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Old 08-11-2019, 02:53 AM   #1
Nightyume
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Device: HTC One, Galaxy Note 10.1, Kobo Aura
Dasung Not E-Reader s

Dasung Not e-Reader Review

Summary

Pros
-fluid e-ink screen
-ability to side load apps and install them from some alternative app stores
-works well as a phone monitor
-works well with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse
-decent speakers
-capable of video
-okay battery life
-decent charging
-microSD slot
-solid but weak WiFi
-even lighting
-clean white light (not too blue) and soft warm light (nice orange, not too red)

Cons
-glitchy
-does not work as a PC monitor (with my laptop, will test with other devices when possible)
-little ram so no real multi-tasking possible
-added functionality doesn’t always work
-okay battery life
-weak WiFi (albeit solid)
-charging speeds depend on charger used


This review is from a user viewpoint, not a professional review. The dasung e-reader is a unique device, which has a lot of potential along with its share of shortcomings. An important thing to note is that there was a software update recently (days before this review), which changes some of the experience but to what extent is unclear. So I will be mentioning what it was like before, as well as a little bit of what it is like after, but as only one day has passed since the update, I cannot be sure of the end result.

The review is a bit long but I tried to provide details when possible. I also broke it up into sections to help a bit with the length. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask and I'll answer the ones that I can.

Hardware

The build is reasonably good, not premium but definitely not cheap, it's made of slightly soft plastic which while a fingerprint magnet, feels decent. The screen is flush and the e-ink screen has that added depth common with e-readers which have capacitive screens (plus a light diffusion layer). Personally I prefer infrared as the screen is then closer to the user and looks more like paper. It has capacitive hardware buttons on the bezel and a 300 PPI screen (1404x1872 resolution at 7.8”). Speakers on the left side (in portrait mode, on the bottom or top in landscape depending on how you hold it). Oddly enough on the back there are another pair speaker grills or holes in portrait orientation. I have not seen them in actively used that way. It's possible that the portrait stereo speaker grills are left over from a previous run and they recycled the backing (they delayed shipping the device multiple times due to revisions). The screen is what you expect from e-ink. One user did say that the contrast was slightly less than the kobo forma, but that it was only noticeable when comparing them side by side. It has a volume rocker up and power button on the right side (portrait), a contrast rocker and a clean ghost button on top to the right. These buttons supposedly do double duty for other functions which I will get into later on.

There is no information on whether it is a glass substrate screen or plastic.

At the bottom there is a microSD slot, a mini HDMI and a USB-C along with a microphone hole and an LED. The processor in this device is according to the manual and Allwinner A64 processor. This seems to line up with most of the information from CPU-Z. The only difference is that CPU-Z reports the GPU as a Mali-400MP, not 400MP2. The Allwinner A64 is a 64bit ARM chip consisting of four A53 cores at 1.34 Ghz made on a 40nm process.

There are 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. When you first turn on you have about 55 GB leftover for personal use.

Software

The device does not come with play store and as of yet, there is no way to install the play store and have it work. It can be installed but there is no way to actually sign in. The device does not have Google services (it says so in the manual). This means that any app which depends on Google services work will not. You can install alternate app stores such as the Amazon AppStore and it will work. The device comes with its own App Store (APKPure), which is okay though it's not my favourite but it does provide you with some options. It also comes with MX player Pro and ES file Explorer. Personally, I would have preferred for a file explorer which was not full of ads (personally have never been a fan of is file Explorer due to too many ads and being overly aggressive when connecting things via a USB). The device does not have an app drawer rather like many Chinese devices and has all the apps on the home screen a la iPhone (you can create folders if you want, but that's about it). Oddly enough, the first home screen is completely reserved for the settings button. The pre-installed apps and any you add will populate the second, third, or however many screens you end up using.
It also comes with a browser. Facebook messenger light, and basic e-reader from Dasung, Kindle app, a phone monitor app to use the device as a monitor for your phone, user manual, smart news, Quora, calculator, download, sound recorder, email, and search.

The device can play video to a certain degree (Dasung’s words are “to an extent”, nothing which is high action is recommended and nothing which has primarily dark scenes is recommended. Your best bets are sunny outside scenes or animation Anime can look quite decent on it. Even if the fluidity is not the standard 30 frames per second, or even 24 frames per second (I don’t know the exact amount but it feels more like 15). There will be some ghosting when playing videos, but depending on the kind of scene it can be minimal or it can make it unwatchable.

