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Topic: E-readers (Read 3598 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 #1
I mostly hate how e-readers are all locked down. Those Onyx devices are interesting in that iirc they have a relatively regular Android on them.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #2
From the device producer point of view, it makes kind of sense that the device would be pointing to the producer's own e-book store. From the user's point of view, it makes perfect sense to avoid the built-in e-book store completely. I personally already had a library of about 200 pdfs and epubs and I bought the e-reader specifically to be able to finally get around to read them all.

As to installing additional software, there are different levels of lockdown. On one hand there's Kindle that takes some effort to jailbreak. On the other there's Pocketbook where it's a matter of just copying the rightly built app into the right folder, no rooting needed.

Then there are Prestigio Multireaders that come with apparently regular Android. The idea seems quite sane, but the devices are not getting whole-hearted praise for some reason https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYcBELeQXCE

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #3
The idea seems quite sane, but the devices are not getting whole-hearted praise for some reason

Battery life, speed, touch technology, screen quality... many things can be chosen over open. :) In my case I don't think there realistically even was an open device I could've bought; the Kobo H2O I acquired was basically best in screen coupled with best in putting on your own books and/or software.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #4
The screen is of course important. This is a (if not the) reason to obtain an e-reader, because e-ink screens are scarcely present on any other devices. And this is why I rejected 6" screens with 800x600 resolution - must do better.

Then again, I didn't like the touchscreen responsiveness on e-inks. It's very far from the comfort of smartphones and tablets. Not sure if there is a touch technology for e-inks that would be worth it. Again I miss the pinkie fingernail touch...

When you leave fingerprints on an e-ink screen, it's not so good a screen anymore, no matter how good it was when first bought. So I figured that hardware buttons to turn the pages would be important.


In my case I don't think there realistically even was an open device I could've bought; the Kobo H2O I acquired was basically best in screen coupled with best in putting on your own books and/or software.

I ended up with Pocketbook Sense. Very good inbuilt reader app, in my opinion. And the page-turning buttons are an excellent idea. The buttons would also be good in practice, if their entire size worked as supposed to. As it is, the buttons are large and look comfy at first, but they work properly only when pressed precisely in the middle.

Installing Koreader was just a matter of copying the right files to the right folder. No rooting needed. Koreader doesn't seem to have any advantages over Pocketbook's builtin app (based on FBreader). The only advantage of Koreader is that it has a night mode (inverted colours). Koreader seems to fail to open some of my heaviest pdfs (scanned to image), while the builtin reader has amazingly opened everything thus far. My netbook struggles more with the heaviest files than the e-reader.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #5
Then again, I didn't like the touchscreen responsiveness on e-inks. It's very far from the comfort of smartphones and tablets. Not sure if there is a touch technology for e-inks that would be worth it. Again I miss the pinkie fingernail touch...

I think capacitive is crap and not a "comfort" in the least. My Nintendo DS and an old Windows Mobile phone with resistive touch screens are absolute heaven in comparison (that being said, both pen and touch-based input on our Wacom tablet are very nice indeed; NB that's not a display). The infrared on my H2O is probably worse than capacitive, but less because of the infrared than because of a relative slowness in drawing on the machine. It enables the lack of an extra physical layer for implementing touch on the screen, making it ever so slightly nicer than the otherwise equivalent screen on the latest Kindle.

I ended up with Pocketbook Sense.

It came out at least half a year after I bought my H2O, afaik isn't readily available in Western Europe, and the H2O has a bigger and better-looking screen. That being said, its relative openness is certainly attractive.

Koreader doesn't seem to have any advantages over Pocketbook's builtin app (based on FBreader).

If you set KOReader to page crop auto and scroll mode on, it's unsurpassed as a viewer for PDF and DjVu. But of course I'm biased since I'm on the team.

My netbook struggles more with the heaviest files than the e-reader.

Even if you use something like xpdf or MuPDF? Incidentally, MuPDF powers KOReader's PDF and DjVu capabilities.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #6

I think capacitive is crap and not a "comfort" in the least.

