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Old 08-27-2016, 12:37 PM   #1
Dr. Drib
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Serious philosophical questions re: Boox M92, M96, N96, N96ml

I keep going back-and-forth on whether or not to purchase the Boox Onyx n96ml (available from Amazon, by the way). I question the actual viability of a device that uses such an older screen, and that perhaps by updating my reading arsenal to a newer tablet would be the wiser choice. (Of course, that kind of question is one that only I can answer.)

However, given the fact of these niche readers, I sometimes wonder if we expect too much from them, given that the technology has seemingly stopped regarding this particular screen size, in addition to the software glitches/limitations that (sometimes?) plague these readers.

Too, there is the older version of Android on these readers. And they will never be current, I would guess, to the newest version.

If one wants this size screen and one wants eInk, then the choice is really limited to Boox. (If there is another brand - whatever that brand may be - then it is arguably less known than the Boox brand.)

What possibly can the next generation of Boox models have? Below are some possible answers:

1) An updated Android
2) An 'improved' lighting [n96ml]
3) An 'improved' design to hold the screen

Is there anything else that might be improved on this next generation, I wonder? Certainly, we would all like to see a higher pixel screen, and less glitchy firmware....but what else can be done, in the near future?

Remember, please, that this post is not an attack on the limitations of these units, but merely a placeholder (if you will) for further discussion.



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Old 08-28-2016, 06:03 AM   #2
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I can't say that I'm an expert with E-Ink devices, but here my humble opinion for your theories:
Quote:
1) An updated Android
I don't think that we will soon see E-Ink devices with Android 5.x or 6.x. If we will look at the development of the Android 4.4 version for the Onyx Boox series (see here for the updates) you will see that the development for it has stopped in November last year. Since then they've only been updating the Android 4.0.x port. Also if you will look other manufactures and devices you see that they either work with their own firmware (like Kindle, Kobo, Pocketbook) or they use also an Android version which is outdated too (Icarus Illumina/ Bouye T61 with Android 4.2).
So in my humble opinions I don't think that we, unfortunately, won't see readers with a newer Android version soon.

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2) An 'improved' lighting [n96ml]
Maybe for smaller screen sizes, but not for big screen with a diagonal over 9 inch. The manufactures like Onyx, tolino, pocketbook, etc. only uses panels from other enterprise. So for example the Onyx Boox M92 used (so I've read it on the Internet) the same panel as the Kindle DX. But here we've got a problem. There aren't many panels with lighting on the market available, so I don't think that there will be huge development in this sector, cause the 9 inch and above readers are only a niche product.

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3) An 'improved' design to hold the screen
Very possible. There were changes between the M96 and M96Ml. So I think additional changes would be possible, especially as the manufactures will only have change the enclosure and the position of the buttons, they don't need to change the screen or the mainboard.

PS: Thanks for the correction of the blooper in my screen topic. As you can see, I’m not an English native speaker, plutôt francais und Deutsch
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Old 08-28-2016, 08:21 AM   #3
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There were changes between the M96 and the N96 - yes.

The N96ML adds the light, as distinct from the N96. I would hope (based solely upon user reactions) that the lighting would be improved and made stronger.
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Old 08-28-2016, 08:56 AM   #4
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I just ordered a new BLU phone it is a cheap version with about 80-90% of the capabilities of the Galaxy Note 7. It remains to be seen but I expect to be using it much more with the Kindle and other Apps for reading than my current phone and maybe it can 'replace' my Kindle Fire.

Of course I still need an e-ink reader for my daily walks.

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Old 08-28-2016, 12:14 PM   #5
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I'm still hoping for a slightly more powerful CPU. I find it a but odd that the c67ml has a dual core while all the bigger (and sometimes newer) models have only single core CPUs. Now, I don't know if the c67's CPU is actually faster, but I was hoping to use a Linux chroot for writing LaTeX documents on the T68+. It's sort of possible, but you clearly notice the slowness (also the old android version gets in the way of getting my German keyboard properly set up...).
So although I'd been thinking about getting a larger 9.7 reader, I'll only consider that when they come with a slightly better CPU (possibly imx7 dual core might be nice). Don't know if that's going to happen any time soon though.
If I found some workaround for the keyboard encoding, I might be able to make the current generation work for me too, but as it is it's just not with investing that much money into something that's but working the way I want it to (plus onyx isn't very open about enabling people to work on alternative OSs that might fix the problem... Another big minus in my book)
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Old 08-29-2016, 03:45 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by franzli View Post
I'm still hoping for a slightly more powerful CPU.
Yes - I actually think that much of the scope for improvement lies in the SOC as a whole, which could have a big impact on tasks other than just reading, such as writing on such devices (for those who are interested in this sort of unusual use case):

Quote:
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I was hoping to use a Linux chroot for writing LaTeX documents on the T68+. It's sort of possible, but you clearly notice the slowness
I have similar ambitions.

