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Old 12-06-2008, 02:56 PM   #1
wallcraft
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EZ Reader: Initial Impression

The EZ Reader is the US version of the Hanlin V3. It costs $299 until Jan 15th and individuals outside the US can also buy, see EZ Reader Selling all over the world. Note that shipping within the US is via Federal Express, and Astak requires you to be physically present to take delivery.

These are my thoughts on the EZ Reader after about a day. First, orwell2k's BeBook Review - really a great device... should be required reading for anyone wondering if a Hanlin V3 is for them. There is lots of detail in that review, which saves me from repeating most of it here.

The hardware is not snazzy, but it feels very solid. My only complaint is that I don't like covers over USB ports and the USB cable has a cheap feel. The power adapter is a USB charger, so it uses the same USB cable which is a nice touch.

The file navigator shows 8 items per page, can sort by title date or type and includes sub-directory navigation. There is a "recent files" page. File type is indicated with icons, FB2 ebooks list title and author, MOBI only lists title (and should also include author), all others only list the filename. Several of the supported ebook formats (LIT, ePub, ...) include title and author metadata which is not displayed.

One of the features of the Hanlin is that it supports multiple DRM-free formats. However, FB2 and RTF have the best support (no images in RTF though), and support for all other formats suffer in comparison. The FB2 support includes 5 fonts sizes (about the same range of sizes as the 6 font sizes on the Kindle), choice of fonts (including downloaded fonts, which I have not tested), choice of line spacing, and 4-way screen rotation. It also hyphenates. The only features I would like to see added are choice of justification mode (currently always fully justified) and an "always bold" option (although user provided fonts can be heavier than the default ones to get a similar effect). Line margins are fixed, but they are small - which I prefer anyway. FB2 is not widely used in the US, but on a Windows PC Book Designer can convert many DRM-free formats to FB2. When I tried converting a LIT ebook, BD seemed to ignore the LIT''s table of contents and built its own - but the result was ok.

I don't use PDF much, but the EZ Reader's PDF support is adequate. It has three zoom levels, the 1st shows the full page, the 2nd clips the margin white space and this mode may require two pages to view each page, and the 3rd clips and rotates to landscape and so typically requires 2-3 pages turns per PDF page. It would be possible to use the EZ Reader for PDF ebooks formatted for the 6" screen. Image support in PDF seems to be good.

All the other ebook formats I tried had only 3 font sizes (following the 3 zoom levels), and the three sizes do not cover a wide enough range for everyone. I found LIT and ePub support to be marginal at best, with small fonts and several other issues. I would recommend converting them to FB2 or MOBI. HTML support includes displaying images, but I would again convert to FB2 or MOBI.

MOBI is the only format with DRM, and I expect many buyers of the EZ Reader will use it almost exclusively. The EZ Reader is my 4th device with the Java MobiPocket Reader - the others are a PepperPad 3 (a UMPC with a 7" LCD screen), an iLiad and a Kindle. The Kindle is the closest match to the EZ Reader and is probably more familiar than the other to most people. Compared to the Kindle, the EZ Reader has 3 fonts (vs one font) but the fonts available (arial, times, BOOKN) are not as good as the Kindle's Caecilia. It also only has three font sizes, which are approximately the same as the Kindle font sizes 3,4,5 out six. So the EZ Reader's smallest font may be too large for some readers. The margins on the EZ Reader are small, which I like (they are too large on all 3 other devices). Like the others, the line spacing is much too large (same as the Kindle). There is no hyphenation, and all text is fully justified (the Kindle can do left justification). The cover image is available (unlike on the iLiad), but it isn't selectable via the "go to" menu. To find it, go to the 1st page and then go back one more page. Overall, the MOBI support is good enough to be usable. Improvements I would like to see include: a) five fonts sizes, b) customizable line spacing (or narrower line spacing), c) better fonts or downloadable fonts, d) always bold option, e) justification options. Based on availability on other devices: (a) is easy to do, (b) is apparently difficult (none provide this), (c) probably only via better fonts, (d) also apparently difficult but I don't know why, and (e) is available on the Kindle. The PepperPad did support downloadable fonts, but it had a full Java implementation, the other three devices all seem to have limited Java font support.

