Mobileread
Hackable, touch-capable, non-android e-reader to buy used
#1  BlauMond 01-07-2021, 06:45 AM
Hello!

As the title says, I am looking for a hackable, touch-capable e-reader that I can easily find used. I am based in Germany and since I want to buy used from a site like eBay(/-Kleinanzeigen), it should be a device that was widely available at some point.

I intend to use it offline-only in combination with Calibre and prefer not to do any soldering to jailbreak it. To make it a bit easier, I will list my priorities for this device:
High
Good to have, but optional:
Jokes aside, I'd be very happy if you can recommend some devices that tick these boxes, or at least most of them.

Thanks a ton in advance!
Reply 

#2  ps67 01-07-2021, 02:14 PM
May be a Kobo? It doesn't require jailbreack. I don't know if You can find it easily used in Germany because in Your Country there is a commercial agreement with Tolino (that in reality belongs to Kobo I think) but may be You find it.

Anyway You could check in the in the Kobo section and Kobo developer's corner of this forum and see all possible hacks for Kobo.

Sometime somebody offers a Kobo ereader also in this forum.
Reply 

#3  ottischwenk 01-07-2021, 03:02 PM
In Tolinos kann man leicht Android Anwendungen zusätzlich installieren.
Ab Firmware Version 11 steht Android 4.4.2 zur Verfügung.
Hier gibt es dazu nähere Informationen.
Reply 

#4  davidfor 01-07-2021, 10:10 PM
@BlauMond: When I see posts like this, I always wonder why "hackable" is important. And in your case, why it seems to be the most important thing. So:

Why does it have to be hackable? What do you want to do with it that it needs to be hackable?

You mention calibre, so you do intend to use it for reading. But, it almost seems to be a secondary consideration. Are you planning to use it for something else? Exactly what your plans are might affect the device suggested. If it is just to run other existing apps, then you probably want an Android based device. If you just wanted a command line, then a Linux based devices would be the choice.

For the best hackability, you might want to look at devices with a removable internal SD card. That make it easier to recover from "mistakes". The only current availably devices I know of with this are the Kobo Clara HD and Kobo Nia, and the equivalent tolino devices (same hardware, different software). You should be able to find older Kobo devices such as the Glo HD, Aura H2O (6.8" and waterproof but you would need to break that to get to the card) and the Aura Edition 2. And while these had good battery life, the batteries could be aging and have reduced life. The Kobo devices are Linux based while the tolino's are Android. There is a lot of discussion on hacking the Kobo devices in the forum here.

As to the last two requirements, I think you will be out of luck. People only sell their devices after using the three wishes. Though I think a common third wish is to get a good price. I haven't heard of a device with fairy dust. Do you mean the magic blue smoke that a lot of electrical devices contain?
Reply 

#5  Pajamaman 01-07-2021, 11:40 PM
Kobo, nook, tolino. The last two are android. Battery should be OK but not as good as the kobo. Kobo does not need to be hacked / rooted.

Onyx, likebook are android. Both OK, but not hackable really.
Reply 

#6  BlauMond 01-10-2021, 04:17 PM
Thank you all a lot for your answers, this is helping me narrow it down a lot! I am getting the overall impression that Kobos are a good idea for my usecase and situation.
Quote davidfor
@BlauMond: When I see posts like this, I always wonder why "hackable" is important. And in your case, why it seems to be the most important thing. So:

Why does it have to be hackable? What do you want to do with it that it needs to be hackable?
Besides just wanting to read things, I am also interested in exploring the capabilities of a handheld e-ink device. Specifically, I want to attempt to write applications that work well with e-ink screens and perhaps see some things that others have made. So this for me is kind of an experimentation device
Quote
You mention calibre, so you do intend to use it for reading. But, it almost seems to be a secondary consideration. Are you planning to use it for something else? Exactly what your plans are might affect the device suggested. If it is just to run other existing apps, then you probably want an Android based device. If you just wanted a command line, then a Linux based devices would be the choice.
I would like to mess around and am more comfortable with Linux than Android, so that is part of the reason why I am gravitating towards a Linux-based device.
Quote
For the best hackability, you might want to look at devices with a removable internal SD card. That make it easier to recover from "mistakes". The only current availably devices I know of with this are the Kobo Clara HD and Kobo Nia, and the equivalent tolino devices (same hardware, different software). You should be able to find older Kobo devices such as the Glo HD, Aura H2O (6.8" and waterproof but you would need to break that to get to the card) and the Aura Edition 2. And while these had good battery life, the batteries could be aging and have reduced life. The Kobo devices are Linux based while the tolino's are Android. There is a lot of discussion on hacking the Kobo devices in the forum here.
The SD card is a fantastic point! And thank you for naming so many examples! I will look into battery replaceability too, I am not too scared to open a device up, though I don't have soldering experience yet.
Quote
As to the last two requirements, I think you will be out of luck. People only sell their devices after using the three wishes. Though I think a common third wish is to get a good price. I haven't heard of a device with fairy dust. Do you mean the magic blue smoke that a lot of electrical devices contain?
Damn, I did not think of that, bummer. And I guess I'll have to settle for blue smoke
Reply 

#7  NiMa 01-11-2021, 09:15 PM
@davidfor Hrm. Android *is* based on Linux. But I agree that it is... well not quite the same.

