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Old 04-14-2010, 06:33 PM   #1
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My Entourage Edge Review

I'm in the middle of writing a review of the Edge, and I wanted to take a moment and ask for feedback. Is there a topic you'd like me to cover, or a feature that you want to hear about? let me know.

I've written 3 posts so far over on my blog. The first post is a basic intro with the type of questions I'm planning to ask.

The second post covers how the Edge allows you to export pen based annotations.
Quote:
When using the Edge, you can save the pen based annotations (and the page they’re on) as a PDF. You’re also supposed to be able to send that PDF as an email attachment, but that doesn’t seem to work yet. (Let me fiddle with that some more.)

I’m also pleased with the quality of the inking. BTW, now I understand why the Edge has a large bezel. It gives me extra space to rest my hand while I’m writing. This helps me a lot, because my penmanship was never very good to start with.
The third post is the first part of the body of the review. It started as a comparison of the Edge and a netbook, and went sideways from there. I can't give you a snippet from this one. It would make little sense out of context.

Questions? Thoughts? Mad Ramblings?
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:06 AM   #2
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Nate,
One of the most striking differences with this unit is in it's OneNote -like journal. From an Instructional Technology point of view, and especially in vertical markets such as Higher ED, this becomes a profoundly important difference. The question I would like answered is how responsive the unit is while sharing common resources (processor running browser combined with journal), boot time from off and standby position, battery life for each condition. The list goes on. I can't wait to see your review.
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Old 04-15-2010, 02:58 AM   #3
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How about sending annotations via e-mail to a collaborating recipient from the device directly? I seem to remember from somewhere (here on MR?) that this is not possible at the present. If that's true, any word from enTourage if or when it will be?
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Old 04-15-2010, 07:40 AM   #4
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No handwriting recognition? (Their FAQ says they're looking into it). Until it has that, not interesting to me for my needs.
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:39 AM   #5
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Seems a bit overpriced for what it accomplishes. Except for the e-Ink screen, I'm thinking the iPad is a better deal (though I would never buy and iPad). If they could get the price down another $100-$150, I might consider it. Otherwise, you can get a darn good laptop for that amount.

This might be a case where perceived value < the cost of labor+materials+overhead+profit. It will be interesting to see how/if they improve it to change that.
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:48 AM   #6
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Ah. Sort of a downer, that.
Well, thanks a lot for the answer!
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:18 AM   #7
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A few random questions:

-Does it have a capacitive or resistive screen?
-Can you hook up a USB or BT keyboard to it?
-Is there a skin over Android or is it plain vanilla Android?
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by questionfear View Post
A few random questions:

-Does it have a capacitive or resistive screen?
-Can you hook up a USB or BT keyboard to it?
-Is there a skin over Android or is it plain vanilla Android?
The E-ink has a Wacom touchscreen, and the LCD is fingertip friendly (I forget which screen type that is). And no, it's not multi-touch.

Yes to the USB keyboard, I tried it. I'm told it can take a Bluetooth one but I don't have one to text.

It's plain vanilla Android with a few slight changes to the pull-tab menu.
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
The E-ink has a Wacom touchscreen, and the LCD is fingertip friendly (I forget which screen type that is). And no, it's not multi-touch.

Yes to the USB keyboard, I tried it. I'm told it can take a Bluetooth one but I don't have one to text.

It's plain vanilla Android with a few slight changes to the pull-tab menu.
I haven't received my eDGe yet, but I can answer expand on this a bit more. The LCD side uses a resistive touch screen and although it's Bluetooth-capable, the software isn't up to snuff yet. They say not to use it until the next software update.

And yeah, looks pretty vanilla Android. Version 1.6, which will be upgraded to a newer version eventually (no timetable I could find).
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:40 AM   #10
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Hi,

My initial reaction was that it's something of a waste to hook two devices together like that, and thereby reduce some of the advantages that both would have individually. Combining them means that you end up with a heavy e-ink device and a relatively pokey little netbook. It looks like a sort of e-reader three legged race that would hobble both, for no necessarily obvious advantage.