The preinstalled email app, when I tried it when I got it, worked but it is incompatible with Gmail. It did connect and I did get a security warning to verify it was me on my phone but after confirming that it was me and not some scammer and it still would not work. The default browser and email, while okay, are not the best in my experience, the browser would not let me download things when I tried to, and neither would the email. I ended up having to install Firefox in order to be able to download things from pages and I ended up transferring files directly from my computer. It is capable of transferring from your computer. One shortcoming of transferring files on the computer is that it will not tell you a real estimated time as it will not tell you the speed at which it is transferring or how much is being transferred.

Settings

One personal issue that I have with the device is the keyboard. You can install alternate keyboards, but there is no way to actually use it on a regular basis. In other devices you could force the device to use your chosen keyboard by deactivating Google's keyboards, but here it's actually not a choice. You can deactivate the Google English keyboard or the Google Pinyin keyboard, but not both. And so, while you can choose yours and it will work temporarily, it then default back to the system’s keyboard and you do not have any easy way to switch keyboards without going back to the settings. Some devices would have the possibility to change keyboards from the notification shade or from a small icon in the navigation bar but nothing appears in the notification shade and there is no navigation bar. An option to switch does appear in the notification shade but only when you connect a bluetooth keyboard. So this is not a possibility.

In the settings you will find some options. Here we can find a clear ghost option which will give you options for clearing ghosting. The options are 1) every time you go back to home, 2) every time you raise the notification bar, 3) every time you run an app, 4) by double-clicking (tapping) on the screen, 5) and two finger movement (this means two finger scrolling or pinch zoom in or out or anything similar).

There is also an app setting section where you can set some settings for any app. This includes saving the contrast for that individual app or whether you want the default contrast applies, a low-power mode where it will basically sleeps the device if you haven’t touched the screen in that app. This is mainly means for e-reader application so that while you're reading. The system is not waiting for activity and as such and it doesn't have to be refreshing the screen. There's an option to disable background run and you can also show more settings which is basically the traditional app settings you would find in any other android device.

Display settings include the ability to set the brightness level, whether the LED for the capacitive keys is always on, when touched, or never, wallpapers, sleep time, font size and orientation.

The Storage and USB section only talks about storage. USB does not work. It does not detect external screens, external keyboards, nor memories. It seems the USB-C is strictly for charging.

A bluetooth mouse and keyboard work fine with the device but when I used a USB-C adapter to connect a USB device. Nothing was detected, and nothing worked. Word processing apps work well, but their compatibility with a bluetooth keyboard varies. One is limited in speed and constantly playing catch-up and it was unable to keep up with the pace of the of my typing resulting in many mistakes due to many missed characters and keystrokes due to its inability to keep pace (far exceeding the mistakes I naturally make, it was actually illegible). So I'm guessing you should not be typing more than 40 words per minute on this device in this case (this was using OfficeSuite Pro). When using Docs to Go (with the key) it had no problems keeping up with my typing and all mistakes were my own. The keyboard used was a Logitech K780 with a Logitech Triathlon M720 which are more than capable of keeping up with normal use on phones, tablets, and PCs.

The included Kindle unfortunately has ads and while I am not the most frequent Kindle user, in my experience with the version from the play store, it does not show me ads (it recognizes that I am a user, have bought books, and it will give me recommendations, but not show an ad upon opening it). That is not normal behaviour.

The notification settings include Image, there are three settings in which one is basically strictly black-and-white image (no greys), 2 is a few tones of grey and with image 3 you get up to 256 grey levels through the use of dithering. This means that you will get more texture and shades, but lose a little bit of effective resolution/sharpness (but only a little bit, it is still easy to read at that resolution books, manga, even tiny text).

We also have a speed refresh rate “fast” one, two or three. It is indicated by +'s and the faster it is the more ghosting you get. Obviously you want the fastest for the video and for reading things where you will be regularly zooming in and out. You can choose a slower speed for normal reading. Next, you have a text contrast option. I personally cannot the difference though according to the manual it smoothens edges (“strokes them”) in order to increase clarity.

Next, you have “invert colors” which can be good for night mode reading and it can also be good for dark pages as dark images and pages are the most likely to give ghosting. So if you invert them to something brighter, there will be less ghosting.
Next, you have the auto rotate switch, the Wi-Fi button, the Bluetooth button, airplane mode, battery saver (officially it reduces performance and bakcground data), a screenshot button, a mute button and a vibration button.

Then you have two sliders. One is for the brightness of the screen and has a switch for changing between cold and warm light. The next is for contrast. There are nine levels and this actually can make a big difference. But think of it like working with a limited time dynamic range. So if you increase the contrast images will be more striking because of darker, more solid “colours”, well blacks, but it also means that you will lose some detail in darker images.

