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

My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived - What Should I Install on it? e-Reading Hardware Open Topic 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.

My Boyue T61 E-ink Android Tablet Arrived - What Should I Install on it? e-Reading Hardware Open Topic

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?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. 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.

78 Comments

  1. fjtorres30 August, 2014

    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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      Note: I can’t find a link for Repligo or Kingsoft Office.

      Important Note: I installed all of these apps at the same time, without running out of space. (The T68 Lynx would have run out of space about half way through.)

      Angry Birds – installed, but it won’t run
      Aldiko (free) – check
      FBReader – check
      Kindle – check
      Nook – check (left side page turn buttons work, and the Nook Books i downloaded show up in the main library menus)
      Moon+ – check (page turns buttons on both sides work)
      Kobo – check
      Google Play Books – installs, but I can’t get it to do anything
      Coolreader – check (page turns buttons on both sides work, but are reversed)
      Adobe Reader – check, worked okay with an 850MB PDF

      Reply
      1. fjtorres30 August, 2014

        Try this one:
        http://www.kingsoftstore.com/kingsoft-office-android

        I think it’s been renamed recently.

        Reply
      2. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

        For Moon+ how does highlighting a word and using the dictionary work? Or using Google or Wikipedia from the ‘More’ selection after highlighting?

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

          Highlighting works fine. I’m still waiting for the dictionary installed so I can confirm it works. And I don’t see anything under the More option; it’s just blank.

          Reply
          1. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

            Probably just the white on white issue.

      3. flo30 August, 2014

        Does “GP Books” mean Google Play Books? If not, could you try it, thanks!

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

          Yes. I’ll go change my comment.

          Reply
          1. flo30 August, 2014

            Are you using the latest firmware update provided by Icarus? (Users say it installs just fine on the Boyue T61 too)

          2. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

            No, I must have missed it.

            I’m downloading it now, and I will try to install the Google Play hack again after I have installed the update.

          3. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

            Okay, now that I’ve had my Illumina for a few hours I can really see the difference – and not entirely for the better.

            I think the device is slower after the update. But on the plus side it has a better keyboard, auto-suggests, and a slightly improved arrangement of icons (the file manager, for example now shows 6 icons on screen and not four).

            The reading app appears to be the same, and the update did not wipe any of the apps I had installed, which was what I was expecting.

          4. flo31 August, 2014

            Google Books still not working?

          5. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

            Nope.

          6. flo16 September, 2014

            Could you maybe try an older version of google books? Might the problem be related to the play store not being installed?

      4. Sheryl6 May, 2015

        If there is no app store where did you download these apps from? I am thinking of getting one so I can have all my reading apps on 1 device.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder6 May, 2015

          I downloaded the apps to my PC using this website.
          http://apps.evozi.com/apk-downloader/

          After I had the install files, I copied them on to the Android device over USB, and used a file manager to install them.

          Reply
  2. Anthony30 August, 2014

    “The frontlight is noticeably splotchy” Darn shame!!

    Like to see:
    Feedly
    Calibre Companion

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      Since I am using the trick mentioned above, CC is outside my reach (it’s a paid app).

      Feedly installed and I signed in. It’s showing my latest new posts just fine.

      Reply
      1. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

        You should be able to use the Raccoon desktop client for paid apps – see this post http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2898167

        Reply
  3. TheGreatFilter30 August, 2014

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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
      1. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

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

        Reply
  4. TheGreatFilter30 August, 2014

    Do the page turn buttons work with Coolreader and Aireader?

    Reply
    1. Leonid30 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
    2. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
      1. TheGreatFilter30 August, 2014

        Touch the center of the screen, Open Book, Open File. Best that I’ve found.

        Reply
  5. fjtorres30 August, 2014

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

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

      Reply
      1. fjtorres30 August, 2014

        So you might think of it as a non-lit reader that may or not come with a usable frontlight…

        Reply
    2. Leonid30 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
      1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

        I would bet that Boyue is using leftover components from 2012 – or perhaps they bought the ones which failed QA.

        In any case, frontlights are a solved problem. It shouldn’t look like this.

        Reply
      2. TheGreatFilter30 August, 2014

        We should remember this is half the price of the Onyx. It seems like a good deal for $99.