Are you saying that even a text editor is slow on such a device or do you think it's the slow screen refresh rate that makes it slow?

It would be interesting to know how long it takes to compile a LaTeX document on one of these things. Have you tried that or are you only interested in the composition which is presumably all your really need. Just curious.

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(also the old android version gets in the way of getting my German keyboard properly set up...).
Yes - android seems to littered with these sort of problems.

I get these hopes from Kozlowski but I have no idea how credible he is:

http://goodereader.com/blog/electron...dustry-in-2015

Quote:
There are only a few innovative things happening in the e-reader industry that might give people a reason to upgrade their old devices. One thing I am very bullish on is the new Freescale IMX 7 dual core processor. It was designed to improve upon existing technology and they worked in concert with e-Ink to power the next generation of e-paper.

Freescale told me during the product announcement that one of the prolific changes will be page refresh rates. The rate in which page turn speeds occur heavily depend upon the waveform that the e-Reader uses. The update times can range between 125 mSec – 500 mSec. By integrating the REGAL waveform support in hardware, Freescale are taking away any additional time that would be added due to Algorithm processing on the Cortex-A core, hence a savings of up to 150 mSec.

Solving the page turn program is a big step forward, but that’s not the only thing that is being remedied with this new processor. Ghosting will also be solved with this framework, which is a huge deal. Normally with e-readers you will have a full page refresh every six pages or in some cases every chapter. The reason for this, is the longer the display goes without a full page refresh text gradually starts super imposing itself. I have never liked full page refreshes, as it breaks reading immersion. Now, this will also be fixed, which means less full page refreshes because again, its now hardware based, instead of software.

Likely the largest innovation in the IMX product line is the support for hardware dithering. This will allow e-reader companies that work with the Linux or Android platforms to be able to include animated content. This will include truly animated page turns, interactive menus and video. Freescale showed me somethings I can’t write about, but needless to say I saw fully streaming video on an e-reader and it looked awesome.
I can't say that I'm looking forward to animated menus, but the possibility of higher refresh rates could very interesting for more interactive uses such as writing.
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wong McGregor View Post
Are you saying that even a text editor is slow on such a device or do you think it's the slow screen refresh rate that makes it slow?
I've only tried this on the Boox E43 where I had a go at writing LaTeX in Droidedit. It wasn't slow as such, but the lag seemed worse than it was because of the slow refresh rate. If you type without looking at the screen very much, it will probably be less evident. That said, I have no idea whether this translates across to large screen ereaders, so please take this under advisement.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:16 PM   #8
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I tried two different ways of accessing a Linux chroot. The chroot itself is stated by Linux deploy which works as expected.
Initially, I tried my usual setup with the xsdl xserver app. It loads up OK with since patience, but really seems to draw a lot of CPU power (don't quite remember, but I think I had 30-40%load when idle). So that is possible in principle (and would be more flexible for seeing keymaps with setxkbmap and so forth), but doesn't seem lots of fun on a single core CPU.

My alternative is to use the vnc server method in Linux deploy and acres that with the bvnc app. That seemed to be the least resource hogging one among the ones I've tried, I think you get below 10%CPU load when idle (maybe even below 5?)and some reasonably low memory load.

Gedit is rather usable that easy, I think - it's still a tad slow, but more comfortable than with xsdl (where it's also possible but with the high cpu usage battery life should take a plunge). Is poetically use it more often if 1) it was still a bit faster, 2) I'd get around the keyboard mapping issue and 3) I had a larger screen than the 6.8 of the T68+. Given the relatively show scroll speed (partly due to the eink, partly due to simple cpu limitations), it's harder to get an overview of a larger piece of text on such a small screen, since you'll try to not scroll around too much.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-29-2016, 05:17 PM   #9
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Oh, as for LaTeX compiling, I haven't actually measured the speed of that - obviously takes longer than I'm used to, but that's less of a problem than the other speed limitations to my mind.
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Old 08-30-2016, 07:19 AM   #10
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Hi Dr. Drib,

I am interested in your thoughts: since the screen of my M92 had a serious problem and since it is nearly 4 years old, I considered buying a new one.

