Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Likebook Mars initial impressions

I've been using the Likebook Mars recently. I like the Likebook Mars but there are issues with the firmware that needs to be resolved - the main issue is the buggy and limited native e-reading software. Below are my initial impressions:
  • Don't expect to use the device as an E-Ink tablet. With ghosting, refresh and flashing, most Android applications don't work well on an E-Ink display. The design and use of Android applications are also taxing on the battery - I found the device's battery drains quickly if used as something other than an e-reader.
  • The native e-reader firmware isn't bad but there are bugs, strange rendering of an e-book's formatting and missing features. For example, the e-book software forces indent at the beginning of a paragraph and large spaces between sections. There is the option to change the settings but certain formatting issues cannot be changed. 
  • The translation of the interface and menus from Chinese to English (I assume this applies to other supported languages) causes confusion. For example, if you long press on an installed application there is an option to turn on 'application bleaching' but it isn't clear what 'bleaching' means.
  • The device's firmware is not intuitive and I couldn't find a manual to clarify how to find and use different features. The e-reader aficionado might find the discovery of different features and applications fun; however, this might not be a device for the general user that wants an e-reader that just works. 
  • The device is zippy due to the octa-core processor. I tested large PDF files and the device handled them without issue. Due to optimisation and integration, I found the native e-reading software works best but I also used KOReader when needed. 
  • I've used a Boyue e-reader before - the Boyue T80 that was re-branded by Icarus as the Illumina XL - and found the screen quality poor. The T80's resolution was relatively low but the real issue was the lack of contrast and serious problems with ghosting in third-party applications. The Likebook Mars demonstrates that Boyue e-readers are improving and while ghosting issues remain there are some features added that help with the problem.    

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