If you want a high-resolution screen for crisp text and images, and demand an open Android system to read anything, the Boyue Likebook P78 is a fantastic option. Battery life and connectivity is superb, and the front-lit screen is gorgeous.
- Brand: Boyue
- Screen: 7.8-inch eInk Carta panel
- Resolution: 1404 x 1872 (300DPI)
- Storage: 32GB, micro-SD expandable
- Connectivity: USB-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
- Front Light: Cold and warm
- OS: Customized Android 8.1
- Battery: 3800mAh (5 weeks standby)
- Buttons: Home, Power, Volume
- Weight: 267g (9.42 oz)
- Dimensions: 8mm thick
- Crisp 300DPI display
- Full Google Play access and open system
- Incredible battery life
- Interface can be sluggish, and even casual games are mostly unplayable
- Speakers are of limited utility
Boyue Likebook P78
Need an eBook reader with fantastic battery life and a high-resolution screen, but don’t want to deal with a locked-down OS like the Kindle? The Boyue Likebook P78 might be exactly what you’re looking for. At $260, is this the essential accessory to ride out the rest of 2021? We think so.
Who Is Boyue?
Boyue is not a household name when it comes to eReaders, not least because neither you nor I can pronounce it properly, but also because until recently, it was mostly an OEM manufacturer. That means it made the eReaders that were then branded by other companies. But why go to a middle man when you can go direct?
The Boyue Likebook P78 is its newest model, and the successor to the Likebook Mars, which we’ve previously recommended.
Likebook P78 Hardware
Measuring a mere 8mm thick, and weighing in at 267g, the Likebook P78 comes in any color you want, as long as that color is dark blue.
Charging and OTG features are provided by the USB-C port on the bottom edge. The power button is on the top right; while you’ll also find volume controls for the built-in speakers on the right-hand side.
Why does it have speakers? The Boyue reader app features voice synthesis, for those moments when reading becomes too much effort. Simply pull up the menu, tap the read button, and it’ll begin. The voice is understandable but robotic, and nowhere near the quality of Google Assistant or Alexa. I personally couldn’t tolerate this for long, but the other alternative is of course to download your favorite audiobook, and just listen to it being read by a professional.
32GB of onboard storage should be plenty for a collection of even the heaviest PDFs, but if you do need more, there’s a micro-SD tray on the right-hand side. However, you will need to use the included metal poker tool to remove the tray; it’s not quite as easy to slot in as I’d like, but you shouldn’t need to do this often.
The design is otherwise not noteworthy, but as they say: you shouldn’t judge an eBook by its cover.
Optionally, you can purchase a protective case. This features a semi-rigid back, and the cover supports auto-sleep and wake feature, extending battery life even further.
Internally, the device runs a quad-core 1.4Ghz CPU, backed up by a meager 2GB RAM. You’re not buying an eReader for its stunning CPU performance of course, but a reasonably good chipset does help to keep page turns snappy.
Getting Books on to The P78
Out of the box, you have quite a few options for getting books onto the Likebook P78.
The first is to use a micro-SD card. If you’re upgrading from another eBook reader and already have a library of content stored there, this is probably the easiest method.
Second, if you’re connected to a home Wi-Fi network, you can use the built Wi-Fi Transfer App. This only works from desktop or Android smartphones, not iOS, but seemed to be reliable during testing. Open the app, type the specified IP into your browser, then select and upload files.
Third, you can use the USB-C cable. This is by far the fastest and easiest way to get books onto the device, and the method I found myself using the most from Mac OS with the Android File Transfer utility.
Finally, with full Google Play access, you also have a store full of cloud storage providers and other file sync applications, should you already have a favorite method.
In short, you’ll have no issues whatsoever getting any of your content onto the Like P78, DRM-free, and from any source.
It’s All About the Screen
Perhaps one of the biggest selling points of the Likebook P78 is the high resolution on a 7.8″ display, resulting in 300DPI, the highest pixel density eInk Carta panel you can get. This results in a crisper, more enjoyable, and paper-like reading experience for every type of static media you might consume on it.
While 7.8-inches is the perfect size for novels, I did find it a little small for most PDFs. That said, the auto-crop feature ensures there’s no screen wasted on margins, and the text reflow works wonders too.
For bedtime reading and other dark environments, it also features a dimmable cold and warm white LED front light. Activating the default night mode is as simple as pulling down from the top, and long holding on the bulb icon.
