For the first time in a very long while, a new review unit has crossed my desk.
Update: This post combines both an introduction and first look, as well as a more in depth review posted on 11 September.
The InkBook Lumos from Arta Tech is an odd little beast. With a price tag of $100 (at Amazon), the Lumos is intended to be a competitor to the basic Kindle, and it has its strengths. It runs Android 4.2 on a dual-core CPU, and it has a color-changing frontlight as well as a card slot, but it also has its weaknesses.
The Lumos has a low-resolution 800 x 600 E-ink screen and is limited to only 512 RAM, which means that even though you can install your own Android apps, they're not going to run fast or look as god as they would on better Android ereaders. (There's also no Google Play, but that was to be expected for low-cost device.)
I can live with the screen (it's the same resolution as on the basic Kindle) but the RAM shortfall has proven to be a serious issue.
Arta Tech makes it easy to install the Kindle app (it takes just two clicks) but that doesn't really help any because I can't run the Kindle app. It crashes the first three times I ran it, and once I managed to log in, the app struggled to even show me my library.
I'm going to half to test this further, but what I have seen so far is not encouraging. Half the value of an Android ereader is installing Android apps, so if I can't install apps then this might as well be a basic ereader that runs Linux rather than Android.
If you read its specs you would think that the Lumos's selling points include a color-shifting frontlight and the option of installing reading apps on Android 4.2.2, and that its chief weakness was an 800 x 600 screen resolution.
That's what the specs would tell you, but real life use has shown me that the screen resolution isn't a problem (I didn't even notice) but the software is.
I spent a couple weeks reading on the Lumos. I really got into the first book in a series, so I kept reading the second and third installments on the Lumos. With most ereaders that would be a strong recommendation, but with the Lumos those 3 books instead gave me enough time to truly appreciate the ereader's shortcomings.
The Lumos runs a buggy and unstable reading app that kept crashing when it wasn't getting stuck in a feedback loop of phantom touchscreen presses. Furthermore, I found that I could not get apps to run due to limited RAM (512 MB).
I also found myself frequently frustrated by the page turn buttons. There's a pair of buttons on either side of the screen, and they are too close together. I kept flipping back a page when I wanted to go forward. (To be fair, I realized while writing this review that I could have fixed this annoyance by changing the settings on the page turn buttons. Setting both buttons on the right to page forward would have been a good idea.)
The Lumos did have one small point in its favor, though; its frontlight was quite mild, and was actually nicer to use than the frontlight on Kobo devices. (I am still trying to get the frontlight on video; its range is so small that it's really hard to pick up.)
Conclusion: Buy something else. The Kobo Clara HD would be a good choice; it costs a little more but it has solid software and hardware.
- pleasantly mild frontlight color options ranging from blue-white to a soft yellow
- buggy and unstable
- outdated OS
- limited RAM, and limited support for Android apps
- CPU: 1GHz dual-core
- RAM: 512MB
- OS: Android 4.2
- Storage: 8GB, microSD card slot
- Screen: 800 x 600 E-ink display
- Touchscreen: Capacitive
- Frontlight: color-changing (but only to a light shade of orange)
- Battery: 2Ah
- Buttons: Home, Power, Page Turn (4)
- Connectivity: Wifi
- Dimensions: 159×114×9 mm
- Weight: 165 grams