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View Full Version : E-reader/gps/radio/compass/weather...and solar powered



leaftye
05-08-2013, 23:15
While I don't like the idea of carrying superfluous electronics on a thru hike, this gadget looks like it'd be nice to have for backpacking trips where more time is spent camping, or for bike touring.

https://www.meetearl.com/

It can use gpx files, so the track and waypoint files we use on our handheld gps devices should work with this. This will be even better if this uses a standard battery that can be changed by users so that old batteries can be replaced in a few years.

The flexible screen should mean the screen will be more durable--no cracks.


Android 4.1 Flexible 6" E-ink screen (1024x768) Sunlight viewable with lunar lantern mode Glove friendly IR touchscreen Waterproof shell Kickstand Solar charging i.MX 6 DualLight 1GHz Cortex A9 1GB ram 16GB memory + microSD Wifi b/g/n BT 4.0 ANT+ NFC FRS/GMRS/MURS GPS + GLONASS Accelerometer Gyroscope Magnetometer Temperature Barometer Humidity Anemometer AM/FM/SW/LW IR blaster 20+ hour battery 20" usb lanyard 303 grams (10.8 oz) 183mm x 121mm x 15mm (7.2" x 4.75" x 0.6")

Crusinsusan
05-08-2013, 23:48
AAARRRRRRGGGGG!. I just spent that much on a new phone and kindle paperwhite.

My only consolation is that my phone takes pics, and Earl doesn't.

treesloth
05-09-2013, 10:25
Just took a look at the website. The crowd funding goal is a bit of a stretch, but I've seen crazier things get funded... and overfunded. I'm stuck between wanting to help them take this to market, and wanting to wait for version 2.0, because hey, the next version is usually better. Usually.

But it seems pretty good to me though, lots of cool features in a cool little 10.8 oz package.

BrianLe
05-09-2013, 12:05
I think a well-selected smartphone is generally a better choice. For as much as THEY tend to be buggy ... they're more general purpose and do most of this.

The chipset in my smartphone is fine, and uses both Russian and U.S. satellites. Mine is also a PHONE, and gives internet connection periodically, which in turn is a much finer way to forecast weather than whatever sensors are built into this thing.

Smartphones are already ebook readers, and do many things besides. I wonder if this will access the Android market to use general purpose apps?

leaftye
05-09-2013, 14:14
Smartphones are poor ebook readers under the best conditions due to their small screen. They're even worse under the sun. There's a very good reason eink screens are very popular even though b&w lcd screens cost less.

As far as not getting a cellular internet connection, obviously this thing is not a cell phone. If you have a cell phone connection, you don't even need an internet connection, just make a call. Sensors are used when a cellular connection isn't available. I especially like that it using inertia sensing to complement the gps.

If nothing else, I'd like to see this product push Garmin into seriously updating their devices. I was hoping AllSports would do that a couple years ago, but they never brought their device to market.

Kerosene
05-09-2013, 14:23
Smartphones are poor ebook readers under the best conditions due to their small screen. They're even worse under the sun. There's a very good reason eink screens are very popular even though b&w lcd screens cost less.I've been amazed at how often I use the Kindle app on my iPhone 4 to read e-books. I prefer my basic Kindle a bit more (although I like the page swipe function of the iPhone) and prefer my iPad overall.

leaftye
05-09-2013, 23:08
I've been amazed at how often I use the Kindle app on my iPhone 4 to read e-books. I prefer my basic Kindle a bit more (although I like the page swipe function of the iPhone) and prefer my iPad overall.

Outside in daylight because you wanted to read, not because you had to read?

I could see myself doing that with an e-ink screen like I've done with real books, but I can't see doing that with an LCD unless I had to. Sure, some phones have screens that can be made bright enough to read under full sunlight, but that eats up battery life, which again means I'd only do it if I had to.

bardo
05-10-2013, 05:19
Thing looks awesome

BrianLe
05-10-2013, 13:03
"Smartphones are poor ebook readers under the best conditions due to their small screen."

