You might mistake it for the Kindle Oasis in a new avatar, the similarities are that close. There is the asymmetrical build made so famous by the Kindle Oasis some six years ago, with a thicker right edge that tapers off to being really slim for the rest of the device. The e-reader in question happens to be the Hanvon Clear and they have done a really nice job with it. Let’s find out if the device can really stand out as an excellent e-reader or is a classic example of being all show and no go.
Design and build
The design, as already stated will remind you of the Oasis. The thicker right edge serves as an excellent placeholder for holding onto the device. The overall lightweight build ensures it is never a chore to hold the device even during extended reading sessions. The built-in gyroscope will also ensure the display rotates automatically as you change hands. The thicker portion also hosts the page turn buttons though the touch-enabled display can also be used for flipping over the pages. Tucked between the page turn button is the Home/Back button.
At the top of the bump lies the power button which again is sunk a bit than the rest of the surface. Other bits that you will find here include the USB-C port and the status indicator light. At the bottom lies the speaker. The rear of the enlarged bump also has a wavy pattern which makes it look cool.
However, while the overall asymmetrical design looks nice and makes it really easy to hold and operate the device, things can get a bit tricky if you choose to read while keeping the device on a flat surface. Given the inherent design feature, the device tends to wobble a bit so you might need one hand to keep the device steady while using the other to use it. Rubber stoppers at the corners on the slim side would have made things better but that isn’t a reality with the Clear.
The nice thing here is that everything is in English and the support runs deep. This wasn’t the case even a few years back when most of its devices remained tied to only the Chinese language. However, while that is good, the user interface is a bit too elaborate and this might not be to the liking of many. There are just too many options each with its own sections and sub-sections.
Many like such a setup and like to play around with the different options and take pleasure from the notion that their device has a lot to offer. Take for instance the options that you have on the top which include General, Reading, Network, Storage, and System. At the bottom, you have Book Rack, Book Stack, Application, and Settings.
Tap on Book Stack and then on Library and you will be surprised to find scores of books already preloaded. In fact, the volume of pre-loaded books easily runs into several giga bytes, 2.95 GB to be precise. The tragedy is, you might never know what all of it is all about if you are from an English-speaking country. Out of the 25.91 GB of available storage, 5.35 GB, or 20 percent is already consumed when you get the device. That’s insane, to say the least though fortunately, you can side-load your own books.
Application is of course where all your apps are located. There are many that come preloaded which are classified as System apps and Installed apps. The good thing here is that you can also side-load your apps as well since most of the apps aren’t likely to be of much use to you unless you are based out of China.
The reading experience is excellent with everything sharp and crisp. As already stated, you can use the buttons to flip around the pages or use the touchscreen, whichever you find convenient. Tapping on the middle will lead to a whole host of reading options, those being Contents, Display, Refresh, Contrast, and Listen. On the top lies Back, Search, Bookmark, and something in Chinese on the left and More on the top right. Then there are the on-screen page flip buttons present as well.
There are no A2 or speed modes applicable here, or for that matter, any of the installed apps but is available for third-party apps. Long-pressing on a word will translate the same from Chinese to English and vice-versa. Besides, you get a few more options as well, those being Copy, Notes, Underline, and Search. Then, there is the access to the dictionary as well. The usual stuff such as changing font size, the font itself, line spacing, layout, and such can all be done via the Display option itself.
Further, as has already been stated earlier, the built-in 360-degree gyroscope and the display are going to adjust automatically depending on the orientation the device is held at. So, be it portrait or landscape orientation, you can switch over just by flipping the device. Also, you can switch off the gyroscope easily just by swiping down from the top and hitting the right option.
The 7-inch E Ink Carta 1200 display having 300 PPI resolution makes things pop out but that doesn’t make PDF files any bit more readable. That’s simply because 7-inch just isn’t large enough to make the texts easily readable without resorting to pinch-n-zoom. That said, pinch-n-zoom is quite fast, something that can be said of the page turn as well. You also get a zoom level at the bottom which too makes things convenient.
Hanvon offers a means to adjust the refresh rate even though this, as has already been stated, is available only on third-party apps and not stock applications. The speed modes can be conveniently accessed by swiping down from the top. There, under Normal, you have four refresh settings – Normal, Accelerate, Quick, and Fast refresh. The nice thing here is that the difference in refresh speed settings is quite noticeable, with things becoming extremely fast with the highest Fast refresh setting. Understandably, videos are best watched in the highest Fast refresh mode for the best experience.
It’s disappointing, to say the least. This is in spite of the fact that there are four-speed modes available. Even with the highest speed mode setting, it’s largely a slow and sluggish experience. The text and images lack the same level of fluidity and smooth scrolling effect that you experience with PDF with the highest speed setting. Of course, reading is a joy once the page has settled down thanks to the 300 PPI display.
Here, you have a few preset modes, those being LightsOut, DayTime, TheNight, and Custom. Those again should be self-descriptive and you can always choose the one that suits you best. Else, there is the Custom mode where you can set the warm and cold lights on your own. Again, the interesting thing here is that the Clear seems to be isn’t as bright as other e-readers out there. Rather, Hanvon seems to be adopted a cautious approach and is refraining from offering anything extreme. Even the orange light isn’t as orange or the blue light as blue as with its competitors even when warm or cold light is set to the max.
What can we say about this unit? The Clear strongly resembles the KJindle Oass and Hanvon has no qualms with that. If Amazon hasn’t done anything in 6 years with the oasis.. everyone else might as well. This unit is kind of cool, and technically speaking a step outside of the comfort zone of Hanvon as they primarily dabble in e-notes, and lifestyle solutions like NFC luggage tags
This unit is compact, has page turn buttons, and a 300 PPI screen. Really not a whole lot to conplain about seeing that it has onboard audio as well. Performance is good too. Problem is, it tends to be a lot of things at once instead of being a pure e-book reading device. This has led to a UI that is more complex than what it should have been. There are just too many interconnected or interwoven parts, often difficult to understand or analyze due to its intricacy or sophistication. You may end up spending more time getting used to it than reading e-books.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.