A personal gripe with the front light is that it never really turns off at the lowest setting. You will not notice it in the daylight or anything like that but you will notice it in absolute darkness. The reason why find this disappointing is because it's an unnecessary waste of energy. One of the advantages of e-ink screens is their potentially long battery life.

Battery life

With the not e-reader on but having no activity on the home screen for about 35 minutes the battery dropped 5% (WiFi and bluetooth off and no background apps). When in use battery life okay depending on what you are doing. I do not know if others have the same glitch as I do but my device will never charge to 100%, it tops out at 98%. One glitch that was fixed by the update is that when using the media player device would go to sleep despite video playing because it did not detect “activity” so before the update I had to change the sleep timer to never and turn it put it to sleep manually when I wanted to stop using it.

Then we have the behaviour with e-readers apps as you would expect it to work on any device. Obviously, you don't get colour but you do get a great E Ink screen. The kobo app, which I side-loaded (I first ripped it from my phone using Solid Explorer to create a backup apk, then transfered it to the not e-reader and installed it manually. The kobo e-reader seems to work great as it does not rely on Google play services, but rather on the account that you have with kobo directly or their affiliates, dealers or providers (so for example in Mexico or Orbile), this means that you can use it without any complications.

Using the low-power mode app setting for the Kobo e-reader was a fail, it would make the app freeze occasionally and for no reason. I could be swiping pages to get to x part of the book when it would stop responding (which should not happen if you are actively touching the screen). It would then take anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 to respond.


The then we have the lock screen. The screen has a nice layout but it has the shortcoming that even if the tablet is set to English everything is in Chinese (except the name of the city where you are, the day of the month, month, and year but all the other information is in Chinese which let's face it, a lot of the people who bought it are unfamiliar with.

System Update

While it is good that they are updating the system the actual update system requires some work. I went into settings to check for an update because someone had mentioned there was an update. Sure enough there was and it started downloading it (about 715MB). After it had downloaded nothing happened and there was no indication of what to do. I went back into the settings and back to the system updates and clicked on it again. It said there was an update and by clicking “yes” it started installing it (though it wasn’t obvious at first). The update file wasn’t erased which means if I try to check again it will install again. Thankfully it is a proper OTA unlike some Chinese devices which will completely reset the entire system.
Another, small problem, with the system update is that there are no release notes so there's no way to check what has changed, and the only visible change is that the icons for some of the preinstalled apps have changed now using more grey tones rather than outlines now.


Wireless

The WiFi is actually the weakest of any of my current devices. By this I mean it has the shortest range but when in range the signal is solid. The actual difference can be seen when comparing values. Having it side by side with my ZTE Axon 9 Pro, for the same network (to which they are connected) the Dasung gets -54dBm while the ZTE gets -46dBm.

One good thing about the device is that it took special care to make sure that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi worked well at the same time my Huawei Media pad m5 8.4” cannot maintain a stable fast Internet connection while using Bluetooth because it uses the same antenna and this is a common problem among midrange and low-end devices. Some devices are affected only slightly like the Sharp Aquos S2 Premium where you can still streaming FullHD or even 4K video while using Bluetooth, although it does reduce the speed somewhat, to completely worthless where you're lucky to get 1 Mbps while using Bluetooth. Here the Dasung not e-reader uses both at the same time without any problem.
This is in part because of their screen mirror function where you need to connect your Android phone by Bluetooth if you want to control your phone directly from the not e-reader, essentially making the not e-reader a proxy for your phone so that you can navigate and see the screen from one device rather than just as screen while having to control it from your phone. Of course this depends greatly on how well your phone works with a mouse. On my phone, a ZTE Axon 9 Pro you need to double-click quickly on certain things in order for them to activate with a mouse and the fast double tap on the Dasung screen has, as of yet been unable to maintain pace so I cannot use the file Explorer, for example, from the device.
I did see a setting in the ApowerMirror app for a keyboard, but I have not tried it yet, so I don't know how that works. But when using the screen during normally when there was a text input field the keyboard did not pop up. Since everything on the screen is coming from your phone rather than the not e-reader, it makes sense so it's on keyboard would not appear even if it knew to pop it up.

General usage

But there are glitches. Despite there being a setting to disable all notifications I still get error notifications from apps, e-mail notifications, book recommendations, etc. I actually get an error message from Yahoo mail saying it won’t work without Google Play services (I installed it from the Amazon appstore). It actually works fine without Google Play services with the exception of not being able to use Gmail (basically don’t expect to use Gmail on this device unless it is through a browser).

