Friday, March 25, 2016

13 e-ink reader with Wacom? Maybe...

Once upon a time I had a nook. I loved the e-ink screen. I dreamed of putting music on it. A parent in my studio had the big Kindle and I dreamed of putting music on that, but he lamented how clunky the annotation options were, and that was just text. E-readers have mostly fallen out of favor since light up screened tablets can do everything and books, so unless you read enough for the light up screen to bother you, an e-ink reader is just one more thing to have to carry.

I've still dreamed of a giant e-ink reader, but after the big Kindle died, that was kind of it. Then, years later, Sony did their giant thing. But it's seriously pricey for a single purpose device when you can get an iPad Pro for not much more that does soooooo much more.

Good e-Reader is one of those niche site with a good forum and community that built up during the e-reader boom. I hung out there some when I had a nook to play with, and again when I briefly had an Entourage eDGe. Actually, it was probably the mobileread forums. I forget, sorry.

They're still around and going strong and are actually about to pull off one of those things that internet communities like to talk about. They wanted a device that no one else was making, so they decided to make their own. And they're very nearly full funded on Indiegogo.

They've got a good set up, as it will only take 60 pre-orders to go to manufacturing. The Good e-Reader 13.3 is built off a reference prototype that Netronix was showing off at CES, so the hard work is nearly done. Their work has been more about tweaking the software.

Sadly, that software is stuck at Android 4.0.4. While it has the google play store, and can run apps like Mobilesheetspro, it can't run Microsoft Office apps, which means no OneNote. That's hugely disappointing on a 13.3" e-ink screen with a Wacom digitizer.

Another huge missing piece is Bluetooth. So, even if you put Mobilesheets on it, you'll still have to tap to turn. Admittedly, it's still faster than flipping a paper page, but you have to turn every single one of them, not just every other one.

The real attraction is the 13.3" Mobius e-ink screen. The 1200x1600 resolution is good, but not great in this post-retina-display era. Also, the 4GB of storage and 512MB (yup, not even a gig) of RAM and quite outdated at this point. Even though they plan on making the firmware available to the community as open source, it's unlikely that will result in more recent versions of Android running decently on such old hardware.

Just yesterday, they blogged about how great it would be for sheet music, but I'm left disappointed by the refresh during inking and seeming lack of accuracy. They don't try to write fingerings and music they try to hand write looks sloppy, like they can't draw small enough to even get notes into a staff space accurately. But watch and see what you think:

I was quite tempted to pre-order one to play with, but while the $699 asking price is better than the Sony Digital Paper, it's still no small chunk of change.

If you want to see more, check out the Indiegogo page and watch the intro video below.

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