The Reader2 tablet is the second of recent tablets launched by eMatic, a small gadget company. It looks to have been originally designed by another company (Rockchips would be my guess), with eMatic importing it into the US.
This is a cheap 7″ Android tablet, and it’s running v2.1 Froyo on a 1GHz CPU. As you can see it has a basic tablet shape with slots and ports on the lower edge, a speaker on the back, power button in the bottom left corner and the 4 buttons to the right of the screen.
- cheap ($99 retail)
- marginal build quality
- buggy software
- poor battery life
- poor touchscreen
The eGlide Reader2 is one of those crossover tablet designs. For the most part it is a tablet, but it also has some details of an ebook reader. That’s where the 4 buttons to the right of the screen came from. Two are page turn buttons and the other 2 are the standard Android back and home buttons.
The overall feel of the tablet is about what I expected for a cheap tablet. That’s not a criticism; the tablet feels fine. But there are a couple of hardware details that are disappointing. For example, the microSD card slot is poorly mounted. Somehow I managed to insert my card into the case while completely missing the slot (that’s something I’ve never seen before). Luckily I was able to get a pair of tweezers and pull it out again before it was permanently lost inside the case.
And then there is the touchscreen. This is a truly junky touchscreen. It does not like fingertips nor does it work well with a stylus. I’ve used a lot of touchscreens, and no matter what I did to change how I pressed the screen I still could not get it to work consistently. Even after I calibrated the touchscreen I still saw a high number of mis-hit keys. And they’re not my fault; the issue persisted after I switched to a stylus.
The Reader2 is specced at 22 hours music or 9 hours of reading. Unfortunately, I never got to use it that long. There have been several mornings that I picked up the Reader2 and found the battery almost drained overnight.
This tablet looks to have the same battery life issue as the eGlide Reader Pro that I reviewed a couple weeks back. It looks to me like neither tablet has an actual sleep mode; when you press the power button you merely turn off the screen. The tablet is still running down the battery.
Video & Audio
The Reader2 comes with a fairly good audio video players. It can play background music while you are using other apps. The sound quality was acceptable, considering that it had just the one cheap speaker on the back. But the one speaker also wasn’t very loud, not even when I cupped my hand. This is definitely a tablet that needs headphones.
The tablet came with a number of sample videos (480×854). They played fine without dropped frames or visual artifacts. The image quality was decent for cheap Android tablets (an IPS screen this is not). I don’t have anything with a higher resolution at the moment so I couldn’t push the abilities. Unfortunately I could not play my usual test video on Youtube; the Reader2 won’t play the video in the browser (and the Youtube app wouldn’t install).
I covered the stock apps in my first impressions post, so here I’ll just discuss trying to install apps. I got the Amazon Apstore to install okay, but I’ve had to repeatedly go back and reenter my log in info in the Appstore app. I also got some unexplained errors when trying to install the Youtube app. Angry birds eventually managed to install, and it runs slowly.
I also had a mysterious error while trying to read ebooks in the Kindle app. It told me to delete the ebook and download it again. I did, and the problem persisted. BTW, I’ve seen a similar problem on other tablets with a Rockchip CPU (including the eGlide Reader Pro). I generally take this as a sign that there is a problem in the original firmware that some single developer is using on multiple devices.
Given the numerous other issues with this tablet I’m not sure that this section is worth writing. But for the sake of completeness-
The eGlide Reader2 comes with both the Kobo app and a stock reading app. The stock app supports Adobe DE DRM, and it reads Epub, PDF, and an number of other formats. It’s workable, and it has a nice minimum set of features ( 5 font sizes, TOC support, bookmarks). But it also a faux page curl, and I hate that. PDF support is okay, but the app only supports 5 zoom levels and does not reflow the PDF. A standard 8.5×11 PDF is readable on the 1.25 zoom setting. You can also zoom in closer and then swipe your way around the screen. The zoom will persist after you turn the page.
The Kobo app is their usual Android app. It had a lot of features, including a night reading mode, both serif and san-serif fonts, a slider bar of font sizes annotation, and a special menu just for the highlights and notes. BTW, the page turn buttons don’t work with the Kobo app; that’s a limitation of the app.
The stock reading app was actually nicer to use than the Kobo app because of the page turn buttons. It was easy to keep my thumb wedged below the next page button and then shift it up ever so sightly to tun the page. The stock app will also accept screen taps ans swipes for age turns, which is nice.
I was expecting a cheap Android tablet that would be underpowered for most activities but still work okay for use as an ebook reader and for light web browsing.
The low price of this Android tablet is reflected in its poor build quality.The builders scrimped on everything from the touchscreen to how much they paid the programmers. I believe there are better options out there.
I have the spec sheet here.
- 1GHz CPU
- Android v2.1
- 7″ (800×480) LCD screen
- resistive touchscreen
- 4GB Flash
- microSD card slot
- ebook format support: ePub, TXT, PDF, MOBI, LRC-FB2, RTF, HTML, PDB
- audio/video support: MP3, WMA, FLAC, AAC, OGG, MPG, RMVB, WMV, WAV, MP4, AVI, FLV, ASF, 3GP, RM, DAT