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Old 09-06-2011, 07:36 PM   #1
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Arrow PocketBook vs. Kindle - Legibility contest

My PocketBook 902 has just arrived. It actually looks better than on the pictures, feels solid and smells nice, seriously. The screen is actually bigger than the whole Kindle, nice. The bezel seemed too wide when I looked it up on the Internet but it makes holding the device easier whether in a portrait or landscape mode (the screen rotates itself!) and is actually spot on for my hands.

Pleasantly surprised (I didn't expect much from this device) I couldn't wait to see it in action. I've tried all the menus, a game, a music player and the speakers and all was good, a bit basic at times, but good. The preloaded EPUB books looked fine too, although by default they were displayed using a massive font size.

However, when the time came to fire up a PDF text from Safari Books that sent shivers down my spine - I was reading and not feeling very comfortable. I tried another one and had to strain my eyes again even though the font wasn't very small. I thought this was it as I intended to read mostly PDFs on my ereader.

As you may have guessed I also have a Kindle that arrived not long before. With its screen smaller than the smallest paperback novel that I have in my library it's totally unusable for my purposes but the rendering of text is much better. I can open the same book that I tried on the PocketBook and reading is a pain but only because the letters are so small, they are small but perfectly legible.

There is no contrast control in PocketBook and it's badly needed. Text on Kindle looks better even at the default setting and you still have two higher levels of contrast available. It's not just that it's darker, it also seems fuller so the thin lines in letters are well visible.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a showstopper, you can still read from the device and I'll most likely keep my PocketBook but if there was Kindle 3 DX available I would go for it instead just because of the issue I described. So developers, do something about this core feature instead of improving silly things like Bluetooth connectivity, something that prompted me to write all this.


A picture is worth a thousand words. Below you can see a comparison of the two readers (PocketBook on the left, Kindle on the right) as good as I could make it with my simple camera at night with artificial lighting. There are all three levels of contrast in Kindle shown, starting with the default one. The pictures are as they came from the camera, no photoediting apart from cropping and resizing. Click for bigger ones.











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Old 09-06-2011, 08:21 PM   #2
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Pocketbook is still using the old generation screen for their new models. I guess the contrast issue can be solved with software but not sure if pocketbook is doing it or now. There is no firmware update for months
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Old 09-06-2011, 09:56 PM   #3
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Coolreader now allows you to adjust contrast.

get it here.
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Old 09-06-2011, 10:12 PM   #4
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Coolreader now allows you to adjust contrast.

get it here.
But Coolreader doesn't allow you to read PDF file, does it?
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:43 AM   #5
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No, Coolreader doesn't read pdf files.

I've always found it unjust to compare the screen of the Pocketbook 902/3 with pearl screens as one year ago Pocketbook simply had no possibility to build a pearl screen into their devices, thanks to Amazon. But now, a year later, I can't understand the reasons why they offer their new devices without a pearl screen.
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:07 AM   #6
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Actually, yesterday when I was writing this at one moment I asked myself if my eyes got used to this screen or has the screen suddenly got better as reading PDFs from the device became possible. I thought that I was just tired but then I did something, opened another PDF and it was barely readable with jagged text again. It's back to the 'ok' mode at the moment. I will investigate and provide more pictures when I notice it another time.

Anyway, the pictures above show the screen after it 'fixed' itself. While the blacks are washed out compared to Kindle it is usable enough for me to keep it.

Thanks for the suggestion Notrite, I'll give that reader a go later on.

jshzh, I've seen some comments here that appeared to come from people from PocketBook (dealers? developers?) and the German PocketBook website points to this forum. Do you mean that you don't hear from those people any more at all? My reader came with a seal saying 30.03.2011 so I got a bit puzzled what was going on...
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:01 AM   #7
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poor contrast in PDF

Quote:
Originally Posted by machinogodzilla View Post
... So developers, do something about this core feature instead of improving silly things like Bluetooth connectivity ...
What can I say more ... I would renounce to WI-FI, Bluetooth, browser, chess, calendar, I would even pay more (you name it) in exchange for just a slightly better contrast.

The poor contrast in PDF (in no reflow mode) is the only reason I'm hesitate to buy Pocketbook 90x.
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:06 AM   #8
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... Anyway, the pictures above show the screen after it 'fixed' itself. While the blacks are washed out compared to Kindle it is usable enough for me to keep it. ...
So now you are confortable reading PDF (in no reflow mode) ? in reflow mode you lose formatting but gain better contrast so I'm interested only in no reflow mode.
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:07 AM   #9
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But Coolreader doesn't allow you to read PDF file, does it?
Yes coolreader doesn't read pdf files, but if they are just pdf novels then Calibre is your best friend machinogodzilla . in regarding to contrast my opinion is that its more of a hardware issue rather than software. VP Marketing of Eink corporation states in a recent interview that: 'Vizplex (screens used in all Pocketbook models) screens are supposed to be better than newspapers and Pearl screens are meant to be better than paperbacks in terms of contrast'. That been said it is very unlikely that a software update will help to improve contrast to be on par or better than kindle 3 DX which uses Pearl screens.

