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[Q] Hacking for non-ebook use, Nook Glowlight vs. Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Glo

OP voxadam

1st May 2014, 04:39 PM   |  #1  
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I'm in the market for an eInk device to be used exclusively for non-ebook purposes. I need something with the battery life of an ereader as opposed to that of an LCD based tablet. My application does not require the flashy color, or the fast redraw of an LCD, it's simply going to be an interface for a control system of sorts. The UI will not require scrolling but be primarily page based, and no high frame rate video. The most advanced thing that might be displayed is the occasional slow update grayscale "video" (maybe a frame or two a second at the most but even that's not terribly likely). Touch is required and a lit screen would be a big plus (hence the list of devices I mentioned). I also require wifi connectivity, cellular is not important and would never be used.

I do like the idea of using a device that runs Android as it would give me a greater number of options for development. While I may stick with HTML5 and JS I also like the possibility of writing a true Android application. I'm not interested in Android Play or any of the other Gapps, though I suppose I could sideload them if I feel the need. I will most likely be running a very simple custom launcher so that the device operates more like a purpose built embedded platform rather than a general purpose Android tablet.

My question is what device would the experts here at XDA recommend I use? The Kindle has the benefit of the 800 pound gorilla that is Amazon but it doesn't run Android natively. Nook has the benefit of a decent sized company behind it, the fact that it runs Android, the downside is I'm not entirely clear on how long B&N will stand behind their eInk devices. Kobo is the little guy in the corner, I know next to nothing about the company, the build quality of the device, or the future of the eInk devices, but like the Nook it appears to run some version of Android.

In truth, it's not really all that important that the device I choose be offered forever. This is a personal project, nothing that's going to market. What's more important is hackability, Android, and at least the possibility for newer custom Android ROMs to be installed.

Thank you for your help.

--adam

P.S. If this is the incorrect forum for this I apologize.
Last edited by voxadam; 1st May 2014 at 04:44 PM.
2nd May 2014, 04:16 AM   |  #2  
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I think a Nook and a native Android app will be fine for control purposes.
I'd avoid the whole HTML5 stuff.
It's easier to get lean, mean, responsive if you stay away from browsers.
There is already enough interchangeability among Android devices.
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2nd May 2014, 05:30 PM   |  #3  
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E-Ink options
True grayscale video of any quality would be a stretch as you'd likely be dealing with refresh flashing between frames at even 1fps. Every hack I've seen for improving refresh behavior involves switching to 1-bit color depth. Some solutions preserve the appearance of grayscale through halftoning like a newspaper photo at the expense of image resolution.

One thing's for certain about the Nook Touch series, you'll never get anything newer than android 2.1 on it. A number of closed binary drivers need to be replaced for truly custom firmwares and you'd be limited on RAM anyhow. You will not be able to expect B&N to stand behind the product line in the future. Note that the most recent 4gb NSTglowlight lacks an SD slot and is thus more difficult to root. That said, I'm very pleased with my Glowlight as a bare-bones Android device.

The Kobo Aura HD tablet would at least get you Android 2.3 and is rootable. I'm not certain how strong its developer community might be. One advantage over the Nook seems to be more even distribution of light across the display surface but I can't confirm from hands-on experience.

If you're comfortable with Linux, you might want to consider the Onyx Boox. There's at least a few scraps of information on the manufacturer's site about developing custom Qt apps for the Boox platform. Onyx has announced new tablets using Android but they don't seem to be available in the wild yet.

PocketBook out of Europe supposedly makes all sorts of e-ink Linux tablets, little, big, and waterproof; I'll be damned if I could tell you how to buy them though. Any evidence of purchasable shipped product I can find in English regards old models and dates from a couple of years ago.

Personally, I'm hoping the Earl GPS/walkie talkie Android tablet makes it out of vaporware.
Last edited by dayofthedaleks; 2nd May 2014 at 05:42 PM. Reason: Refined greyscale conversion description
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2nd May 2014, 06:10 PM   |  #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dayofthedaleks

Note that the most recent 4gb NSTglowlight lacks an SD slot and is thus more difficult to root.

Not so. Now that the development on USB booting has been done, it's trivial.
See: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...&postcount=373
2nd May 2014, 08:47 PM   |  #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renate NST

Not so. Now that the development on USB booting has been done, it's trivial.
See: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...&postcount=373

I stand corrected!
9th July 2014, 11:58 PM   |  #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dayofthedaleks

I stand corrected!

Consider the Onyx Boox T68. Similar specs to Kobo Aura HD, and it runs Android 4.04. A bit more expensive, but maybe what you're looking for.

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21st July 2014, 10:58 PM   |  #7  
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I echo the t68 comment. I got mine from Amazon a few weeks ago and it even shipped with prime shipping and was only $200. Totally worth it as an EReader. IDK of it would work for your purposes. But it comes with the play store and I haven't had any issues with it installing any app I've thrown at it.


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