Onyx Boox T68 e-ink Reader that runs on Android 4.0.4 with Google Play: Initial impressions

 

T68

** Jun 29 update: I’ve been messing around with this a bit more today since Kindle Android app v4.2 doesn’t provide font choices. Today, I downloaded and installed Kindle Android app v4.4.0.71. Not only does 4.4.0.71 include font choices (yay!), I was delighted to find it also seems to *minimize* the page turn lag and distracting artifacting displayed during the page turn process. The artifacting doesn’t go away completely, but it’s much improved over what I saw with Kindle apk v4.2 or 4.5

Edited later: Okay, 4.4 works but after my Kindle (Cloud) library loaded, the page-turn artifacting seemed to return. Oh well, at least 4.4 includes different font choices.**

Original post:

Spoiler: I like it a lot! You’ll note as you read this article that some text has background shading — this is text I’ve copied from my mobileread.com forum post and I just couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it. It doesn’t signify anything special 😉

As you read this article, bear in mind this comes from someone who’s generally rooted Nook hardware to run the Kindle app. I most recently rooted the Nook Simple Touch (NST). My only complaint was that the Kindle app on the rooted NST rendered font too thin for my taste. The Kindle app on T68 experience isn’t as “perfect” or refined as on the Paperwhite2, but it’s not bad if you can ignore some minor artifacts in between page turns… the rendered page/text looks fine.

Read on for my thoughts about the new Onyx Boox Lynx T68 ereader which runs on Android 4.0.4 with Google Play installed 

My T68 (ordered from Arta-Tech/onyx-boox.com in Poland last weekend) arrived today. By the way, my experience with Arta-Tech was stellar — they shipped promptly, responded to an email inquiry within minutes and generally provided an excellent purchase experience. Note that Amazon US is now carrying the T68, as well.

I wanted the T68 mainly to read Oyster, Scribd, and Kindle ebooks on the same e-ink reader rather than spending so much money on Kindle ebooks. Here are a few initial observations:

  • Oyster book app: Works pretty well and the rendered page looks great. There is a slight flash during page turns where the new page appears briefly, shows a blank page, then displays the new page (again). It’s pretty quick and I can live with it.
  • Scribd app: Has the same brief text overlap flash when turning pages (as I’ve been seeing with Kindle apps on the T68) but otherwise rendered text similar to the Oyster Book app.
  • Kindle app: I first installed the Kindle app from Google play store. I don’t know if it’s my huge library (I pick up alot of free books) or the size of my audible library, but the newest kindle app wasn’t very well-behaved (for me). I did a google search and found (then installed) Kindle app 4.2.0.101 and it’s working great. Font rendering isn’t quite as dark as the Paperwhite2 but much better than the Kindle app on a rooted Nook Simple Touch.
  • Case: The port cutouts don’t match the T68, but I have an old Kindle Fire (edited to correct: I believe it’s actually Kindle HD 7″) case that fits the T68 well. I wouldn’t mind getting a case specifically made for the T68 but this will protect it in my handbag until then.
Caution: I’m finding that the Kindle app works best when I only have a few (2 or 3 400 page) books downloaded to the T68. For me, that’s not a big deal since this device offers me the flexibility I’ve wanted ever since subscribing to the Scribd and Oyster Books monthly services.
 
If you’d like to see the T68 in action, there are several youtube videos posted. Some are foreign language, but the hardware (and third party app behavior, like Kindle) is demoed. I found these videos helpful as I contemplated buying the T68.
 
All in all, I’m pretty happy with the T68. Battery life has been very good, especially with wifi off in between ebook downloads. The hardware is good quality and I was happy to learn the o-ring around the button on the front works as a page forward/back controller for the kindle app. (It doesn’t work quite as well with the Oyster app and apparently not at all in the Scribd app, but the touch screen page turns work fine for all the reader apps I’ve listed.)
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Dyson Hot & Cool Heater Fan: Post-recall perspective

dyson_hot_am04Recently, Dyson issued a recall for its AM04 and AM05 model Hot & Cool fans. These are expensive (approximately $400) but offer bladeless air movement and as such are generally safer for curious pets and small children. I’ve used Dyson fans for about 3 years: My first Dyson purchase was the tower fan (AM02).

A few months ago, I received email notification from Dyson that their Hot & Cool fans were under safety recall. The email asked me to submit my product registration number at their web site, and upon confirming that my product (1st generation Hot & Cool fan, AM04) was indeed being recalled, instructions for taking the fan to UPS to be packaged and reshipped to Dyson. I didn’t have to do anything special, just take the fan itself to UPS and they did all the work for me. UPS gave me a receipt to prove I’d shipped the fan back to Dyson.

Yesterday, I came home to find a Dyson Hot & Cool fan on my front porch, the result of my recall return. Upon inspection, I realized it was brand new and was the newer model (AM05) rather than the AM04 that I’d sent back. With summer starting this weekend, I was very happy to have my Hot & Cool fan back since I use it year-round in the living room.

So, what do I think about Dyson post-recall?

I am impressed by how Dyson stood behind their products, made the product return process hassle-free, and not only returned the replacement quickly, sent an upgraded model (since my AM04 apparently couldn’t be repaired). I don’t perceive safety recalls as a flaw in manufacturing per se — sometimes hardware/software bugs aren’t apparently immediately post-production. I’m very pleased that Dyson seemed to take action promptly upon identifying the problem, rather than dragging their feet (or even trying to hide the problem) like some companies.

Kudos, Dyson! Your products are expensive but work very well and I appreciate your product support: Consider me a satisfied (and now even more loyal) customer.

Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2: How big is too big?

image

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro ™ 12.2 (Wi-Fi), White 32GB
http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/SM-T9000ZWAXAR

Recently, I’ve had a hankering to do some inking. Using a stylus and tablet to write has a wonderfully organic feel that I’d enjoyed when using digital ink on Galaxy Note Phones and an early generation Note tablet 10.1. So, I downloaded some handwriting apps onto my iPad Mini and Kindle HDX 8.9, got out a stylus and got started. l quickly remembered why I’d always preferred Samsung Note devices and S pen — they make inking super easy… no skips or stutters.

So I visited my friendly neighborhood Best Buy. l considered the Note 10.1 2014 edition but quickly became most interested in the elusive and mystical 12.2″ Note Pro, which wasn’t on display. When I asked about it, I learned an employee had one of her own and she’d be working the following day. As promised, she was there the next day, Note Pro 12.2 in hand. She let me try it out and although I’d expected to be appalled and deterred by its size, I found it to be not only pleasant but fun to use.

What did I like?
– The screen is bright and sharp
– The ability to view up to 4 apps simultaneously is very handy
– The S pen makes the inking experience super smooth
– Samsung’s S pen handwriting recognition software works very well, even with my nearly illegible scrawl
– The Samsung Note Pro’s digital ink apps are fun and useful, and especially show off the S pens’s capabilities

Although I haven’t had it long, l’ve been surprised and delighted by the Note Pro 12.2. I got a free keyboard case with it (part of limited Samsung promotion) but haven’t used it because the S pen experience is so good.

Moral of the story? As newer, larger tablets are released, don’t knock ’em til you try’ em.

Review: Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading

Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading
Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading by Jason Merkoski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As someone who loves to read and prefers to read using an e-ink reader (currently a Paperwhite 2), I found Burning the Page fascinating. The author describes the Kindle’s early days, offers kudos for Barnes & Noble’s innovative contributions (via their Nook e-reader), and describes his perspective for how ebooks are changing the way we read, learn and publish. Recommended.

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My favorite gadget of 2013: Roku 3

R3 frontAs a Netflix streaming video fan, I’ve picked up every version of the Roku (streaming video / audio) box that’s been released. I upgraded to the Roku 3 this year and consider it one of the best consumer tech buys out there.

Why do I love the Roku 3? Read on…

  • Inexpensive: The Roku 3 is normally priced at $99.99 — today it’s even cheaper at $10 off (89.99)
  • Fast: When I sit down to watch streaming video, I don’t want to watch the buffering symbol… I want to watch the movie! Roku 3 is fast, fast, fast. Very little buffering and steaming video / audio loads quickly.
  • Great video quality: Roku 3 is designed for use only with HDTVs and the video quality is gorgeous. Of course, the video source needs to be good quality, too.
  • Roku offers numerous streaming video sources (most are free): I love Amazon Prime Instant Video and have found Roku to be the easiest way to watch these movies and TV shows on my TV. Best of all? Roku is constantly adding new channels. Here are my Roku 3 channels:
    • Netflix (subscription)
    • hulu plus (subscription — sign up for free trial)
    • Amazon instant video (subscription / paid)
    • Crackle
    • Roku Newscaster (news from several different sources)
    • cnet
    • soma fm (internet radio)
    • tuneine (radio)
    • classical tv
    • livestation
    • CNN
    • WSJ live
    • Ted
    • TWIT
    • MIT unofficial OpenCourseware
    • NASA (which I used to watch the recent spacewalks)
    • Amazon cloud player (for my Amazon tunes)
    • iHeartradio
    • Smithsonian channel
    • CNN International
    • Nowhere TV
    • vevo
    • Rutgers
    • Frightpix
    • indieflix (Indie films)
    • Radio Paradise
    • Congressional video stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • Supreme Court audio stream (by Sunlight Foundation)
    • University of California’s uctv.tv
    • Pandora
    • Slacker
    • PBS
    • Russia Today Europe (news)
    • CNBC RT (real-time)
    • MHz networks
    • livestream
    • AOL On
    • Film Movement (award winning Indie films)
    • Youtube (currently only available on Roku 3)

Frankly, Roku offers so many channels that I use Roku Guide to keep up with new additions.

Aside from my smartphone and TiVo Roamio Pro, the Roku 3 is the gadget I use most often. At less than $100, it’s a steal. If you’ve never bought a Roku box and have an HDTV, I’d say go for it! If you have an earlier Roku box, I still say go for it… the speed improvements are significant enough to make it worthwhile. 

Review: Walking with the Mailman

Walking with the Mailman
Walking with the Mailman by Austin Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Several years ago, I bought a house in an older neighborhood… the kind of neighborhood where the mailman walks his route and delivers mail to boxes mounted on houses (rather than street-side mailboxes). I quickly learned there’s one person who knows *everything* about the neighborhood: The mailman!

Austin Brown shares his “day in the life of a mailman” experiences with humor and kindness: From the aggressive dog whose owner swears it won’t bite, to older residents who fret over his well-being when he misses a day on his route, to the antics of his more experienced colleagues. He mentions what he sees on his route: Children grow up, older residents become ill, tragedies that can befall the residents, and because of his role as their mailman, “feels a measure of their pain.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Walking With The Mailman, and highly recommend it. It gave me insights into my mailman’s experiences and an even greater respect for his role in our neighborhood.

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Review: The Aquatic Labyrinth

The Aquatic Labyrinth
The Aquatic Labyrinth by Alastair Fontana
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Aquatic Labyrinth is the story of Jacopo, a man wrongly suspected of murder in the fourteenth century, and his adventures following that ill-fated event. This was a very fast read because the story is so mesmerizing, with many masterful plot twists. The prose flows lyrically and poetically, with historic details of Venice sprinkled throughout. I found The Aquatic Labyrinth to be a fascinating novel, and I await Mr. Fontana’s future work with anticipation.

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