It has been 7 months since I got my hands on this eInk reader. I think I have spent enough time on it to give a fair review. So at first glace it might seem like it is an exorbitantly priced tablet, but then for the right person I want to make the case that this device is worth it.
Where do I buy it? How much will it be?
I preordered mine from their official website for a cost of approximately 35,000₹. I bought additional stuff since they had a 55$ discount for the whole package. I had read that the tips of the stylus pen will wear away in months so I got a extra set of 5 pieces. It happened to be really useful - I am on my 2nd tip now. It takes a while to realise you are not writing with a pencil, you don't need to apply that much pressure.
The tether was quite useless in my opinion. You can't keep it on and write with comfort. It takes time and effort to attach and detach. It is quite hard to lose the stylus as long as you always return it to the case cover's holder.
The screen protector also makes the surface more pilable so writing on it feels better. The case cover adds quite a bit of weight to the very light device but I am a clumsy person and this was quite needed for me, it already protected the device from a few falls.
Now this amount is before taxes! For India let me tell you, don't expect to get away with paying a small amount when importing an electronic device in your personal capacity. You should definitely contact the email id they give here and discuss what tax amounts to expect.
So after Freight charges (usually 3600₹), Insurance charges (maybe 200₹), the officer at the port will assess what your product is worth. This "Assessable Value" is the sum of the value of the product, the Insurance and Freight charges. Ikr painful, but we have just gotten started.
Then the Ad Valorem component of the Basic Customs Duty (BCD) is levied on this assessable value. (An ad valorem tax is a tax based on the assessed value of an item. The Latin phrase ad valorem means "according to value."). There will be no "Specific rate".
For me it was 10%. Recently you might have read it was made 10% for mobile phones too. Anyway next a Social Welfare Surcharge (SWS) of 10% will be levied on this BCD they charge you. If BCD was 2000₹ then SWS would be 200₹.
We are still not done! Then the IGST will be computed on the transaction value of the goods. What is the "Transaction Value" you ask? That is the sum of the Assessable Value with the BCD and the SWS! So for this product IGST rate was 28%. 😭
Let us revise,
Assessable Value = Device cost + Freight + Insurance
Total Duty = IGST * ( A.V. + BCD * [A.V.] + SWS * BCD * [A.V.] ) + BCD * [A.V.] + SWS * BCD * [A.V.]
$$ A.V. = 35000 + 3600 + 200 = 38800$$
$$ T.D. = 0.28 \times ( 38800 + 0.1 \times 38800 + (0.1)^2 \times 38800 ) + 0.1 \times 38800 + (0.1)^2 \times 38800$$
$$T.D. = \left [ 0.28 \times ( 1 + 0.1 + 0.1^2 ) + 0.1 + 0.1^2 \right ] \times A.V.$$
$$ T.D = 0.4208 \times A.V. $$
Yes. I am not joking. This is how it works out. We have a 42% effective tax on this device. Just remember your tax helps the common people of this country so that might help you pay this amount. The total should come around 10,000₹.
Always remember that finally the company mainly wants to sell products, so always do your own research. Now that we got the painful part out of the way I can focus on what I got for this large sum of money.
What does it offer me?
Going in I was clear on why I wanted this device.
- I knew I loved the eInk display after reading on the kindle for years. Unlike other screens, this kind of screen gave me no eye strain. I have had my eyes start watering looking at my laptop screen for too long.
- I hated how small the kindle's screen was. I wanted a large screen to read PDF's on. With epub's we had word wrap and the kindle was perfect. But research papers, textbooks, manga all turned out to be too small on the kindle display. It's not good to spend hours squinting at the screen.
- I had finished writing 6 notebooks full of notes in a span of few months as part of my coursework and research. I hated having to carry the books around. I wanted to electronically organise my notes, make it searchable. So I was also looking for a unparalleled writing experience.
I knew this could not be thought of as a substitute tablet. The refresh rates on this thing will make animations clunky, leave shadows and we cannot expect to enjoy most content in black and white.
Size and Design
I chose this specific model because the kindle is already having a 6 inch screen. 10.3 inch seemed to be the right balance since I could read with one hand if I had to sometimes. The size after this would be the Max, too costly, too large (13.3-inch) and too heavy for my use case.
While the screen is only 10.3 inches or 26 cm (diagonally). The bezel takes an additional 8 cm at the top and bottom. Bringing the dimensions to 24.95 x 17.88 x 0.68 cm. With the case this becomes 25.3 x 18 x 1 cm.
Since I would be taking notes and planned to use it for a long time I wanted to get a reader with a flush screen. The starting model for kindle has the sunken type screen, now this is a personal preference others find it overrated. For me the fact that it protects the screen better, is more water proof trumps the slight reduction in clarity.
One other point I decided on this company as opposed to their competitors - reMarkable, DPT series, etc was the level of options available in the writing app. I noticed how the company seemed to quickly launch updates and features. Constantly working to improve.
Since it runs on Android 6.0 I would get to install telegram, google play music, chrome etc. That flexibility has helped a lot in sharing my notes with friends, listening to curated music, browsing manga online etc.
It has a 1.6GHz Quad-core processer, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Those specs shocked me when I first saw it. For comparison, the kindle voyage has a 1 GHZ single core processor, 512MB of RAM and only has 4 GB of storage! This is similar to the reMarkable too, just 8 GB storage is the difference.
At 390 grams the device is very light for it's size. The case (with the stylus) adds another 194 grams. So the total is 583 grams. So a 50% increase in weight is a lot for most people. I like how heavy it is now, it might be because I am used to it but I find it sturdier now due to the weight.
With a 4100 mAh battery it can last for weeks if you don't use the backlight all time, wifi, speaker, bluetooth etc. This keeps it ahead of it's competitors too.
So I love the battery life.
I'll just the ones that I find really useful
1) With insane handwriting recognition. I can write without having to worry about my bad handwriting becoming a problem.
2) Side note feature.
3) 4 different refresh rate modes
4) OneNote, Dropbox sync of notes
5) Note taking features
6) Epub and PDF reading and editing features
7) And more ...