Is building a Horsebicycle really better than having one of each? Is it because building an e-ink device that's more functional in its own right is not feasible yet? Are there enough people who really can't hack reading text on regular screens to want to pay for such a hybrid?

I'd guess that others might also be interested in an explanation of what you see as the point of hooking them together, rather than using two separate devices, or just one. For my money I'd rather see the same cost, weight and size spent on making one or the other more appealing and functional. If the netbook side of it worked well than I'd have no real need to cart round the e-ink side at the same time. But that's just me. However, I think that a lot of other potential buyers might also be interested in discovering the answers before shelling out the money.


Last edited by ChrisC333; 04-15-2010 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 12:35 PM   #11
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Chris,

If your intention is to read fiction, then I agree, this is not the device for you (although a dual e-ink or mirasol display may be great for that).

I am a heavy tech user of documents, I use datasheets, programming manuals, technical reference manuals, schematics, etc extensively day to day. Generally, I am referencing a few thousand pages at any one time in different documents. This device has shown to fit the niche I am in extremely well, and also works OK for fiction (not tremendous, but not horrible).

Some of the best things, the note taking and export to PDF is extremely useful. The note taking on a book (or marking) and having it show in the table of contents is a life saver (my paper books have book darts to show important, re-used sections). One of my biggest wants/requirements in an e-reader was the Wacom panel.

Two things on the Wacom that I wish was improved, the glass is too slick, I wish it had some texture. I used to use a screen protector with bite on PDAs (from MessagePad on), and am looking for one for this. This turned the experience from like writing on glass to like writing on paper. The other one I really want is the eraser enabled pens to be supported. I use a Wacom tablet for art on my PC at home, and love that you can just flip it over and have a different function. Minor picks on the eDGe, especially since the competition aren't any better.

Now, the edge shines for with dual display. I can have two different docs open on the screens at once, which sometimes is very useful (think schematic and datasheet). I can be reading an article, use the picture tool to grab a section from the pdf/epub (say a table from a magazine article) and it shows up on the LCD. I can then continue the article, and the image stays on the LCD. This is very nice in a lot of articles I read where the tables and figures are on different pages from the text referencing them.

As for the screens, I can read on an LCD, and do frequently, but if I get a choice, I will normally print it. I like the experience better, and a lot of what I read, I like to put notes on as I understand the tech. Further, if I have a choice, LCD or e-ink to read on, I would choose the e-ink 95% of the time (color needs being the other 5%). It really is more comfortable to read off of the e-ink for me.

Funny thing is, I bought this for my personal projects, and it is helping enormously there, but it is also great for work. I was at a Design review the other day, needed an answer from one of my user guides (950+ pages), I don't normally carry those to reviews, but had them all in my eDGe. Did a quick search on the PDF, found what I wanted, and answered the question quickly. It could have been done on my laptop, but I actually hate carrying it to meetings, to big, and to little use normally.

Now for some personal use, I play around with different microcontrollers and use them to teach my boys physics, etc. Currently I have in use boards with ARM Cortex-M0, Cortex-M3, and Cortex-A8, and TI MSP430 (couple of flavors). These are found on a number of different boards, some my custom boards, some bought off the shelf. However, each of the micro controllers have around 2000 pages of frequently accessed and noted documents, usually with graphs, tables, and other data. I am finding the eDGe is better at using these documents than paper or laptop. The ability for notes to show up in the table of contents is a game changer. This device actually changes the use model.

Again, I am a tech user, with a very different reading need than most recreational readers (although I do a lot of recreational reading too). In my opinion, entourage did a great job on this one. A few more improvements, and they will have an excellent platform. I think when the SDK hits, it will grow to be even better.

--Carl
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:17 PM   #12
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Hi Carl,

Thanks for taking the time to post such an informative reply.