        Reply
  6. Tammy30 August, 2014

    I would like to see:

    Kindle
    Scribd
    Oyster

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      Kindle – check
      Oyster – installed, and opened
      Scribd – installed, and opened

      Reply
  7. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

    How about InoReader and Swapps?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder30 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
      1. Purple Lady30 August, 2014

        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.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

          Thank you! It works.

          Now that I know that it is a pop-out menu with an invisible tab (and how to trigger it), I can confirm that it does work on the T61 in both the homescreen and at least a couple apps.

          I agree, this is a useful app.

          Reply
        2. TheGreatFilter31 August, 2014

          Sounds good. Might try it on a Nook.

          Reply
  8. TheGreatFilter30 August, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

      Jota+ installed, but it kept telling me to go to Google Play and then kicking me out.

      The stock Notepad app is simple but it works great. The keyboard and screen respond faster than I can type. It has the auto-complete found on most Android devices, but the stock app doesn’t have a dictionary, copy-paste or much in the way of features.

      Reply
      1. Purple Lady31 August, 2014

        Can you try installing Jota+ using the Raccoon desktop client for paid apps – see this post http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2898167 . I’d like to see if that fixes the Google Play issue. You need to use your Google Play account to download apps using Racoon, so hopefully it will fix the issue.

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

          I just tried the Raccoon desktop client. It won’t run for me.

          Reply
          1. Purple Lady31 August, 2014

            What OS do you use?

          2. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

            Win7 on a Lenovo laptop.

      2. TheGreatFilter31 August, 2014

        Text Warrior is old and works on 2.1. It has a good text editing facility. Basically it will show how sensitive the screen is when it comes to manipulating text. But I’d expect the sensitive to be the same as other e-readers.

        Reply
  9. Menelic31 August, 2014

    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?

    Reply
      1. fjtorres1 September, 2014

        Congratulations! You drove enough traffic to them they raised the price by 30%. 😀

        Reply
        1. Feda2 September, 2014

          They sure did raise the price of T61 but they lowered the price of T62 which has double the memory and supports audio for $117.00

          Reply
          1. Nate Hoffelder2 September, 2014

            I’m still seeing the $99 price for the T61.

          2. Feda2 September, 2014

            The price for me is $128.99 for T61

  10. Anne31 August, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

      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

      Reply
  11. Purple Lady31 August, 2014

    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?

    Reply
  12. Patrick31 August, 2014

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
  13. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  14. Nate Hoffelder31 August, 2014

    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.

    Reply
    1. fjtorres31 August, 2014

      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.

      Reply
  15. greg oire1 September, 2014

    have you tried any browsers?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder1 September, 2014

      I just did. I got the following apps via the trick mentioned in the very first comment. They all installed, booted, and loaded my website. Opera Mini installed but did not boot.

      Chrome – check
      Opera – check
      Maxthon – check
      Dolphin – check
      Firefox – check

      Did I miss one?

      Reply
      1. greg oire2 September, 2014

        none that i know of. thanks
        are they usuable or constantly flashing etc?

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder2 September, 2014

          They’re perfectly usable.

          Reply
  16. Name (required)1 September, 2014

    Looks like they raised the price recently

    Reply
  17. Rui Patrão1 September, 2014

    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.

    Reply
  18. Patrick1 September, 2014

    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?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder1 September, 2014

      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.

      Reply
  19. Scott1 September, 2014

    Could you try Bible by Logos Bible Software?
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.logos.androidlogos&hl=en

    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder1 September, 2014

      It installed, but I forgot my login info. I’m still waiting for the reset email.

      Reply
  20. Xendula2 September, 2014

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

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 September, 2014

      OverDrive works. I don’t have a valid library card any more, though.

      Reply
      1. mensi8 September, 2014

        what kind of dictionary is preinstalled or can i installed to epub books?

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder8 September, 2014

          None, or at least it doesn’t seem to be working.

          Reply
      2. mensi8 September, 2014

        what about the handwriting?

        Reply
        1. Nate Hoffelder8 September, 2014

          I don’t think handwriting is a supported annotation option.

          Reply
          1. mensi9 September, 2014

            for dictionary if someone can install QuickDic dictionary by google play or alternative.?

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