Another HYOH thing; I read on my phone all the time, and don't have a particularly massive screen.

Perhaps this thing has a decent market after all, I'm not saying that my reaction will be the "normal" one (!). OTOH, I think that in future the standalone GPS might be at risk (due to smartphones, not this) apart from limited special cases.

I might well be biased because I've been using a smartphone as a sort of an electronic swiss army knife since 2007 or so, I'm used to working around the limitiations to maximize a device that I'm carrying anyway, and the phones have just gotten better along the way.


"If you have a cell phone connection, you don't even need an internet connection, just make a call. "
I find it faster and better and more reliable to get a weather forecast from the internet rather than call someone to ask. I've used the internet on trail to find out and keep up with details of a fire on trail ahead of me, to figure out what to do about that. I've used internet to FIND the phone numbers of places I want to call. I booked an unexpected flight home from a trail town using my smartphone. I upload trail journal entries and photos from my smartphone on trail or in a trail town. I could go on with more use examples, but bottom line is that making a call definitely doesn't approach the benefits of being able to download/upload/read stuff on the web. For me at least.

leaftye
05-10-2013, 15:10
I find it faster and better and more reliable to get a weather forecast from the internet rather than call someone to ask. I've used the internet on trail to find out and keep up with details of a fire on trail ahead of me, to figure out what to do about that. I've used internet to FIND the phone numbers of places I want to call. I booked an unexpected flight home from a trail town using my smartphone. I upload trail journal entries and photos from my smartphone on trail or in a trail town. I could go on with more use examples, but bottom line is that making a call definitely doesn't approach the benefits of being able to download/upload/read stuff on the web. For me at least.

While that may be true, the point still stands that there's a use for a device with sensors that can get by when a cellular signal is not available. If phones had all the relevant sensors and apps to do this, then this device wouldn't offer anything more than its bigger flexible e-ink screen, two way radio, am/fm/sw/lw radio, waterproof shell and solar panel. Maybe the microSD slot too since some phones don't have that.

Again, I did say I didn't like this for long distance backpacking. I think this would be nice for car camping though. I spend lots of time reading during the day. I definitely wouldn't want to read a couple books on tiny backlit LCD cell phone screen. There are hikers that bring books and e-readers on the trail, and I suspect they'd be interested in a rugged version with a few extra features, especially if they're the type that doesn't want an expensive cell phone with an even more expensive data plan contract.

rocketsocks
05-10-2013, 15:51
I'm not in the market for something like this right now (don't even have a smart phone) but were I, I like all the features, especially the radio options SW/LW/AM/FM, but am wondering about the transceiver and if this requires a ham operating lic.

leaftye
05-10-2013, 17:59
The two way radio is gmrs/frs. The sw/lw is almost certainly one way, and I don't see why you'd need a license for that.

leaftye
05-10-2013, 18:19
Two bits of good news.

The guys behind Earl are responsive to inquiries.

Even though the battery doesn't just pop out, they'll be offering a service and diy kit to replace the battery. Since batteries in devices go bad, this news means this device has a much better chance of living more than a few years.

leaftye
05-11-2013, 20:43
I was also told all the sensors can be turned off which should extend battery life by 50%.

mxracer33x
05-13-2013, 12:18
I like where this is headed. I don't think it is for me, but it means people are looking ad trying to fill niches out there. I like my phone because it is my camera, data source, phone and entertainment if wanted/needed. All in 8oz. One issue I see with this could be similar to something I heard from a PCT Thru last year. He had a iPhone extended battery with Solar on it. It overheated the phone having to be on his pack in the sun. :eek:. He swapped to a Mophie Extended battery and a Solio Bolt and all was well enough.

leaftye
05-13-2013, 13:14
Having to be strapped to the back of a pack is why I think most solar solutions are destined to failure, especially with the way I backpack. Not only is heat a problem is you found, but I'd certainly damage it when I take my pack off for my hourly break. That occurs so often that the odds of one of those times breaking it isn't good.

