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Old 03-10-2012, 05:30 AM   #1
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ProDigit's Avatar
Posts: 2,157
Karma: 9023682
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Miami FL
Device: PRS-505, Jetbook, Jetbook Mini, Jetbook Color, Astak Ez Reader Pro
Yet Another Review of the JBC (tips, hints, improvements, review)


So I have the JBC, and only was able to use it for 30 minutes yet.
Seems like Mobile Read lost my previous review, so I'll have to re-write it.

I had a few minor issues to address, and will address more as I spend more time with the device (as 30 minutes only makes for a poor review).

(PS my OS version is r1128 Spanish)
PSS: I really LOVE this device! A lot of things may seem negative comments, but it's an absolute beauty device! I don't mention many things that are obvious, like PDF reader reads PDF, audio player plays back MP3 files... I mean, they are obvious! I generally tend to write about things I have learned about the device, and things I would not have expected of it, as well as things I expected that did not work as I had expected!

Here are the things I noticed:

1- Box contents:
The Jetbook comes in a very nice, strong box. The box includes a USB cable, a charger, and a headphones, not your ordinary walkman/discman headphones; but just slightly better.

2- Sleeve:
Inside the box is also found a hard sleeve.The black looking sleeve, feels like it is made out of a slightly stronger than carboard base, with an outside leather/inside dyne-like coating. It allows the JBC to be clicked/locked in the clamps, and placed either standing (portrait mode) or laying (landscape mode).
In standing position, the jetbook (due to the weight, and the construction of the cover), is slightly hanging to the left, not being perfectly vertical, which takes away of the standing mode.

3- Issues sleeve:
Another issue with the sleeve/cover is that the pen is very hard to grasp when the device is clicked in the sleeve!
I was expecting the pen to click out much like an SD card operates (press and it would click out), but instead you need to access with your finger the inaccessible back cover to remove the pen. In order to do that, you'd have to loosen the JBC from the cover/clamps, and click it out.
Since the cover clamps scratch the JBC cover, I am not too fond of doing this too often!

*Edit: It seems the JBC has to be placed on the left in the sleeve, not on the right. Doing so it has a small opening for the stylus, but it's a bit weird to see your text on the left side of a book instead of on the right side.*

4- Issues sleeve (b):
And lastly, when standing in portrait mode in the sleeve, the USB ports are covered by whatever table you put it on. So you won't be able to transfer files while the JBC is standing up.
Talking about the USB ports, I am an opponent of any flap being in the way of the accessibility of the ports! Just like with the standard Jetbook, I would have preferred if they would have built the USB ports straight in the housing!
They're not really wearing out faster without flap!

5- Speakers:
When reading in portrait mode in bed (or couch) something you'll probably do a lot, the device is pretty heavy; you will want to rest it on your belly while reading.
Doing so you'll muffle the speakers as both speakers are located on the bottom. Now unless you're a super skinny 13 years old teenager, who's belly is smaller than the 2 speakers, muffling at least one is inevitable! They better had placed the speakers sideways or on the top.
The speakers are in excellent position for reading in portrait mode from the cover on a hard table.
Anything soft underneath will muffle the sound considerably.
The sound is crisp, and gives the lows back surprisingly well! Perhaps it's my imagination, but the device even vibrates with the lows, and thus gives the impression of portraying the lows really well,as you can feel the music as you hold the device!

6- JBC Housing:
The jetbook Color comes in pretty gloss black and white front cover,and a dark blue, leathery looking back. The back is actually leather patterned plastic, coated with a layer of rubber paint (I believe) for a better grip.
It feels and looks like leather, only modern dark blue. Very nice, though I would have preferred black instead!
The front cover is a fingerprint magnet! Especially the black plastic window near the bottom of the device (near the buttons), as you see fingerprints better on dark shiny surfaces than white ones.

7- Booting:
The JBC booted in 30 seconds sharp! IMHO, that is a very long time for a reader, short for a Windows OS, but long for a book reader!
Preferred would be a near to instant on, if possible, or at least less than 5 seconds of boot time would be acceptable. 30 seconds makes you never want to turn off the device (just set "settings>>autopower" to 'off'). On average it takes less than 2 seconds to flip a text book PDF, less than 5 seconds to load a 15MB comic book PDF, with 3 seconds page flip for a hi-res page.