I meant "comfort" comparatively of course. Both smartphone touchscreens and the most prevalent e-ink touchscreens are called capacitive, but there's a huge difference between the way they operate, strongly in favour of smartphones.

I am not familiar with the terminology for touchscreen technologies, but the way you describe "resistive" sounds like the same thing as SE P800 used to have, i.e. pressing with stylus or fingernail instead of fingertip. That's the best comfort I know.


Koreader doesn't seem to have any advantages over Pocketbook's builtin app (based on FBreader).

If you set KOReader to page crop auto and scroll mode on, it's unsurpassed as a viewer for PDF and DjVu.

On smartphones, I find Adobe Reader almost perfect for pdfs - if the phone can manage the resource usage.

On Pocketbook, the builtin app can crop both automatically and by hand better than KO, while KO can do the scroll mode which is an advantage. KO also has the advantage of night mode (sort of biggie for me) and it's wonderful that it recognises Pocketbook's hardware buttons, even though in the builtin app the hardware buttons have two functions - press and hold (long press) - which can be configured. In KO only short press works.

KO seems to handle pdf reflow noticeably better with non-Latin texts. I have some Russian and Greek files here. Good work!


But of course I'm biased since I'm on the team.

Very good :) May I suggest a feature? I'd like it to have an option to continue from where last left off, instead of having to navigate the files at every restart.


My netbook struggles more with the heaviest files than the e-reader.

Even if you use something like xpdf or MuPDF? Incidentally, MuPDF powers KOReader's PDF and DjVu capabilities.

I had forgotten about xpdf. This indeed makes it snappier in the netbook than in the e-reader. My usual pdf reader apps in the netbook are Qpdfview (which at every start opens all the files that I ever opened and haven't specifically closed meanwhile) and a light version of Evince.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #7
I am not familiar with the terminology for touchscreen technologies, but the way you describe "resistive" sounds like the same thing as SE P800 used to have, i.e. pressing with stylus or fingernail instead of fingertip. That's the best comfort I know.

Yup. That'd be it.

Very good  :)  May I suggest a feature? I'd like it to have an option to continue from where last left off, instead of having to navigate the files at every restart.

Isn't that the default? In any case it can be toggled under the gear menu in the file manager ("start with last opened file").
  • Last Edit: 2016-03-16, 09:32:59 by Frenzie

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #8

Very good  :)  May I suggest a feature? I'd like it to have an option to continue from where last left off, instead of having to navigate the files at every restart.

Isn't that the default? In any case it can be toggled under the gear menu in the file manager ("start with last opened file").

No, it's not the default. I have seen other users mention it also that you have to navigate the files by default.

I knew that the setting would very likely be implemented and I must be overlooking a toggle somewhere. I hadn't noticed the separate menus for the file manager at all. Thanks for pointing them out.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #9
No, it's not the default. I have seen other users mention it also that you have to navigate the files by default.

Also note the history entry under the Pokeball menu, which you can use to quickly reopen recent files.

PS I have no idea why it's a Pokeball. :P

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #10
PS I have no idea why it's a Pokeball.

No problem, just as long as it's distinct from all the other icons.

Where I live, we have two major bookstore chains that have gone e-reader. One has their own brand of e-readers which is actually Pocketbook Lux rebranded. The other chain has opted to promote Kobo.

I did not look at the selection of those bookstore chains when I was making my choice. I looked at the offering of electronics stores. In electronics stores it's hard to see past the all-intrusive Kindles.

Ignoring Kindle, it's possible to find nice things like Inkbook Obsidian with hardware page-turning buttons on the sides and the big 8" screen Inkbook 8.

If I am not mistaken, Inkbooks are made in Poland by a company that got started in Poland, so I would assume that the e-reader niche has space for random entrepreneurs in Europe. (The fact that an Estonian bookstore chain can rebrand Pocketbook points to the same conclusion.)

