The Book by Augen – 7” Digital Color eReader

Yes, it is a B&W screen that happens to allow some limited gray shades, but more than fine for displaying text.

Resolution is more than adequate for displaying books. No, you won’t like the way a color anatomy book looks on it.

I don’t get a complaint about refresh- no it isn’t going to play video, and the page flickers when you switch it. It isn’t any slower than turning a page in a paper book and just as readable (i.e.- not readable) while switching pages as a paper book is while turning pages.

You’ve apparently never seen a color LCD display in bright light and you’ve apparently never seen an e-ink display in bright light. E-ink is readable in any light you would read a paper book in. There are few LCD displays that can make such a claim.

LCD displays suck power and require recharging every couple hours while e-ink will let you read for weeks between charges.

People buy what works for them and e-ink works for many. Don’t hold your breath waiting for e-ink to go away.

You seem to be slightly confused. Anime is Japanese animation, i.e. video. It’s usually in color, but even more to the point, e-ink doesn’t have the framerate to display video at all. And I do think this would do all right for anime (and general video viewing) – 800x480 is more-or-less DVD resolution, so it’s not gonna show you every detail of HD content, but it’s good enough.

Perhaps you meant “manga” which is Japanese comics, and unlike (modern) US comics, they’re more often (mostly) B&W than color, though they often have the cover and possibly a few other pages colored. Current e-ink (typically 8 shades of grey or better) won’t be quite the full experience, but they’ll suffer a lot less than US comics, and IMO probably worth it for the battery life gain.

But there’s a problem – neither this nor any other ereader I’ve seen really has good enough resolution for properly viewing either US comics or manga, IMO – my UMPC is 1280x800, and that’s barely adequate. So if you meant he’s a manga fan, maybe not even color e-ink will do.

On that note, I can wholeheartedly recommend my UMPC (a Fujitsu U820, now discontinued) for all manga, comics, anime, and pretty much anything else fans – it’s got one of the best LCD screens ever made, but at ~$450 used (or ~$1500 new for its successor the UH900), I doubt most folks will be able to justify it merely for its ereader/video capabilities. :wink:

And a cheap netbook will still cost twice what this does, won’t fit in a jacket pocket, get about half the battery life, and be awkwardly big in use because you can’t flip the keyboard behind the screen.

Uh, no. E-ink’s big advantage is not daylight readability, though some e-ink fans who apparently have never heard of transflective LCDs do bring that up a lot.

E-ink’s big advantage is that it consumes power only to change the display, not to maintain static content. In certain uses (like reading loads of text) and combined with a processor that draws very low power when idle, this can result in orders of magnitude more battery life than an equivalent device with an LCD screen, or have a much smaller & lighter battery for the same endurance.

For those of you are are sticklers for licensing out there…Augen has so far not complied with the GPL.

For those that don’t know what GPL is:
[] Programs that are licensed under GPL must release their source code
] Source code must either be distributed with the program, or there must be a note explaining where to find it (since the program is pre installed on the hardware, then the source must either be on the device or there must be something in the manual, or the like, telling you where you can get the source)
[] It cannot be relicensed
] Any modifications to the GPL code are also GPL licensed (ie. it stays open source)
[] Parts of a program can be licensed under another license…but it must be “enough removed” from the GPL code.
[*] It does not prohibit commercial sale of the program (but in this case the source must be free).
*In this case, Android and any modifications to Android must be released. But the user interface, and various programs (such as an email app) are enough removed and can be released under whatever license they feel like.

I wrote a magazine article published nationally in December, on getting a tablet or ereader. I’ll re-write some points in here, so you can decide whether to get this, or not.

  1. Bottom line first: I would buy this simply to see if you will use an e-reader or tablet. If this will collect dust you won’t be out that much money and you can pass it on to one of your kids.

  2. I told readers to hold off on getting a tablet or e-reader because all the manufacturers were going to come out with tablets (and e-readers) in 2011, starting with CES that’s going on as we speak.