Overall, I like the EZ Reader. If you don't mind format shifting to FB2 it is very good, and the MOBI support is already "good enough" and I am hopeful that it will improve.

EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention is that there is no support for MOBI dictionaries.

Last edited by wallcraft; 12-06-2008 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 12-06-2008, 03:57 PM   #2
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Mine is supposed to be delivered Monday, so I am real interested in the review! One question. Did you try an epub book? epub is listed as a supported format and since my Sony 505 also supports epub, I have been making an effort to choose epub when it's available. I have been hoping that is the common format between the two so I won't have to fool with getting ebooks in two formats.

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Old 12-06-2008, 04:04 PM   #3
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Did you try an epub book?
DRM-free ePub is supported, but I was not happy with the implementation. It seems to build pages using the smallest font, and then the two zoom levels are like PDF zoom of that page. So each virtual page becomes several page turns with a partial page at the end.
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Old 12-06-2008, 04:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
The EZ Reader is the US version of the Hanlin V3. It costs $299 until Jan 15th and individuals outside the US can also buy, see EZ Reader Selling all over the world. Note that shipping within the US is via Federal Express, and Astak requires you to be physically present to take delivery.

These are my thoughts on the EZ Reader after about a day. First, orwell2k's BeBook Review - really a great device... should be required reading for anyone wondering if a Hanlin V3 is for them. There is lots of detail in that review, which saves me from repeating most of it here.

The hardware is not snazzy, but it feels very solid. My only complaint is that I don't like covers over USB ports and the USB cable has a cheap feel. The power adapter is a USB charger, so it uses the same USB cable which is a nice touch.

The file navigator shows 8 items per page, can sort by title date or type and includes sub-directory navigation. There is a "recent files" page. File type is indicated with icons, FB2 ebooks list title and author, MOBI only lists title (and should also include author), all others only list the filename. Several of the supported ebook formats (LIT, ePub, ...) include title and author metadata which is not displayed.

One of the features of the Hanlin is that it supports multiple DRM-free formats. However, FB2 and RTF have the best support (no images in RTF though), and support for all other formats suffer in comparison. The FB2 support includes 5 fonts sizes (about the same range of sizes as the 6 font sizes on the Kindle), choice of fonts (including downloaded fonts, which I have not tested), choice of line spacing, and 4-way screen rotation. It also hyphenates. The only features I would like to see added are choice of justification mode (currently always fully justified) and an "always bold" option (although user provided fonts can be heavier than the default ones to get a similar effect). Line margins are fixed, but they are small - which I prefer anyway. FB2 is not widely used in the US, but on a Windows PC Book Designer can convert many DRM-free formats to FB2. When I tried converting a LIT ebook, BD seemed to ignore the LIT''s table of contents and built its own - but the result was ok.

I don't use PDF much, but the EZ Reader's PDF support is adequate. It has three zoom levels, the 1st shows the full page, the 2nd clips the margin white space and this mode may require two pages to view each page, and the 3rd clips and rotates to landscape and so typically requires 2-3 pages turns per PDF page. It would be possible to use the EZ Reader for PDF ebooks formatted for the 6" screen. Image support in PDF seems to be good.

All the other ebook formats I tried had only 3 font sizes (following the 3 zoom levels), and the three sizes do not cover a wide enough range for everyone. I found LIT and ePub support to be marginal at best, with small fonts and several other issues. I would recommend converting them to FB2 or MOBI. HTML support includes displaying images, but I would again convert to FB2 or MOBI.

