atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2185: Aluratek Libre, first impressions

I haven't taken any pictures yet, but soon, soon....

First, it's small. It fits comfortably in the hand. The overall dimentsions of the thing make it just a bit bigger than my hand, but laying on my palm it is comfortably supported at all four corners. Weight seems dead on for its size, which is to say it is neither too heavy nor too light.

The display is, of course, easily legible. There is a slight iridescence at certain viewing angles, but it's pretty easily ignored. The display material isn't exactly e-paper (which looks just like slightly grey paper) but is more obviously an LCD. It's nonetheless a very good display with good contrast.

That's good, because I haven't found any way of adjusting the contrast.

The Borders version apparently does not include a 2 GB SD card. The 100 novels which it comes with are loaded into the thing's internal memory. I looked in vain throughout the packaging for the SD card, and found none; when I looked at the manual/pamphlet it did not list an SD card as part of the package contents. Oh well. I have the one I bought the other day; good thing I did buy it.

Turning pages is quick. It takes a second or two between pages but otherwise it's acceptable.

I had no trouble viewing PDFs of the Fungus on the thing. TXTs work. Word files (DOC format) do not, though I expected this. I haven't tried RTF yet, which is supposed to work.

I flipped through about 20-30 pages of Futari Ecchi and both art and text were crisp and legible. The thing can display some pretty fine print. (I guess I need bifocals.) The zoom function is a bit clunky, but it works well, if a little slower than I'd like. My own artwork displayed well, too.

Navigation is intuitive for a 97th percentile computer user like me. The user interface is simple; and with a little instruction even my 83-year-old mother could use it.

The battery charged to full capacity quickly: I fiddled with the thing a bit, then put it down to charge, and by the time I'd finished the last three eps on my anime playlist, it was fully charged. (It arrived as Petite Princess Yucie was beginning.)

MP3 player: ah, a downside.

...I couldn't get the thing to play anything. I couldn't get it to recognize more than one directory from the SD card of music I inserted, either. This might be my fault, but I'm not sure it is.

It's possible the thing expects to see MP3s with a certain bit rate, and that mine don't meet that standard; it could be something else.

I should at least be able to see more than the one directory on the card, even if it doesn't like the file format. I tried a different card and the reader found no files on that one. I don't know.

I set out to read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (one of the included novels) and I'm finding the reading experience to be appropriately book-like.

So: I'm going to have to fiddle around with getting more stuff onto the 4GB SD card I bought the other day.

The other problem I had with the unit will take some explanation, so it goes below an ellipsis.

* * *

The thing arrived, and I figured I'd dump stuff to the 4 GB card. Naturally the computer decided to fight me; it refused--flat-out refused--to recognize that I'd put an SD card into the reader. I removed it, plugged it back in; repeat; nothing. I blew out the reader with compressed air, tried again, multiple times, nothing. So I stuck the card in the Libre and plugged its USB cable in.

Explorer locked up.

Not right away; no. The device driver installed, the directories opened up, I created a folder for the Fungus archives; I told it to copy them and it copied three files...then stopped.

It sat there claming that it had "17 minutes 50 seconds remaining" for a good five minutes before I twigged to the fact that it had crashed, mid-copy. I canceled it, had to wait for Explorer to reboot, and then I tried again. This time I got about 15 files before the copy died, and when I canceled it, Explorer had to reboot again. This time, though, the destination window would not close. It wouldn't even close when I tried killing it via task manager.

Getting aggravated, I told the computer to shut down, and the shutdown hung at closing that goddamned window, so I killed the power entirely.

I plugged the SD card into my MP3 player and plugged the MP3 player into the USB port. I had no trouble copying files that way.

At this point I gave up fiddling with it, because I'd finally gotten stuff onto the SD card and wanted to see what it looked like on the Libre. I'll fiddle more later.

No idea if this is a problem with the Libre firmware, the drivers, Windows, or what. My workaround is acceptable. I'll figure out what the hell's wrong with the SD reader and fix it, and I won't have to worry about this nonsense any longer. Using the MP3 player as an SD card reader is usually faster anyway.

* * *

So: it arrived, and I'm happy, because it'll do everything I want it to do. I have a few minor problems, but nothing serious enough to give it a downcheck, and it's possible some of them will be fixed once I've used it for a while and know it better.

For $120 plus tax, you can't go wrong.

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