8- Screen:
The JBC's screen looks awesome,even in color! The background does not look a lot darker than the Jetbook' or the Jetbook mini's, and is comparable to grey recycled newspaper!
There is a lot of ghosting, especially on colored surfaces, but for black/white the ghosting is minimal.
A second screen refresh totally eliminates ghosting.
Readability is near to 180 degrees,and pretty uniform!
The background grey is more the color of the metallic Jetbook logo, than the white frame. The white frame is too light compared to the darker background, and if I would have been engineering this device I would have started with a black and grey housing rather than a white (apple lookalike) design.

9- Stylus/pen:
You can control the device from the pen, OR the buttons (or a combination of both).
So,if you ever lose the pen, the device won't be completely useless. The device is depending on this type of pen. You can't just swap the pen with any stick;

I would want to know if a touchscreen pen of another device would work too...

When inserting the stylus in the designed storage space, the device recognizes this, and disables the pen input.
Battery life may depend on having the pen in or out of the device!

10- Size,pdf on screen:
The Jetbook Color's total overall size is a bit smaller than an A4/letter type page of paper. The screen being 9,7" is about twice as small as an A4/letter type page. Thus any PDF's based on these types of paper will be displayed at ~50% zoom level. Even though the resolution is far good enough to view B&W text of these pages, the screen is too small, or the DPI is too high. You will find that A4/letter type pages are readable, but the letters are very small. The information fits the screen perfectly, but you may have wanted an option for making the letters a bit larger (or at least make them BOLDER, as they're very small, and pretty uncomfortable to read.
A 1600x1200 resolution would have better fitted a 11 to 13" screen than a 9.7" screen.
To me there's no reason why to include PDF reflow, as you want to read PDF pages full screen at their native resolution. However you might want to get a little closer to the screen as the letters are pretty small!
Zooming to 150% can often give you a nice letter type, at the cost of losing the paper layout (info won't fit screen), and not being able to skip to the next page,as next/prev buttons are used for panning.

11- Pen2:
You don't need to tap the pen on the screen if you feel afraid of wearing out the screen (or pen).
Angling the pen and touching the screen with the side of the tip works too.
You could also float above the surface, 1 mm away from the surface.At this distance the device recognizes it as a click,and you won't need to worry scratching the screen, or wearing out your pen!

12- Lumen needed for viewing the screen:
Viewing comic books works perfect on the reader! Regular B&W text on paper looks great, but comic books with color look even greater. The only con is that the overall image in comic reading will become darker.
You will have the sensation that you need 'more light' when reading a comic book, than reading a text book.
So far I've determined, if you have a white room, and a bed nightlamp in the corner on a nightstand, you will need at least a 2 to 3Watt LED light, or a 30W incandescent to be able to read your comic books comfortably.
You will need a 1W LED, or 20W incandescent spot on your screen minimum.

13- Color deviation Jetbook:
The screen background in white mode looks grey-brownish. It looks more brownish when having a yellow incandescent light on,than when looking under TL or white LED light.
The more yellow the room light, the different the colors look. Hopefully there's a calibration software for pure white (5000k), yellow light (3700k), and low light incandescent light (3000k), but I'll leave that to the Ectaco Engineers.
Especially colors like blue and red look really dark, the more fuller the colors are.
It's a bit difficult to distinguish between yellow, light green, light orange, and grey. The more fuller colors are pretty visible, but all very dark. I guess that's the nature of the beast, but perhaps optimizable via software drivers!
The Jetbook is best read under a white light, or under full sunlight (near to white).
The more yellowish the light, the less certain colors shine.

14- Resolution issues:
Most comic books are aimed towards widescreens. The Jetbook has a 4/3 screen. You will notice that when reading a comic book, the book is displayed on the left side of the screen.
You have about 1/5th of white space to the right of a PDF/comic book screen.
I wished it was possible for PDF's and comic books (jpegs) to not only zoom to fit screen, in which the pages are zoomed to touch the top and bottom of the screen, but also stretch to fit screen on the left and right!
If a stretch page feature is impossible, then at least it would be nice if they where to zoom a PDF page and center it (where there's as much white space to the right as there is to the left of the page), to give it a more symmetric look!
But I would prefer a stretch, as the extra pixels can be used to clear up some text, and increase image resolution.
Regular comic book scans are pretty hard to read (you can read the text, but may find it's very small). Comic books aimed towards smaller reading devices are much better to read.