Reading on it, whether it is a book, manga, normal comic, or websites is of course a delight. Another nice feature from the contrast feature is that it cycles around. If you get to the top or bottom setting and press the contrast button again it will cycle round. This lets you know that you reached the limit and helps to choose what is the best setting for you.

Navigating works great. The pages scroll smoothly, as they also do in e-reader apps and unfortunately with smoothness you will get ghosting. So depending on the thing you’re reading, e.g. a comic, you might frequently be pressing the clear ghost button or trying to use one of the alternative methods in the settings. This brings to question whether the clear ghost button will stand up to the test of time. Because if you're pressing it 50 times a day to clearing the image on the latest Marvel or Batman comic you might end up wearing it out (while double tapping is okay for some apps in others it will cause you to zoom, and if you use a two finger motion, you will get either scrolling and refresh or some sort of zoom and refresh. So depending on your reading and preferences, you might find it annoying or it might be okay.

Games actually work well if they are not very demanding. I installed Might and Magic Clash of Heroes from the Amazon Appstore. It looks good, sounds good, and a works well because of its animated nature. The only thing is that in the actual fights your forces are lacking a little bit in detail but the rest of it works great.

Performance is what you would expect. It's an old processor built on a 40 nm mode which means it's not the most power efficient. It's not built to have strong graphics but again, you don't need strong graphics for an e-ink device because one, you will not be able to see many of the details and to you will not be able to keep the speed necessary for high action

Sound from the speakers is actually decent, and the microphone is oddly functional by oddly I means it sounds somewhat muffled, but behind that muffled. It actually sounds very clear, kind of like there was a thin piece of cloth affecting the quality of sound by the quality itself was actually good.

I have installed a variety of apps from the Amazon App Store. Unfortunately, some of them do not work for one reason or another, it could be that required the Google play services. It could be a lack of location services or for example, in the case of printhead and premium. It will be the lack of USB functionality so you cannot use this device to print and. The Dasung not e-reader could have been a great productive device, since in theory you could have used it for writing up documents, sending emails, browsing and printing your documents when necessary, and this might be possible with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled printers but anything that requires USB is out of the question. Prime video works as does WindScribe VPN services. You can even play Sonic the Hedgehog 2 if you so want.

A strange thing of the ghosting is that it's not just for the movement, for example, if I move the mouse you get ghosting in a triangular fashion going from the mouse to the edges of the screen and that is slightly odd.

Before the system update. I did have our momentary problem with the screen where it would start getting dark and this is odd. It was like the dark particles were being slowly released and allowed to go to the top of the screen. I rebooted device and this problem disappeared and hopefully it stays like that because one of the advantages of e-ink. is its bi-stable nature so that it can stay in one position without any power. If it didn't that would imply some kind of problem and would require power to constantly keep the screen in a certain position.

Now for the double functionality of the buttons. Supposedly, you can use the contrast button to also quality mode, the power button can turn the light on and off, the volume rocker to adjust the light and the power+volume to adjust the speed. I do not know if this works because in the notifications, nothing changes. So I don't know if it's affecting the speed the image or what, and using the power button, supposedly a short press will switch between warm and cold light but in my experience, a short press will just put the tablet to sleep and power plus volume instead of adjusting the speed only adjust the volume or takes a screenshot and these combinations are not consistent in any way. I have been able to activate the front light, switch the temperature and intensity, but almost always completely accidentally. This sometimes happens while I am navigating, sometimes not pressing any of the physical buttons. Whenever these things happen, the light increases ,changes colour or whatever, the changes are not reflected in the notification shade, meaning that you need an extra button press to change it back.

I have tried to use an FTP server on it but it was extremely slow despite the device being capable of higher writing speeds. One extreme shortcoming is that I have been as of yet unable to transfer files by Bluetooth. It seems that Dasung, in an effort to make this device run smoothly, used a very a highly modified version of android where they simplified many things, but many of the things which they simplified, they simplified a bit too much. It would have been nice to have the lock screen in English. I understand not providing a locking mechanism because if it entered low-power mode it could be difficult to know what had been pressed or not, but other things like being able to connect USB basic devices or being able to set your own keyboard should have been kept. These would be in highly appreciated, especially since you can actually install swiftkey from the included App Store but it will not work for the reasons mentioned above.

