Mobileread
Review: Astak 5" Easy Reader Pro
#11  theducks 12-30-2009, 10:24 PM
Quote DaleDe
It is the same with your computer at home. Fire up the task manager and see how much free memory you have. What you see is free memory also known as available memory.

Dale
Look at my picture. We are talking about "Total Capacity" = Used +Free(+ hidden)
But you might have shed some on the use. Cache for the working title and system.
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#12  eGeezer 12-30-2009, 10:51 PM
Quote DaleDe
It is the same with your computer at home. Fire up the task manager and see how much free memory you have. What you see is free memory also known as available memory.

Dale
That's true, but when you go to your system page, it still tells you that the computer has 4g memory, or a 320g hd. It doesn't subtract system files in memory or on the hd from the total memory or hd capacity available. It may even steal half your memory for the video card use, but it still indicates your full 4g installed.

Naturally, since the internal memory also serves as its "hard drive", it is to be expected that it would be partitioned into "system" and "memory" sections. But, again, even a partitioned hd still shows up at multiple drives equating to the hd's full capacity.

And I still don't know where the 512m internal memory number that's being quoted is coming from. Neither the book, the box, or the system menu item on the device says anything more than internal = NAND.

So until I saw it in this review (I had read diokdin's review before choosing Astak), I had no idea of the internal memory's expected size.

Naturally, this changes Lord Raiden's estimate of 1000 books in internal memory, but he can't be held responsible for marketing's numbers manipulation.

While we are at it, I don't recall Lord R mentioning whether he had installed the latest firmware, so I believe perhaps some of his observations are no longer valid.

For instance, I cannot get to a bookmark my merely pressing the 1-5 keys. I need to press and hold the 6 key to bring up the bookmark page(s), and then press the key associated with the bookmark. However, the ability to create a bookmark by merely pressing the "6" key is great.

Also, there are 3, not 2, ways of page-turning. I don't think I've ever used the most obvious paging keys on the left of the screen (except for firmware updating), but depending on how I am holding the reader, I vary between the "wheel" on the right, and the 9/0 keys.

As for glare, which I have seen mentioned for many other devices as well, glare is usually from one source, and tilting the device has always worked for me.

I personally don't have a problem with E-ink page-turn time. I actually prefer the wiping/refresh because I actually know it has changed pages without having to read the first few words of the page and discover I haven't pressed the button hard enuff.

This one is a joke, so be warned -- how can a battery indicator that is barely 1/4" long ever be expected to move an inch? But, yes, I certainly agree. I have been using my PPro for 4 days and the indicator hasn't moved at all.

Nit-picking aside, it is indeed a very well-written review. I just thot it would be good to note these items (well, except for the battery indicator) on behalf of anyone unfamiliar with this great Astak device.
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#13  Steven Lake 12-30-2009, 11:39 PM
eGeezer: Yes, you bring up a good point. It's my habit to review a product in its "out of the box" condition, since that's the experience most people will encounter. I really wish people would plug, update, tweak, etc upon receipt, but alas, the majority don't. So I try to write my reviews in a way that will give an honest assessment of the product from an "out of box" experience. Hence why I didn't bother to update the firmware before reviewing it.

Another rule of thumb is this. Just because you run a tech site doesn't mean your readership is a bunch of geeks who know their way around the web. (typically I've discovered that most of your readers are total newbies, hence why they're turning to you for advice and reviews) If everyone was a geek and did the right things, sites like mine wouldn't be needed. ^_^;;
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#14  theducks 12-31-2009, 12:27 AM
Quote Lord Raiden
eGeezer: Yes, you bring up a good point. It's my habit to review a product in its "out of the box" condition, since that's the experience most people will encounter. I really wish people would plug, update, tweak, etc upon receipt, but alas, the majority don't. So I try to write my reviews in a way that will give an honest assessment of the product from an "out of box" experience. Hence why I didn't bother to update the firmware before reviewing it.
You make a great point about typical users never completing the initial setup steps. How many Stereos/VCR's have you see in peoples homes that still has the Advertising stickers or Protective film over the display.

IMHO the PEz needs a sticker on the Display film.
1 Charge me 12 hours or until the =D---- shows
We are improving all the time.
Your firmware will be out of date by the time you get this.
2. Download and Install the latest version from www.....

3. read the Astak forums at www.mobileread.com for more user tips.
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#15  Solicitous 12-31-2009, 01:27 AM
Quote theducks
You make a great point about typical users never completing the initial setup steps. How many Stereos/VCR's have you see in peoples homes that still has the Advertising stickers or Protective film over the display.

IMHO the PEz needs a sticker on the Display film.
1 Charge me 12 hours or until the =D---- shows
We are improving all the time.
Your firmware will be out of date by the time you get this.
2. Download and Install the latest version from www.....

3. read the Astak forums at www.mobileread.com for more user tips.
I did love when I got my PP the sticker on the box saying "This is not a touch screen".

I agree with having charging information on the sticker.
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#16  Steven Lake 12-31-2009, 10:57 AM
Yeah, I agree. A little "read me first" sheet is also hugely helpful. I've actually talked to people, and the information stickers and the "read me first" sheets (or stickers referring to the sheets) do quite a lot to get people down the right road when they're just pulling something out of the box.
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#17  eGeezer 12-31-2009, 04:10 PM
While it doesn't provide much help for any Astak purchasers who don't frequent the MobileRead forums, Robertb is present throughout the threads constantly reminding people to read the Astak FAQ, to charge the battery, to update to the latest firmware.

While doing a "straight out of the box" review is commendable from the many aspects iterated, it can also be misleading. Reading a review, one assumes they are getting the latest information on the unit. For instance, perhaps the description of a cumbersome process to get back to the page last read might cause a shopper to buy elsewhere, when in fact the cumbersome process is no longer required.

