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Old 07-20-2009, 11:06 PM   #1
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jetBook Beta Firmware - Round Two

I just flashed a newer beta firmware on my jetBook and gave it a drive around the block. Here are my thoughts, compared to the previous beta that I had tested. BTW, this beta is v0.33c Patch v13.

Compared to the previous beta, ebooks open much faster. In fact, I think this firmware opens ebooks faster than the previous, released firmware. Ebooks under 1MB take only 1-4 seconds to open. When I opened a monster, "Terro-Human Future History Omnibus", which is a 4.37MB epub, it took about 4 minutes (I hope this can be improved). Once the monster ebook was opened, jumping to any page was instantaneous. Searching took about 1 second.

The dictionary now works perfectly with all supported ebook formats. The menu items have moved a bit. The dictionary is now number 1 on the menu.

Speaking of supported formats, HTML is now supported and the dictionary works with this format, just like all the others. Something that may have been in the previous firmware, but unnoticed - the HTML ebook had a superscript, which displayed correctly.

The previous beta did not center text that should have been centered (headings and explicitly centered text/images). This has been fixed. As with the previous beta, multiple-level indentation displays fine (the mouse tail poem from "Alice").

One new feature is a percentage figure in the titlebar, to the left of the page count. This is for the mathematically challenged

Now for the bad. This beta firmware still does not scale oversized images to fit the screen. Bold still isn't supported (this also affects headers). I don't know whether these two items will be fixed in the released firmware or not.

The Bold issue seems to be due to the limited font support. I don't think there is a bold font installed. Italics display, but it looks like a slanted normal font to me, rather than a true italic font. I think that when Ectaco adds more fonts to the device, these issues will disappear.

With the much better epub and mobi support, the addition of HTML, and the dictionary working with all formats, this firmware (when released) should be very good news to all jetBook owners and prospective owners.
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Old 07-20-2009, 11:09 PM   #2
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Something just occured to me. Does anyone have an epub with embedded fonts? I haven't tried that yet on the jetBook.
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for all your testing and sharing the info!
Sounds like a significant release, I think I'll even be tempted to try it when it is ready.
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:20 AM   #4
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Some tips on upgrading firmware on the jetBook

The firmware upgrade procedure for the jetBook is documented on this page of the Ectaco web site: http://www.jetbook.net/upgrade.php

I have found that a few minor changes to their procedure works better for me. To begin with, before starting the procedure, reset the jetBook by sticking a paperclip into the little hole on the back. With the jetBook off, insert the SD card with the firmware files.

At the beginning of "Step 1" and "Step 2" you have to hold one or more keys while powering on the device. I find that you should release the power button (while still holding the other buttons mentioned) as soon as the display turns on. If I continued to hold the power button, the device would eventually turn off, which is not what you want.

I will admit that the firmware upgrade procedure is rather complicated and could stand some simplification. However, the above two tips should make it a bit easier.
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Old 07-21-2009, 03:32 AM   #5
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Thanks for all your testing and sharing the info!
Sounds like a significant release, I think I'll even be tempted to try it when it is ready.
I'm happy to help, if for no other reason than to improve my own jetBook (selfish, aren't I? ) This definitely is a significant upgrade compared to the currently posted firmware. This beta firmware is not feature complete, even. Ectaco is still working on additional features before release. (That may not be true. I heard that a feature I was expecting will be in the next firmware.)

It is good to see Ectaco diligently working on improving their product and not just resting on their laurels (or backsides). This will make the second firmware release in just 3-4 months. Some of the other ebook vendors are doing good to manage one per year or so.

I don't know what features or improvements Ectaco will make in future firmware releases, but I have suggested a few things to them. More fonts and better font support, along with the ability to navigate hyperlinks within a document are two major improvements I have suggested. Whether they will incorporate these or not, only Ectaco knows. I hope so.

Last edited by jgray; 07-22-2009 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:06 AM   #6
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Thanks for the info. I am really enjoying my new jetBook as it is so far (I have mostly .mobi books) and look forward to the improvements.
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:35 PM   #7
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jgray, what about note taking? the jetbook has t9, so it is possible for ectaco to add that in a future firmware?
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:12 PM   #8
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jgray, what about note taking? the jetbook has t9, so it is possible for ectaco to add that in a future firmware?
I wouldn't expect to see note taking in any future update, while there is a version of T9 on the jetBook, it is not the kind you’re used to. You first have to select a range of letters, and then press the number key corresponding to the letter you want. The whole process, while adequate for text searching one or two words, is much too cumbersome to do any kind of writing or note taking. And that is not even addressing the file handling capabilities needed to create and edit files.

If you want a portable device for taking notes and reading eBooks, get a Nokia N800 or N810. I use mine extensively for that!
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:14 PM   #9
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jgray, what about note taking? the jetbook has t9, so it is possible for ectaco to add that in a future firmware?
I guess anything is possible, but I don't think that method of note taking would be very efficient or widely used. I have no special pull with Ectaco, other than being a customer who made some suggestions. Why don't you visit their forum and post your idea?
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Old 07-22-2009, 06:59 AM   #10
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Something just occured to me. Does anyone have an epub with embedded fonts? I haven't tried that yet on the jetBook.
I made a post with a collection of font-testers (ePub files with embedded fonts).

Hope this helps !

Cheers,
David.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:05 PM   #11
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awesome info jgray!

you should be voted the "King Of jetBook Firmware Testing and Then Writing Extensive Reviews About It"
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:13 PM   #12
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awesome info jgray!

you should be voted the "King Of jetBook Firmware Testing and Then Writing Extensive Reviews About It"
Do I get a gold crown? Do you know how much gold is going for these days?
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:24 PM   #13
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Thanks, jgray and wodin. I guess you're right about the notes, I just thought the jetbook t9 had a similar mechanism from the cellphone one, but I see that is not the case. Taking notes like that will be a painful experience, indeed. But, anyway, the jetbook seems like a great device for its price and features, I am waiting with anxiety for the one I bought.
Oh, and the hyperlink suggestion is a great one.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dpierron View Post
I made a post with a collection of font-testers (ePub files with embedded fonts).

Hope this helps !

Cheers,
David.
It looks like embedded fonts don't work with this beta firmware Font support in general needs to be improved, so maybe a future firmware will address these issues.

I did notice that the "Battlestar Galactica" epub has set an additional left margin. This beta firmware displayed that correctly. This is a good and bad thing. Good that the firmware is supporting more of the features of epub, bad that a book with a left margin takes up space on the small screen.
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Old 07-22-2009, 01:49 PM   #15
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Oh, and the hyperlink suggestion is a great one.
Yes, that would not only be of use with TOC, but any hyperlinks to endnotes, glossary, etc. I have suggested to Ectaco a method of handling hyperlinks using the existing navigation keys. Here's hoping that we see hyperlink support in a future firmware.
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