It will probably be much less of a problem with this device.

First, it has much longer battery life, so it needs to be charged less. Looking at its small 3000 mAh battery confirms the efficiency, but since it's a much smaller battery than in the iPhone, it should charge in much less time. They claim 5 hours of charging in direct sunlight. I can find 5 hours of direct sunlight over the course of a few days even if it's restricted to my short breaks.

Harrison Bergeron
05-14-2013, 09:01
Too big (6" screen), too heavy (10.8oz), no phone, no wi-fi. But at least it has e-ink. And the radio bands are nice.


When is somebody going to make a phone with e-ink?


The comment about phones making poor e-readers is bunk. The best e-reader is one that displays no more than you can absorb in a glance. I speed-read a book a week, reading two hours a day on 4" Android screen bouncing along the HOV in the back of a 15 passenger van. It used to take me three weeks to finish a paper book in the same conditions. The difference is the backlight light and not having to constantly re-find my place after every bump in the road. And unlike a book or a Kindle, it fits in my shirt pocket.


You only need a big screen and color to surf the internet. And then 6" isn't enough.


The perfect device:


4" e-ink touch screen w/ backlight
2 week battery life in airplane mode
4 oz
Android
phone
wifi
am/fm/weather
gps
phone
SD card
waterproof/shockproof
Replaceable battery


Still waiting...

mxracer33x
05-14-2013, 11:31
You've definitely put some thought into this. Get crackin! Between todays markets, shark tank and kickstarter you should be good to go.

leaftye
05-14-2013, 13:33
Too big (6" screen), too heavy (10.8oz), no phone, no wi-fi. But at least it has e-ink. And the radio bands are nice.


Not only does it have wifi, but also bluetooth and ANT.


The comment about phones making poor e-readers is bunk. The best e-reader is one that displays no more than you can absorb in a glance. I speed-read a book a week, reading two hours a day on 4" Android screen bouncing along the HOV in the back of a 15 passenger van. It used to take me three weeks to finish a paper book in the same conditions.

I suppose that's okay if you're just reading novels. In any case, size isn't the big deal, it's resolution. How do you enjoy reading on your LCD phone outside under direct sunlight, under a tree or in a car? It's a lot different than indoors where you have an evenly shaded area where I'd agree an LCD can be nice to read on.

I do agree that an e-ink phone would be better, but do you really see that coming? I see this as a step in the right direction. It's a convergence device, much like cell phones have become, and the popularity of this would be motivation for phone manufacturers to make minor changes to take up this niche.


waterproof/shockproof
Replaceable battery

That might be possible with some of the nano waterproofing treatments, otherwise it'd be bulky and well over 4 ounces.

Hiker8261
06-26-2013, 18:37
FRS & MURS do not require licenses in the US while GMRS does. Since a large percentage of the bubble pack radios have GMRS frequencies and the vast majority of users don't get licensed, you would have lots of company if you failed to get one.
If you are in Canada, FRS & GMRS is license free but MURS use is not yet allowed (2014 perhaps)

chris

da fungo
06-26-2013, 19:50
FRS & MURS do not require licenses in the US while GMRS does. Since a large percentage of the bubble pack radios have GMRS frequencies and the vast majority of users don't get licensed, you would have lots of company if you failed to get one. If you are in Canada, FRS & GMRS is license free but MURS use is not yet allowed (2014 perhaps) chrisBut isn't The GMRS license a no test, no qualification license? You fill out a form, pay a fee, and get your license.

Wise Old Owl
06-26-2013, 21:44
AAARRRRRRGGGGG!. I just spent that much on a new phone and kindle paperwhite.

My only consolation is that my phone takes pics, and Earl doesn't.

"Ahh dont worry about it... Get a I-Talian Smart phone." says Tony...