Ereading devices are probably a rare animal, with Astak/Hanlin/BeBook even rarer, because there aren't many other devices out there for which a firmware update makes functional improvements without an accompanying new model year.

I would think starting a review with its own "read me first" paragraph would be fair to both the reader and manufacturer. It could either state something along the lines that the unit is reviewed as is out of the box, but that improvements may have been made with a later firmware (check theezreader.com).

Or a (more accurate) review could be after a firmware update, with a "read me first" paragraph stating that the unit is being reviewed using the latest firmware "nnnnnn", available at theezreader.com, which it is advised the buyer check out, as well.

I would much rather be told I need an update to get all the features mentioned in a review than choose not to buy the product based on a review that leaves stuff out because the information in it is out-dated.

On the other hand. If the review was written before the latest firmware was available, then shame on me for jumping to conclusions.

Btw, I still have all the stickers on my laptop, DVD player, and AV receiver, although I did take the clear plastic off the displays.
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#18  SensualPoet 01-10-2010, 03:50 PM
Your review is appreciated -- but I was taken aback that it is the first (and only) e-reader you have used. Putting the Astak device in context of Amazon's Kindle and/or Sony's E-readers seems table stakes to me in a review like this. And as others have noted, the "just out of the box experience" is valuable, but one of Astak's purported strengths (and that of a so-called open OS) is that updates are frequent. For this reason, a point-of-view using the most current (and specifically identified) firmware would be more helpful. Have you considered an update review?

As a reader, can you comment more on the font? Every image I have ever seen of the Astak devices show a pretty large font, with non-existent page margins. I note you mention 3 font sizes. My experience is with the Kindle 2: I believe six font sizes are available and, for .mobi class files, there is some "air" around the page just like a printed mass paperbook. Illustrations may reach margin-to-margin, but type does not. The embedded single Kindle font is also very legible, even in small sizes. On a related note: can you change the "words per line"? that changes the margins on the Kindle. And -- can you select left-, right-, centre- or full-justification? People like choice: the Kindle 2 fixes everything at full-justification.

As a geek, is 8 gray scales enough for text and rudimentary picture display? Or should we demand 16, 32 or 64 levels? Plus, there is talk about xGB of storage. Generally, I am a believer in "more is better". With an e-reader, I'm not quite so sure. "More" means a more complex filing / index system. I think a device which offers "enough" internal memory -- possibly with the option of more via SD -- finds the best path. However, I'm coming to believe that 1, 2 , 4, 8 GB might be "enough" internal storage saving the added manufacturing cost of an external SD capability. Is 512 MB enough for you? (I gather it is, btw, from your comment about 1024 books ...)

The ability to "skip 10 pages" at once sounds cool; I can enter specific "locations" on my Kindle 2 but that's pretty tedious. Bookmarking is a cinch, but then it remembers where I left off. I gather the updated firmware for the Astak reader also remembers the "left off" page -- hopefully for every book "opened" at some point.

There was nothing stated about the file system or how easy / hard it is to sync your PC collection of e-books with the Astak over USB. Have you had a chance to experiment with different file formats since the initial review? Specifically, how well it works with prc, pdf, doc, txt, ade and epub files? Have you tried using it with a public library Overdrive system?

Finally, and you may wish to comment offline, I was trying to download one or more of your novels from your website -- you've piqued my interest in your writing. I couldn't sort out how to get them, alas. "Trail of Faith" and "Empire" sounded intriguing.

Thanks again!
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#19  QIbHom 01-10-2010, 04:09 PM
In my experience, the font size varies by book. I haven't played with making the font bigger or smaller much because this doesn't bother me. I don't believe there is any ability to change the words per line.

I haven't been bothered by the 8 grey scale, but I'm going mostly for the text, anyway. There is an SD card slot, and I just work off my SD card. That means I can put an awful lot of books on my reader. Could even swap out cards, if needed, but really, how many books does one need to carry around? I've got over 800 books on my Pocket Pro right now, and that really is overkill.

I don't think it remembers the last point opened for every book you've opened. Skipping 10 pages is cool, but I don't use it all that often.

Syncing is a matter of drag and drop. There is no special software (which means I'm golden, as a Linux user). I've had great luck with prc files, epubs seem to open fine. I haven't used it with Overdrive (damn their DRMed souls, if they have one, to hell) yet, although I did get a library card from a system that uses them, so I'll get around to it at some point (see the above statement about 800+ books, though).

Never used a Kindle, so I can't comment on any of that.

I know you weren't addressing me, but as I actually didn't think the review was particularly well done, I'm jumping in.
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#20  SensualPoet 01-10-2010, 04:41 PM
Many thanks, QIbHom!

Quote QIbHom
There is an SD card slot, and I just work off my SD card. That means I can put an awful lot of books on my reader. Could even swap out cards, if needed, but really, how many books does one need to carry around? I've got over 800 books on my Pocket Pro right now, and that really is overkill.
My point about storage is that "less is more", in a sense. I have abt 70 titles on my Kindle 2 and, barring a better indexing system, I'm not sure I want any more (it holds 2GB apparently) -- certainly not 500 or 1000 titles. That's what my PC is for: it's the mother ship. The e-reader is just the shuttle that gets me where I am going. I want to have enough choice to cover what I am actually reading, what I just read, what I am thinking of reading -- enough for variety of choice for a lengthy vacation ... but I don't need the Library of Alexandria at my fingertips. And, ditching the SD card reader makes the cost a little lower. Plus, not to be unkind, but there have been repeated comments about oddities in the actual physical SD mechanism Astak has used.
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