Mobileread
Likebook Ares vs. Likebook Mars: First Impressions
#1  Kralik 11-05-2019, 09:25 PM
I recently acquired both a Likebook Mars and a Likebook Ares. The Ares is basically an upgraded Mars. Since information on the former is sparse, here are a few comparison points:

PRICE: The Ares is about $285 (AliExpress) while the Mars is $230 (Amazon). Whether the extra $55 is worth it depends on your use case. Buying from Amazon lets you add a 3-year protection plan for about $35, has Prime shipping, and has real customer service should you get a lemon.

HARDWARE: The obvious hardware improvement that the Ares has is the Wacom layer, pen, and note-taking abilities. In addition you get double the storage (32 GB instead of 16 GB), speakers, and a microphone. USB C connection is good for the future but could be a pro or con depending on what you have. The battery is slightly larger than the Mars but it's probably a wash. You LOSE the 3.5mm headphone jack. I was disappointed because I had read a review that stated it has one, but it does NOT. Fortunately, I only used it rarely and probably won't need it with the built-in speakers.

Some other observations:
--The screen is flush with the bezel! This makes it much easier to hit buttons at the edge of the screen. Supposedly it will also help with a more uniform light distribution, though I don't feel the Mars is lacking there so it's probably fine either way.
--Since I don't want to risk damaging my screen while writing, I applied the screen protector. I did not use the protector on the Mars, nor have I ever used a screen protector on eBook readers (always on phones though). The plus side is a nice feel, matte, and reduced glare. The downside is reduced text clarity. I would consider this a con against the Ares because the protector is necessary IMO.
--The SD card slot is a pop-out tray. Very nice.
--There is a red charging light in the upper-right corner inside the bezel. For various reasons I find such lights annoying, but it was easy enough to cover with a small square of electric tape (black tape on black bezel).
--There is a virtual home button at the bottom of the Ares bezel.

AESTHETICS: The Ares has a has a nice textured back with alternating lines/patterns. There was a lopsided sticker with some blahblah details that I removed, so all it says is "likebook" versus the Mars that has similar details printed directly on it. The Mars has a bit of a bulge in the back/center area, whereas the Ares is flat. I prefer the muted black bezel around the Mars versus the sharp black of the Ares. The Ares bezel looks the same as any other tablet.

The included case for the Mars is plasticky while the Ares has a leathery front with the words "READING & THINKING CHANGE THE WORLD" subtly imprinted on it. The back of the Ares case is soft, clear, and flexible. TPU I think? It has a spot for you to clip the pen. Overall I think the Ares case is more pleasant to handle. You can't really make out the textured back pattern on the Ares once the case is applied. One oddity is that the corners bulge out slightly and aren't quite square. The case for the Mars kinda snaps shut closed while the Ares does not.

WEIGHT/SIZE: Both models are practically the same in this regard. The Ares in its case weighs about 13 grams more than the Mars, not including the pen. The Ares lays ever so slightly flatter because it does not have the side bump on its case that the Mars does.

PERFORMANCE: I believe both units have the same processor. When I first started up the Ares, I was amazed at how much more peppy it felt than the Mars. However, to be objective I did a factory reset on the Mars and ran comparisons. They seemed identical. This tells me it's more of an issue with the extra apps I already had on the Mars. One tip I've found is to disable Google Services when I don't need access to the Play Store (I don't use Gmail or other Google things).

VERSUS ONYX: The Boox Nova Pro is a little more expensive on Amazon than the Ares and does not have speakers, a microphone, or an SD card slot. On the other hand, the Nova has a better processor and should be getting Android 9.0 soon versus Ares' promised Android 8.0.

SUMMARY tl;dr:
Ares Pros:
--WACOM layer and pen (in theory the biggest reason to upgrade)
--Required screen protector decreases ambient glare
--Flush bezel and screen
--Has microphone and speakers
--Hidden SD card
--Back texture
--Better case

Ares Cons:
--No 3.5mm headphone jack
--Required screen protector slightly degrades text clarity
--Price, of course!

