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Old 03-13-2008, 11:36 AM   #1
Nate the great
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First Impressions of the M218A Ebook Reader

It's charging right now, and I can't use it until it's done. I thought I'd give you my first impressions.

Shipping - It took nine days to get to me from China. I see from the USPS sticker that it arrived in San Francisco on 8 March, and they tried to deliver yesterday. I missed it, and picked it up today.

Packaging - It's about what I expected. It looks pretty much like any other box that contains a small piece of electronics from China. The shipping box was heavy duty cardboard, well taped. I'm not going to post the rest because it's just a standard retail box. Picture is coming soon.

Contents
  • M218A
  • instruction manual (in Chinese)
  • universal power supply
  • USB cable
  • earbuds
  • lanyard
  • CD of Chinese language ebooks (no software, darn it)

Okay, it turns out I can use the reader while charging it. The screen is sharp. The resolution may not actually be higher than that of the Kindle, but it certainly feels that way. And the refresh is fast. It's an LCD, so of course it's fast.

It has a nice GUI menu, with six options: settings, search, ebooks, enews, music, and pictures. I will need to be very careful when looking at the settings; it looks like I might have access to the system settings. One option I have under settings is "execute file". Since I can also delete the file, I guess this means that I might be able to run my own applications.

Interesting fact: this device supports folders!

Reading experience
I made a couple WOLF format ebooks while I was waiting. I can't get them to work. But I really don't care; this device has excellent PDF support. It is hands down the best handheld PDF viewer I have seen so far. If you only want to read PDFs, then you should consider this device. I've tried a couple PDF tech manuals. This is it. This is the Holy Grail of PDF readers.

The standard zoom setting is text width. This is very readable. But it also can zoom anywhere from 50% to 6400%. Also, you can zoom in on a 3 by 3 grid, or a 2 by 2 grid.

Connectivity
It's recognized as a USB drive. No problems there. I can see both the SD card and the internal storage (about 56MB). I can see some interesting files on the device; deviceID.log, PDF.log, signature.log. I can also see two Windows executables called Client and ClientUpdate. They run on my Windows XP laptop. Don't know what they do yet.

Music
Yes, it can play background music. The MP3 player looks a little ugly, but it sounds okay. The volume can get quite loud. The only things it's missing as an MP3 player is fast forward and remembering your place. I don't use an MP3 player, but i think this one has all the features.

Downsides
There is no on-screen battery or clock. It's not even an option. I'm really surprised by this.
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Old 03-13-2008, 11:40 AM   #2
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If you want some pictures, look here:

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...ighlight=m218a
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...ighlight=m218a
http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...ighlight=m218a
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Old 03-13-2008, 12:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by justtoday View Post
M218A to be the best reader indubitable after update to V0.78 which the price is the cheapest.Many friends talking about it by internet with excitement.Today i hope we can share it from other views.

The main represent by M218A of support PDF:

Rotate
zoom out or zoom in(nine level)
nine split screen
shift
jump to anypage
limitless bookmark
support PDF of picture and scan
With regard to PDF, can you zoom in just enough to remove the margins and pan to center the text and then read a eBook with these settings or do you have to recenter and rezoom every page? Is there a way to easily shift the page up to read the rest of it when reading in landscape? These are the addtiional features I would want in an eBook reader for PDF.

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Old 03-13-2008, 12:47 PM   #4
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With regard to PDF, can you zoom in just enough to remove the margins and pan to center the text and then read a eBook with these settings or do you have to recenter and rezoom every page? Is there a way to easily shift the page up to read the rest of it when reading in landscape? These are the addtiional features I would want in an eBook reader for PDF.

Dale
I moved your post over so I could answer it. That thread hasn't been touched in nearly a year.

The standard view for PDFs is to zoom fit for the width of the text. At this setting, I can see about 2/3 of the PDF page, assuming the page is 8.5" by 11". You can flip between the top 2/3 and the bottom 2/3 of the page. It will hold this setting for the entire PDF. If you set the zoom to another level, it will hold that setting for the entire PDF.

It also has a landscape view. It behaves exactly the same in landscape. Only difference is that the text size is larger, and I can only see about a third of a page.

But there is a small problem with the default zoom. There is a scroll bar on the right; it cuts off part of the last character on each line.
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Old 03-13-2008, 03:30 PM   #5
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I'm not a very good photographer, but here are some side by side shots.
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Old 03-13-2008, 04:11 PM   #6
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This illustrates how much screen real-estate the Kindle is "wasting" by having large margins and a large line spacing. In the end, 5" 480x640 isn't much different from 6" 600x800. Before seeing this, I would have said that 480x640 was "obviously" inferior to 600x800. Some of the difference may be due to screen technology though.
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Old 03-13-2008, 04:26 PM   #7
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It's also something I don't like about e-books purchased from the Sony Bookstore. Large margins giving away a lot of screen estate. ;(
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Old 03-13-2008, 04:31 PM   #8
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Is this LCD rather than eink? Is it backlit?
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Old 03-13-2008, 04:35 PM   #9
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What large margins on the Kindle? I am reading The Best and the Brightest and the margins are 1/4" on the left and 1/8" on the right. To me that's very small margins.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Is this LCD rather than eink? Is it backlit?
Yes, it's a 5", 16 level grayscale LCD with a 640 by 480 resolution. If you follow the links in the second post, you'll find the tech specs.

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What large margins on the Kindle? I am reading The Best and the Brightest and the margins are 1/4" on the left and 1/8" on the right. To me that's very small margins.
I have a Kindle, and used to have a PRS-500. Many of us feel that a margin of more than 2 or 3 pixels is a waste of the screen becuase it means fewer words can be on it at once.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:13 PM   #11
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An LCD grayscale screen without a backlight is not anything to get excited about, at least not for me. I like some margin, it makes the text more readable for me, and I don't consider the margins I noted above excessive (they vary from Amazon book to Amazon book, BTW). Would you like no margins at all?
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:24 PM   #12
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An LCD grayscale screen without a backlight is not anything to get excited about, at least not for me. I like some margin, it makes the text more readable for me, and I don't consider the margins I noted above excessive (they vary from Amazon book to Amazon book, BTW). Would you like no margins at all?
Almost, because the Kindle has a built in margin on all sides of the screen. But 2 pixel is actually my ideal.


As for the screen, it's about 4 times faster than Vizplex screen, and there is a much greater difference between the text and the background. If this device could read a common format such as Mobipocket, it would be worth considering as an ebook reader.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:32 PM   #13
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I just noticed this. Unlike regular LCD screens, I can rotate this one almost 90 degrees and still see the screen. Nice.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:32 PM   #14
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I'm not sure what you mean by "built-in margin". The margin is set by and in the text, there is nothing built-in that I can see, or nothing built-in that applies to any and all texts. As for the screen, if I understand you correctly, you are happy to trade eink for speed in page-turning, I'd have to think if I would be.
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:36 PM   #15
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I meant the device hardware. The screen of the Kindle has 1.5cm of plastic to the left, nearly 3cm to the right, and about 8mm above.
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