Asus is already a name to reckon with in the computing segment but clearly, it doesn’t want to see itself confined to just that. They’d like to test waters in the new emerging segments that are currently the hot favorite and e-readers is definitely one of them. Surely, it would like to replicate its success with laptops or other computer hardware like motherboards and do a ‘Kindle‘ sort of thing with their DR range of e-readers. Whether its able to do so is what this article aims to find out.
First off, the DR 950 is a simple looking device with nothing flamboyant about it. However, having said this, what can also be stated is that it is also its simplicity that makes the DR 950 to stand out from the rest. The DR 950 may appear quite similar to the other e-reader models found in the market, but as you go nearer, you will feel the difference and as you hold to switch on, it’s a different device altogether.
The touch sensitive screen measuring 9 inch diagonally takes up the entire front end of the device which is marked by a clean layout with just the bare minimum buttons and a comparatively slender bezel. In fact, the DR 950 e-reader may even come across as a tablet device what with most of the tablet PCs doing the rounds donning a similar look. Next, turn the e-reader on and you will quickly find that the screen is not only large but also has an amazing resolution – 1024 x 768 pixels to be precise, something that you might not have experienced earlier. The device is so alluring that it can leave even the most discerning buyer completely moved. The DR 950 is also remarkably light which belies its size, coming in at just 370-gram for a device that measures 222 x 161 x 9-mm.
As an e-reader
The Asus DR 950 isn’t one more e-reader that is based on the e-ink technology. Instead, its display is based on a new technology from SiPix termed ‘SiPix Microcup electronic paper.’ This with the intention of bringing about a quantum jump in the overall reading experience while lowering the cost at the same time. The new technology also promises to significantly increase the page turn speeds that has brought about a 3 times improvement over the speeds at which most e-readers turn pages now. This while setting new standards of panel display flexibility. ( More on the display later. )
Trying the menu options with the keys might need a bit of getting used to though there is always the touchscreen that can you can fall back on. When you go deep into the interface, you wont find Asus having adopted a short cut to its features and gives you the look and feel of an organized e-reader. The DR 950 also allows you to choose text with a pinch of the finger, copy and again fix the text into the text editor app. Besides, the e-reader also comes with a music player app as well. The Dr 950 also includes additional applications inside along with a web browser.
It also includes a handwritten recognition feature that enables one to enter the text by either drawing letters one by one into a box or chose a keyboard available onscreen. Though it is basically a touchscreen but from any corner it never appear to be one – it has a fine balance of contrast and glare which is much unlike what you get in the Sony Reader Touch where the touchscreen layer is at the cost of display clarity. Needless to say that Asus have created a invisible touch sensitive layer which enables us it to retain the vital paper like look of the e-ink screen.
The e-reader also includes an RSS reader along with a built-in dictionary that function on realtime translation. A quite large screen real estate means the DR 950 is also able to layout magazines and even newspapers in exactly the same manner as they are intended to be. The e-reader also allows the user to read e-books or browse web pages in both landscape and portrait orientation. And if you feel you are too tired to read or for anyone who may be visually impaired, there is also the ‘Text-to-Speech’ feature powered by Svox engine that will read aloud what’s on the screen. And better still, the ‘Text-to-Speech’ feature can even read out non-English texts as well.
And about its storage credentials, the e-reader has a 2 or 4 GB of internal memory which should be good enough for a few thousand e-books. And if even this is not enough, there is the SD card slot that will provide you with even more storage space. The e-reader can be fed with books by connecting to bookstores or browse web pages via WiFi from internet hotspots or from just about anywhere through 3.5G or HSPDA network. There is also an USB port which you can use to side-load content.
As has already been mentioned, the display of the DR 950 is based on SiPix Microcup electronic paper technology which boasts of 16 shades of gray and is as close to a real print on paper as one can expect while also being less demanding on battery power. A unique aspect of the SiPix e-paper is that it has got an image memory that allows it to retain the image without requiring a constant supply of power, thus increasing battery mean time between full changes. Also, the Microcup® architecture ensures SiPix e-Paper is robust and highly resistant to external forces and pressure.
The way the SiPix e-Paper technology works is this: the application of an electric field makes the charged particles to move though the dielectric fluid. In such a scenario, if it is the white particles that are oriented towards the visible surface then the region will be depicted as white to the viewer. Different images or texts are rendered by the appropriate organization of suitable particles towards the visible surface.
The one thing that sets the SiPix e-Paper to be different from E-Ink is the former’s ability to display colors like red, blue, green, yellow. So we may well expect colors e-readers from Asus sometime in future that will be as eye friendly as the e-ink enabled display while also being power efficient.
The battery life performance is measured in terms of page turns, which in case of the DR 950 is quite impressive at 10,000 on a single full charge of the battery.
It is pleasing to know that E Reader is an open platform and supports most of the usual forms of text and images which includes PDF, TXT, ePub, HTML, RSS, BMP, PNG, and JPEG. The DR 950 is also compliant with AUDIBLE or MP3 formats so that the e-reader is also able to playback music via a stereo or a headphone jack
Without doubt the DR 950 from Asus is quite an outstanding e-book reading device. It is built with quality, has an impressive screen, and comes with extra apps that are relevant instead of being just additions.