My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived – What Should I Install on it?

illumina_big[1]At long last, my new ereader/tablet arrived. The Boyue T61 is a 6" ereader which runs Android 4.2 on a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, and 4GB internal storage.  It's the OEM version of the Illumina from Icarus, and it costs only half as much. It sports a 6" Pearl HD E-ink screen with a touchscreen, a (splotchy) frontlight, Wifi, a microSD card slot, a cover, and not much else. (It didn't even come with a retail box, but was packed in a plain styrofoam box.)

This nifty device arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday, but I held off from writing this post because I wanted to get a few things done first. Alas, neither worked, so there was no reason to delay.

boyue t61

What should I do next?

As per a reader request, I am opening up the floor to suggestions for what I should install on it. I last tried this with the Onyx Boox T68, and that post came out well. This post will probably not have as much success.

While I am open to request for apps to install, I also have to add a caveat. My Boyue T61 does not an appstore. I did install both Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, but neither has successfully connected to their respective servers.

I'm not sure what the problem is, and I am stalled at the moment. But I haven't given up, and I plan to keep working on this issue over the holiday weekend.

So far -

It's a cute little device, but I am glad I didn't spend more than $99 on it. It's pretty fast and the software seems to be running well, but the frontlight is noticeably splotchy - like 2012 era Kindle Paperwhite splotchy.  Newer ereaders like the 2013 KPW and the Onyx Boox t68 have a much more even frontlight.

When I combine the frontlight and the lack of an app store, I am really glad that I didn't spend any extra to buy the rebranded model from Icarus.

So what should I do next?

About Nate Hoffelder (11371 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

78 Comments on My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived – What Should I Install on it?

  1. Well, if the browser works, you could try this gray-ish website to download apks from Google Play:
    http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/

    Then I’d go to town with the usual suspects:
    Kindle
    Nook
    Kobo
    FbReader
    Coolreader or Coolreader GL
    Aldiko
    Moon Reader
    Repligo
    Kingsoft Office

  2. “The frontlight is noticeably splotchy” Darn shame!!

    Like to see:
    Feedly
    Calibre Companion

  3. Does it have a no-refresh mode?
    How low does the front-light go? Is the splotchiness less evident in higher ambient light environments?

    • The frontlight turns all the way off, but what you really want to know is that the lowest is quite dim (unlike the frontlight on the T68 Lynx). The blotchiness is noticeable no matter the lighting conditions, whether the frontlight is set low or high or of the ambient lighting is bright or dim.

      Edit: And I don’t see any way to change the refresh mode. It’s not in any of the settings menus.

      • The refresh mode is supposed to be automatic – I’ve seen videos that show smooth scrolling with the Illumina version.

  4. Do the page turn buttons work with Coolreader and Aireader?

    • If the page turn buttons don’t work with Alreader, you can always talk to the developer and ask him to add support for it, he’s very receptive to such requests.

    • Coolreader – check (page turns buttons on both sides work, but are reversed)

      Alreader installed but I am having trouble reading the menus. I haven’t figured out how to open an ebook. They are mostly not legible on an E-ink screen, and what I can see looks ugly.

      But this app did open an ebook and the page buttons work.

  5. The blotchy frontlight is likely a quality control/sample variance thing, much as the early Paperwhites.
    Still…
    Can you turn the light off completely?
    Would it be acceptable as a non-lit reader?

    • The light turns off all the way, yes. And the frontlight also survived the key drop test.

    • In my opinion, the blotchy front-light is just an indicator that the manufacturer uses inferior (and cheaper) components. The front light technology is advanced enough so that even Chinese manufacturers like Onyx (I’m not talking about whoever manufactures the devices for Amazon/Kobo) have very good lighting on their new devices. So, if a new device has exceptionally bad frontlight, it’s a bad sign for the overall quality of the components.

  6. I would like to see:

    Kindle
    Scribd
    Oyster

  7. How about InoReader and Swapps?

    • Both installed, but I don’t have an Inoreader account so the best I could do was confirm that that app ran.

