New Trick: Sony Reader Wifi has a Hidden Partial Refresh Mode

While I was busy recovering from CES this weekend, one Sony Reader owner discovered  neat little trick.

It turns out that there’s a hidden screen refresh mode. Instead of the entire screen refreshing at once, the new mode allows for partial screen refreshes.  This isn’t going to be all that useful to a stock Sony Reader Wifi, but I would hope that you have already hacked your device.

And it is a trick. This isn’t something that you can enable in a menu; you have to be using the default web browser and catch it at just the right time.

You can enable the partial refresh mode by opening the web browser and using  pinch-zoom. Right after you do that, and before it has a chance to do  full screen refresh, select the pull down menu from the top of the screen. If you’re quick enough then you should be able to keep the mode when you exit and open another app.

BTW, don’t go back to Sony’s home screen or the stock reading app. This will kick you out of the partial refresh mode.

I’ve set aside my Sony Reader Wifi for the past few weeks while I reviewed other devices, and I cannot wait to get back to it. Underneath Sony’s reading app lies Android v2.2 Froyo, and it only takes a simple hack to access it. Once you do, you’ll have an Android tablet with a 6″ E-ink screen, Wifi, microSD card slot,and limited support for third party apps (not enough room). I’ve taken to showing the Sony Reader Wifi off as my new Kindle.

And now that I have this partial refresh mode, it’s going to get a lot better.

via MobileRead

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. fjtorres16 January, 2012

    There is a whole community building around the rooted T1.
    Lots of useful mods are already out with more coming…

    For the adventurous, there is:
    – a simple way to change the “recently added” section of the Sony home screen to “recently read”
    – a tweaked Sony reader app that fixes the italic/bold issue with the alternate fonts
    – a tweak to move (some) installed apps to the external SD card
    – a more elaborate process to increase app-install space
    – a tweak that exposes an app launcher built-in to the stock Sony Home screen
    – at least two alternate homescreens, one that keeps the Sony look and feel and extends it, the other replaces it
    And more.

    This particular tweak makes screen refresh in some reading apps effectively instantaneous and while, as pointed out, running a stock app will restore full refresh, the trick survive multiple sleep cycles so if you read in the Kindle App or Coolreader, you need not see a black flash ever.

    There is a price.
    It looks as if it drops to pure B&W; icons in Zeam launcher and the Coolreader control panel become almost useless blobs.
    Text quality in apps varies: Coolreader goes from laser-like sharp to slightly jaggie, Kindle Drop caps vanish, and Aldiko becomes unreadable.

    It has its uses.

    In general, the tweaks all together raise on big question: “Considering Sony is a hardware vendor and the stock reader is already open to competing ebookstore, why not enable the built-in app launcher in the stock app and sell it as a Sony Sanctioned open Tablet?”

    The rooting hack is trivial and wasn’t impacted by the recent (and atypical, for Sony) firmware update so Sony could save us all the need to track down these hacks and just sell the T1 as an eink Android Tablet with bundled Sony Reader.

    Me, I’m not running risks with my T1. 😉
    All I’ve done is root it…
    …and Install Kindle reader 3.2…
    …Aldiko 2.0…
    And, of course Coolreader3.
    Nook and Audible install and run fine but I had to Triage them out.

    Other than wishing for a bit more app-install space and that the Homescreen and content manager apps were more useful for alternate reader Apps (fixes look like they’re coming) I see no need to get down and dirty to turn a T1 into the closest thing to a universal reader.

    Not bad for Sony’s first attempt in ages to compete on *value* rather than on brand loyalty.

    1. cookie16 January, 2012


      The method for extending app space using Link2SD discussed at the Wifi works fine. Google Market must run on the internal sdcard, but I have Link2SD to automatically install new apps to the SDcard.

      An eInk reader like this is not complete unless you have a RSS reader installed and Gmail!

      Some of the others I have include:

      Amazon app store
      Google Market
      Flashcards Buddy Pro
      Google Finance
      Google Maps
      Ivona Text To Speech and couple voice packages
      gReader Pro
      Battery Indicator
      Button Savior Pro (floating button allows quick access to Sony Reader’s dictionary app)
      Android Music
      Amazon Kindle
      Aldiko Premium
      JustReader (Superior to gReader pro, and you can specify BOLD for the text, which offsets the bad effect from the Refresh trick)

      In addition to those apps, I have web browser shortcuts to three different Calibre libraries I have running as separate services.

      Now get a steppin!

      1. cookie16 January, 2012

        S/B discussed at the Wiki, not Wifi.

      2. fjtorres16 January, 2012

        I just need a reader! 🙂
        Kindle+Coolreader+Aldiko’s OPDS is all I really need.
        The modded Homescreen would be nice but I can make do as is.
        If I could get custom OPDS working on Coolreader I might even ditch Aldiko.
        Right now, the rooted T1 does what my PB360 does plus it runs Kindle. There’s my value equation for this toy.
        Using the browser to check my email is just gravy.
        The TTS and the other things are cool but I have no use for them.

        My current project on the T1 is making a case for it out of a DVD case. 😉

        1. cookie16 January, 2012

          Hmmm, not sure I believe you. I think like the rest of us, you want a multipurpose tablet that combines the best qualities of E-ink devices with an Android Tablet. Of course the Sony isn’t it it, but I can take this device to a coffee shop with me, and not miss my android tablet too much.

          1. fjtorres17 January, 2012

            Sorry, no.
            My T1 is all about the ebooks.
            For other portability stuff I have the *color* Pocketbook IQ.
            I tried using it as a reader for a while but its too heavy for extended sessions. (Oh, my achin’ pinkie!)

  2. AJ17 January, 2012

    Not sure about you, but my T1 is running Android 2.2.1 Froyo?

    1. Nate Hoffelder17 January, 2012

      You’re right. I blame CES; I have Gingerbread on the brain.

  3. […] you have to see it to believe it.If you ask me, that is faster than the Sony trick I showed you a month ago. It’s even faster than anything that Bookeen has shown us.What’s even more amazing is […]


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