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Topic: E-readers (Read 1316 times)

  • ersi
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E-readers
It seemed that e-reader screens would converge to 6 inches, but considerably bigger devices keep being produced too.



Amazingly, after new year I still had money left, so I bought myself an e-reader. It turns out that the screen is indeed very nice to have when you read a lot of pdfs and epubs (which I do), even though the devices tend to be short on other functionality. The screen is wonderfully convenient compared to a night lamp and a book, and better than a mobile phone's LCD screen.

Insofar as e-readers are meant to display text, there should be font settings (types and sizes) everywhere. My e-reader doesn't permit changing fonts in pdfs, not even when the text reflows. There's no changing of font types and sizes in the web browser either. There should be.

The web browser should permit saving pages as text or HTML. Web-to-PDF would be nice to have. These things are easy to do in a computer and then load onto the e-reader, but it seems like a natural function for the e-reader itself.

Text-to-speech (and saving the file, i.e. conversion of text formats to audio) should be standard in sound-capable devices. Producers of e-readers should be pioneering the speech software for other languages than English. It's an accessibility thing.

More dictionaries too, particularly from other-than-English to English. And more non-Latin scripts/fonts. Producers of e-readers should be actively developing these things.

Even though e-ink screens have only shades of grey, no colours, there should be colour settings to adjust contrast and such. At least there should be a setting to invert the text and background colours. It's again an accessibility thing. Koreader is a program that fixes this particular aspect on my device, though not globally. Settings like this make sense globally.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #25
And on bigger screens, such as 13", I would want to be able to put two arbitrary apps side by side. But on Android, when an app is open, it's fullscreen open, nothing less.

Actually Android N will finally offer that functionality (see e.g. here). Of course, few people even have Android Marshmallow (6.0) yet, and even now new devices are still being released on Android 4.x.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #26
Android 6 for Xperia Z* is out in Japan, I remember having read somewhere. Supposedly my Xperia M5 is planned to carry it too, but nobody knows when.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #27
Pocketbook Sense has quite enjoyable reader software of its own, while Koreader completes it perfectly. Being so happy with the software and features, I bought another Pocketbook for a friend and discovered another characteristic that matters - build quality.

It's astonising to compare the casing of Pocketbook Sense and Touch Lux 3; they are totally different. Pocketbook Sense is cheap creaky plastic, while Touch Lux 3 is solid metallic. The feature set and software are near-identical. The only differences are

- The button set and placement
- Sense has so-called ambient light feature, useless in practice.

Build quality matters even when you have a protective etui for the device. It would be interesting to know if the 13.3" e-ink products have given any consideration to build quality.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #28
In Pocketbook e-readers there's this awesome feature:

When I highlight something in a book or I scribble or set a bookmark somewhere, these actions are registered in the Notes app. I can open Notes and see which books I have interacted with.

It's almost as good as Notes in Opera and Otter. Is this feature present in other e-readers too? Kindle and Kobo?

The feature is very good to have. It's hopefully there in Goodereader's 13.3" thingie too (it would not even make sense without it).

However, the Notes app in Pocketbook e-readers would be better with a more detailed list. I can see that I have done something in a book, but to see what exactly it was I have to click the note to open the book and then check it up in the book. This is why it's not quite as good as in Opera.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #29
Eventually I have come to like my e-reader a lot. It's a Pocketbook Sense. (Hopefully the image quality is not too bad. VGA cams on phones were top notch super hot a mere decade ago.)



As @Frenzie has rightly noted, even though I was at first skeptical of it, there's much to appreciate in a wide e-ink screen. That's why  I have developed a habit of reading in landscape mode.

It's good to have reasonably wide rims (bezels) to hold the thing. And it's good not to have buttons in the way, but in strategically calculated places instead. On my device, the page-turning buttons are on the other side of the device and the power button (which also works as screenlock) is on the edge. The page turning and other functions work on the touchscreen too of course.

The dark square in the picture (probably barely visible) is hardcover for the device. Pocketbook Sense can optionally be bought with a specially designed cover (designed by Kenzo), but I bought it without cover and had to make up for the mistake later by buying this Kobo cover https://www.skolehuset.no/system/picture1s/64/original/kobo_aura_classic_cover_black.png It fit perfectly after I tightened it up with a few rubber ropes.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #30
Dasung Paperlike e-ink monitor is on campaign at Indiegogo right now.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #31
Goodereader.com deems it appropriate to review Asus Zenfone 3 and praise it as good for reading e.g. comics http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/hands-on-review-of-the-asus-zenfone-3
Quote
PROS

Premium design
Processor and RAM are solid
Great resolution for digital content
SD card supports 256 GB

CONS

The back of the phone is a fingerprint magnet
No user replaceable battery
Lots of bloatware

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #32
I read (some) comics on the "giant" 5.5 inch screen on my Zenfone 2 and I am quite confident that I disagree with their superlatives about the Zenfone 3.