Given my experience with my M92 (which I consider overall positive), here are the points that would convince me to buy a new one instead of repairing the old one (in no particular order):

1) (Much) better DPI
2) Light
3) Faster responsiveness in turning page (is this equivalent to faster CPU? I don't know)
4) Physical buttons
5) Stylus slot inside the body of the e-reader
6) good support for many formats (this already is a strong point for all Onyx products)

Neither touch screen nor android are a must for me, since I will never use the e-reader to browse or do anything else than reading: so the firmware should "just work" out of the box.

Apart from 4 and 6 which are already there even on my M92, the other points are mostly unfulfilled. One has light (N96ML9), one has better screen (Max), but none has all together.

Considering all this, and considering the prices of the new toys... I went for a repair of my M92: it can still do its job!

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Old 08-30-2016, 11:09 AM   #11
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First, keep in mind that I do not own any of these devices. I've been tempted to purchase the n96ml - an earlier thread detailed my difficulties in getting a response to my second PM to Boox. Because of this non-reponse, I just this morning ordered the Kobo Aura One. Here's the issue: I wanted to give my money to Boox, and it was not at all unreasonable for me to expect a response to my second PM requesting further clarification on shipping costs.

My understanding is that the DPI has NOT changed one whit on all of these devices. They are all the same.

The shell case has reported to be much improved over the M92 and M96, with less flex and with better protection to the screen.

The N96ml is the one that is front-lit, but there have been numerous reports that the light is not as bright as some owners would like it to be.

The Max, of course, is a different beast altogether.

I may still buy the Boox N96ml. I just don't feel confidence in their support staff to respond to general questions. I could, of course, simply order it from Amazon and then have my sister ship it here. I would end up paying customs, naturally.

If you're happy with your M92, then you should inquire about the cost of repair.

I agree with you that the potential and promise for a reading device of THIS size remains mostly unfulfilled. And that's a shame.
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Old 09-04-2016, 09:38 AM   #12
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Thanks for both of your responses. I'm afraid things have got a bit too busy for me at the moment. I hope to get back to the forum when I have more time.

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I've only tried this on the Boox E43 where I had a go at writing LaTeX in Droidedit. It wasn't slow as such, but the lag seemed worse than it was because of the slow refresh rate. If you type without looking at the screen very much, it will probably be less evident. That said, I have no idea whether this translates across to large screen ereaders, so please take this under advisement.
My impression is that, for such applications at least, it is just the refresh rate. It think this carries over to the larger screen models. This seemed to be the case for Obuntu on the M92 for instance. If you can touch type you shouldn't loose keystrokes, they just don't turn up immediately. This is one reason why I'm rather emphatic on the need for a good keyboard (rather than a bluetooth one). If I can use a good keyboard so that I can focus on my typing, I can keep my typing mistakes down in which case I shouldn't need as much feedback from the screen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franzli View Post
I tried two different ways of accessing a Linux chroot. The chroot itself is stated by Linux deploy which works as expected.
Initially, I tried my usual setup with the xsdl xserver app. It loads up OK with since patience, but really seems to draw a lot of CPU power (don't quite remember, but I think I had 30-40%load when idle). So that is possible in principle (and would be more flexible for seeing keymaps with setxkbmap and so forth), but doesn't seem lots of fun on a single core CPU.

My alternative is to use the vnc server method in Linux deploy and acres that with the bvnc app. That seemed to be the least resource hogging one among the ones I've tried, I think you get below 10%CPU load when idle (maybe even below 5?)and some reasonably low memory load.
Thanks. That's very interesting. You at least sound like you know what you are doing. I recently managed to get a cheap Icarus Excel (sort of crippled M96 I think). After trying lots of distros I seem to have managed to install a distro using Linux Deploy. The RPM based distros ultimately seemed the most successful but I haven't really got much beyond that. I think I was in the process of setting up the VNC server which I don't think I quite finished before having to abandon it. I'll get back to it when I have more time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by franzli View Post
Gedit is rather usable that easy, I think - it's still a tad slow, but more comfortable than with xsdl (where it's also possible but with the high cpu usage battery life should take a plunge). Is poetically use it more often if 1) it was still a bit faster, 2) I'd get around the keyboard mapping issue and 3) I had a larger screen than the 6.8 of the T68+. Given the relatively show scroll speed (partly due to the eink, partly due to simple cpu limitations), it's harder to get an overview of a larger piece of text on such a small screen, since you'll try to not scroll around too much.
Yes. I've never tried one of the standard, 6" screen devices. 10" is already a pretty small screen, although it strikes me as very workable if one has an efficient editor. I'd be using emacs. I gather this can create problems not unlike yours on Android because there are very few SSH clients that support Ctrl etc keys.
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Old 09-04-2016, 12:01 PM   #13
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And now back to the discussion of the Onyx devices.....
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