The Illumina XL HD arrived today and I wanted to share my impressions.
This thing runs android 4.x and the initial setup is very straight forward. I just make the regional settings, connect to my WiFi and are good to go. My goal is solely to get HABpanel running, so I will focus on that and do not try much else. I will only try the Material theme (dark font on bright background) because everything else would not make sense on an e-paper display in my opinion. It just wouldn’t look good.
The built-in browser is a disappointment as HABpanel is next to unusable. Fortunately there is the Play Store. So I download Chrome, which goes quickly and without hassles. Chrome performs just like on the desktop in terms of rendering quality. Speed is an issue, but It’s absolutely doable. I am very surprised that there are zero issues with rendering. Glitches due to the e-paper display aside, which have nothing to do with chrome but are inherent to the e-paper technology.
The next surprise is that the controls respond very quickly. Switches react almost immediately, sliders are very responsive and usable. It just feels like on a desktop, minus the snappyness.
Switching panels is doable, although the sidepanel animation is not pleasing to the eyes. But again, that was to be expected.
So, from a technical point of view, I am surprised how well this reader performs.
There are a few “buts” coming up, so let’s get into those:
- My device has a fault with the background light in the upper right corner. As this is irrelevant for the purpose of this test I won’t include pictures.
- There is a maximum timeout of 30 mins before the Illumina goes into standby. Unfortunately even when connected to the charger. Waking up happens instantly, but Chrome exits full screen mode after waking up. Not good for a wall-mounting scenario.
- The contrast of the display could be better. I could have toyed around with CSS settings and whatnot, but I didn’t bother. So this is partly an issue with the technology and partly with the styles of HABpanel
- I can’t figure out how to get this thing into landscape mode. Quite naively I had expected it to have an orientation sensor, but not so. So I did all my tests in portrait mode.
Here are a few screenshots. Please bare in mind that I do not have that much time on my hands right now and that my HABpanels are work in progress (and I have just started). So there are only a few switches, sliders and dummy items on them. And unfortunately I can’t do videos or anything fancy right now. Sorry about that.
Unfortunately I will have to send the Illumina back. If only for the faulty background lighting. But the standby-timeout, portrait vs. landscape and other issues are showstoppers for me. It was worth a try for me, though. And I will now look into the possibility of getting an el cheapo LCD tablet.