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Review: eGlide Reader Pro (World’s Funkiest Android Tablet)

November 26th, 2011 by · 3 Comments · hardware reviews

Next up in my collection of the most unusual gadgets is this odd looking Kindle clone.

I got this ereader about a week ago. It happened to arrive on the same day as my KF and Nook Tablet, so I didn’t really get much of a chance to try it. But I’ve played with it on and off in the past week and I have to say that it is a rather cute idea. It isn’t that easy to use and there’s nothing to recommend this tablet over a traditional tablet, but it is a fun experiment.

BTW, you might want to read my first impressions post; it covers hardware details that I did not want to repeat in this review.

Before I review it, let me tell you what I was expecting.

I went into this knowing that I’d bought a cheap ($109), off-brand tablet from a company that had little real experience in this market.  My expectations were low; so long as it wasn’t too awful I would be satisfied.

The eGlide is pretty bad, but a lot of the problems can be fixed with a firmware update. And no, I wouldn’t recommend that you get one.

Pros

  • cheap
  • comes with several app stores
  • well conceived software

Cons

  • poor battery life
  • buggy
  • apps not properly installed (Kobo, Kindle)
  • awkward hardware design (no touchscreen)

 

Hardware

The eGlide has a 7″ screen, keyboard, Wifi, 4GB Flash, SD card slot, speaker/mike, and a g-sensor. As you can see from the photo, the keyboard is below the long side of the screen. The speaker and microphone are on the back, and all the ports and slots are on the lower edge (mini USB, headphone jack, power jack, SD card slot, power button).

The eGlide hardware has its pluses and minuses.  It doesn’t have a touch screen, but it does have an optical trackpad to the right of the keyboard. This was fairly easy to learn how to use, and when combined with the click button and enter key the optical trackpad came close to replacing the touchscreen. It also has a d-pad wrapped around the optical trackpad, and that makes menu navigation easier. BTW, I think the optical trackpad is too sensitive. It might be easier to use if it didn’t require such fine motor skills.

The keyboard benefits from being on the long side of the screen. It’s more spread out than the keyboard on the K3 and thus easier to use. It’s missing the row of number keys, but I didn’t find it to be that big of an issue. The number lock key is in the upper left corner of the keyboard, and switching it on and off was simple.

This is a cheap device, so of course you would expect a cheap screen. It’s actually better than that.  The color quality drops off considerably as you turn the screen away, but the screen contents are still visible. There are just the 3 brightness settings, with the brightest one usable outside. The dimmest setting might be usable in the dark, but it’s not useful for much else.

Edit: I’m going to need to look for a better app to control the backlight. The Kindle app can find about 6 or 7 levels for the backlight, not just the 3 that the default app could use.

Battery Life

Battery life is abysmal. So far as I can tell this device does not actually have a sleep mode.  A couple times now I’ve read for about half an hour and then put it to sleep, only to find when I pick it up hours later that the battery was constantly draining. Last night I read for about an hour on a full charge and went to bed. This morning I tried to turn it on and found that the battery was dead again.

According to the spec sheet, this tablet is supposed to have 9 hours battery life. It might have that much if you read straight through or turned it off. But in practical terms it does not.

 Apps

It ships with the basics, including browser, calculator, contacts, email, and it comes with an app store I’ve never heard of: Appoke. It also has 2 reading apps: one is Kobo and the other is an unnamed stock reading app that supports Epub, PDF, FB2, and other formats.

The eGlide also ships with links to a couple other app stores: Amazon and Slideme. It doesn’t include the app store client; no, the links help you download the install file so you can have the app store. That was a clever idea and I wish more tablet makers would copy it. It saves them the effort of getting permission while still providing the app store to the tablet owner.

Unfortunately, there’s more bad news than good news. The Kobo app doesn’t work right; I cannot see anyway to login and that means I can’t do anything besides glare at it. There’s a note in the box explaining how you shouldn’t use the keyboard with the Kobo app; instead I’m supposed to use the on screen keyboard. I followed the steps to fix the problem and I still cannot log in.

But I did get the Amazon Appstore installed and I installed the Kindle app. I’ve also been installing other apps from the Amazon Appstore, and aside from the usual compatibility hiccups, I can install apps.

Unfortunately, I’m having a lot of trouble with the Kindle app. At first it worked fine, but then I put the eGlide to sleep and after that the app kept crashing. It also can’t download any ebooks anymore. The problem is probably caused by the tablet, not the app, so there’s not much I can do at the moment.

But the  default app does still work, so at least there’s a certain minimum of function. And it supports Epub as well as other formats, so at least I can get some basic ability out of this thing.

I’ve found that holding the eGlide in portrait mode puts the d-pad right under my thumb, and it’s been comfortable to read on while lying in bed. Page turns aren’t the fastest, though, and without the touch screen it is a little difficult to open the settings menu and change it.

 Video & Youtube

It has a capable video and audio player, and it’s supposed to have broad format support (I cannot test them all). The audio quality was decent but not spectacular, and the AVI (624×352) I tested played fine.

Unfortunately, Youtube videos would not play. They also weren’t formatting correctly when viewed in landscape mode, but that’s less important. The main problem appears to be caused by a browser incompatibility. Like most of the other issues, this can probably be fixed by a firmware update.

Conclusion

I’m going to cut the review short here. I know that I have not covered all the abilities or written about them in depth, but I don’t see a need. I  think I’ve found enough problems with this tablet to conclusively prove that you should not buy it.

But I do like the general hardware design. If and when this tablet is updated and the many issues resolved, I will make an effort to come back and review it again.

Specs

  • 7″ (800×480) screen
  • Rockchip 2918 CPU
  • Android v2.1
  • Wifi (g)
  • 4GB Flash storage,
  • SD card slot
  • speaker, mike
  • optical mouse
  • qwerty keyboard
  • Dimensions: 7.01” x 5.7” x 0.4”
  • Ebook formats: ePub TXT, PDF, MOBI, LRC-FB2, RTF, HTML, PDB
  • Video and audio formats: MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, OGG, MPG, RMVB, WMV, WAV, MP4, AVI, FLV, ASF, 3GP, RM, DAT

Spec sheet

First Impressions

FCC paperwork

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