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Old 11-26-2019, 12:47 PM   #1
SeanMcNally
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Writing with the Nova Pro or Likebook Mars

Hey folks,

Long time reader, first time poster. I'm in the market for an e-reader that can serve a very specific purpose, I want to be able to write screenplays with it. My eyes get tired from staring at a normal screen for too long, and I think an e-reader would be a cool way to write.

My writing application of choice is WriterDuet which is available on Google Play. It's compatible with Android 4.4 and up, so in theory, the Onyx Boox Nova Pro or the Boyue Likebook Mars should be able to handle it. Both have bluetooth, so connecting a mouse and keyboard shouldn't be a problem.

My question is, would anyone be kind enough to test this particular application with one of these devices? I'd love to know if it is able to open at all, and possibly how it performs. In a broader sense, is the either Nova or the Mars inherently faster?

Thanks,
Sean
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Old 11-26-2019, 02:01 PM   #2
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Inherently there is a problem with using eink for editing. You need a page orientated editing application. Scrolling is a big no. I've not found such an application. I could maybe write one, but I won't. The eink is brilliant for sequential reading of a novel. It's poor to terrible for anything else. Annotation and dictionary lookup shows what it might be like.

Also I've never yet found a BT keyboard good for writing. I've been editing/writing for nearly 40 years. The keyboard action is important. The BT keyboards have various problems compared to USB:
* It's a ghastly protocol stack. Sometimes it will unpair.
* Many sleep when you are reading what you wrote and you loose the first few keypresses.
* I've not found one with a decent mechanical action except "wireless keyboards", not actual Bluetooth models.
* They are battery powered. A pain. For this reason I don't use the far better proprietary wireless protocol keyboards and mice. I use USB.
* Almost every decent wireless keyboard and mouse is NOT Bluetooth. You have a little USB dongle that stores inside the mouse or keyboard. Apart from batteries they have none of the issues of Bluetooth keyboards. Usually the mechanical action is good too.

My Android phone and Tablet does work with a USB keyboard, you need an adaptor.

Sometimes I might write 5 to 14 hours. On a laptop with a 15" matte screen and decent keyboard. Sometimes I might read ebooks all day and most of the night. Only ever now on eink. The Kobo Libra is a nice size and has the page turns. Before that I used the Aura H2O. I used the DXG for a while, but it was inferior to the Paperwhite, too heavy.

Also check your reading distance. Often screens are too far away. The screen should be the same distance away you use a book, especially if you use reading glasses. I have a block to tilt the laptop and I have the front edge slightly overhanging the desk. I prefer a laptop to a PC, since 1998, because it has a built in UPS. Power cuts happen.
I backup everyday, save often, increment file number suffix before any deletion / major edit, but that is a few topics.

Better to get a matte screen LCD and adjust brightness. Do not have a reflection off a window or a room light.

Last edited by Quoth; 11-26-2019 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 11-26-2019, 05:35 PM   #3
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I'm going to agree with FrustratedReader on the fitness of eInk screens for WYSIWYG editing. I've never tried an Android eInk reader (like the Onyx Boox Nova Pro or the Boyue Likebook Mars) but my experience using eInk web browsers tells me that writing on an eInk device would probably be a frustrating experience. But if you do get an Android eReader I also agree with FrustratedReader that an OTG cable and a Logitech (or other brand) wireless keyboard would be a better option than a Bluetooth one. You can also use both a mouse and a keyboard on the same USB adapter.

I've played around with screenwriting software quite a bit, including trying out WriterDuet. If it were me I would go at this from a different angle. I'd use the Fountain syntax (https://fountain.io/) and an Alphasmart Neo keyboard (https://www.ebay.com/itm/Used-Renais...ty!83646!US!-1) — this is just one seller, lots of them on eBay — and then import the Fountain formatted text into WriterDuet. Or you could even read it into 'afterwriting's (https://afterwriting.com/) Fountain editor (online, or it can be downloaded for offline work) and save to FDX format and read that into WriterDuet. The advantage of the Alphasmart Neo and Fountain format is that you could do the bulk of your creative writing in a non-LCD screen device and just do your editing in computer or tablet (Neos can connect to tablets via an OTG cable as well).

At any rate, for what it's worth.

EDIT: Meant to add, Alphasmart Neos last about 700 hours on 3 AA batteries.
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:05 AM   #4
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If you have plenty of money and don't mind their weird 'cloud' ecosystem, there's always the Freewrite, or if you wait long enough, the Freewrite Traveller. But they are just Alphasmart Neos at a MUCH higher price.

For a matt screen and really nice keyboard, try to find an old Lenovo Thinkpad on ebay. Unfortunately, the new ones no longer have their great keyboards. I have two older ones: one I bought new several years ago which I use as my main pc; a smaller 12" X200 which I bought used from ebay for a remarkable £75. It's like new and is my main writing machine.

