Sunday, April 26, 2015

How has e-Reader Lighting Evolved?


E-Readers first became popular when the original Amazon Kindle debuted in 2007. A few years later Barnes and Noble started to sell e-books and release a slew of devices, ditto for Kobo. It was during this period in which if you wanted to read at night, you had to invest in a book light or a case with the light built in. It wasn’t until 2012 that Barnes and Noble unveiled the Nook Simple Touch with glowlight,  the first e-reader had the lighting system built into it. Later that year almost every major vendor in North America, Europe and Russia started to adopt this technology.

The Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight broke e-reader conventions in 2012 when it shipped with 5 small LED lights inside the top of the bezel that projected light downwards.  This makes it easier to read because unlike a smartphone or tablet, the light isn’t projecting directly into your eyes. Sadly the Nooks lighting system was blue, instead of pure white. Despite the color, it was one of Barnes and Noble’s most successful e-reader ever.

The Kindle Paperwhite really refined front-lit technology and the experience for the reader was brilliant. Amazon decided to put the LED lights on the bottom of the bezel and was the first e-reader whose light enhanced the e-paper, not detract from it.

How has front-lit screen technology evolved over the last several years? Today we have a video where we look at the lightning system on the Kobo Glo HD, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD and the Kobo Aura H2O.

How has e-Reader Lighting Evolved? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Pocketbook Sense e-Reader Review

pocketbook sense

The Pocketbook Sense is a brand new e-reader and has just hit the open market in Europe and North America.  One thing that is clearly evident at first glance is how well designed it is.  Pocketbook is not known for having sexy looking digital readers, but the Sense is their best offering to date.


pocketbook sense hardware

The Pocketbook Sense features an e-ink Pearl HD screen with a resolution of 1024×758.  I was afraid that the outdated screen might make this reader dead in the water, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead of going with infrared touch, Pocketbook made the decision to go with a capacitive touchscreen display. This makes pinching and zooming, as well as drawing very robust.

The screen on the sense is not flush with the bezel, like the Kindle Voyage or Kobo Aura. Instead, it has a sunken display, but it is not as deep as the Kobo Glo HD or Kobo H2O.

Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ processor, 128 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage. You can enhance the memory  up to 32 GB via the Micro SD card and it also has a Mini USB to charge and send data to your e-reader.

One thing I really liked about the design is the manual page turn keys. Rather than have them on the front of the device, Pocketbook has them on the back. They are positioned exactly how you would hold it, so its very intuitive to hold it with one hand. Alternatively you can simply use the touchscreen display.

The Pocketbook Sense has a front-lit display, which means you can read in the dark without the need of an external light source. Sadly, you have a pale blue hue, very much akin to the Barnes and Noble Simple Touch with Glowlight. Strangely, the longer you leave the light on, the more white it becomes, so I recommend to let it breath for awhile before reading, similar to how you would use a decanter for wine.

This e-reader features wireless internet access, so you can use your home network or a hotspot. There is a built in internet browser to access the net, but image heavy sites tend to take awhile to load. I think  you might want to use the dedicated Pocketbook RSS app to read the latest news.

I think Pocketbook hit a homerun with the Sense, from a design prospective. It is very light due to the plastic design, instead of using aluminium. It feels like it should cost more than it actually does.


Pocketbook sense software

The Pocketbook Sense is running a custom kernel of Linux, but it sort of feels like Android. Most of the main Android gestures are in this model, which makes interacting with it rather glorious.

The main home screen comprises of the last few books you have purchased from the Pocketbook bookstore or have manually loaded on your device. The e-books are presented in a carousel format, so you can swipe and gesture to look at your collection.

pocketbook sense

Pocketbook has bundled a bunch of apps they have developed onto this e-reader, such as Send to Pocketbook, Pocketbook News, Dropbox for Pocketbook and some drawing apps. Basically you can easily access your e-book collection stored in your cloud storage accounts and add them.

The entire modern line of Pocketbook e-readers has a built in store called Bookland. I have never been a fan because of the modern bestsellers called anywhere from $22 to $33 US dollars. You can buy the same book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo for $9.99, so if you are looking for a one stop e-reader to buy and read books, this one may not be for you.