MOBI is the only format with DRM, and I expect many buyers of the EZ Reader will use it almost exclusively. The EZ Reader is my 4th device with the Java MobiPocket Reader - the others are a PepperPad 3 (a UMPC with a 7" LCD screen), an iLiad and a Kindle. The Kindle is the closest match to the EZ Reader and is probably more familiar than the other to most people. Compared to the Kindle, the EZ Reader has 3 fonts (vs one font) but the fonts available (arial, times, BOOKN) are not as good as the Kindle's Caecilia. It also only has three font sizes, which are approximately the same as the Kindle font sizes 3,4,5 out six. So the EZ Reader's smallest font may be too large for some readers. The margins on the EZ Reader are small, which I like (they are too large on all 3 other devices). Like the others, the line spacing is much too large (same as the Kindle). There is no hyphenation, and all text is fully justified (the Kindle can do left justification). The cover image is available (unlike on the iLiad), but it isn't selectable via the "go to" menu. To find it, go to the 1st page and then go back one more page. Overall, the MOBI support is good enough to be usable. Improvements I would like to see include: a) five fonts sizes, b) customizable line spacing (or narrower line spacing), c) better fonts or downloadable fonts, d) always bold option, e) justification options. Based on availability on other devices: (a) is easy to do, (b) is apparently difficult (none provide this), (c) probably only via better fonts, (d) also apparently difficult but I don't know why, and (e) is available on the Kindle. The PepperPad did support downloadable fonts, but it had a full Java implementation, the other three devices all seem to have limited Java font support.

Overall, I like the EZ Reader. If you don't mind format shifting to FB2 it is very good, and the MOBI support is already "good enough" and I am hopeful that it will improve.

EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention is that there is no support for MOBI dictionaries.
I just got mine yesterday and I really don't like the layout of the books. I am thinking of flashing the firmware with the Open Inkblot or Bebook firmware.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:08 PM   #5
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I'm interested in finding out if the BeBook firmware will work on the EZ Reader.
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Old 12-06-2008, 06:20 PM   #6
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I'm interested in finding out if the BeBook firmware will work on the EZ Reader.
Hi Jon,

I went ahead a few weeks ago and bit the bullet - got a bebook. Its a Hanlin v3 clone like the ezreader, andy anyone with a hanlin or its clones can use jinkes/bebook/lbook/ez reader/open inkpot or any other hanlin firmware - in fact i think the bebook firmware is just jinke's with the logos changed.

So as long as Astek havent changed the hardware in any fashion, it should take bebooks or any other hanlin clone firmware
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:15 AM   #7
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New owners of the EZ Reader need to know that the unit ships without the battery installed. Although there are instructions near the beginning of the manual on how to install the battery, there is no clear indication that the battery is not installed. I was aware that there was a battery in a small box but assumed that it was a spare, just as there are spare screws for the battery "door". The unit indicates that the battery is charging even though there is no battery installed.

I wasted the entire night charging a nonexistent battery. This morning when the unit was dead without being connected, I decided to swap the "dead" battery for the "spare" battery only to discover that the "dead" battery was not there.

An interesting oversight in Astek's manual.
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Old 03-06-2009, 04:46 PM   #8
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I just picked my EZ reader up at Fry's. They have a special this weekend for 249.

I will be using it this weekend and and adding my feelings later.

Well it has been longer than I expected (honey dues you know).
I have only purchased one ebook to see if I can do what I wanted to do.
I purchased a ebook in the msreader format then used convertlit to convert it then used mobicreater to rebuild it in mobireader.
This worked very good.
The reading I have done has been on ebooks that i have owned for a long time that are classics and also ones I purchased yrs ago that convertlit was able to convert with out using the keys from msreader.
I am a very big on the rights of authors and publishers on getting there money. So I am not doing this to give to others just do I can read it with easy. And also due to the fact that I update and change my computer OS a lot seeing that I do a lot of beta test of different OSs.
I have read over 2000 pages so for and I can not even tell if the battery has even lost any charge. That could be due to the fact that I connect to the computer and add ebooks that I have created to see if the format is correct.
See I do convert a lot of word docs and pdf files that are Tech docs for reference.

I love my reader and the BEBook firmware from the end of Feb is working create.

Last edited by cvkemp; 03-23-2009 at 12:24 PM.
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