The few choices people had for Holidays 2010 were the uber expensive iPad or the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy tablet, that is also expensive. On the e-reader front there was the Kindle and December-debuting color Nook.

Other than those choices the other tablets and e-readers were technologically or software lacking for one reason or another.

  1. This year you will see hundreds of choices, so if you want to wait, for $150 to $250 you will be able to get an awesome tablet or e-reader.

For example, Augen will be coming out with six new tablets. The $250 machine will have a capacitive display, WiFi, 3G, web cam, Android 2.2, etc.

  1. What I told people is that you also have to decide beforehand what you want and what you want it for. The iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab are what I dubbed “tablet MMD” devices, “MMD” short for “multi media device.”

Tablet MMDs are NOT e-readers. They are for browsing the Net, looking at photographs, playing video and reading online magazines, newspapers and other media.

In contrast, an e-reader’s main function is to read books. The difference is important. Why?

Well, have you held an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab? The things are HEAVY and cumbersome to hold, especially for longer than about an hour. At some point you would have to rest it on your lap, for example, while at the airport waiting for a flight.

In contrast, an e-reader is designed to mimic as close as possible the reading of books. As you know, you can hold a book for hours and not feel uncomfortable. That’s because it’s light and easy to turn pages, bookmark where you are or even make notes in the margin.

E-readers are also easy on the eyes (the main benefit of e-ink technology).

Sidenote: have you heard or seen Steve Jobs trumpet that with the iPad you can read books, for hours on end. He has not said that because you can’t hold an iPad and read a book for longer than about an hour before your eyes will give out. Not so with e-ink.

  1. The biggest benefit of tablet MMDs (and the new color e-readers) is the ability to read and view all sorts of media, in rich, beautiful color.

Bonus Sidenote: IMHO it’s kind of comical what’s going on with tablets, mainly because they have been around since 1997, but Apple brings out an extremely limited tablet computer and convinces everyone that it’s the new must-have device. Think about that for a minute.

Jobs takes the stage and says here’s a device without a keyboard, no expansion slot, a non-removable battery, limited internal memory, three times the price of a netbook, and limited functionality, and talks about it like it’s a revolutionary product.

It’s not and I digress.

  1. Another thing you have to think about, and which few people realize, is that there’s about four popular e-book formats from which publishers and authors can choose for their books.

What this means for the user is that a book you want in e-book format may not come in the proprietary format your e-reader or tablet uses!

For example, Kindle has its proprietary e-book format, Android-based e-readers may have another, and publishing houses may have a contract with a software developer to exclusively use its software, a different format altogether.

So that’s something you definitely need to consider and watch out for, can your “el cheapo” e-reader read ONLY some obscure e-book format that Amazon or Barnes & Noble do not support?

If you want to become an “expert” on e-book format “wars” read this:

  1. Oh… another thing I warned about in the article was the true cost to you if you bought an iPad or Tab. Both those devices require a carrier data package, that can end up making the true cost of either device about $900 to $2000 over the life of a two-year contract. That’s a ridiculous amount to pay for a scaled down netbook.

Conclusion: So in the end, you can understand why I say this Woot is a good deal. Why pay $250 for a 2011 tablet or deluxe e-reader if you end up not using it much. (Opting instead to use your cell phone that has a 4" display, your netbook, notebook or desktop PC.)

It’s better to spend less than a $100 to find out you don’t use the device much and/or to learn which features you need, want or consider unnecessary.

For example, if you wear glasses your eyes will tire more quickly using one of these devices. You may find out that a quality, sharp, fine resolution on a 7" display makes text unreadable for you; so you end up needing at least a 10" display with a sharp, clear, larger resolution. (That’s one of the reasons Steve Jobs cited as to why anything below a 9" display is “dead” for a tablet, people can’t read what’s on the display.)

IMHO, by the way, these 7" displays are not that great for people who have corrected vision. You simply can’t see what’s on the screen.

