• Goncourt, Femina, Renaudeau... At a time when the 2023 Literary Awards are tempting in bookstores, avid readers may want to savor them on an e-reader.
  • Comfortable with its 7.8-inch screen and 32GB storage capacity, the new Vivlio InkPad 4 seems cut out for exercise.
  • Sold for 269 euros, it is also suitable for listening to audiobooks and reading manga.

Most of the 2023 Literary Awards have fallen*. For avid readers, but also episodic readers, this is an opportunity to invest more than usual in bookstores, essential places to get advice from wise professionals, and to leave with a few kilos of books under their arm. Those who are less muscular and more sure of their choices can opt for an e-reader, whose memory can support the equivalent of tons of novels, essays, or even manga. With its new InkPad 4**, the French firm Vivlio is renewing its range with an e-reader that has arguments to seduce literary bulimics. 20 Minutes was able to turn the pages.

A large screen for optimal comfort

For the past ten years, Vivlio (which bought its competitor Bookeen a year ago) has had the digital book in its heart. Ease of use, devices suitable for avid readers, public transport users and travellers, but also for all those who do not want to be encumbered by printed books, follow one another and improve over time. It took four years for the InkPad to be renewed. Its fourth version undeniably plays the card of reading comfort**.

Waterproof (IPX8 standard), discreet (13.4 x 18.93 0.79 cm) and a decent weight (265 g without case) for a 7.8-inch screen e-reader, the InkPad 4 will not disturb those used to free paperbacks. The reading experience here is, in terms of format, close to that of a paper book.

Let's face it: no more plastic borders around the reading area, like on the InkPad 3, the panel now occupies the entire surface. In the hand, the black grooved plastic back of the e-reader adds to the perception of the quality of the product, whose screen (1,404 x 1,872 pixels, for 300 ppi) offers a very nice reading finesse, even when zooming in on the text. Of course, it is possible to choose your reading font, a "dark" mode (the text is displayed in white on a black screen), etc.

At night, without light... Blue

Right from the start, we can see that the lighting also offers a real uniformity, without having the feeling found on many reading lights that the light "comes from below". At the bottom, precisely, is a very discreet pad of physical keys: Menu, Back Page, Front Page, ON/OFF. But those who prefer to turn the pages at the touch of a button rather than swipe their finger across the screen may be a little disappointed: the dedicated keys are very (too) thin and require a relatively firm press. Good point for the "Smart Light" mode which filters blue light and will, as usual, be appreciated by night owl readers. Finally, it should be noted that the e-reader's built-in gyroscope allows you to switch playback from the classic vertical to the horizontal format.

Free excerpts, to read or listen to

We took advantage of a rainy weekend to read several hours about this new InkPad 4 and taste, in particular, the first pages of the exciting Prix Goncourt 2023, Veille sur elle, by Jean-Baptiste Andrea. As with all e-books, they can be downloaded free of charge as an "excerpt". This is a great way to get an idea of a book before buying it.

The same principle applies to audiobooks, with which this e-reader, which has a small speaker, but also Bluetooth compatibility to attach headphones, earphones or wireless speakers (it unfortunately does not have a headphone jack): it is possible to download an excerpt to listen to it.

In this regard, we regret that the Vivlio bookstore, accessible via Wi-Fi from the e-reader, does not combine the different versions (digital and audio) of the same book: only the former are offered. To flush out the seconds, it is still necessary to go from a computer, tablet or smartphone to the Vivlio website where the Audiobooks category is duly represented, to proceed with its purchase from its account, and then to synchronize the e-reader. Can do better.

Still, the price of audio versions of some books, such as Joël Dicker's Alaska Sanders Affair, can be disconcerting: €27.99 for MP3, compared to €16.99 for digital! 9 euros difference... It's a shame that publishers still don't offer discounted e-book + audiobook packs – when their version exists – for the same book: you can only buy them separately.

It should also be noted that the price of e-books is definitely lower than that of paperbacks, by a few euros. The price of audiobooks remains much higher.

Suitable for manga... in black and white

Our tests also led us into the world of manga, as the InkPad 4 has a screen format that is particularly well suited to reading manga, close to that of paper books. Admittedly, it's only in black and white and its contrasts lack depth for the comic. But the device's memory (32 GB) allows you to religiously keep all the One Pieces on your person!

The main criticism that could be made of the Vivlio InkPad 4, sold for 269 euros (count 19 euros more for a case), remains a relative latency for some actions that are triggered. Almost zero (and fortunately!) when you turn the pages, innocuous when you want to change a parameter, it can be several seconds when you browse the manufacturer's e-shop, even with a good Internet connection. Accustomed as we are to the immediacy of smartphones, time can seem long if we get lost in the shelves...

*Prix Goncourt and Prix du roman FNAC: Veille sur elle, by Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Éd. L'Iconoclaste (€15.99 ePub, €23.99 in MP3; €22.50 in paperback).

Prix Femina: Triste Tigre, by Neige Sinno; Published by P.O.L. (€14.99 ePub; €17.99 in MP3; €20 in paperback).

Prix Renaudot: Les insolents, by Ann Scott, Ed. Calman-Lévy (€12.99 ePub; €18 paperback).

Prix Médicis: May Our Joy Remain, by Kevin Lambert, Ed. Nouvel Attila (13.99 ePub; 19.50 euros paperback).

Prix de Flore: Western, by Maria Pouchet, Ed. Stock (€14.99 ePub; €20.90 paperback).

Prix de l'Académie française: Une façon d'aimer, by Dominique Barbéris, Ed. Gallimard (€13.99 ePub; €19.50 paperback).

** The InkPad 4 is compatible with standard formats (EPUB, PDF, MOBI, TXT...), illustrated formats (CBR, CBZ), e-books borrowed from libraries (protected by LCP) and audiobooks.

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