Review: Hanlin A6 – Sipix screen
So one of the swag I brought home from CES this year was a brand new, just announced ereader from Tianjin Jinke, a Chinese ereader maker. It’s the Hanlin A6, and they announced the model that week.
The unit I have is the OEM model, so when it shows up on the market it might not have exactly the same hardware or software. BTW, a close relative of the A6 is now being sold in India as the Wink. I don’t believe it has the same screen, though.
There’s a video showing some of the features of the A6 embedded at the end of the post.
The A6 is a Kindle clone based on the new 6” Sipix screen. Like all ereaders with this screen, it also has a capacitive touchscreen and Wifi. (You can’t do much with it, though.) On the upper edge is the power button and SD card slot and on the lower edge is a headphone jack and USB port (also used for charging). There is a pair of volume buttons on the right edge and 2 speakers as well as a SIM card slot (behind a panel) on the back. I don’t think my unit has a cell modem, though, I believe that slot is intended to support one of the DRM systems used in China.
Below the screen are 5 shortcut buttons (home, font size, bookmark, menu, back) and a keyboard. In general, this is a decent design. The buttons are big enough and spaced far enough apart so I can quickly type out a note. It’s a lot better than the Kindle’s keyboard. Like the Kindle, though, the A6 is missing the number buttons. But you can access them with the alt key so it’s not that important.
The A6 is an ereader, of course, but it also has a built-in bookstore, email client, RSS feed reader, mp3 player, and the option of installing 3rd party apps. The only app I have is a basic notepad, though.
I don’t think the email client is worth the bother because Jinke still need to get the screen refresh straightened out. There are times where I switch from one field to the next while writing an email and I have to wait for the whole screen to refresh.
The RSS reader, on the other hand, shows some promise. It looks like I should be able to import a set of RSS feeds which means I won’t have to type them in one at a time. I say “should” because I tried to import my set of 1k RSS feeds and it crashed. That’s okay; it was more than you could reasonably expect to work.
The MP3 player is an MP3 player, and yes you can play background music while reading.
The reading app isn’t all that impressive. It has 5 font sizes, bookmarks, and you can add a text note. But there’s a lot it can’t do. It can jump to a page but it doesn’t support the external TOC for Epub. It really does a poor job with images, almost to the point where they’re unusable. That was a surprise; everyone else seems to have figured it out a long time ago.
Settings & Options
My unit came with 9 fonts, 26 language options, and 2 options for screen refresh (full or fast). There’s also a browser setting menu, which is rather odd considering it doesn’t have a browser.
The reading experience is okay, but the page turn speed was rather slow. By itself this is a decent ereader. But when you compare it to the rest of the market, it’s rather expensive and doesn’t have features to justify its cost.
I also think that someone is going to have to fix the image rendering. It’s atrocious.
I’m really disappointed, though, that the A6 doesn’t use the touchscreen more. There’s no drawing app nor can you add a scribbled note. This is a shortcoming shared with most ereaders, unfortunately. I don’t know why most of these devices even have them. I think only Sony bothered to actually make use of the touchscreen.