I had a really nice HP netbook that had one of the finest displays on the market, but the 8.9" resolution was 1024 x 600. I could not read MS Word documents (and setting the display to a lower resolution made the graphics and characters look jagged).

Even if you don’t have corrected vision, IMHO any display less than 10" (maybe 9" depending on the resolution) will result in your eyes getting tired after reading anything (not just books) for about an hour or so. After that you are going to have to rest your eyes and you will be lucky if you don’t get a headache.

Bonus Conclusion: I will be getting a tablet MMD, I am just waiting for the dust to settle and the proverbial technology to improve while the prices go down, similar to what happened with LCD HDTV market in 2010.

By June 2011 there’s going to be some really hot Android-based tablet MMDs for less than $200.

Whoa… I ended up making my above post way too long. Oh well, hope it helps in your decision.

I have the Nook Color and before that, the e-ink Nook. I sold the e-ink version as soon as I tried the color; simply no comparison.

The Nook Color has fast page turns, the brightness can be adjusted easily, it doesn’t require additional light to be useful and it’s a MUCH better reading experience than the e-ink version for the hour or two a day I have time to read. I charge the battery once a week. There are also options to highlight portions, add notes and so on. The fact that it’s also a cheap tablet that can surf the web is just a bonus. The Nook Color LCD screen is designed with reading in mind and B&N also offers a protective film that takes care of reflections, but I purchased it just for the scratch-protection aspect.

I keep hearing that the e-ink versions are like reading a real book with ink on a page. Well, that’s just not so. The e-ink is shades of gray, not black, and requires adequate ambient light or a separate clip-on light to be readable. I liked my Nook e-ink and used it for 6 months, but I LOVE the Nook Color and would never go back.

If, like me, you only read for a couple hours at most per day, the color screen is not going to cause eye fatigue. Some of the e-ink cheerleaders talk as if they read for 18 hours a day (and of course it’s always on the beach in bright sunlight) which is patently absurd if you have a real job and life. I’ve tried both; color is the way to go.

I briefly considered this in my search for an eReader, but I liked the look and feel of the Sony Pocket (PRS-300) better. It’s a nice little device…except for the slow page turning.

If you’re looking for an eReader, also check out the Calibre Library Management system. It’s free and lets you convert a good chunk of ebook files from one type to another.

As someone who owns two e-ink Nooks and this Augen for my son… I feel I can comment.

The first comment is that since I have two younger boys I find myself reading outside quite a bit. The e-ink screens are nice and allow me to read. My laptop screens in this same light is impossible to use. The Augen is also impossible to use in direct sunlight.

As El Marko states above, if you only read inside then LCD screens are fine. Also if you only read inside the more demanding battery usage of LCD is not a problem as well.

For the price the Augen is a good buy. The interface is clunky, slow. But if you just want to get your feet wet with a ereader and perhaps watch a video this reader is perfect.

If however you are an avid book reader I would avoid this device.

One other point is that this device uses Adobe Digital Editions. Many public libraries allow you to check out ebooks using Adobe Digital Editions… So you can check out ebooks and read them on this device, that is a plus for this device.


In this case, Android and any modifications to Android must be released.

I realize this isn’t relevant, but that’s not quite accurate. They only have to release the source code to the components that are GPL, which is essentially just the Linux kernel. Almost all of Android itself is under BSD or Apache license, which doesn’t require distributing source code.

Alas, I am not interested in an eReader that doesn’t also use e-ink or some other form of electronic paper, which doesn’t produce light on its own and doesn’t tire the eyes out like a screen does. Otherwise I might as well read stuff on a netbook.

A gripe I have with most eReaders is that you have to hold them with two hands, or at least use your other hand to hit the page-turn button, either due to weight or button placement. You can do a quick test just by holding up a closed paper book in one hand and placing your thumb or fingers roughly where the buttons of an eReader would fall. I have a Sony PRS-300 pocket reader (bought on Woot) and it’s the only one I’ve tried that works well totally one handed.