But if you really want to avoid screens, the Neo2 is the way to go.
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Old 11-27-2019, 06:00 AM   #5
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If you have plenty of money and don't mind their weird 'cloud' ecosystem, there's always the Freewrite, or if you wait long enough, the Freewrite Traveller. But they are just Alphasmart Neos at a MUCH higher price.
In my opinion less than Alphasmart Neos. They don't allow you to edit your document (no arrow keys). All you get for editing is a Backspace key.

From their own site...

Quote:
...To maximize writing productivity and minimize writer's block, that type of scrutiny should come after, not during the drafting process. As it comes, the Freewrite's editing functionality is limited to using the [backspace] key only. You can review what was written before using the [pg up] and [pg dn] keys but there is no way to move the cursor into the document or copy/paste. ...
https://support.getfreewrite.com/art...the-arrow-keys

The cynical part of me thinks this is their way of avoiding scrolling on eInk screens because they know the limitations. But they advertise the lack of editing as a "feature" that keeps your productivity churning.

When I found out about this "feature" I lost all interest in the Freewrite.
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Old 11-27-2019, 07:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcentros View Post
In my opinion less than Alphasmart Neos. They don't allow you to edit your document (no arrow keys). All you get for editing is a Backspace key.
The cynical part of me thinks this is their way of avoiding scrolling on eInk screens because they know the limitations. But they advertise the lack of editing as a "feature" that keeps your productivity churning.

When I found out about this "feature" I lost all interest in the Freewrite.
I have a portable typewriter and correction tape.
I could fit microswitches and use the chip out of a USB keyboard and a Raspberry Pi to capture.
It would make more sense than Freewrite. Sounds rubbish. I know how I would write an application to edit on eink, if you moved the cursor to delete or insert before the end of the document, you have to hide the rest of the page and refresh as soon as you type. No forward delete, but block highlight and delete block (or insert block) refreshes page.
Certainly no existing application for a CRT / LCD / OLED screen will work. Sort of like a hybrid between a Teletype based editor that reprints page to cursor and a regular editor.
I think of eink as Electronic Paper. I regard making an ebook from WP or web content etc as "Printing to Electronic Paper". I've saved now over €700 in paper and toner.

The DXG originally split a website into pages, you clicked page, no scroll. IMO the browser on newer firmwares is a backward step. Ebooks are artificially paginated at run time anyway, I don't understand why they didn't keep it and why PC browsers can't do a page mode. I hate scrolling. Pages were invented about 2000 years ago. Scrolling only made sense on short landscape screens like the 1999 to 2004 Nokia Communicators.
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Old 11-28-2019, 01:01 AM   #7
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@rcentros: I believe that the Freewrite Traveller, if it ever exists, will have arrow keys. But they keep delaying its release date.

I think they're too expensive when the Neo can do the job perfectly well, with minimum battery use and a nice full keyboard; at a whisper of a price too.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:21 AM   #8
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@rcentros: I believe that the Freewrite Traveller, if it ever exists, will have arrow keys. But they keep delaying its release date.

I think they're too expensive when the Neo can do the job perfectly well, with minimum battery use and a nice full keyboard; at a whisper of a price too.
I understand that the Freewriter's limited production makes it expensive, but it's trying to fill a "void" that's already full of Neos. And since they sold so many of these to schools, there's always more going on sale. I did see something about the Freewrite Traveler when I went to their website. I like the size better — didn't really look at its features yet.

EDIT: It's got a tiny screen... and $369?

EDIT 2: Another look... the screen is not as small as I thought as the Freewrite Traveler is bigger than I thought it was.

Last edited by rcentros; 11-28-2019 at 02:24 AM.
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Old 11-28-2019, 10:51 PM   #9
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When it's actually released, the Freewrite Traveller will be £599!

I mention it only because it has an eink screen, and to illustrate just how good the Neo is by comparison. Neos can be picked up at ebay for around £30 + postage.
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Old 11-29-2019, 01:06 AM   #10
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@rcentros: I believe that the Freewrite Traveller, if it ever exists, will have arrow keys. But they keep delaying its release date.
I went back and saw that. Not actual arrow keys, but a key combination (kind of like the WordStar "diamond").

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When it's actually released, the Freewrite Traveller will be £599!

I mention it only because it has an eink screen, and to illustrate just how good the Neo is by comparison. Neos can be picked up at ebay for around £30 + postage.
£600? ... Yea-ah. Not happening. But, to be fair, I think Neos were originally in the $250 to $300 range when new. They're just an amazing deal now.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:42 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the great advice guys! I had indeed come across the Alphasmart before, and I have experimented with writing in raw fountain, but I ideally would prefer a WYSIWYG editor. Basically I want to run WriterDuet's app on something.

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Scrolling is a big no.
I'm assuming this is because of ghosting, yeah? Do you think it'd be to the point of not being usable, or just frustrating? This video (5:48 timestamp) shows scrolling on the Mars on a web browser loading Instagram, it doesn't seem too bad. Is it worse on the Nova Pro?

I wonder, would something like the upcoming Dasung Not-E-Reader be more suited for what I want to do? The video shows a mirrored android phone scrolling back and forth, and not much ghosting is seen at all.
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