      What is Swapps supposed to do, exactly? The Google Play description suggests it is an app drawer, but it doesn’t seem to be working on the T61’s home screen.

      • I liked Swapps when I had my T68 because it is good since there isn’t a recent apps button. You can set favorite apps and widgets, recent apps, and all apps to come up with a swipe from within any app. You choose where to swipe within settings. The reader apps can’t be in full screen so you need to tap in the center first. I think it worked from the T68 home screen, but try from other apps too.

  8. Install a text editor such as Jota+. Select, cut, copy and paste text. How fiddly is it? Is it comparable to the Onyx?

    Also, when you’re typing on the keyboard, how slow is the response? Obviously it will be slow with e-ink. Again, how does it compare to the Onyx.

  9. About availability: Where did you buy this? Are there ways to get this in Europe? I’m interested in an Illumina and wouldn’t mind getting it for half the price by installing Icarus software on the Boyue. About screen refresh issues: Isn’t there a dedicated hardware button that refreshes the e-Ink screen?

  10. Can you please post some more pictures of your device? I’d like to see how Scribd, Moon Reader look on it, how book pages display, and also I’d like a better look at the lighting.

    • I’m not sure that posting photos of the reading apps would be of much use; all the better ones offer so many options that no single photo would help.

      But I did post a set of 5 photos showing the various light levels. Here’s the first one; the next button should take you through the rest:
      http://the-digital-reader.com/?attachment_id=72109

      The lowest settings are hard to see, even when I photographed them with with limited lighting conditions (sunlight from an unshaded window). But they are noticeable in dim lighting or darkness.

      Edit: And here is a second set of photos taken in pitch darkness. The lowest setting is quite dim, but still usable IMO:
      http://the-digital-reader.com/?attachment_id=72117

  11. Is the font darker than the T68 in the reading apps? In Moon+ I needed to use a semi bold to read easily.

    Also, I have seen videos of the Kindle app that showed how much better it worked on the T61 – scrolling was smoother and page turns seemed much cleaner. Is that the case on yours as well?

  12. Some of my more common apps that I’d run on it:
    Evernote
    Dropbox
    1Password Reader

    And have you gotten the Google Play or Amazon App Store working with the new firmware?

    • Google Play still fails to register my login details, but I’m glad that you reminded me to try the Amazon Appstore. That works now (perhaps because I registered the Kindle app first).

      The other 3 apps installed okay. I’ve downloaded a couple files from my Dropbox account and added a note to my Evernote account.

  13. I had a request for office apps. Now that I have access to the Amazon Appstore I can test the apps I already own.

    Docs2Go – check
    QuickOffice Pro HD for Tablets – check
    OfficeSuite Pro 7 – check

    They all worked, including both in letting me type quickly and highlight and edit words. The text was small, but all 3 apps let me zoom in and then scroll around the page.

  14. PDFs:

    Amazon has at one point or another given away at least a half dozen PDF apps, but they say that only RepliGo is compatible with the Boyue t61.

    RepliGo was my preferred PDF app for the T68 Lynx, and it worked well on the Boyue t61 – including with the 800 MB PDF I used to test the Adobe Reader app.

    • It is my preferred pdf viewer on android. Period.

      Oh, and Amazon has WPS Office.
      It’s main virtue is its touch-focused GUI. Should work well on eink.

  15. have you tried any browsers?

  16. Looks like they raised the price recently

  17. Hi,
    I’m waiting for the T62 – 8Gb (the T61 was out of stock and pricier than the T62 😉 )
    Can you try to install pocket? That’s the reason I buy it..

    Thanks.

  18. So what are your thoughts, Nate? Is it workable enough for a $99 eInk Android tablet? Or should we spend more to get a better one? T68?

    • I love the larger screen on the T68, but that device does cost twice as much and offers less space for installing apps.

      I’m not sure the T61 will suit everyone but yes, it is a workable option.

  19. Could you try Overdrive, and, if you have a library card to one of their libraries, try to download an audiobook and an ebook?

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