ASUS EA800 is an e-book reader with built-in Wacom digitizer. This article describes my impression of it after personal usage.
The cover and casing both look and feel good. Eee Note is reliably attached to it (in fact, I didn't manage to detach it even following the instructions). The pen pocket on the fold is a joke: even if you manage to squeeze a stylus there, you will have great deal of trouble pulling it back. Maybe it's intended for third party pens or something though.
Official ASUS page says that "display remains clear even in bright daylight". That is true. In fact, it needs broad daylight or other bright overhead lighting to comfortably read. The display is matte, but still it's nearly impossible to read anything on part of screen which is reflecting nearby lighting source, so you will need to tilt your device as you progress through a page if you are using a small lamp. In indirect sunlight or overhead artificial light it performs well.
Display is 768x1024 with multiple shades of gray and provides quite good resolution to read books without font blurring and enjoy nice graphics in standard menus.
It's Wacom. It works well, but protective glass over screen requires you to calibrate your pen, and if you rotate the device, you have to recalibrate or face serious positioning issues. After calibrating, you can actually point where you want to. My friend liked calibrating with usual pen grip, while I found variant when I pointed straight-up pen at targets more stable. Tastes differ.
I heard that if you remove the glass, performance of digitizer improves, but guess I'll rather not test this.
It makes photos, like the cellphone one.
Browser is experimental, as ASUS says, so, well, it works. You can browse web, even JS-heavy part of it (mibbit), download books, which get unzipped and converted via some free web service. Works fine for downloading .epub books from Flibusta library.
Browser does not correctly display any pages with black background (links are [near] invisible).
Reader natively works with epub and pdf formats. Highlighting and translating words, using ToC for navigation, zooming, bookmarking, and drawing on pages is supported. Sadly, using links for footnotes and PDF links does not.
Book management interface is sort of rudimentary, you can browse through list of books with shortened titles (which you cannot expand) and browse tags. Search does not work with Unicode.
Pages take about half a second each to load (and controls are disabled while they do), so you can't flip through them at good speed. You can use slider to skip to certain page though.
Device supportes both pen input (works bad with English, even worse with Russian, but amazingly well with Japanese, you have to draw each glyph separately, takes ages) and onscreen keyboard (slow as hell).
And here is the killer feature of the device. It is Wacom powered, which means you have battery-less stylus that recognizes 256 (advertisement says so) pressure levels, and you can draw on screen.
There is no delay when drawing whatsoever (if you update your firmware). You can choose an instrument: pencil, for sharp 1-pixel lines, ballpen, for somewhat thicker and smooth ones, marker, for even thicker lines, fountain pen, which thickness depends on pressure, and text highlighter, which, er, draws as text highlighter. Also there is text input. You also can choose from three grades of gray, erase and paste pictures from camera or storage using very nice interface. There are infinite (or lots of) undo levels, which are also very fast. This part of software is definitely well-polished.
Sadly, there are no layers or zooming feature. I miss GIMP.
Sucks. You can copy your media to it, but only from PC. If you copy files to designated folders, device will recognize them. That's it. Well, you also can hack your device somehow using SD card, but I didn't get to that part yet.
Sucks. There is some Windows-only .NET application which can update firmware and sync files. You can only read-write SD card with generic USB mass storage drivers in card reader mode.
It exists and plays MP3s, or so I heard.
Sometimes interface asks you to "tap OK" when you already stashed your stylus and prepared to use touch keys. Annoying.
Here are some examples of images which me or my friends made using this amazing device.
ASUS EA800 is a great tool for an artist, or anyone who likes to draw pictures or schemes. I don't like handwriting, so I didn't extensively test that part, but guess it should be okay. Ebook reading is not so great as drawing, but it's a nice bonus for 'digital notepad'.
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