On the other hand, e-readers are of limited interest to people. Users of e-readers either have to be filthy rich voracious readers with nothing better to do than to buy e-books via the default bookstore - but if they are voracious readers, then the default e-book store becomes an obstacle rather soon, because there's not much there in those default e-book stores - or those who have already amassed an e-book library on their own and who know how to copy files from a device to another - which makes them geeky and geeks are a rarity. Which means that e-readers can only have limited interest for evermore.

To make e-readers explode a la smartphones, the strategy should be to market some specific versions to rich dummies, kids, and the general population. I don't see how this is possible. E-reader screen cannot be flashy glossy blinking with diamonds so that rich people would see it as a nice decoration on themselves. E-readers cannot be packaged as a toy for kids by any stretch of the imagination (the imagination of marketing dudes admittedly beats mine). E-readers can be conceived as a basic necessity only if the big govt officially decides that it is a basic necessity and campaigns for pushing the product on the population at large. (This last scenario may make e-reader producers happy for the time of the campaign, but doesn't necessarily have a lasting effect. I remember the euro pocket-calculator campaign here...)

Here's a thorough comparison of Pocketbook Inkpad (8" screen) and Kobo Aura H2O (6.8" screen) side by side.

At 14:05 the reviewer says that it's "kind of stupid" how a touch on either side of the Pocketbook Inkpad moves flips the page forward rather than forward on the right side and back on the left side (the way it works in Kobo), but I would like to point out that in Pocketbook default interface a touch on the bottom corners (either left or right) flips the page backward while a touch on the sides (either left or right) flips the page forward. It's there in the user manual, under the heading Reading Books.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #11
The Pocketbook way of going back/forward sounds like it should be workable with one hand.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #12

The Pocketbook way of going back/forward sounds like it should be workable with one hand.

You mean by pressing the touchscreen? It is, but when using the 8" Inkpad, you definitely need to hold the device with one hand and operate it with the other. Even with a 6" device a single hand does not really reach everywhere.



There's a new Onyx Boox Cleopatra 2 released for the Russian market. In terms of hardware, it comes with the same screen as Kobo Aura H2O, while the software is ordinary Android 4. Looks like upgraded Boox T68, but harder to obtain.
 

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #13
You mean by pressing the touchscreen? It is, but when using the 8" Inkpad, you definitely need to hold the device with one hand and operate it with the other. Even with a 6" device a single hand does not really reach everywhere.

But just for back/forward you only need a specific part of the screen, much like physical buttons.

There's a new Onyx Boox Cleopatra 2 released for the Russian market. In terms of hardware, it comes with the same screen as Kobo Aura H2O, while the software is ordinary Android 4. Looks like upgraded Boox T68, but harder to obtain.

I wonder what the price is.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #14
And a few days ago, this campaign started https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/13-3-inch-android-e-reader#/ where you can pre-order/support a 13.3" e-ink device with great promises. I would consider it if it worked as an extra monitor for a computer via HDMI or such, but this does not appear to be among the promises...


There's a new Onyx Boox Cleopatra 2 released for the Russian market. In terms of hardware, it comes with the same screen as Kobo Aura H2O, while the software is ordinary Android 4. Looks like upgraded Boox T68, but harder to obtain.

I wonder what the price is.

There's a link in the description of the video which leads to here http://shopping.socialmart.ru/product/13077450/ONYX-BOOX-Cleopatra-2

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #15
And a few days ago, this campaign started https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/13-3-inch-android-e-reader#/ where you can pre-order/support a 13.3" e-ink device with great promises. I would consider it if it worked as an extra monitor for a computer via HDMI or such, but this does not appear to be among the promises...

Some quick mental math says that 1600x1200@13" is about 150 PPI. I'm not entirely sure how well that would display "manga, technical documents, PDF files and sheet music". Incidentally, had I written that text I'd have chosen just about any verb other than "consume" ­-- consult, go through, look at, read...