Reading Experience


Pocketbook has always maintained excellent support for a wide array of popular e-book formats. The Sense can easily read PDF, PDF (DRM), EPUB, EPUB(DRM), DJVU, FB2, FB2.ZIP, DOC, DOCX, RTF, PRC, TCR, TXT, CHM, HTM, HTML, MOBI, ACSM.

The one aspect of the Sense that is immediately apparent when you open an e-book for the first time is the sheer number of reading options. There are over 60 different fonts and a slider bar to adjust the size. It normally takes a few seconds for each change to resister because it it immediately applies it to the entire book.

I won’t talk about every option the Sense has, but the ones that truly standout. First of all, you can draw or take notes with your finger. There are few e-readers on the market with the capability to do this, most notably Sony, who abandoned the e-reader market last year. You can’t save your drawings or edits as pictures or files, but they are stored in the note app to access at your leisure.  You can draw on any book format, including EPUB and PDF.

There are over 30 built in dictionaries available to automatically translate a specific word or a phrase. You can even translate a word from one language to another, which I know many people will like.  If this is not enough there is an option to look up a word via Google.

The overall e-reading experience with your standard e-book is brilliant. This might be the best Pocketbook device ever crafted, turning pages is lightning quick and the text really pops out.  Reading PDF files is solid too, pinching a zooming is actually more fluid than the Kindle Voyage and Kobo Glo HD when you are just looking at pure text documents. Larger PDF files or those with a complex layout  tend to have a small lag, but I am sure you all can deal with it.

If you have a large e-book collection, inevitably you will be using the library feature. This is to access all of the books you have loaded and the Sense does not disappoint. You can create custom folders to store your books, but also sort them by file format, author, genre, or series. There is also customization to sort the titles by cover art or just the name of it.

Wrap Up

pocketbook sense horizotal

Over the years I have reviewed almost every single Pocketbook e-reader ever made. Most of them have been disappointing and provided a lackluster e-book experience. I have been quite vocal about my disdain for most of their lineup, but the Ultra and the Sense have changed my mind.

The Pocketbook  Ultra was the first e-ink reader with a built in camera and for the first time was a stark departure from the standard design principles Pocketbook was known for. The Sense builds on the success of the Ultra, but also drops the camera gimmick and focuses on providing a great reading experience.

I would recommend this e-reader for mid level or advanced users that already have an established e-book collection and won’t be relying on the Pocketbook bookstore to find and purchase titles. These are the types of users that have their book collections on SD cards, use a cloud storage solution or are Calibre veterans.


Great screen
Tons of Fonts and Dictionaries
Solid Design
Readings many e-book formats


The Lightning system was a bit of a let down
Large and complex PDF files buckle under the pressure
Online bookstore is very expensive

Rating: 8.5/10

Pocketbook Sense e-Reader Review is a post from: Good e-Reader

Custom Dictionaries for e-books is Starting to Catch on


Fantasy and science-fiction e-books are typically filled with verbiage that normal dictionary is unable to handle. The Song of Fire and Neuromancer are rife with people, places and things that don’t exist in the real world and there is now a definitive solution, custom dictionaries via The Fictionary.

The Fictionary is a new service that bundles custom dictionaries on e-books. For example, look up "the one ring" in The Lord Rings and you'll get a definition from the book, not of just a ring. Ditto with the word Power-Wrought from Wheel of Time.

The custom dictionaries go beyond simple definitions and has support for rich media. Indie authors can add maps, graphs and images to their dictionaries. On some devices images and maps will display in a popup, in others when entry is fully viewed.

Fictionaries work on all Kindle e-Readers, iOS Kindle Apps, and some Android ePub apps such as Moon+ Reader. Right now it does not work on the Kindle Fire or Kindle App for Android.

Custom Dictionaries for e-books is Starting to Catch on is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Google Nexus 7 Tablet is Discontinued


Google has officially discontinued the Nexus 7 tablet and is no longer offering it for sale on the Google Play website.

The Nexus 7 was first released back in 2013, so it’s fair to say it had a good run. The Android-based tablet received great reviews, but what really made it a long-term success was the fact that it was affordable and it received Android updates quickly.

The only Google branded tablet that is still available is the Google Nexus 9. This tablet costs around $400, which might be out of the price range of the average customer.

The Google Nexus 7 Tablet is Discontinued is a post from: Good e-Reader