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Old 09-20-2014, 09:55 AM   #1
Nate the great
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My Pocketbook Ultra has arrived

I'm still working on my review of the Kobo Aura H2O, but I just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I've also taken my next review unit out of the box.

I made the mistake of buying the Pocketbook Ultra, and after 20 minutes I can sum it up quickly: it is a $240 disappointment.

This device has a gray screen and splotchy frontlight. I am shocked that Pocketbook would release something that is so overpriced and underperforming.

I'll probably post a rant Sunday night, but I just wanted to give you a taste now.
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:27 AM   #2
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I can sum it up quickly: it is a $240 disappointment.
... and that was written before you had a chance to test the software ;-)
LOTS of things that we have come to expect from a PocketBook device are missing. Like ability to select what program you want to use to open a book from the library.
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:51 AM   #3
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... and that was written before you had a chance to test the software ;-)
LOTS of things that we have come to expect from a PocketBook device are missing. Like ability to select what program you want to use to open a book from the library.
Ugh! That's a distressing trend. It takes work to remove features from the system, and if they've gone to that effort, then I doubt that it's just for this model alone. I wasn't planning on getting an Ultra, but I did intend to get an 840 when they are released. If the 840 is similarly broken, then I won't be buying one. The only reason I'm willing to pay more for a device that has a slightly worse display is that I value those PocketBook system features.
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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Ugh! That's a distressing trend. It takes work to remove features from the system, and if they've gone to that effort, then I doubt that it's just for this model alone. I wasn't planning on getting an Ultra, but I did intend to get an 840 when they are released. If the 840 is similarly broken, then I won't be buying one. The only reason I'm willing to pay more for a device that has a slightly worse display is that I value those PocketBook system features.
I want to believe that the missing things will be done in the next firmware.
There are a few betas available. A few weeks old at this moment.
Also keep in mind that it takes some time for hackers and developers to port a new fbreader or coolreader for the new model. It was like that with other models.
The feature I miss the most is the ability to choose the program for opening epubs.
vsftp program is working, so we have copy of default (internal) versions of configuration files. fsftp is a third-party program, an ftp server running on reader, so you can root in internal files on filesystem through WiFi from a PC on the same net.

Mind you, it is still MUCH more configurable system than other readers. I am just worried about the trend I see across several recent models.
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Old 09-20-2014, 05:56 PM   #5
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There are a few betas available. A few weeks old at this moment.
Where are these betas available? Are there any betas for older models (such as 614 or 624)?
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Old 09-20-2014, 10:00 PM   #6
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I want to believe that the missing things will be done in the next firmware.
There are a few betas available. A few weeks old at this moment.
Also keep in mind that it takes some time for hackers and developers to port a new fbreader or coolreader for the new model. It was like that with other models.
The feature I miss the most is the ability to choose the program for opening epubs.
vsftp program is working, so we have copy of default (internal) versions of configuration files. fsftp is a third-party program, an ftp server running on reader, so you can root in internal files on filesystem through WiFi from a PC on the same net.

Mind you, it is still MUCH more configurable system than other readers. I am just worried about the trend I see across several recent models.
I know that, on the older devices, the menu option to use another app only appears if there are more than one apps specified in the extensions.cfg file. So I'm not sure whether you're saying that there is no "Open with" menu item because there is only one app for reading, or because the extensions.cfg file is no longer supported. Have you tried modifying exensions.cfg and adding a fake app to see if the "Open with..." menu option appears?
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Old Yesterday, 03:39 AM   #7
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Where are these betas available? Are there any betas for older models (such as 614 or 624)?
Betas are usually available for a very short time. They were published by our fellow mobilereader Forkosigan on a German forum on server Alles-ebook.de.
I got my copy from a friend on my local forum.
This is complete redesign - completely different Home, with Covers in group of threes instead of "good old" list like on previous models. - This is one of very annoying changes I have mentioned. I want to believe there will be configuration option to return to a list listing books, not just a few covers. Covers aren't THAT bad if the book does have cover, when it doesn't have, it uses just ugly placeholder, or a picture of first page in pdf (so when the pdf has no cover, good luck for guessing which one it is). The Home looks as annoying as default Kindle or Nook home page.
There is upper "slide-down" menu for WiFi, light, settings like on Android.
You can enable this for fbreader and adobereader. So our dear developers have "Kindlified" user interface for reading apps. The bottom status bar can ONLY show current page / all pages number, instead of: time, day of week, title of book, battery charge light level and lots of other info configurable on previous models. You wanna see the time or battery level - use TWO status bars. One on bottom, the other - an Android wannabe - at the top [Where the hell is emoticon for EXTREME frustration when I need it?!?]
Also configuration screen for fbreader and adobe reader have met the fate of Gnome 3 or Metro interface.