That said, I also just bought a Velocity-Micro Cruz reader at Best Buy ($100 right now). The bigger LCD screen renders pictures much better than the small e-ink screen, and it also handles PFDs really well. Plus, it’s a rudimentary Android tablet for web surfing and email. The Sony is going to be my traveling device due to its size and weight, and the cruz will be an around-the-house toy.

I think I prefer a table. I can put a book on it.

(Sorry, I had to poke fun at the minor typo in an otherwise great bit of help. I also get published on other topics -digital cameras- and it’s nice to see somebody else explain something very well!)

Two questions: You mention the iPad needs additional services that increases the cost of ownership. Isn’t there a version that is wifi only? I’m waiting fore the second generation to come out, as I own a Touch and I like how it works. It also can read ePubs with a free app, but it’s a small page!)

Second, is this unit Android or Linux??? I see references to both, and I know one is wrong.

My understanding is that many Android apps won’t work well on ereaders because the apps expect buttons only found on phones. Also, they expect a smaller screen and have programmed displays accordingly. I have a Pandigital Novel, tried their “open” firmware and went back to using it for it’s original use.

Last summer, I sat out in the backyard in my lawn chair and read on my Nook all day long. There’s no way I could have done that with my laptop as the screen gets very washed out when it’s outside.

E-Ink also looks and acts much more like real paper and I find it easier to read. It also uses far less electricity than LCD. Under heavy reading conditions, I only have to charge the Nook once a week. With the laptop, I get about four hours before I have to find a plug. I could very realistically take the Nook on a week-long vacation without a charger.

I love the purity of the eReading experience. There’s no temptation to open a web browser, you don’t have to hold it open to a particular page, and the only interaction you have to have with the device is a small push with your thumb to flip to the next page. I wouldn’t want to use E-Ink for web browsing or video, but for reading, it is absolutely terrific.

I have the eInk nook and though I love it, I do have to point out one thing about eInk - if you do a lot of reading at night (in bed, like I do) then you will still need a book light which can eat through batteries quickly and get expensive. I really am wishing it was backlit and would sacrifice the eInk to get the backlit screen. If you don’t read much at night then it’s not a big issue, but for me it is. Just my two cents as to something to keep in mind… :slight_smile:

I too have no gripe with e-ink even though on my Sony it’s dark gray on off-white. The book-sale paperbacks I’ve been reading for years are worse as far as the contrast of the text goes.

Your statement above is true for the Galaxy tab, but not of the iPad. There is no contract required to buy an iPad. The Wifi model can be bought without worrying about carriers. Also, the 3G version can be bought through AT&T BUT you only pay for data when you want it, albeit for a 30 day period. Therefore, I could buy the 3G iPad, and only pay for the 3G those 2 months over summer where I went on a cross country trip. There is no more commitment than that.

Now through Verizon, you can for the same price as the 3G iPad, buy the wifi iPad with a Mifi. The MiFi is a little black box that creates a portable hotspot. Again, you only pay for the data service for the month period where you find yourself in need of it. There is NO contract and no commitment.

Truthfully if you were comparing the two packages, the Verizon one is a better deal as you can have up to 5 devices using the MiFi, and . .the price packages have a better data to $$ ratio.

I agree with you on all your other points. What I really want tho . . . it a 7 inch iPad. I’ve got tons of iPod touch apps that I use, and I’ve used an iPad trhough work and I have to say it’s just too big (for me anyway) for long use sessions.

This ebook reader for the price is tempting as a "second device to have around.

Yep - I meant manga. My son likes anime too.

(I’ve seen him read manga on an iPod Touch.)

As I mentioned earlier, e-ink’s even bigger advantage is reduced eyestrain. A great many people have reported that they can’t read more than a few pages at a time on an LCD.

OTOH, I used to read on an RCA Reb 1100, and I found that eyestrain wasn’t so bad as long as the backlight wasn’t too high.

Check out this image showing a page of text on The Book:


full size image

What booklight do you use? I have a Mighty Bright, and I can’t remember the last time I had to change the batteries.