15- Files and folders:
The JBC only accepts upto 299 files per folder, and if I'm right, only accepts upto 3 sub folders in hierarchy.
If surpassing the 299 files per folder, opening that folder will only show part of the files or folders within that folder. Some won't be omitted to the screen.
You'll have to sort your files into folders.

16- 32GB SDHC card:
The JBC accepts my 32GB class4 microSD card with ease, it recognizes it as a 29,7GB drive,formatted in FAT32. Transfer speeds to this card are limited to 3,40MB/s at best, which is rather slow for a class 4 card.

17- DRM:
The JBC asks to register your device with Adobe, when opening an adobe protected (drm) PDF file. Sad thing is at this moment there's no way to do that (see next point)

18- WIFI:
The wireless network operates perfectly. You can connect to a network, and look in your router and find the device connected. The JBC has a pretty good wireless reach too! Unfortunately it is not (yet) equipped with a browser to make use of the feat.
You can turn on and off the wifi signal via settings, or via the wifi switch.

19- Volume buttons?:
Something I've always missed on most tablets I've owned, is a volume button. The JBC can currently adjust volume only via the config/settings menu.
Scary when you accidentally enabled TTS, and your wife is sleeping next to you!

20- TTS:
The device has TTS feat in it. In the 30 minutes I played around with it, the TTS worked ok on both books and the internal software (like the dictionary). The TTS speaks both fluently english, and Spanish with a very clear female voice.
I say 'ok' because the device was capable of performing well, however, in 3 of the 5 tests, the TTS had a hard time speaking. For some reason the sound cracked and was not able to play back normally. Only 2 tests succeeded without issues. I thought it had to do with me adding over 10k pdf files on the device, but I'm not sure why the TTS would sometimes work, and other times would crack like a CD full of scratches; or a computer running in buffer underrun constantly!

21- TTS2:
When reading a full page or book, the TTS would load one line at a time, read it, stop and load the following line, reads that, stops and loads the following line, and reads that, and so on.
The stop time between lines is taking too long.
When instead selecting the paragraph, and enabling the speech client, the text gets read more fluently, as it does not add additional sentence loading time.
Selected text reads just like on a computer. Reading from a block usually could take upto 2,5 seconds before reading the next line, which is too long if you ask me.

22- Charging the Jetbook:
Your Mini USB connection is the device's most sensitive and important plug! You can charge your device while transferring files from your pc,or charge via provided AC adaptor. The AC adaptor can be replaced with your Iphone or any other USB charger that can provide 5V,500-1000mAh.

23- Software:
It would take more than 20 of these threads to review each of the software packs on this jetbook!
I can't go into that now. But just to say, my most favorite ones are:
- The library: Your book library
- Audio Books and Music: Playback music
- Sudoku
- Translation Eng-Spa games and dictionary
- Eng Dictionary.

There are plenty more, but I really like these; and of course TTS!

24- USB connection:
The USB connection on the bottom of the device provides data, no power. The power the device provides is too low to connect anything but a powered external harddrive or mouse. An external keyboard does not work,neither a USB flash drive. An IR mouse works, barely, though there is no cursor on the screen.
When moving the mouse around nothing seems to change on the screen. When clicking, the item which is supposed to be under the mouse cursor will be selected.


But any keyboard or flash drive I tried connecting did not.

25- The included headphones are pretty loud, and equipped with a mic. The headphones plug is a 4piece jack plug. The device works perfectly with a standard 3 piece headphones plug. The audio quality is crisp, slightly better than the standard Jetbook,lacking a little bit in lower frequencies below 60Hz,which is ok to use the device as a LINE device, but as a headphones device it could use a +3 to +6 dB boost in the 30-60Hz region.

