E Ink displays are often associated with eBook readers, but are also available for digital signage and other applications. But Chinese electronics company Hisense is one of the few companies making smartphones with e-ink displays, and the company has also used electronic paper for other devices like tablets and portable music players.
Now Hisense has launched a new device that is actually positioned as an eReader. But it would be easy to mistake the new Hisense Hi Reader for a phone: it’s a pocket-sized device that runs Android software and has the specs of a mid-range smartphone. It’s more of a black and white iPod touch alternative than a Kindle alternative.
The eReader features a 6.7-inch, 1280 x 825 pixel E Ink display with support for up to 16 levels of gray, a front light with 36 levels of brightness, and support for capacitive touch input. Shaped more like a phone than a typical eReader, it’s only 7.5mm thick and weighs just 177 grams, making it a little easier to slip into your pocket than most Kindle or Kobo devices.
But thanks to a Unisoc T610 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and Android 10 software, the Hi Reader should be a little more versatile thanks to a typical Kindle or Kobo eReader. Not only can you use it to read eBooks or play music or podcasts, but the device can also run third-party Android apps.
However, you must sideload these apps – there is no native support for the Google Play Store or other Google apps and services. Some international sellers seem to preload that Aurora shop, an open-source Google Play Store clone that allows you to download many, but not all, of the apps available on Google’s App Store. But some apps, like Google Maps, may not work properly.
However, you should be able to sideload apps from third-party app stores or other places, much like you can on an Amazon Fire tablet or most other devices running Android-based operating systems.
The hello reader is available in China for around $280but people in other countries probably have to do it pay around 380 dollars or more to collect one from an international reseller through AliExpress.
|Hello reader specifications|
Frontlit (36 brightness levels)
2 x ARM Cortex-A75 CPU cores @ 1.8GHz
6 x ARM Cortex-A55 CPU cores @ 1.8GHz
Mali-G52 MP2 graphics at 614MHz
Limited support for Google Play Store and Google apps
Supports sideloaded apps
3.5mm audio jack
|Wireless||WiFi (2.4GHz & 5GHz)
|price||1,799 CNY (~$280 in China)
$379 and up from AliExpress
If you want to see the Hi Reader in action, here’s a Video review in Chinese: