music and video player. It is a bit disappointing that it lacks wireless capabilities.

The Cookbook

I chose the cookbook package of this product to give as a gift because of its innovative way of providing recipe instructions with step-by-step video clips, images and sound. The player will stop automatically after each step while the user performs the task that has just been explained. Pushing "play" will move the player forward to the next step.

miBook Digital Cookbook

I think this product could make cooking fun. The cookbook recipes come from the Food Network, including such shows as Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals and Robin Miller’s Quick and Easy recipes.

The miBook will find recipes that meet specific requirements such as what to cook and how to cook it based on how much time is available. The unit I got comes with two SD (Secure Digital) cards loaded with 300 recipes. More cards are available and the company expects to keep expanding the titles.

miBook Digital Cookbook



The miBook player and associated cards can be ordered from miBook and other retailers such as Staples and Borders or online retailers such as Amazon.com.

STYLE

Frame Appearance:

To me, the miBook looks like it was intended to be a kitchen appliance. The surface is glossy white and sleek and modern-looking.

Buttons:

The three buttons (escape, select and a large circular button with right, left and up and down arrows) are located on the right side of the screen with the screen itself taking up the major portion of the front.

miBook Cookbook Player

The remote has many more buttons since the miBook is a multi-media device as well as a cookbook. I found both the buttons on the unit and the ones on the remote to be very intuitive and responsive.

The screen does not have a protective cover so it is important to be careful with the frame itself when preparing food. I was able to put a small sandwich bag over the remote control to protect it from soiling and it worked fine.

The memory slot and the on/off slider button are located on the top of the unit. There is a power adapter port and a USB port for the included USB cable. An earphone jack is located on the bottom (making it a bit hard to get to when using the stand). The unit also contains 2 built in speakers.

miBook Cookbok Player

Portability is a welcome feature of the miBook player. The unit comes with a factory-installed re-chargeable Li-ion battery. The battery charges whenever it is in the player with the AC adapter plugged in. When it is charging, the indicator light on top of the player shows red. When it is fully charged, the indicator light turns off. On the downside, there is no way to tell how much charge the unit has at any time. The manufacturer states that the Mi-book can show video for 2 hours on one charge.

DISPLAY OPTIONS

The miBook Digital Player can be displayed on a table or counter top with the frame stand that pulls out from the back. When the stand is closed, it returns flush to the bottom and back of the frame and clicks back in. This makes for a very sturdy stand which can be easily secured if it is to be portable.

It would seem to me that this product could easily be used as an attractive under-the-counter-appliance in the kitchen. A bit of ingenuity and the proper mounting brackets are all that would be needed!

IMAGE DISPLAY QUALITY

Screen Resolution:

The screen resolution was adequate for viewing most of my photos. However, I did notice some pixelation at times, not only with my photos but also when the video clips from the miBook’s SD recipe cards were being displayed.

The graphics could be of a higher quality but they serve the purpose for which they were intended. The pictures were generally clear and bright. The navigation menus are rather primitive (according to today’s standards) but again, they are clear and do what they were intended to do.

Aspect Ratio:

The preferred ratio is landscape or 16:9. The portrait (4:3) mode can be accessed from the remote. However, this will only put the pictures in portrait mode. The player cannot be repositioned (if the stand is being used).

Brightness, Contrast and Color:

Brightness, contrast and color can be controlled from the frame or the remote.

Viewing Angle:

The viewing angle is adequate. For reading miBook’s SD card titles, the user would most likely be looking straight at the screen (the best viewing angle) to read the directions.

Screen Backlighting Display:

The player has a 7” TFT LCD with LED backlight for bright and clear pictures (except for the pixelation mentioned above).

Screen Surface:

The actual viewing area is 6” x approx. 3.5”. Please note the caution mentioned above when using this product as a cooking (or home decorating) aid.

METHODS of CONNECTIVITY for TRANSFERRING IMAGES

USB 2.0 (Cable included).

SUPPORTED FILE TYPES:

Memory Card Formats:

The miBook Digital Player supports SD (Secure Digital), MS (Memory Stick, MMC (Multi-Media Card) and xD Picture Cards.

A word of warning: the unit seems to function best with SD cards. Some consumers have had problems removing other cards that had been inserted.

Picture Formats:

JPEG as well as other formats such as BMP, TIF and GIF are supported. The maximum resolution for a JPEG image is 156,384 horizontal with no vertical limitation.

Audio Formats:

The unit supports MP3. I found the sound to be good as long as the volume is not too high. The volume can be adjusted from the remote.

Video Formats:

The player supports a surprising variety of video formats such as MPEG-1 MPEG-II, MPEG4 and AVI, as well as DIVX.

PICTURE FUNCTIONS & ADVANCED FEATURES

Automatic Slideshow:

The slideshow starts automatically and has 3 intervals--slow, medium and fast.

Slideshow Settings:

Transition effects are many and include normal, random, bottom to top, top to bottom, left to right, right to left, top left to bottom right, bottom left to top right, bottom right to top left, as well as horizontal door to close, horizontal door to open, horizontal intercross, vertical intercross and fade in and out.

A simple click is all that is necessary to add a musical accompaniment to a slideshshow.

Zoom:

Five levels of zoom are available from the remote.

Clock and Calendar:

A digital clock with a calendar and an alarm are built in, further expanding the functionality of this unit.

Photo Rotation:

This feature is also available from the remote.

Recognition of Files and Folders:

Twelve photo thumbnails can be displayed at a time.

On-Screen Language Choices:

English, German, French, Spanish and Chinese are available for selection from the remote.

Remote:

A remote with battery is included with the player. The remote has a good range, its buttons are well-marked and they are responsive and intuitive to use.

ACCESSORIES INCLUDED

Instruction Manual, miBook Player, Power Adapter, Factory- installed, rechargeable Li-ion Battery, USB Cable and Remote Control are included. SD cards with varying content from different experts may be included in some packages. (The cookbook version comes with 2 SD cards.

WARRANTY

One year.

COMPATIBILITY

Windows PC and Mac OS 9 and higher.

KUDOS

Very easy to set up. Mine was up and running right away.

Unique concept of automatic stopping after a task is explained. The user can learn at his or her own rate.

Relatively inexpensive and the SD card titles are also inexpensive.

Expanding list of titles for to facilitate learning in various genres.

Remote very responsive and intuitive with buttons clearly marked for most controls such as volume, forward and back, up and down, music slideshow, slideshow, video mode, etc. Remote also has a good range.

Can be used with a Mac.

Has portability with rechargeable battery.

Pull-out stand is sturdy (though not adjustable and is not wall-mountable). Stand clicks securely into frame when not in use.

On-screen menu option for different languages.

Audio good if volume not too loud.

Navigation is adequate and intuitive.

Customer support is US-based.

CAVEATS

Screen not protected, considering its usage in the kitchen. (Can use a small plastic bag for remote when cooking).

SD cards work fine. Not all other types work as well.

No way to tell how long before battery needs charging.

Some pixelation. Image quality could be better but is adequate.

Graphics quality is adequate but a bit “backward”.

No internal storage.

No place to store remote.

Unit can be turned off and on from the frame or the remote but off/on time is not programmable.

Cannot delete or copy an image.

Some consumers have had problems with receiving requested support.

Only 3 slideshow interval settings.

Audio quality questioned by some consumers who thought the sound was too soft. I did not find that to be the case at all.

CONCLUSION

This product makes a very unique gift, especially for newlyweds or parents-to-be. In its intended usage as a do-it-yourself training assistant, it exceeds very well. As a digital frame for the photo connoisseur, it leaves a bit to be desired.

The manufacturer of the miBook offers an expanding list of titles based on information from experts in the chosen fields and produced on relatively inexpensive SD cards. With its innovative way of automatically stopping after a task is explained, the miBook can serve as a personal training manual and it makes an excellent gift besides.

Where to Buy It?

The miBook Player and associated SD cards can be found at the manufacturer's website, retailers such as Staples and Borders and online retailer sites such as Amazon.com.


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