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Old 12-19-2009, 11:37 AM   #1
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Thumbs up A simple Astak 6" reader review

I first want to say that I was seriously confused on what device to choose (when I canceled the Nook) as there are so many on the market and they all have plus and minuses.

The other day I decided on the 6" Astak EzReader after reading through what felt like hundreds of posts on this device.

It was delivered yesterday and here is what I have found so far:

Nice packaging and the Contents included:
EzReader device
USB cable
Power adapter (for AC charging)
Reader cover
2 Gigabyte SD card
wrist strap
2 extra screws
screw driver
owners manual

1st, the EzReader needed to have the battery installed which was as simple as removing a set screw on the back battery cover, installing it and screwing the cover back down. This took a whole 60 seconds to accomplish.

I immediately connected the USB cable to the AC charger and to the EzReader. I figured let is start charging while I review the owners manual and look at other things. With the unit off and charging, a led light on the top left of the unit will glow amber if not fully charged and finally green when fully charged. The screen also showed a battery with the voltage symbol in it.

I checked out the manual and it is better then basic but I felt it could have more information as far as functions the unit has (more then in the manual) but it still scored a B+ with me. After reading the manual, I decided to be nosy and turn in on while charging (manual said this is acceptable).

Before I did, I reviewed the construction quality of the unit which gets an A in my book. Would have gotten an A+ if the battery cover was a little sturdier in that in flexes when pressed. The case is firm and very comfortable while holding it and the buttons seem of good quality and give a positive feel when pressing them. I find the page forward and back buttons on the lower button pad easier to use unless reading in landscape mode, then the side page buttons are easier.

Enough with that, I pressed the power button and heard a slight beep that was NOT annoying. (that same beep happens on all button presses and I like it but it can be turned off)

The system took a few seconds to boot (maybe 15 to 20) to the Astak splash screen then in another 3 seconds to the main book shelf screen. Here I was surprised to see 20 free books and when I changed to the SD card, another 500 free books. However, most (except for about 10 or so) were not for me but still, very nice to see them included.

I poked around a bit more and found the firmware version was from 1/09. I was like, what the hell.. Almost a year old firmware, wow I need to update this thing. I went to Astak's site and even though Robert from Astak promised to get the 11/09 firmware posted (and in fact told me not to buy the unit until he did ??????) I downloaded Astak's 10/09 firmware and installed it. The process is super simple. Put the bin file (that is the firmware file you download) on the SD card but not inside any folder. Insert the SD card, (shut the unit OFF if not already) and hold the +volume button down while pressing the power button. Keep them both pressed until you here a beep then let them go.

You will then see bootloader which is a basic boot program, start the process. You will be prompted to press OK (to start upgrade) or any other button to cancel out of the upgrade. Of course I pressed OK and it went through the motions with excellent on screen feedback of the upgrade process. It took about 2-3 minutes and I was in business with the latest posted firmware. I give an A+ for ease of firmware upgrade.

I futzed around the reader opening a couple of PDB files and Epub files that came with the unit. It took about 7 seconds for a 200k file to open which is fine with me. The page turns took a little longer then turning a page in a book but it was OK. I give a B+ for book opening and page turning.

After about 10 minutes, I decided to go all out and forget about Astak's firmware and go with the latest Hanlin/Jinke reader firmware dated 11/24/09 version 2.22. I went through the upgrade process again which was so easy anyone can do it. When the unit booted after the upgrade I noticed the Hanlin V3 splash screen which I have no problem with but I will use the logo maker to put Astak's log back (another post about that later) since it is a labeled Astak brand on the case.


I noticed the boot time seemed a little faster though I have not timed it but I did time the same PDB and Epub files and was quite surprised they both shaved a second or so off their opening times. Better yet, the page turning is much faster. I now give these items an A and applaud Jinke for making good firmware! (Astak, get in gear and get the firmware posted)

The feature this new firmware gave my unit which was NOT available with the Astak firmware (10/09 version)

9 levels of font size increase with PDF and Epub files. AWESOME!!!!!!!

The 3 levels of font size for the PDB files is plain goofy because level 1 is OK but I like the level 2 size which makes reading in portrait format a little hard since word breaks tend to happen alot. The 3rd level puts you in landscape mode but the font is too big to be read easily and fluidly.
Jinke needs to give us level 2 in landscape which would be outstanding!

For PDF and Epub files you can set to landscape mode in any font size you want which is nothing short of outstanding. I personally like font size 3 in landscape and will convert PDB files to Epub format using Calibre!

