Technology

Hanvon WISEreader Review

Review 

The lower cost of the WISEreader is quite nice when compared with other similar devices. It’s a pretty good idea, considering that some of these devices can cost £150 to £300. Many people seem to be interested in carrying a library with them.

Hanvon WISEreader N516

With the WISEreader N516, you get a 5″ screen, 800×600 pixel resolution, and a 4:3 aspect ratio. This is just your average eInk device. It is lithium ion powered and it uses PDF formats and EPUB. You can display TXT, GIF, JPEG, HTML, & DOC files in a portrait or landscape orientation.

The Hanvon WISEreader N516’s pakage includes a 2GB Secure Digital card, but a 32GB card can be substituted. This would seem to be entirely unnecessary because each book only uses a few megabytes. You’d be unlikely to prefer to use a memory card that might easily be lost (along with all of the titles you have invested in). The same principle applies, even if you load it with non-copyrighted, open source materials.

For listening with the Hanvon WISEreader N516, you will find a small speaker at the base. You can also use headphones with a jack that supports MP3 playback. Currently, the Hanvon WISEreader N516’s audio appears to be a design novelty. Hanvon readers are nicely built. The backside of the Hanvon WISEreader N516 is slip- and scratch-resistant. This is a lot better than the back of the Cool-ER reader, which is easy to scratch up. In this respect, it also beats the three white ereader devices (the Amazon Kindle, BeBook Neo & iRiver Story).

The Hanvon WISEreader N516 does not look very impressive, but we did not feel that it was flimsy as was the case with the Cool-ER. And it is not heavy like the do-it-all iPad. The WISEreader may be a little too sensibly sized. It is so small, with a 5″ screen, that it is a little difficult to use. It’s hard to read a novel on it, but it’s easy to carry it around in your pocket or purse. Open source books usually contain rambling line breaks and rigid formatting. You would continually be pressing the page down key on a device with a small screen. Actually, the numerical keys that run along the left hand side make it pretty easy to navigate compared with eBook readers that only have a navipad. Page zoom-in and zoom-out functions are also available. At the bottom of the numerical stack, a bookmark button is concealed. It would be better if this useful button were labeled more clearly.

Bottom Line: 
Users must simply pay more if they expect to get the newest technology. Individuals especially attracted by the idea of e-readers can certainly give this a try. The ePaper technology responds slowly, even though the e-reader has a sleek appearance and plays the majority of formats. Two very good things are the bright screen and the good landscape mode feature.

Design: 
Our model is a soft brownish/burnt umber shade in a leather style finish. It has a classy, mature, understated appearance. The buttons are confusing. They are all just about the same color and are strewn across the face of the device willy-nilly. There are some on the bottom right hand side, some on the bottom left hand side, and some up and down one side that are numbered.

You will find the power button located on the top panel. There is also a very nifty rocker switch to control page turn and scrolling located on the left panel. It’s 12 mm thick and 152 mm long, so you can’t really carry it in your pocket. If you carry a bag, it would be OK. As far as weight goes, it’s quite light and you never really notice the weight.

This device uses eInk technology and a 5″ electronic paper display (EPD). There is no back-light and this model has 8 shades of gray-scale for displaying black and white images and text. The screen is 4:3 for landscape mode where pixel resolution hits 800 x 600. With an internal memory of 350 MB, it also supports a 2GB SD card with an expansion capacity of 32 GB. Here are the formats that it supports: DOC, CHM, EPUB, PDF, HTML, & TXT.

User experience: 
After being powered up, approximately 16 seconds elapse before boot up is complete and the home menu is displayed in the User Interface. I feel this is a bit on the slow side. Before reaching home, it blinks a little bit. So at this point, the first issues of a new technology begin to emerge.

The issue of concern is ePaper technology’s latency and it is VAST. If you are impatient, you won’t like it because it takes a long time to scroll from one menu option to another. That plagues this Hanvon as well. The landscape mode is better at displaying PDF files and the zoom button can enlarge the fonts, however, as mentioned earlier, then the scrolling is slow.

I like the fact that the Hanvon WISEreader N516 screen is very bright at the max white level. It is brighter than that of the Kindle and that helps make the reading experience more enjoyable. Excluding a few especially big txt files, all files play back properly. If a file is larger than 4MB, it won’t play well. This fact is actually stated in fine print.