Also, my previous phone had 512MB RAM and for Android 4 that was sufficient, but just barely. Still, if I had $700 to waste I'd get one. But realistically, that's far beyond what I'd be willing to spend on such a device. I still hope it succeeds, though.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #16
Also, my previous phone had 512MB RAM and for Android 4 that was sufficient, but just barely. Still, if I had $700 to waste I'd get one. But realistically, that's far beyond what I'd be willing to spend on such a device. I still hope it succeeds, though.

Realistically, the project must use a screen that is available. There simply is no producer providing any better PPI for such a large screen. They have to go with what is there.

But yes, more RAM should be easy to do, and in fact necessary, if they want people to be able to install basically any app. Boox Cleopatra 2 for example has 1 GB RAM.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #17
The good people at Goodereader.com already had a failed campaign earlier to produce an Ultimate E-reader https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-ultimate-e-reader#/

To their credit though, the backers of the previous campaign are not left empty-handed. Rather, they are getting a considerable discount in the current campaign. And the current campaign's goals are almost reached already, less than a week after the start, two months before the deadline.

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #18
But if a campaign doesn't succeed in getting funded nothing should be taken from anyone? Or is that different on Indiegogo?

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #19
I don't know indiegogo.com's terms. I am making assumptions based on what I have gathered from the comments at Goodereader.com and in their Facebook group.

Not sure if those who supported the earlier campaign paid anything, but there's an explicit claim by Goodereader.com that they are getting a discount in the current campaign. And, whenever someone asks about the current campaign "What if it will not work out? What will happen to my money?" the answer is, "Projects like this involve an element of risk."

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #20

Also note the history entry under the Pokeball menu, which you can use to quickly reopen recent files.

Why does the history list (recent files) show up in a frame in KO? Why not make it display like the ordinary file manager, with the title Recent Files, and make it an optionally the first view on startup? (Just like right now the first view on startup is either the file manager or the last book.)

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #21
And, whenever someone asks about the current campaign "What if it will not work out? What will happen to my money?" the answer is, "Projects like this involve an element of risk."

That's true. If the project gets funded, your money is gone.

Why does the history list (recent files) show up in a frame in KO? Why not make it display like the ordinary file manager, with the title Recent Files, and make it an optionally the first view on startup? (Just like right now the first view on startup is either the file manager or the last book.)

I didn't make it that way; can't say it bothers me. :) The relevant ticket is #1313.

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #22
Good E-reader has reached its financial goals. Now let's see them release the device too :)

The device is centred on ability to take notes, i.e. to write on the screen with stylus. I would prefer display functionality instead, but note-taking looks cool too.



P.S. I'd really like to see in the review how he saves the edited file and opens it up again :)

  • Frenzie
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Re: E-readers
Reply #23
The device is centred on ability to take notes, i.e. to write on the screen with stylus. I would prefer display functionality instead, but note-taking looks cool too.

It depends. The main reason I often print out PDF articles is because of note taking/marking ability, but of course also because that way I can have multiple pages "open" at once. The whole quickly switching between page 1 and page 20 thing is what these electronic things are worst at, regardless.

Out of several programs I tried on my computer I thought Xournal was the most promising (coupled with my Wacom tablet), but even so I didn't really like it. When reviewing a PDF for someone else I guess I'd go with Okular or Adobe Reader (in Windows).

  • ersi
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Re: E-readers
Reply #24
The main reason I often print out PDF articles is because of note taking/marking ability, but of course also because that way I can have multiple pages "open" at once. The whole quickly switching between page 1 and page 20 thing is what these electronic things are worst at, regardless.

I think the capacity is there, as demonstrated by epubs with endnotes, but we simply lack a convenient way of jumping back and forth arbitrarily selected pages/marked spots.

When an epub has a note marked in the text, a tap on the note instantly takes you to the relevant endnote text in the end of the book. In that view, a little floating button remains to enable you to return back to the main text. Everything would be nice and dandy, if arbitrary spots could be marked this way in order to jump between them.

Bookmarking somewhat works for this. What is missing is ability to select a bookmark without turning away from the text. For example after marking a few spots, cycling between them with Back and Forward buttons/gestures.

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.