Smartphones are poor ebook readers under the best conditions due to their small screen. They're even worse under the sun. There's a very good reason eink screens are very popular even though b&w lcd screens cost less.

As far as not getting a cellular internet connection, obviously this thing is not a cell phone. If you have a cell phone connection, you don't even need an internet connection, just make a call. Sensors are used when a cellular connection isn't available. I especially like that it using inertia sensing to complement the gps.

If nothing else, I'd like to see this product push Garmin into seriously updating their devices. I was hoping AllSports would do that a couple years ago, but they never brought their device to market.

Sorry Leafye... I use Smart phone in the auto mode and it adjusts to light. Larger thinner screens and cheaters are just fine. E INK has been dumped by manufactures, in favor of color. It Doesn't sell.

I have a E-Ink Kindle is done folks without a backlight.


LW Doesn't work in the USA you need a wire a mile long on the eastern seaboard beach attached to a premium receiver with a good filter and the wire is suspended on 6 foot staves along the beach every 10 feet. SW sucks. Look AM/FM digital with MP3 is all you need.


I'm not in the market for something like this right now (don't even have a smart phone) but were I, I like all the features, especially the radio options SW/LW/AM/FM, but am wondering about the transceiver and if this requires a ham operating lic.


As a ham I understand.


Too big (6" screen), too heavy (10.8oz), no phone, no wi-fi. But at least it has e-ink. And the radio bands are nice.


When is somebody going to make a phone with e-ink?


The comment about phones making poor e-readers is bunk. The best e-reader is one that displays no more than you can absorb in a glance. I speed-read a book a week, reading two hours a day on 4" Android screen bouncing along the HOV in the back of a 15 passenger van. It used to take me three weeks to finish a paper book in the same conditions. The difference is the backlight light and not having to constantly re-find my place after every bump in the road. And unlike a book or a Kindle, it fits in my shirt pocket.


You only need a big screen and color to surf the internet. And then 6" isn't enough.

"thats what she said....."


The perfect device:


4" e-ink touch screen w/ backlight
2 week battery life in airplane mode
4 oz
Android
phone
wifi
am/fm/weather
gps
phone
SD card
waterproof/shockproof
Replaceable battery


Still waiting...


WOW I so agree...some smart phones come close.

leaftye
06-27-2013, 01:39
Sorry Leafye... I use Smart phone in the auto mode and it adjusts to light. Larger thinner screens and cheaters are just fine. E INK has been dumped by manufactures, in favor of color. It Doesn't sell.

I have a E-Ink Kindle is done folks without a backlight.


LW Doesn't work in the USA you need a wire a mile long on the eastern seaboard beach attached to a premium receiver with a good filter and the wire is suspended on 6 foot staves along the beach every 10 feet. SW sucks. Look AM/FM digital with MP3 is all you need.

Yes, your phone adjusts, and uses a ton of power to be readable in daylight. That's fine if you like carrying a big external battery to read a bunch.

E ink has been dumped? Someone forgot to tell Amazon about that.

Color is a possibility with e ink too, although the refresh rates are much better suited to e-readers and mapping devices than multimedia tablets and smartphones. Amazon just bought a color e-ink company last month. Qualcomm just spent another $60 million this month to further push their e-ink technology towards production. Qualcomm is that company that has parts in many, if not most, smartphones.

As far as LW and SW goes, you may be right, and it doesn't bother me. It has AM/FM and MP3, which is all I need, and it's a bonus if LW and SW work at all because I'll probably never use it. If you actually did want to use it, then you'd want to know that they've added an external connection for an antenna. That'd be appealing to me if I were a survivalist with a BOL.

ChuckT
07-18-2013, 11:33
Add Voice-to-Text transcription & sign me up!
cvt




The perfect device:

4" e-ink touch screen w/ backlight
2 week battery life in airplane mode
4 oz
Android
phone
wifi
am/fm/weather
gps
phone
SD card
waterproof/shockproof
Replaceable battery

Still waiting...