The Likebook Alita is the latest product from the Chinese manufacturer. Being an e-reader on Android, it has good hardware and software capabilities. With its 10.3-inch screen, would it be the dream e-reader for researchers, students and other great PDFs readers?
Hardware aspect: a high-performance e-reader!
This 10.3-inch e-reader has a more powerful hardware than most of the competitors, especially the e-readers of the market leaders: Kobo, Amazon Kindle and Pocketbook. Indeed these have a single or dual-core processor while the Alita has an octa-core. It has 4GB of RAM while most of the e-readers have only 1 or 2 GB.
Let’s summarize the hardware aspect of this e-reader:
Screen size: 10.3 inches.
Resolution: 1400 x 1872 / 227 ppi
CPU: 1.5GHZ Octa-core
SD Card Slot: up to 128GB on some models
Battery: 4700 mAh
USB-C / Earphones / Jack / Backlight with temperature control / Bluetooth…
So, this e-reader seems to be very effective, but… is this what you want in an e-reader? More cores on a processor, more RAM, more NAND storage means more power consumption: so it has to be reflected in the battery life, at the same capacity.
Nevertheless, you have to take into account that, unlike most of the other e-readers on the market, the Boyue Likebook Alita runs on Android, Google’s system, originally designed for smartphones and tablets! It is therefore understandable that it needs more RAM and processor capacity than a more minimalist e-reader, using a lightweight system based on a Linux core, like those of most competitors. Good or bad thing? It all depends on what you want to do with an e-reader!
An evolution of the “Mima”?
This e-reader is indeed an improved version of the Mima: the RAM for example, being 2GB on the Mimas and 4GB on the Alita. Similarly, the internal storage space: from 16GB to 32GB (27GB once formatted). In addition, Alita is 10% lighter than Mima, which weighed 430g. On the other hand, it runs on Android 6.01 like its sister, but should be upgraded to Android 8 soon. It has a microphone.
The Mimas have more physical buttons, but with more RAM, less weight and the possibility to use a version of Android that is not too old, the Boyue Likebook Alita seems to be a much better choice than a Mima, for those looking for an e-reader in 2019.
Android… on an e-reader? WTF !
At first glance, we may be surprised by the choice to use Android on an e-reader. This choice allows the manufacturer to save money by limiting the work on the software aspect of the product, while offering an e-reader with large software capabilities. This can be found here. Reading PDFs is really pleasant, and you can easily take notes. It is also possible to customize your device by modifying the installed applications.
But an e-reader is also a device for reading. For that, a more limited software that can only open certain types of files allows you to stay focused on your book, and not to disperse. An e-reader on Android, isn’t it the inconveniences of a tablet, with its low autonomy, its notifications, etc.? Not necessarily, because here we find a device with a black and white E-ink screen and limited refresh rate: the device is not suitable for “surfing” or “tweeting”: it is still an e-reader!
As it comes with an Android old version, we are supposed to be able to update it on Android 8 quickly. And an e-reader, by essence not or little connected to the Internet is less sensitive to a security update delay than a phone or a tablet. Nevertheless, we can worry about the possibility of updating these products in the long run. If Kobo, Amazon and Pocketbook have shown in the past that they have been providing updates for their devices for years, what will be the long-term policy of a manufacturer like Boyue who produces new models on a regular basis and therefore software doesn’t seem to be a central concern?
10.3 inches… A good big screen e-reader!
You have to keep in mind the specificity of this e-reader: to offer a 10.3-inch screen at a fairly low price. Yes, Android brings certain heaviness and an Inkpad 3 or a Kindle Oasis will be more suitable for most readers, but for big PDF readers or those who would like to use their e-reader as a notebook to draw on or take notes on, the LikeBook Alita can be a very good choice.
Indeed, if an 8-inch screen is enough to read PDFs decently, up to a paperback size, it’s clearly too small for A4, unless you use the e-reader in landscape mode. However, with 10.3 inches, you can read A4 documents comfortably – even though the text will be small if the document has no margins – and you can keep the margins of the PDF books you are reading. You can even annotate them with the stylus, just as you could do with a paper document.
So the experience is no longer so much that of an e-reader, but is closer to a digital book on which it is possible to take notes, with the stylus, as one can do on a paper document with a pencil.
Is it worth the difference in cost compared to an Inkpad 3, for example, which sells for about half the price? It’s up to each one to decide, but for certain uses, it is clear that by its versatility, an e-reader like the Likebook Alita opens up possibilities that are inaccessible to competitor users, rather oriented towards reading and the Inkpad 3, while cheaper in EU isn’t available in all parts of the world, and comes with its own imperfections…
Furthermore, the Alita is slightly less expensive than the Boox Note Pro, which has similar characteristics. It’s hard to know which one is better: the Alita should receive an update on Android 8 soon, while the Boox Note should stay a priori on Android 6. In the meantime, the Boox Note Pro is more reactive than the Boyue LikeBook Alita, and its reading software is better finished… But what will be the future of these two e-readers? What kind of software follow-up will the two manufacturers offer? Difficult to predict…