Alternatively, press once for more presets and sliders. Unlike other electronic screens, which tend to burn your eyes at night even on the lowest of brightness settings, I experienced no discomfort from the front-lit night mode.
The choice of warm or cold light is nice to have, though it’s worth noting that the myth of blue light stopping you from sleeping has been thoroughly disproven.
Shockingly, there are many factors that affect your ability to sleep, none of which are the color of light your devices are emitting. Still, if you believe in that particular placebo, you’ll be delighted to know you can have a very dim warm light to read by in the dark.
Some apps won’t run comfortably with the standard eInk display method; for those, you can enable A2-mode simply by pulling down the settings screen. This increases the refresh rate, but at the cost of resolution and contrast.
While access to the Google Play store means you can theoretically install anything, you shouldn’t. Even with A2 mode active, I found a simple word game that involved dragging my finger over letters to be a little frustrating, and faster touch movements just missed letters out. It requires you to adjust your use of a touchscreen to be slow and methodical. Apps that need only single touch events should work better.
It’s difficult to objectively evaluate the battery life of an eInk device during our standard testing period of two weeks. But suffice to say, I haven’t charged it yet, despite daily use and app testing. While I could leave a YouTube video running and tell you that it lasted however many hours, I don’t think that’s a fair way to evaluate an eReader. The beauty of eInk is that it only uses power to update the display. The upshot is that when used as intended, battery life will not be a concern.
Featuring a 3200mAh battery, which is huge compared to similarly-sized eReaders, Boyue claims a 5-week standby time for the P78, and I’ve found no reason to doubt that.
Of course, you’ll get the best battery life if you disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and only use the Likebook P78 to read books. Games, videos, audiobooks etc will all drastically reduce the battery life.
What’s Wrong With a Tablet or Phone?
You might think that in a world of ubiquitous technology at our fingertips, the market for eReaders has died out. Quite the opposite. I’m a big fan of my iPad, but for reading at night, the lowest screen brightness is still eye-wateringly bright. And for daytime use, it’s pretty much useless in direct sunlight. And there’s the notifications, the temptation to check Reddit, deal with those emails, or any of the other million activities that can distract you.
That’s why I’ve been looking for an eReader: not to replace a traditional tablet, but to compliment it.
Is This The 2021 eReader for You?
Running a full Android system underneath blows the doors wide open to apps and content you simply couldn’t get on other eBook readers. You won’t be restricted to DRMed content, and it’s incredibly easy to add your own PDFs, comics, and ePubs that you’ve sourced from elsewhere—as well as install your favorite reader app.
The default Boyue Reader is surprisingly competent though, so you may not even need to install other reader apps. The actual reading experience is snappy, even with image-laden PDFs. And that high-resolution screen means any media looks gorgeous.
While Google Play isn’t enabled out of the box, updating then enabling the Google Framework isn’t hard, but there’s no guarantee this will continue to work in the future.
But the trade-off to that open system is a generally sluggish UI elsewhere, and an older version of Android (8.1) may open you up to security risks. Android simply isn’t designed for eInk screens (though some reader apps do actually include an option to optimize for them).
Browsing the web is just about tolerable, but I’d recommend saving articles you want to read into an app like Pocket instead to remove most of the guff.
Very simple word games can be played in A2-mode, but other than that, don’t buy the Likebook P78 because you want a smooth Android experience that’ll run anything you throw at it. It won’t. Unless it’s a lightweight app that doesn’t need more than a few frames a second, don’t bother.
Finally, although the default reader app now natively supports CBZ/CBR format comic books, I ran into a few compatibility issues, and even when it does work, you’re still trying to read a large format comic on a small black and white screen. For anything outside of comic strips like Calvin and Hobbes, the comic reading experience is subpar.
If you’re looking for a bare-bones eBook reader with a stunningly good screen that won’t lock you into a particular system, the Boyue Likebook P78 is definitely a top contender. With the prospect of summer holidays being canceled again, now is a great time to rediscover the lost art of reading (if you haven’t already during the past year of lockdowns), and the Likebook P78 is a great way to do it.
UK readers, you might want to buy from TechInTheBasket instead, where we’re reliably informed they hold local stock for faster delivery, and the price is lower at £146. This is not an endorsement though—I’ve never heard of that store either.
Author: James Bruce
Source: James Bruce.” Boyue Likebook P78 Review: Huge Battery, Gorgeous Screen, and It Runs Android”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/boyue-likebook-p78-review/
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