There was talk about PocketBook porting this 5.x firmware to PB623 or 626 on the alles-ebook.de forum, but it has been apparently postponed.


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I know that, on the older devices, the menu option to use another app only appears if there are more than one apps specified in the extensions.cfg file. So I'm not sure whether you're saying that there is no "Open with" menu item because there is only one app for reading, or because the extensions.cfg file is no longer supported. Have you tried modifying exensions.cfg and adding a fake app to see if the "Open with..." menu option appears?
I used the vsftpd to get extensions.cfg and I have successfully modified it. It even works, opening epub in whatever program that is listed as the first in a list for format - fbreader.app, adobereader.app or even epubinfo I have stolen from a theme that Sir Steiner made for PB623. So with epubinfo I can choose between fbreader.app and adobereader.app, but only ONCE. The next time you open the book in the library and use epubinfo to choose, it uses the program you used when you opened the book for the first time, regardless of your choice.
By the way, it is very difficult to find out whether you are using fbreader or adobereader, because both of them have "kindlified" UI and the difference is minimal. [I urgently need that "extremely pissed off" emoticon ;-)]
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Old Yesterday, 07:05 PM   #8
Nate the great
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Ugh! That's a distressing trend. It takes work to remove features from the system, and if they've gone to that effort, then I doubt that it's just for this model alone. I wasn't planning on getting an Ultra, but I did intend to get an 840 when they are released. If the 840 is similarly broken, then I won't be buying one. The only reason I'm willing to pay more for a device that has a slightly worse display is that I value those PocketBook system features.
The 840 got bad reviews when it launched in Russia, in August. That may have lead to the European launch being delayed. It's not shipping until the end of the month:
http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/0...ptember-least/

I have one on pre-order.
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Old Yesterday, 07:11 PM   #9
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... and that was written before you had a chance to test the software ;-)
LOTS of things that we have come to expect from a PocketBook device are missing. Like ability to select what program you want to use to open a book from the library.
Oh, I used the software. It's shite.
http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/0...-ereader-2014/

Did you get a better result from the TTS OCR on your review unit?

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Old Yesterday, 07:23 PM   #10
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And since no one else has linked to it, here's a review from the blog that must not be named:
http://goodereader.com/blog/electron...-reader-review

They don't seem to have noticed the issue with the screen quality (they did comment on the frontlight) or the TTS software.
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Old Today, 01:04 AM   #11
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Did you get a better result from the TTS on your review unit?
Did you mean TTS or OCR?
There is nothing wrong with TTS, except for the missing voice for my mother language.
In your sensational review you do not talk about TTS at all. You did trash OCR, and rightfully so. It was crazy idea to begin with, IMHO ;-).

By the way, I noticed you always go for All-Or-Nothing. The reader has many shortcomings, yet it still supports *way* more configuration and customization options than other readers. But, you have to go for the sensational headline instead of exploring all the options the device supports.
It has very small dimensions, It has magnets at the back (allowing for very elegant covers),
It supports custom fonts, dictionaries, shutdown pictures, it offers 49 voices for TTS, it offers a lot of applications out-of-box, There is "sync PockewtBook" and Dropbox supported out of box, there are already third-party apps available including a terminal emulator or ftp server, there are two apps you can use for opening epub, there is configutation file in device you can use to tweak fbreader appearance, pdf reader supports manual page crop (which can even be different for odd and even pages!). But no, OCR doesn't work on the first try and after 5 minutes of trying you declare it trash ...