"The giant 5.2 inch screen is perfect for reading e-books, digital magazines and newspapers."

First of all, any backlit screen is by definition imperfect. The more it is like paper or canvas, the more perfect a screen is. Period. No room for discussion. That's an objective fact about human eyes. The right turn of phrase for present-day phone displays is "surprisingly bearable as long as they're not too bright". Second of all, a 5.2" screen isn't small, but whether it's "giant" depends on bezels more than anything else.

Regarding the bloatware I mostly also disagree. Bloatware is stuff no one wants, almost objectively in the sense that there is no rational reason for its presence from a user's perspective. To me the ASUS-provided software on my Zenfone 2 mostly didn't fit that bill other than some of the mandatory Google software. Because do I want to use the ASUS Sound Recorder, SuperNote, etc.? Maybe not, I'm sure there are better sound recorders, but I for one appreciate not having to go hunting for basic functionality like a sound recorder or a note taking program before the phone is even halfway usable. And unlike some of the stuff you find in the Play store the pre-installed apps themselves aren't bloated.

If you're actually looking for a device to read comics on, for a little less than €200 you could get something like a pretty decent Lenovo Tab 2. Don't get me wrong, I think the Zenfone 2 and 3 are great choices in their price class, but if your main purpose is reading comics (and perhaps ebooks) I think you can do better for less.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #33
I think the Zenfone 2 and 3 are great choices in their price class, but if your main purpose is reading comics (and perhaps ebooks) I think you can do better for less.
The main purpose of a smartphone cannot be to read comics. Just like the main purpose of an e-reader website is not to review smartphones. Probably the guy bought the phone and discovered it's not too bad for reading, so he wrote a review remotely relevant to e-comics.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #34
The main purpose of a smartphone cannot be to read comics.
Sure, but my phone's primary purpose has been reduced to the potential to be used as a phone rather than actually being used as a phone. In other words, the main use of my phone isn't being a phone anymore. I've been using my phones as PDAs (calendar, e-mail, and a certain degree of website use) for more than a decade now, but back then my primary use was still as a mobile phone, a device to make actual calls on. Now its major uses are as an alarm,[1] calendar, dictionary, encyclopedia, weather, e-mail, newsfeeds, flashlight, some browsing, occasional GPS while driving (better than my erstwhile '09 GPS), always with me pocket camera, and comic reading.

Interestingly, while my old phone could barely get through the day anymore as a phone, on airplane mode it lasts over a month as an mp3 player/dictionary with wifi.
Admittedly, this has been a primary use and purpose of my phones since the early 2000s.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #35
Right, I use smartphones the same way. Otherwise they'd be pretty useless.

And I actually read ebooks on the smartphone too. I have everything copied on both the ereader and smartphone, but the ereader is so slow with huge pdfs (which are many in my e-library) that I have to open them on the smartphone first, to see where the table of contents are and the main chapters. After that I can go to the necessary spot with the ereader. Some pdfs are so heavy and the ereader is so weak that going to an arbitrary page takes literally ten minutes. But at least it gets there and, once there, consecutive pages begin loading gradually better and better.

Edit: By the way, the brand new Kobo Aura One arrived to Estonia commendably early, three weeks ago. But only to one re-seller and it was instantly sold out.
  • Last Edit: 2016-10-08, 21:12:47 by ersi

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #36
Some e-readers may come with an initial library of free books. Mine did.

First I bought Pocketbook Sense. You don't actually even have to buy it to get its free books. Their selection of epubs is freely downloadable on the Pocketbook website, under Support section for every device.

Then I bought a Prestigio tablet for my mother to facebook comfily. It so happens that Prestigio is also an e-bookshop (an Android app where you can buy e-books) and the device came with a bunch of free epubs. I copied them to my own device. Some are books that had already arrived on Pocketbook, but Prestigio provides a much greater number of titles, so I got some considerable addition from there, including Estonian and Finnish titles which are not there on Pocketbooks.

Prestigio's e-ink devices (Android) have not done well, apparently. It would be cool if they tried again in this area.