Extra Functions

Phone Monitor

The phone monitor software works well or at least when you’re close to router and makes use of software from ApowerMirror. So, you install an app on your phone, open the app on the not e-reader and then connect them after choosing the resolution of your phone. This software is okay but it is not the smartest software around, so to speak. As you can imagine it will show the length of your phone in portrait mode on the Dasung in portrait mode. But if you open a video on your phone this video will normally rotate your phone’s screen to landscape to use your whole screen. On the Dasung not e-reader. It will rotate the image but it will still stay in portrait orientation, meaning the video is smaller than it needs to be.

I think this was a missed opportunity on Dasung’s part. If they had made the tablet capable of acting a Miracast receiver. If it worked as a miracast receiver it’s possible that you could use your phone to connect directly without relying on a router (this would mean that you could do it while out and about without much of a hassle). And devices like my ZTE Axon 9 Pro which have a desktop mode could work better with it as a monitor. It would also make it easier to connect to laptops and tablets.

I tried connecting it directly to my phone using an HDMI adapter but while something appeared on the Dasung, it was all squished and unusuable. To be fair, this is likely due to the tablet not having an odd resolution and not a 16:9 ratio.

PC Monitor

I tried connecing it to a Lenovo Flex 6 14 (AMD ryzen version) and while the touch screen functionality worked, the screen part didn’t. The laptop (using Windows 10) refused to detect it as a monitor. This is extremely disappointing as it is one of its supposedly main functions.

When I get a chance I’ll try it out with a Max and a Windows 7 device if possible.


Conclusions

I am happy I bought the device despite the delays and the issues with shipping and everything. But it is not perfect and not for everybody. One reason why I like it is that I can get all my kobo purchases on it. With kobo e-readers you can’t read a lot of comics (at least the ones that were pre- Epub3. So my only option for reading some of my books was a tablet but then I didn’t get the benefits of an e-ink screen. Now I get to read everything on one device if I want and PDFs look great on it (especially since it is so easy to zoom).

I will still buy another kobo e-reader (I have three, two had broken screens and the third I sold to my roommate in order to partially fund my purchase of the Dasung not e-reader.

If Dasung continues to update the device it might live up to its promise.

I took some pics and some videos, I will upload them when I can.

Last edited by Nightyume; 08-11-2019 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 02:59 AM   #2
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thanks for a nice,detailed review.
i am still waiting for my tracking id.
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Old 08-15-2019, 02:56 AM   #3
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I got mine too, I plugged it into a ThinkPad Anniversary 25 which is very much like a T470 and it works as a monitor just fine. It also worked from the GTX 1060 eGPU I have. It comes with a very weird Y cable with a full size HDMI and a USB on one end and a mini (not micro!) HDMI on the other. Just plugging in the USB A and mini HDMI plugs charges the device, you can see this because then it's in tablet mode and there is in icon. It also works with a plain mini HDMI to HDMI cable as well. It's not clear whether a plain mini HDMI cable and a separate USB C cable charges or not because there's no icon (expected) and the LED doesn't seem to differ when in monitor or when in monitor + charge mode. Also the USB plug seems to be necessary because it's a touchscreen. Haven't tested that.

Dimensions are at https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=596434193296 208.7 x 135.8 x 9.3 mm. To compare , the Aura One is 195.1 × 138.5 × 6.9 mm, the Boox Nova is 196.3×137×7.7mm -- I believe these all use the same screen. The iPad Mini 5 is 203.2 × 134.8 × 6.1. I would guess most iPad Mini sleeves will fit as the difference is very small -- except those that need to "click".

The USB C implementation is broken as is customary: it only charges via USB A to USB C or non-PD USB C chargers. Use a USB C to micro USB + micro USB female to USB C adapter for the lightest cable to charge with any USB C charger. Sucks but not unusual.

Manual is at http://www.dasung.com/sta/zh_cn/Not-...t-eReader.html

Last edited by bean; 08-15-2019 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 09-05-2019, 02:56 AM   #4
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I got mine, right out of the blue. Fedex shipping.

A concise opinion: Heavy.

after a few minutes of use, my hands were really stiff, shaking.
My unit charges over a normal USB-C cable.
Havent tested any hdmi functions (not really interested in these).

Seems solidly built. Has some quirks, like some early android readers..partial refreshed screen, sudden screen offs/disconnects(esp when connected to pc) etc.,
but overall nice.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:16 AM   #5
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The cable is not the problem, PD is. If your charger is capable of >5V , the not-eReader won't charge from it.
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Old 11-16-2019, 04:45 AM   #6
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pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!pascal jakobs , Klaatu Barada Niktu!
 
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Hello all,
Could somebody try to plugg it to a raspberry pi hdmi and post picture. I've been waiting for a long time for a eye friendry DIY RPI laptop. Could be a nice christmas gift for me.
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