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Old 07-03-2010, 04:29 PM   #1
ColdSun
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FOR FUN: PMPs That Offer Expanded eBook Features

Notice: The information contained in this post is not here to convince people to buy or obtain these devices. It is only to inform on technology and promote discussion. Do not hold me responsible if you buy anything I mention in this thread. Also, I do not support any specific vendor. Any links to vendor pages are simply there for folks to see pictures and get more information.



These devices should only be considered by people who are looking for a media player (movies, music) that have minor reading capabilities. PMPs are not advanced enough at this stage to compare with real dedicated readers.

As all of you know, the tablet market is taking off in a big way. What was once a market dominated by eInk for dedicated reading devices is now shared with phones, iPads and new Android tablets (and to a lesser extent some still-kicking WinCE tablets that are underrated).

At the same time the tablet revolution was happening, there existed a market for larger-screened personal media players (PMP). This market was already in place years before the tablet market started to grow. For the most part, these PMPs were simply for watching video or listening to music. Then, over a year ago, they started shipping with built-in TXT readers. Right under our noses and without many of us even knowing it was happening, they started to support screen rotation, font sizing, and now even other file formats. There are a few problems with PMPs though. Let's get those out of the way before I post my findings.

Some folks may think this is a joke, as you can get an Android player for these prices that does everything. Keep in mind these devices will evolve, and chances are you won't get a good Android device unless you pay top dollar for it. At the same time, this market is for people who just want something simple to play video, music and read with. iPad's biggest draw (other than its Apple trademark) is the ease of use.

Issues with PMP Players as eBook Devices

Issue 1: These devices are not internet saavy. No wireless connection and no wireless update for your ebooks. You have to manually copy your ebooks to the device.

Issue 2: The ebook functions in some of these is still an evolving feature. Some have more to offer, and others have some suprising features. For the most part, it is very hard to determine exactly what a PMP does until you have it in your hands.

Issue 3: No DRM support. These devices won't replace your Kindle or Nook if you have a lot of DRM content. On the other hand, if you have a lot of non-DRM content or can convert your owned-DRM to another format one of these things support, you might like what you find.

So now that we know these things (and as yet I'm sure we can find more issues), let's talk about what is kind of cool about a PMP.

Benefits of a PMP device with eBook Functionality

Benefit 1: Screens are very crisp and have brightness controls.
Benefit 2: Devices come in sizes from 4.3" to 7" with different features. Great for pocket ebook reading on the move.
Benefit 3: Most of these devices have batteries with a decent life due to being designed to play video for 5+ hours. Reading an ebook without music going should net you 7-8+ hours of just reading.
Benefit 4: The most obvious is entertainment value. The device can play videos as good as your DVD player and just about any format directly from your computer without conversion. Many of them can play video as high as 1080p without a stutter.
Benefit 5: This may not apply to all of these devices, but almost all of them get firmware updates or have custom firmware designed by different community members.
Benefit 6: The PMP makers are now looking very closely at the eBook market because of the iPad. This is not fiction - as seen by Onda, Ainol, Ramos, and Gemei devices. It seems like the formats available on the reader applications in their devices is growing, with PDF support at the top of the list. Seems these screens are small for PDFs but I put a video in here for folks to see some impressive stuff on a PMP that is receiving PDF support.

There may be more benefits, but the biggest issue is no internet support. At the same time, for a dedicated reader, the lack of wireless means not having to shut wireless off to save battery time.

So let's see what is out there so far. I'll go from devices with the least coverage to devices with the most (as far as reading goes). Keep in mind that all of these devices have their pros and cons as PMPs (video and music) above and beyond what they do as readers.

RAmos T13FHD 8GB 5.0" Touch Screen 1080p W/ HDMI Out - around $130



Format: TXT Only
Navigation: Touch Screen
Features: rotate, set background, font size, font color, page jump
Product Page Example: Mp4Nation.Net Ramos T13FHD Page
Videos: Video 1, Video 2
Comments: Nice UI, Lack of other ebook formats, video shows decent TXT reading features such as screen rotation

Ainol V6000HDT , 4.8" , TV-OUT , Remote ,1080P , FM , 8GB - Around $145 or lower



Format: TXT, PDF
Navigation: Touch Screen
Features: rotate, set background, font size, font color, page jump
Product Page Example: JT Shop Product Page
Videos: Video 1, Video 2
Comments: Flash-based UI with great touchscreen for a resistive screen. PDF support looks interesting.