The point: This trick starts up a personal e-library nicely, even though it doesn't carry far. Still, with tons of free pdfs over the web, one scarcely ever needs to spend money on an ebook.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #37
@Frenzie Can you please try (or perhaps you have already) to open a PDF like this in your ereader https://archive.org/details/theinfallibility00salmuoft

In my ereader, everything has opened in the preinstalled default app, even though the opening and browsing is laborious to the device. But Koreader does not open many of the heaviest PDF files.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #38
@ersi I would expect it to load, if perhaps somewhat slowly. You could try the DjVu version instead; I find that's often a bit snappier. (Annoyingly, you need to click "show all" for that.)

Edit: in any case, dinner first. :)

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #39
The DJVU thing was familiar to me. So, I take it there is no solution for PDF files. No, they don't load for me at all in Koreader. I can wait 20 minutes, but not more than that. For me Koreader simply crashes on those heaviest PDF's.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #40
@ersi It took half a minute if not more, but it loaded for me on my H2O. Of course consecutive page turns were also unbearably slow. In contrast, the DjVu file loaded in less than 10 seconds[1] and page turns were at a somewhat slow but bearable speed of about 1-3 seconds.

So yeah, if you get a PDF like that from a source that isn't Archive.org, the easiest solution is likely to be the pdf2djvu tool. It's only a sudo apt install pdf2djvu or equivalent command away on most Linux distros. A more laborious solution would be the readablepdf script I wrote myself.[2]
That's not fast, but compared to the PDF it's lightning.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #41
It could be that the difference of RAM is crucial. Your device has double more RAM.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #42
That sounds plausible. I don't know exactly how memory use compares between desktop and device and I have neither the time nor desire to check, but on my desktop KOReader takes up 303MB of RAM loading that PDF (which, incidentally, takes merely a split second).

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #43
303 MB? That's why my 256 MB can't handle it.

I am very fond of the shape and size of my device, and the software on it too, even if the specs are limited. Perhaps there is a simple way to stick more RAM into it. I know I would not be equally happy with the shape and size of any other device.

Edit. You know, like open the thing up, locate the RAM component, take it out and replace it with e.g. 1GB component. And then close it up again and it just works again, only better than ever. What a wonderful thought. I will keep thinking this thought.
  • Last Edit: 2016-10-17, 12:21:30 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #44
You know, like open the thing up, locate the RAM component, take it out and replace it with e.g. 1GB component. And then close it up again and it just works again, only better than ever. What a wonderful thought. I will keep thinking this thought.
I missed this edit, but as nice as this thought is, it doesn't work that way. These types of devices have everything soldered on.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #45
That would be sad, but looks indeed like everything is solidly soldered https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7R7BW6_XYk#t=43

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #46
13.3 Onyx Boox Max (in the OP) may be awesome, but hopefully something more awesome is coming to serve as a display device for my reading and lecturing material http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/10/28/hands-new-boeye-ereaders-including-10-3-t103/

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #47
Sounds nice.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #48
About an hour ago I bought my next e-reader: Pocketbook Inkpad 2. It was on offer with cover included just below 200 e. It's the kind of an offer I have been waiting for, so I took it.

I've been very happy with Pocketbook Sense, except for its limited memory, which one can live with, if not too much of a gobbler of pdf files the way I am. I looked around for devices with more RAM and the best choice seems to be some larger Onyx with 1GB. Pocketbook Inkpad 2 has half that and may soon prove inadequate.

Why not Kobo Aura One? Based on the reviews I have seen, it's too much of an effort to put its excellent screen to good use with the onboard software. Onyx and Pocketbook handle pdf files sensibly out of the box. In reviews it looks like scrolling and cropping works snappiest on Onyx devices, while it's impermissibly atrocious on Kobo. Kobo doesn't even provide style options for common epubs, so to get a decent experience you have to hack the malformed epub styles yourself.

To make Kobo useable, some other software is required, which means rooting the device and basically abandoning its onboard software. It's simpler to buy a device that already comes with decent software onboard. Moreover, Pocketbook and especially Onyx make adding other apps easy, not hard the way Kobo and Kindle do.

I would very much have wanted to buy from a different provider this time, but I have to be careful with my money now that it's Christmas month.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #49
To make Kobo useable, some other software is required, which means rooting the device and basically abandoning its onboard software. It's simpler to buy a device that already comes with decent software onboard. Moreover, Pocketbook and especially Onyx make adding other apps easy, not hard the way Kobo and Kindle do.
All quite true. I wish devices were treated more like regular computers as opposed to the locked-down experience they try to force on you.