BTW the video link of the interview is here.
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Old 09-07-2011, 07:25 AM   #10
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font antialiasing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Notrite View Post
... is very unlikely that a software update will help to improve contrast to be on par or better than kindle 3 DX which uses Pearl screens ...
Nobody argues about vizplex being equal to pearl; pearl is simply better ! But contrast is also a software issue if you are aware of font antialiasing. That's why sometimes same pdf on same vizplex display seems to have thicker fonts.
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Old 09-07-2011, 08:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billi View Post
I've always found it unjust to compare the screen of the Pocketbook 902/3 with pearl screens as one year ago Pocketbook simply had no possibility to build a pearl screen into their devices, thanks to Amazon. But now, a year later, I can't understand the reasons why they offer their new devices without a pearl screen.
I didn't really think what sort of screen PocketBook used. It is in the same price bracket as Onyx and Kindle devices of the same size then why not compare?

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So now you are confortable reading PDF (in no reflow mode) ? in reflow mode you lose formatting but gain better contrast so I'm interested only in no reflow mode.
I haven't used the reflow mode and don't know if I can with the books I have. I managed to read a chapter yesterday and was satisfied enough to come to the conclusion that I could keep the reader. But since the device has allegedly been abandoned by its developers I may have to rethink my decision. I haven't tried any Onyxes yet so I may as well give one a go before I decide.

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Originally Posted by Notrite View Post
Yes coolreader doesn't read pdf files, but if they are just pdf novels then Calibre is your best friend
I intend to read mostly technical documents, manuals, textbooks etc. on my reader. For leisure reading I prefer to use old, smelly, paper books

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That been said it is very unlikely that a software update will help to improve contrast to be on par or better than kindle 3 DX which uses Pearl screens.
Thicker fonts would definitely help unless you had PDFs made of bitmaps. There isn't Kindle 3 DX, is there? Are you referring to the one that is 3 from outside and 2 from inside?
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Old 09-07-2011, 02:26 PM   #12
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@machinogodzilla

You seemed to me shocked about the difference between PB and Kindle. Did you worked with pearl devices and now you faced for the first time a vizplex display so that's why you might be so surprised ? Analyze yourself well, many are influenced of what are you gonna say .
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Old 09-07-2011, 03:49 PM   #13
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I haven't tried any Onyxes yet so I may as well give one a go before I decide.
The Onyxes have their own set of problems. Be sure to read the threads on Onyx M9*.

There is supposedly a M92 model coming soon which has the possibility of being decent.
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:52 PM   #14
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The Onyxes have their own set of problems. Be sure to read the threads on Onyx M9*.There is supposedly a M92 model coming soon which has the possibility of being decent.
Thanks for the warning j.p.s., I'll keep my expectations low

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You seemed to me shocked about the difference between PB and Kindle. Did you worked with pearl devices and now you faced for the first time a vizplex display so that's why you might be so surprised ? Analyze yourself well, many are influenced of what are you gonna say .
It's not about the difference, it's about how well the core function of the device performs. If the text on the Kindle had looked great and on the PocketBook "just" very good then I wouldn't have bothered to write this. Sadly the way it is may be acceptable for some uses, but generally is rather poor, especially when reading PDFs.

When it comes to blacks the text is not looking great but is readable, the colour of it is kind of very dark grey. However, when it comes to greys (or colours) this is when the real trouble starts, as the colour gets closer to the grey of the background and the text becomes hardly visible. Example with 120% zoom on the PocketBook and comparable size on Kindle:

(I haven't set up my 'studio' properly this time so the pictures are a bit darker than they should be)



As you can see monospaced fonts used in the literature tend to be thinner so even if not displayed in a box like in the above example, they will still look very unclear. Compare the "Or you can boot..." line with the "AnnotationConfig..." in the first picture.
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:21 AM   #15
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Angry Kindle font anti-aliasing, pocketbook visplex

You are right, it's a huge difference. It's all about font anti-aliasing so it's a software problem. Kindle has the capability of correcting this with it's software (in pdf has that function of darkening the font I think it's doing something about anti aliasing) but pocketbook hasn't. It's a pity to be this way; I think this function would make pocketbook a really good device for reading technical pdf despite it's visplex display.
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