26- Music player:
The music player's time does not work yet. Every song played has 00:00 minutes on the timeline.
The touchscreen makes it very easy to skip from beginning to middle or end of a song, and is pretty accurate as far as timeline on the screen, vs timeline in the song; although it's pretty hard to locate a specific part in a song you know is at a certain time interval (due to the absence of a timer in the song).
There is no page view in the music player, you can't see how many songs are beyond what the display shows.
Left and right can flip between next and previous page.
You can not delete music files from the audio player (only from the PC), but you can delete books from the Library.
Exiting the audio player, stops any playing music. Background music while reading a book like on the standard Jetbook is not (yet) possible.

27- Clicking on the battery icon gives an estimation of battery life in percent

28- The screen grid (for stylus input) gets activated when the stylus gets closer than 1cm to the surface. The stylus seems to be based on magnetic input, as it feels like it gets some attraction at that distance to the screen

29- Files/folder access:
The files you want to access (books) have to be in the directory "My Books", and the music in "My Music". The device won't look for another directory but those.
Pasting a book in the audio directory won't be displayed, and likewise pasting audio in the book directory won't be displayed.
Images must be placed in the 'my book' directory.

30- Stylus input:
It is possible to write or draw things on top of your PDF books. There's currently only very limited amounts of software on the Jetbook to fully use the stylus' feature. The stylus writes in dark reddish-brown. Not completely black as I would have hoped. You can't select colors, and to remove drawing is a pain!
To remove drawings you'd have to select the eraser, and erase exactly over the line you drew. Missing the line will result in parts of the line to remain visible. The eraser is only in one size, the size of the pen.
If there was any drawing software in the future, the basic feats would be drawing in black, selecting a few basic colors, having multi size erasers,and/or select lines to erase by a dragbox.

31- size of the FW upgrade:
The firmware upgrade is a whopping 1,6GB in size! Nothing to be downloaded from HTTP!
To download this on a low-band or unstable wifi connection, you will need a download manager like DAP, or something that can resume interrupted downloads. I would have preferred a BITTORRENT-kind of download over this,as bittorrent autoresumes and it would have costed the company way less bandwidth!
I was expecting a good 50-250MB FW upgrade, but wasn't expecting a 1,6GB whopper!
The company should think of serving their firmware upgrades via bittorrent, and perhaps ask the schools that have these devices, to help seed these files as well (not an uncommon practice in US universities).
If not, it would be better if they split their upgrades into 2 packs, one the FW upgrade, and the other the program upgrades.
The download went pretty smoothly, with speeds of upto 250KB/s on my connection.

I've spent some time actually using this device as a PDF reader, and there are a few things I feel I must address:
- A menu bar showing the clock and what page I'm on. In PDF reading there's no where you can see at what page you're on,how far you're along the book, and what the last page is.
- The white reflective frame is a real bother to read with any environment! First of all the border is white, second it's shiny, so that any light reflecting on it becomes next to a mirror the brightest parts of my vision! Third the frame is not entirely straight! In other words, if some light reflects on the frame, and you angle the reader a bit, there will still be a reflection of light. This is rather annoying I find, as you can not completely remove any frame reflection for any light source emanating behind the reader!
- The FB2 file format is quite useless! The text has no formatting, and to me it looks like it can display a simple cover picture (at a low resolution) and the book in plain text. The page bar is too small to actually comfortably see at which page you are, and how many pages are left!
There is also a progression bar on the bottom when reading FB2 books, but you can't use the stylus on this bar to skip through the book.
I think the JBC makes for a poor FB2 reader, as the file format is not widely known or used, and is a file format that lacks a lot of feats!

Update 2:
- It's a pitty that you can't change book font size within a book yet. Some books come with smaller fonts than other books (talking about non-pdf books), and when changing a book, discovering that the fontsize is too small, you'd have to go out of the book, all the way to main menu, to config menu, to change the fontsize. Then go all the way back to your book. They should at least create a quick menu to access fonts from within a book.
- Pressing 'menu' when being within a book, gives you one table of (quite large font) text with options. They could replace the text with icons and smaller text, and use 2 columns easily. I think it would look nicer...

(menu within a PDF book):

Last edited by ProDigit; 03-11-2012 at 08:25 AM.
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