The screen is superb . The contrast seems perfect and no glare is just a crazy good feature of these E-Ink screens. With my wife's LED mobile light there is no glare either.. WOW! A+ for the screen!

Now the bad news.. It is my wife's. LOL I will not get much viewing pleasure if any with this unit.. Also I may not have given any worthy cons but that is because I truly feel this is the perfect beginner's reader and with the latest firmware, I do not really see any issues that would make me disregard this as a suggested product for friends and family.


There is more to unit as far as using it, but maybe for a later review. This simple review is already too long


For $239 shipped with a 2 gig SD card and a decent quality carrying case it now seems like a no brainer over other brands which are much more expensive



I recommend this unit to anyone who is looking for a 1st reader like I was. If you have any questions on the unit, just ask me!


Mark


Updated to remove invalid information about the screen not being a vizplex, because it is!

Last edited by Counter; 12-19-2009 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 12-19-2009, 11:46 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Counter View Post
The screen is superb even though it is a generation behind. The contrast seems perfect and no glare is just a crazy good feature of these E-Ink screens. With my wife's LED mobile light there is no glare either.. WOW! A+ for the screen even though it is older technology. Without side by side comparison, doubt many people could tell it was not a vizplex screen!
It is a Vizplex screen (all current EInk devices have Vizplex), but the EZ Reader Basic uses an old display controller that only supports 4 grey scales vs the 8 or 16 from newer controllers.

Nice review by the way.
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:13 AM   #3
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Great Review. I have to agree on everything you said.

I love mine!
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:52 AM   #4
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Great review, thanks for sharing!
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Old 12-22-2009, 02:41 PM   #5
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Great review and thank you!!

Dear All:

I am very appreciative of the great review. It is professional quality and really lays it out.

I am sorry if I confused the situation on the Firmware Upgrade. I could not imagine that the webmaster took off the November upgrade.

Yes, we will try to get better with firmware upgrades in the future. I am glad that you did get yours to your liking.

I do appreciate all of your comments and we all agree with you that the EZ Reader Basic (6 inch)is still a wonderful machine. It is funny, the Pocket PRO is the one always in the news... but the 6 inch does its job wonderfully and just keeps getting better with the upgrades.
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Old 12-22-2009, 03:26 PM   #6
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The 6" rocks and because it is larger I could nto see myself using a smaller reader even if it uses a better processor. I have no problems with the speed of the basic(V3) unit and it renders pdf's and epubs great. Just need to get the latest Astak firmware on it so please get the webmaster to do it.


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Old 12-22-2009, 03:29 PM   #7
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The smaller reader is very useful for its ability to fit into pockets. The 8 levels of grey are actually useful in terms of rendering images within books and pdfs, however the text still needs a little crisping up.
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Old 12-22-2009, 05:04 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by omro View Post
The smaller reader is very useful for its ability to fit into pockets. The 8 levels of grey are actually useful in terms of rendering images within books and pdfs, however the text still needs a little crisping up.
I agree on it's mobility, my eyes are terrible (only 45) and I need glasses to read the 6" as it is. I would love to have better eye site cause I could then use my Droid as a reader
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:48 PM   #9
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PDB Problem

Although the EZ 6 came with a few hundred PDB formatted files, when I downloaded and copied PDB formatted files to the reader, I could not locate them. I can see these files from windows when the reader is plugged into the pc, but can't see them on the reader. Any ideas?
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Old 12-28-2009, 01:37 PM   #10
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It seems that PP doesn't fully support epub formats (except English).
I've tried three other languages(Korean, Japanese and Chinese), but failed.
There are just "???" except the Enligh parts.
It only supports Epub formats containing font files.
Can it support EPUBs fully through the firmware upgrade later?
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Old 12-29-2009, 04:07 AM   #11
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Although the EZ 6 came with a few hundred PDB formatted files, when I downloaded and copied PDB formatted files to the reader, I could not locate them. I can see these files from windows when the reader is plugged into the pc, but can't see them on the reader. Any ideas?
Welcome to the forum Bobdes368!
PDB comes in over 20 different formats. I understand the only type available to the EZ Readers at this stage is the PalmDoc form of PDB. Please see this thread for more information about this, particularly posts #13 and #14.

Regarding all the files you downloaded. If there is no DRM on them and you would like to convert them (as Wallcraft mentions) into a suitable format then Calibre can be downloaded from here. It's a great program that a lot of people here at the forum find useful.
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