I personally am frustrated with some software and UI choices but a job of reviewer is to take a full and balanced picture. Describe all bad AND good features.
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Old Today, 02:49 AM   #12
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I am continuing with my previous rant, after I have calmed down a little bit ;-)

...
- it supports 14 e-book formats, including .doc, .docx, mobi, epub, DRMed epub ...
- The manufacturer published tool for creating dictionaries so there are quite a few very interesting user-created dictionaries on the net, and even the oldest ones work on new models
- there is an SDK for apps,
- there are apps already available on the net that work on reader and we can expect more (if the model isn't abandoned by manufacturer the way PB302 was)
- there is tool (I think there will be, to be honest, because they published it for all previous models) for changing the user interface - so called themes,
- there is support for menu in 21 languages out of box, with a very easy path for creating and installing additional language translations - just translate a single file in a text editor and drop it into /system/language directory on your reader
- there is support for easy and seamless installation of user binaries for the reader. Out of box, absolutely no hacking required - unlike other manufacturers that fight you tooth and nail if you want even to install a font or change a "screensaver"
- the manufacturer doesn't beg you to register ANYWHERE, unlike quite a few manufacturers that hold your device hostage until you register it - Kobo, Nook, Kindle

The only readers that have more features available are those few new ones with Android 4.0 and better.

You and I consider all those a given fact, because we are buying a legendary PockeBook so we grumble about our favorite option missing, but readers reading your blog are not always as well informed.
Even UI changes I am *so* frustrated with, are considered to be standard features for all other e-ink readers
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Old Today, 07:24 AM   #13
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Did you mean TTS or OCR?
There is nothing wrong with TTS, except for the missing voice for my mother language.
In your sensational review you do not talk about TTS at all. You did trash OCR, and rightfully so. It was crazy idea to begin with, IMHO ;-).
I meant OCR, sorry.

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By the way, I noticed you always go for All-Or-Nothing. The reader has many shortcomings, yet it still supports *way* more configuration and customization options than other readers. But, you have to go for the sensational headline instead of exploring all the options the device supports.
It has very small dimensions, It has magnets at the back (allowing for very elegant covers),
It supports custom fonts, dictionaries, shutdown pictures, it offers 49 voices for TTS, it offers a lot of applications out-of-box, There is "sync PockewtBook" and Dropbox supported out of box, there are already third-party apps available including a terminal emulator or ftp server, there are two apps you can use for opening epub, there is configutation file in device you can use to tweak fbreader appearance, pdf reader supports manual page crop (which can even be different for odd and even pages!). But no, OCR doesn't work on the first try and after 5 minutes of trying you declare it trash ...

I personally am frustrated with some software and UI choices but a job of reviewer is to take a full and balanced picture. Describe all bad AND good features.
I don't always go for the sensational headline, but sometimes it is appropriate and safe to do so. This is one time it was.

And " after 5 minutes of trying you declare it trash" is not correct; I used it for several hours and had a couple days to think about it. I stand by my opinion. (I also didn't list all of the hardware issues because the post had already gotten too long)

The price, screen quality, hardware design, and reading experience all support my conclusion. And no, the software features don't balance it out; they can be found on cheaper Pocketbook models. And there are models with better screens and a better reading experience, yes?
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Old Today, 08:28 AM   #14
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And no, the software features don't balance it out; they can be found on cheaper Pocketbook models. And there are models with better screens and a better reading experience, yes?
I have to admit - yes.
I personally would recommend people to get PB623 Touch Lux, unless they really, *really* want the smallest possible physical size and that cool cover with magnets.
I do want small size, and I am going to get PB630
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