For your situation, this seems to be a key point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by pricecw View Post
It could have been done on my laptop, but I actually hate carrying it to meetings, too big, and too little use normally.
Now that all devices are getting lighter and more powerful it does seem to be coming down to what size you prefer. Looking at the picture, and reading your comment about laptop size, I had wrongly assumed that the Edge was smaller than it actually is - perhaps petite enough to fit into a jacket pocket. But after reading the specs I see it’s almost A4 in size - not so pokey after all.

So I can certainly see how useful that would be to have two reasonable sized documents open at the same time, for the work that you do.

I sometimes want extreme portability (i.e something I can slip in a trouser pocket and hardly notice it - because I don't wear jackets). So the iTouch is perfect for that, as it provides music, books for quick reading while I'm waiting somewhere, plus an address book and an app for occasional note jotting. Anything bigger would tend to get left at home. But it's way too small for the jobs you describe.

However, my main uses only require medium portability - i.e. ease of carrying round the house, comfortable weight on lap, and fitting into small briefcase style carry case if needed. So my 12" tablet style computer is perfect for that. It has all the internet surfing ability I want ( at a good size that displays tricky formatting accurately and readably), the screen layout allows several documents to be open at once (although at smaller sizes than the Edge’s two screens would allow), the touch screen has pen and eraser input (with handwriting recognition that can convert to text and insert to a document) and so on. I don't have any eye issues with reading on regular screens (I've been doing it every day for over 20 years) and being able to instal a range of software is a big plus. The annoying format restrictions on most book e-readers are are major turn-off for me.

The main advantages seem to be the size saving for carrying something that gives that much screen coverage (not really much of a drawcard for me at this stage) and the e-ink (which, again, I don’t need). It also sounds like it doesn’t have quite the software versatility that the Windows based tablets have. However the price looks like a winner.

There seem to be a lot of options being tried at the moment so it will be interesting to see which ones survive the next 5 years. As notebook style devices get lighter and more powerful it does seem to be coming down to a matter of what's your preferred screen size.
Cheers,

Chris
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:20 PM   #13
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Hi Chris,

That's a fairly good summation, I think.

For what I envision doing (mainly, at least at first) on the eDGe the popular new Asus 10-inch convertible-to-tablet netbook would do the job. It's even the same weight and price. But a) no e-ink, and LCD screen text goes blurry after a few hours of reading for my middle-aged eyes; b) the Asus has half the screen real estate; and c) the eDGe has far better battery life when just using the e-ink half. Granted, the Asus net-tablet is a more powerful computer (Win7 vs Android), but I have my desktop for computing power.

I, too, considered the eDGe an oddity, suitable for (perhaps) only a specialized audience like academics. Then something clicked and I saw how it would work for me.

It's absolutely not for everyone, however. Even I will turn to my iRex DR800 for casual reading instead of the eDGe.
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:24 AM   #14
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Chris,

Your tablet is a good one. I am very happy that the industry puts out so many options, since we are not all alike, having choices and listening to how people use things, and why gives us a chance to buy what works for us.

I spent years (since I got rid of my MessagePad after Jobs killed Newton Inc) trying to find a e-reader/note taker that fit my needs and wants, the eDGe actually does it for me.

Now on to disclosure, I found an issue I have an outstanding request into entourage about today. I tried to save a note today, and it said I was out of space with 2.11GB left. I then tried to export pdf of the note, clicked the internal storage and it tried to go to an SD Card (no sd card had ever been in the system) and said it couldn't save. Added an SD Card, and the eDGe said it had 800+MB available, and it still said it couldn't save since it was full.

Hopefully, I get a good answer from entourage, this is a bug that could really be bad in my use case.

--Carl
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Old 04-17-2010, 05:31 PM   #15
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Just wanted to update on this issue I am seeing, entourage is doing a great job communicating and they are on the problem, I haven't gotten a complete solution, but can again save journal entries. Hopefully it will be solved soon, but I am feeling good about the response I am getting.

--Carl
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