@BlauMond I strongly suggest Kobos regarding the use-case you're planning. It is incredibly easy to get root access to the device and there are lots, lots of add-ons for it.
If you're interested in developing apps, I think that it might be interesting for you if you took a look at this and this to get an idea of what really it is possible to do with those devices. I have a Glo HD and a Libra and I've not been disappointed!
Reply 

#8  BlauMond 01-12-2021, 10:48 AM
Quote NiMa
@BlauMond I strongly suggest Kobos regarding the use-case you're planning. It is incredibly easy to get root access to the device and there are lots, lots of add-ons for it.
If you're interested in developing apps, I think that it might be interesting for you if you took a look at this and this to get an idea of what really it is possible to do with those devices. I have a Glo HD and a Libra and I've not been disappointed!
Thanks for the additional info, Kobos seem quite perfect for what I am looking for
I was looking into the Glo HD, Libra H2O and Clara HD since all three have the SD card, so perhaps you could help me with making a choice, since you own the Glo HD and the Libra H2O.

I don't really care for waterproofing and I don't mind removing the glue all that much (I managed to do it on the curved glass back of a galaxy S8, so I think I'll be okay), so for me the comparison is about screen size, features/hackability and battery. Do you find the step up in screen size to the Libra worth some extra money? In regards to battery, all three seem to be 1500mAh, so that doesn't matter. And are there any significant differences in features/hackability?

I looked at the PostmarketOS device pages for the Glo, Aura and Clara HD (the only ereaders that are even listed at all) and it seems that a lot of work is being done on the Clara HD (makes sense with it being newer). Especially interesting to me, I saw these remarks on the page for the Aura:
"The lowest working kernel for postmarketOS is 3.x, while the kobo-aura uses a fork of 2.6." and "Newer kobo devices run 4.1.15 with a device tree."

Do you by any chance know what the Aura H2O and Glo HD are based on, and whether they have better chances of working with a newer full-blown linux distribution like PostmarketOS at some point? Or would it perhaps make more sense for me to get the Clara HD as it will likely be supported significantly faster, or better?

Thank you again for your input!
Reply 

#9  Quoth 01-12-2021, 11:53 AM
If you want a serious Linux distro and eink, then spend big money and buy eink panel for a raspberry Pi.

I've not even done patches on my Aura H2O original or Libra. No need. I gave away my Pi. I have a spare older 64 bit Lenovo laptop for experimenting. I've to upgrade the main laptop from Mint 18.3 to 20.x by April. I've tested 19.3 and 20.0 on the spare laptop.

I use the Libra to read and annotate ebooks. I use the three kindles and the other ebook ereaders to test ebooks we build.
Reply 

#10  NiMa 01-12-2021, 01:17 PM
Quote BlauMond
Thanks for the additional info, Kobos seem quite perfect for what I am looking for
I was looking into the Glo HD, Libra H2O and Clara HD since all three have the SD card, so perhaps you could help me with making a choice, since you own the Glo HD and the Libra H2O.

I don't really care for waterproofing and I don't mind removing the glue all that much (I managed to do it on the curved glass back of a galaxy S8, so I think I'll be okay), so for me the comparison is about screen size, features/hackability and battery. Do you find the step up in screen size to the Libra worth some extra money? In regards to battery, all three seem to be 1500mAh, so that doesn't matter. And are there any significant differences in features/hackability?

I looked at the PostmarketOS device pages for the Glo, Aura and Clara HD (the only ereaders that are even listed at all) and it seems that a lot of work is being done on the Clara HD (makes sense with it being newer). Especially interesting to me, I saw these remarks on the page for the Aura:
"The lowest working kernel for postmarketOS is 3.x, while the kobo-aura uses a fork of 2.6." and "Newer kobo devices run 4.1.15 with a device tree."

Do you by any chance know what the Aura H2O and Glo HD are based on, and whether they have better chances of working with a newer full-blown linux distribution like PostmarketOS at some point? Or would it perhaps make more sense for me to get the Clara HD as it will likely be supported significantly faster, or better?

Thank you again for your input!
Hi,
My Glo HD's kernel is version is 3.0.35. This though has not prevented me from also installing Alpine Linux on it and running Xorg, which perfectly worked.
I don't know for the Aura H2O, but my Libra's kernel version is 4.1, as you knew.
I strongly recommend you buy a Kobo Clara HD if you like this form-factor instead of the Glo HD, for the following reasons:

1. Battery could be dead/end-of-life in the Glo HD; even if you buy new old-stock, it will have aged;
2. You'll surely get a higher kernel version than the one in the Glo HD. Check here: https://github.com/kobolabs/Kobo-Reader and go in the hw/ folder, and all the devices with their kernels will be listed. Just download what you want, unzip the tarball and read the README file, it will probably give you some information.
3. You'll get a guarantee. If something (really) bad happens, there's a chance you could return it at no cost.

I sacrificed the internal SD card for a bigger screen. All depends of what matters most for you. I don't regret that much this decision though, because I still have a (half-broken, yes, but working) Glo HD to test more bootloader/SD related things.
Reply 

  Next »  Last »  (1/2)
Today's Posts | Search this Thread | Login | Register