Neutral:
--USB C
--Charging light

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Let me know if you have any followup questions and I may be able to check. Thanks!
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#2  Kralik 11-05-2019, 09:33 PM
Additional note: I recently experimented with Talkback on the Mars and the "double-tap to activate an item" did NOT work. It was extremely difficult to turn Talkback off again since I couldn't even get past my lock screen password. Eventually I got it by a combination of taps and two-finger taps and lots of trial and error. The Ares works as expected.
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#3  Markismus 11-13-2019, 11:27 AM
Thanks for the writeup, @Kralik.

I was wondering how the battery holds up. How often do you have to recharge? Does the Wacom layer make that much of a difference while using compared with the Mars?
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#4  Kralik 11-13-2019, 05:25 PM
I recharge daily whether I need it or not. Using wireless, bluetooth, etc. will drain the battery quickly, as well as the Wacom layer. I'd estimate something like 10% battery loss after an hour of sketching. I seem to be losing more battery life during standby than I was with the Mars. The other day I picked it up at 87% after it had sat for a couple days unused.

Regardless, for me it's a great fit. I'm sure it could last a week if I were only reading. However, media, sketching, and Android apps were the whole reason I got the device vs. my previous Kobo.
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#5  ottischwenk 11-13-2019, 10:47 PM
Why is screen protector required?
It is a glass screen!
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#6  Kralik 11-15-2019, 12:25 PM
Quote ottischwenk
Why is screen protector required?
It is a glass screen!
Reviews of similar devices from Onyx and Boyue have mentioned scratching issues when using the pen. I'm not willing to take any chances.
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#7  ottischwenk 11-15-2019, 03:22 PM
Quote Kralik
Reviews of similar devices from Onyx and Boyue have mentioned scratching issues when using the pen. I'm not willing to take any chances.
This makes sense on an eInk Mobius screen (Alita), but not on glass surface (Mars, Ares)
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#8  parkher 12-04-2019, 09:29 AM
Quote Kralik
Reviews of similar devices from Onyx and Boyue have mentioned scratching issues when using the pen. I'm not willing to take any chances.
It is advised to use a screen protector on Onyx Boox Note, which has soft flexible screen, and scratches were reported after using its pen.
I used the pen some, not much, on Note without any protector - and no scratches.
All the other readers have glass screens and do not require protector.
Although... The top-most layer is the anti-reflective (light diffusion) layer which is not glass but PMMA. But it is not as soft as the Note's screen. It is advertised as "scratch-resistant".
Plus, you could replace the tip of the pen with a softer one.
A set of five tips is sold separately: "BOOX Marker Tips. Wacom Stylus Nibs"
The product description on ereader.store says they are softer than the original tip, and therefore less likely to scratch the screen:
"New softer and less slippery tip for best possible writing experience."
And again:
"Those replacement tips are softer than originally supplied in the Wacom styluses".
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#9  parkher 12-04-2019, 09:47 AM
Quote ottischwenk
This makes sense on an eInk Mobius screen (Alita), but not on glass surface (Mars, Ares)
On Alita? Alita has layers of glass on top of its flexible e-ink screen. The flush with bezel layer is glass. But on the very top is the anti-glare (light diffuser) layer, made of PMMA with tiny air bubbles in it. But it is supposed to be scratch-resistant.
I don't think there is any difference between Alita and Ares, for example. So what if the e-ink screen itself is flexible and not glass, but everything on top of it is the same (probably) - including the light scattering layer, the light guide layer, probably more glass above those, and light diffusion (anti-glare) layer.

BTW, I just ordered Ares, so I will have a chance to compare Alita and Ares myself
But there is no way it will fit into the list of my devices. The number of characters is limited.
I guess, I will throw out PB 902. There is no reason to keep it anymore.
Perhaps I will also get rid of all Kobo readers. Aura One is very nice, but it is linux-based, no card and only 8 GB of flash memory.
But I will definitely keep (rooted) Sony PRS T2. I love it so much.
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#10  ottischwenk 12-04-2019, 10:37 AM
Quote parkher
I don't think there is any difference between Alita and Ares, for example. So what if the e-ink screen itself is flexible and not glass, but everything on top of it is the same (probably) - including the light scattering layer, the light guide layer, probably more glass above those, and light diffusion (anti-glare) layer.
eInk has 7,8" modules only in glass - not flexible.
Flexible screens are 10,3" and 13.3"
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