GEMEI S6000 , 5" , TTS , Cirrus Audio ,HDMI , OTG , 8GB - Around $110



Format: TXT, PDF, HTML, HTM, CHM, UMD
Navigation: D-Click - see comments
Features: rotate, set background, font size, font color, page jump
Product Page Example: JT Shop Product Page
Videos: Video 1
Comments: A wide range of non-DRM eBook format support. Screen rotation. D-Click navigation system is pressure sensitive on each corner of the device. You just squeeze a corner. No touch screen, but turning pages just requires a corner squeeze. Watch the video and you will see what I mean.

GEMEI HD8900 , 5" , Cirrus Audio , HDMI , OTG , 8GB - Around $115



Format: TXT, PDF, HTML, HTM, CHM, UMD
Navigation: Unknown - likely buttons
Features: rotate, set background, font size, font color, page jump
Product Page Example: JT Shop Product Page
Videos: None
Comments: A wide range of non-DRM eBook format support. Screen rotation. This is a brand new device. I'm not sure what the navigation method is, it could be D-Click like the S6000, or it could be buttons on the top or side of the device. I definately don't think it is touch at this price.

Onda VX560FHD Full HD Player 7 inch 1080P HDMI Out OTG - Around $155



Format: TXT, PDF, HTML, HTM, CHM
Navigation: Buttons
Features: rotate, set background, font size, font color, page jump
Product Page Example: JT Shop Product Page
Videos: Video 1
Comments: Onda has stated publicly that they are impressed with the iPad and are definately adding eBook reading support in their products. This is the first one I could find, and it is brand new, that has the support. It is also the largest player I have included. It definately has a button navigation system and not touch, as seen in the linked video above. I didn't like the UI much, as it seems clunky and behind the times (even know the device just came out). Still, it looks like a nice form factor and the build quality of Onda is usually top notch. The last thing about this device is that the price is getting dangerously close to just getting a decent Android tablet (for example the Ramos W7 at $200 or so from certain vendors).

In conclusion, it looks like the PMP market is also suffering from the appearance of the iPad. It has to evolve, especially before Apple releases their smaller versions of the hit device. Some may scoff at the necessity of these PMPs, but there is definately a market. Not everyone needs internet on their portable entertainment and some folks actually just want a great media player with a pocket reader. Have a great day everyone.

P.S. I recently purchased one of the above. My next review will reveal which one it was.

P.S.S. Something like this would be dead weight for someone who already has an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad unless they want 1080p video and support for video formats without conversion on a portable media player. Oh and something that has expandable memory - since we all know the Apple stuff doesn't let you do that.


Last edited by ColdSun; 07-03-2010 at 04:43 PM.
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:55 AM   #2
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So today I received the PMP (MP4 player) I ordered. I'll spill the beans and say it is the Ainol 6000HDT. I ordered it last weekend and it arrived in just 5 days. I'm going out of town on business for a week and I'll be taking it with me to put it through the ringer. When I get back I'll post a mini-review and some pictures. Just remember, this device isn't going to replace a dedicated reader or a good Android tablet/iPad. On the other hand - not even the iPad will play video like this thing does. Wow. I should be playing with my Pandigital Novel and trying to load apps on it like everyone over on SlateDroid, but this little project has been fun too.

Anyhow, from just my first day playing with it, I have noticed how gorgeous the screen is. Not as nice as my iPod Touch 3G but pretty close. Definately better than any of my other LCD reading devices. It has impressive viewing angles, and has the superior LTPS screen. Most of my LCD tablets go dim as I view them from the bottom angle.

As a new PMP owner I guess I was supposed to load movies and music right away, but as most of you know me, I had to get an ebook on this thing to see how it looked. I wasn't expecting much to be honest. It seems these things have come a long way since I last checked into them. The unit I have now supports PDF as well as TXT with more formats coming in the future. No support for DRM though. I have other devices for that I guess. The ebook application has a lot more settings than I thought it would.

I haven't timed the device boot, but I'm guessing it only takes like 10 seconds. Not to be taken as gospel. The touch response is also quite good for a resistant touch screen. Again, no iPod, but better than say my SmartQ7 by far.

It would be interesting to know how many of you have used one of these things for reading before.
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:30 PM   #3
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I have a onda 797. It has a 7" screen and I have used it to read text as well as pdfs. I had to add that software, but it was not hard to do. The only complaint I have is that the line breaks aren't so good. i get cut off words. That said the software is from 2 years ago. Hopefully someone will update it.

Ellen
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:33 PM   #4
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Hi Ellen,

I use Calibre to set the max line length and it helps a lot for formatting TXT files. It actually works quite good as a very portable/backup reader. When I convert any new ebooks in Calibre, I always add this extra format.
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