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Icarus Launches Updated Illumina eReader with Android 4.2, Dual-Core CPU

illumina_big[1]eBook readers which run Android are nothing new, but today I came across one which made my heart skip a beat.

The Dutch ereader retailer Icarus has unveiled an updated version of their Illumina  HD ereader. Initially launched last fall, the Illumina  HD sported a 6″ Pearl HD E-ink screen with frontlight and touchscreen. The new model launching today sports a sleaker, slimmer design with fewer buttons and runs Android 4.2 on a 1GHz dual-core CPU.

If you’re having trouble breathing right now, you’re not alone. The new Illumina  HD is an excellent candidate for the title of best E-ink Android tablet.

This ereader has a 6″ Pearl E-ink display, and not the Carta screen found on a few ereaders at the moment. It has both a frontlight and a touchscreen, and on either side of the screen it has page turn buttons. Crack open the case and you’ll find a 1GHz dual-core CPU with 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, and Wifi.

The Illumina  HD ships with a reading app which supports Epub, PDF, FB2, and Mobi. It runs Android 4.2, and while there’s no mention of Google Play the product listing does say that:

It comes with several apps pre-installed and you can even install your own apps, from your favorite reading app to social media or productivity apps.

The Illumina  HD does ship with several apps, including a file manager, Dropbox, a web browser and an email client.

The Illumina  HD might not have sound or the best screen on the market, but it does have a better CPU and run a newer version of Android than any other ereader on the market. This is my leading candidate for the title of E-ink Android tablet, and I can’t wait to get my hands on one.

It is up for pre-order from Icarus for 119 euros plus shipping, and yes you can get it shipped internationally. It’s scheduled to ship on 24 July.

Are you planning to get one?

Update: I am not. Cooler heads than mine have convinced me that I should take the negative reviews posted to MobileRead seriously. Several people have commented on devices made by Boyue (the Chinese OEM which licensed the design to Icarus). When you add the reviews to the poor service I am getting from Icarus, I think the new Illunina HD is not worth getting.

Icarus Store

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Geert July 15, 2014 um 3:55 pm

According to the Dutch website there is no Google Play store, but you are allowed to install APK files.

Fbone July 15, 2014 um 4:06 pm

Website mentions it plays music. No dictionary unless it allows you to install one.
Doesn’t let me add to cart.

Nate Hoffelder July 15, 2014 um 4:09 pm

I didn’t see a mention of music or audio formats in the product listing; where do you see it?

And I can’t get the store to work either. I’ve already complained to Icarus.

Fbone July 15, 2014 um 4:11 pm

Under specifications. No formats are listed which is strange, though.

Nate Hoffelder July 15, 2014 um 4:18 pm

Is it possible for you to provide a link?

I ask because I don’t see the word music in the "Specificaties" section. We might be looking at different pages.

Fbone July 15, 2014 um 7:20 pm

I clicked on the product and under Specifications I see:

Image viewer Yes
Music player Yes
Video player No
RSS reader No
Notepad No
Sketch bloc No

drfi July 15, 2014 um 5:26 pm

Where did you find the info that it has a two-core CPU? Also, the second link looks like it should rather be this one:

Nate Hoffelder July 15, 2014 um 5:29 pm

Thanks for pointing out the bad link!

I found the detail about the CPU cores on the product page on the retail site I linked to.

Anne July 15, 2014 um 5:34 pm

I am eagerly awaiting your review.

dfiohg July 15, 2014 um 5:35 pm

OK, now found the CPU info on Icarus' web site. I hate it, when some details are listed only in places where I don’t look first. Stupid Icarus!

And I probably won’t buy one. The first edition’s software seems to have been bad enough to wait for reports on this new one first.

Carlo de Kok July 16, 2014 um 3:49 am

Dear all,

on behalf of the ICARUS team I want to thank everyone for their comments. We had some issues in the shop section of our website, but everything should be fixed now.

Regarding the questions:
– the new Illumina does not support music files (the previous Illumina HD did)
– the user interface is completely overhauled
– there is no Google Play installed; you install apps by copying APK files to the reader and installing them there

Kind regards,
Carlo de Kok
ICARUS Support

Name Required July 16, 2014 um 8:14 am

Yes, I would love to get one. As for the plans … well, unfortunately [evil grin here] my current device works almost perfectly and was relatively expensive, so it would be difficult to justify a new one. There are quite a few items at the top of my whilst fighting for my limited budget.
Tools for my shop, an SSD disk for speedier Calibre database, more RAM (for Calibre again), cool Android e-ink devices, inkphone (IF it is ever available again), InkCase …

If this had 5 inch screen and a lid like my beloved PocketBook 360 had, I would have already pre-ordered one 😉

Leonid July 16, 2014 um 11:13 am

It’s not super clear to me why you’re so excited…
This is just another re-branded cheap Chinese device (see . These Chinese devices tend to get worse quality components (screen, frontlight…) and not the best assembly.

Why do you prefer this to the Onyx Boox T68, for example (which is also Chinese, but comes from a company with slightly higher quality standards)? Only because it’s running Android 4.2 and not 4.0.4? Even on paper, it has a smaller screen, no audio, a smaller resolution and no bluetooth. I also doubt it has USB Host capabilities.

All in all – just another Chinese Android device. Nothing to be excited about.

Nate Hoffelder July 16, 2014 um 11:21 am

I lust after the dual-core CPU in the Icarus device.

Thanks for the link to AliExpress; I hadn’t found the OEM yet.

Leonid July 16, 2014 um 11:24 am

Why is the dual core so important for you (in an e-ink ebook reader)? The bottleneck would probably still be the display and the display controller and not the CPU. My guess is that if you compare its speed/responsiveness to the other readers on the market you will not see lots of difference (at least not for the best).

Nate Hoffelder July 16, 2014 um 11:32 am

I want a dual-core CPU in my ereader for the same reason I want one in my tablet: it improves behind the scenes performance. With a dual-core CPU I can have Feedly, several reading apps, gmail, and other apps all running in the background.

Leonid July 16, 2014 um 11:34 am

From my understanding of Android, the apps are not "running" in the background (unless they are services). Their state is being stored in the memory and restored when they are brought into foreground. So you need to be looking for a device with more memory rather than with a better CPU.

TheGreatFilter July 17, 2014 um 3:13 pm

Sorry, Nate, but you got pwned there. Leonid sounds like an Onyx salesman but he makes some good points.

Re: the BOYUE T61, it receives mixed reviews. Good, as long as it keeps working, otherwise you’re screwed.

Nate Hoffelder July 17, 2014 um 3:34 pm

There’s one review of Boyue T61 there, which isn’t really enough to go on.

But I think I’m going to pass on this device anyway (and revise my post). I’m really not liking how Icarus runs their operation, and I don’t want to give them my money.

Nate Hoffelder August 29, 2014 um 9:11 pm

So my new Boyue t61 arrived earlier this week:

André September 13, 2014 um 7:04 am

Root: check
Google Apps (like Play Services/Store/Books) : check

Ideal Android eReader this way 🙂

Non-root appstore: Aptoide.

Nate Hoffelder September 13, 2014 um 8:54 am

I saw that, yes – after I was most of the way finished with the review.

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