1

Short story: I'm looking for a ebook reader that has the following:

  • E ink display
  • Supports English text and has English-English dictionary
  • Supports Japanese text and has a smart (can detect words based on the first character) Japanese-English dictionary
  • Allows me to load my own files (EPUB and\or some of the other popular formats)

Following features would also be welcome:

  • furigana support
  • tools to help me learn Japanese (stuff like turning selected words from book or dictionary search into flashcards;simple quiz base on those flashcards etc.)
  • PDF support
  • touchscreen
  • ability to load (zip compressed) sequences of images (*cough*comic books*cough*); for this to work properly the ability to zoom those images and decent screen resolution would probably be also required

Long story: I've been using my cell phone to read ebooks for quite some time and while it's fine for reading books while commuting to work, reading on it for an extended period of time is a strain for the eyes. That's why I was thinking of buying an ebook reader. However I have some requirements and with so many devices on the market it's hard to find out (and decide) which one is suited for me.

I mostly read books in English. I can read them without a dictionary, but an English-English (or even English-Polish) dictionary is a plus.

Lately I also started to read Japanese webnovels and I it would be great if I could read them on this device (so it needs to have Japanese characters support).

My Japanese is still a bit lacking and I do need a dictionary for reading those novels, but thanks to tools such as Rikaichan and Rikaikun I can quickly look up the words I don't understand when I read them on my PC in a web browser. That's why I'd like the device to have a similar Japanese-English dictionary if possible. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the browser tool, you point the cursor at the first character of the word you don't understand, it than guesses the whole word (and also gives 5 alternative words) and provides translation for those. Assuming an ebook reader with similar working Japanese-English dictionary exists, it would probably be easier to use if the device has a touchscreen.

Japanese web novles are available for free on the internet and can even be downloaded. This said I have to convert them to EPUB myself, so it would be great if the device could allow me to load my own files and support EPUB format (I'd need that for most of my English books too, so this feature is rather mandatory).

I tried to find out if Kindle Paperwhite would do the job, but from what I understood, only the Japanese version has a Japanese dictionary (and a Japanese-Japanese one at that). I couldn't find out if the dictionary is smart enough to detect words and if it can deal with inflection.


I did some research and I found out that there is this Japanese-English dictionary for Kindle Paperwhite. However I'm not sure if I'll be able to buy it from Amazon.com if I live in Poland (and I'm not sure how to check that). If I will be able to buy this in my country, then I might consider buying Kindle Paperwhite. Too bad there is no legit way to buy Japanese novels if you don't live in Japan (registering on Amazon.jp with fake personal information doesn't sound very legitimate to me).

  • You might have more luck with a tablet than with an eInk device. It may help with the eyestrain as well, if it's due to small font sizes. – Tom Aug 15 '14 at 15:54
  • @Tom eye strain is due to the backlight though. However thanks for the suggestion, it appears there are actually some eink tablets out there (or ebook readers running android). I think I need to investigate those. – jahu Aug 16 '14 at 10:29
1

The two devices that are closest to me requirements are the Kindle Paperwhite and Onyx Boox T68. As far as meeting the requirements goes:

  • E ink display: both have one
  • Supports English text and has English-English dictionary: both have one or two (this condition was only to rule out Japanese ebook readers with poor English support); the one included on T68 is so so and the preinstalled apps have limited compatibility with other dictionaries
  • Supports Japanese text and has a smart Japanese-English dictionary: possible on Onyx Boox T68 using Jade Reader and should be possible on Kindle Paperwhite with this dictionary (you have to pay for it and it might be unavailable in some countries)
  • Allows me to load my own (EPUB) files: both, but Kindle doesn't support some formats and those files need to be converted first
  • Furigana support: might be partially supported on Kindle Paperwhite, but it appears that it interferes with the dictionary (not supporting furigana is not a big deal)
  • tools to help me learn Japanese: many apps are available on Onyx Boox T68 (you need to switch system font to Roboto as there is no japanese version of DroidSans on the device; some applications will render white text on white background which makes them unusable, but should be hackable); probably there is something on Kindle too (not a big deal either way)
  • PDF support: both support it
  • Touchscreen: both have it (it's a little wonky on the T68)
  • Ability to load (zip compressed) sequences of images: should work on both (see notes below)

Additionally:

  • Onyx Boox T68 has better resolution and it's slightly bigger
  • It also runs Android which should give me access to many useful apps (I can even make my own Apps should I need them)
  • Kindle Paperwhite is cheaper (even if you buy the dictionary) and with some trickery it might be possible to buy Japanese novels and manga
  • However both have relatively small screens, so reading comic books will probably be not very comfortable (still Onyx Boox T68 is likely to handle those better, due to size and resolution); verified, while doable on T68, the screen feels a bit too small for displaying whole pages (zooming in is slightly annoying due to slow response time of the e ink display)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 2nd generation has slightly better contrast than Onyx Boox T68 and is generally more responsive in terms of user input; tested Onyx Boox T68 and the contrast is decent
  • Onyx Boox T68 has audio output (you can use text 2 speech and listen to music) while Kindle Paperwhite does not support that

Details: I checked if various ebook readers that are on the market can do the things that I want, but most of them can't. The one that is closest to my requirements is Kindle Paprwhite (if I install additional dictionary which I would have to buy, but which might be unavailable in my country), but unfortunately it doesn't support EPUB file (I would have to convert them to MOBI). The reason why most of the devices wont do what I want is because they run on a closed OS. This made me wonder why there are not ebook readers that run Android and...

I read the comment from Tom which put me on right track. Rather than google for ebook readers that do all that I want (which gives poor results), why not google for a E ink Android tablets. I did that right away and I found those two devices: Onyx Boox M96, Onyx Boox T68.

At first I was considering buying Onyx Boox M96, since the display is bigger. However lack of touchscreen (you have to use stylus) and high price turned me off. I'm probably going to buy the smaller Onyx Boox T68 (despite the higher resolution, the smaller screen will probably make reading comic books slightly annoying).

Jade Reader does exactly what I want in terms of Japanese text and it's actually compatible with the Onyx Boox T68. The app could use some improvements (splitting text into pages, the dictionary popup should take into account the position of selected text, now it can shows up always on the bottom of the screen and appear on top of the text you were reading).

  • Onyx Boox T68 is a mostly decent device. However the battery quality on my was so bad, that it died on me after half a year of use. I had it replaced by the producer, but again it only lasted a few months. I found Jade Reader to be lacking a number of features, so I developed my own app github.com/jahu00/Rikaikyun. – jahu Dec 7 '15 at 9:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.