This is Part 2 of my review of the Hanvon e920 e-reader (mine is the PLUS version, which I think is the second generation), Part 1 of which is HERE. When we left off I was describing my reasoning for purchasing the device, namely specs that were better than either the Kindle DX or the Icarus eXcel, and a lower price point. After purchasing the device for less than USD $300 (on AliExpress), all I had to do was wait for the delivery, which in Singapore took two weeks or so from China (since I chose the free shipping option). I checked the tracking number daily, but Singapore Post is notorious for not updating tracking (possibly it was on a ship from HK), and finally it went from 'shipped from Hong Kong' to 'delivered' (it's such a small country, after all).
The package was well-wrapped and the device arrived unharmed. Here's a picture of the box that it came in. All that was in the box was the reader, some documentation in Chinese, and a software CD (also in Chinese). Yup, no English-language support.
Turning the device on was straightforward using the power button on the lower left. For an unboxing video (of the first generation of the device), look HERE. The power button is a bit finicky, but I discovered that there is a small blue LED indicator on the front of the device which lights up when the reader's processor is active. When the processor is active (LED on) the use of buttons doesn't register, which is perhaps why the power button seems finicky. Sometimes when the device is off, the power button also requires a few tries before it registers (you know it has registered when you see the blue light).
When the device turns on it defaults to a welcome/home screen. Everything is in Chinese. At this point I was like "Uh oh, how do I figure out how to change the language to English?" Fortunately I have a bunch of Chinese-speaking friends (I live in Singapore after all) so I wasn't too worried about asking for help if I needed it, but I took another look at the device first. There are five icons at the top left of the screen: a house, a note, a play button, a gear, and a refresh sign. I tapped the gear icon (remember, this is a touch screen) and it brought me to what I assumed was the settings page. All the options were still in Chinese, but I simply selected the first option, and a little window popped up with a few selection possibilities: Chinese characters and the word 'English' (in English). Selecting the 'English' possibility transformed all the options into English, and... voila! English language mode entered - level up! *cue Atari video game music*
So far I have had the device for a week, and it works really well, though it takes some getting used to. In Part 3 of this review (which includes an embedded video review) I'll discuss how I set up the device, what my favorite features are so far, and what the challenges have been with getting used to the Hanvon e920 (plus).
The last year has been quite busy - I completed my PhD, got hired on a 1-year contract as a postdoctoral Research Fellow, and have since returned to India and done many other things. Needless to say, I haven't been updating my blog very regularly.
This post is intended to remedy the situation somewhat, in the form of a review of a device I recently purchased as a Christmas gift for myself - the Hanvon e920. There are no comprehensive English-language reviews of this device, which is a shame, since it is quite a useful e-reader, particularly for those academics like myself who read a lot of PDFs. Because of the lack of reviews I actually agonized for a bit over whether to purchase it, but when I thought about it for awhile and compared it with its only real competition (the Kindle DX and Icarus Excel), I finally bit the bullet.
The Kindle DX, Icarus eXcel, and Hanvon e920 are pretty much the only 9.7 inch e-readers on the market. There are larger e-readers, such as Sony's 13.3 inch reader, but currently there are drawbacks to such solutions: Sony's, for example, only handles PDFs and retails for around USD $1000 (currently on sale for $800). I've owned a Kindle Paperwhite since 2013 after my friend Eric got one and showed me how it handled PDFs. The main reason I got one was because I was on my way to North-East India to spend 5 months doing fieldwork and I wanted an easy way to read linguistic articles and textbooks while trying to learn the Pnar language - the Paperwhite can handle a large library, is extremely portable, and allowed me to bring along ebooks to read for pleasure when I got really stressed out by cross-cultural living. The backlit display and the 2-3 week battery life were also quite handy in a place where electricity was not always easy to come by.
While I found the Kindle Paperwhite useful, there were some drawbacks when it came to reading PDFs. The main issue was how small the fonts were. This could be dealt with to some extent by changing the orientation to landscape mode, but then navigating PDFs could be troublesome, as I would often have to re-find my place on the page when moving to the next section (further down the page). Whitespace was also not always handled well by the Paperwhite. Sometimes I could manually crop the pages on my computer, save the PDF, and then copy the files to the Paperwhite. But the majority of articles still had fonts that were much too small for easy reading. Fortunately I have pretty good eyesight, but it gets tiring after awhile.
Thus began my search for a large-screen e-reader that handles PDFs. Originally I planned to get a Kindle DX - a professor friend of mine had one and it looked like it was exactly what I wanted. Similar storage space as my Paperwhite, larger screen... but the drawback was that it had no touchscreen. One of the benefits of my Paperwhite was being able to highlight text and take notes, but the DX doesn't have that.
Then I found the Icarus eXcel. Same size as the Kindle DX, but with a touchscreen and multi-configurable (check out THIS video review). The Icarus eXcel also lets you set your page frame (viewable area), annotate PDFs, take notes, and has a ton of other functionality. But the price is a bit off-putting, and some people on forums said that it is simply a re-branded Onyx Boox M92.
After searching through a few other forums, I discovered the Chinese company Hanvon. Apparently they make e-readers for a few other brands, but their own brand of e-readers is sold to Chinese consumers. At first I wasn't sure if I could use their e920, as it seemed there was no English support. But the specs were quite staggering - 9.7 inch screen with 1600x1200 resolution (!!), PDF support and great zoom options, support for a variety of other formats, expandable storage, touch screen and stylus with the ability to take notes and annotate PDFs, an MP3 player and more. Honestly, it seemed almost too good to be true. And then I discovered that you could only buy them in China.
Fortunately, after quite a bit of searching and Google Translate, I found that some Chinese vendors were selling them online via TaoBao and AliExpress, with free shipping to Singapore. The English versions of their pages were a bit confusing, but being a Linguist I figured I could understand them well enough and decided that they weren't scams. And I managed to find one on sale for under USD $300. So, like I said, I bit the bullet and bought it.
This post is getting a bit long, so I'll continue it later in Part 2 (now HERE), which will also include a link to a live video review of the e920. For now, you can compare the specs of the Kindle DX and Hanvon e920 by clicking on THIS link.
The last few months I've been a bit lax in posting, in part because things have been quite busy. In January I presented at a workshop in Nijmegen, and most of February-April was spent editing and resubmitting my thesis. I defended the thesis on the last day of March and submitted bound copies to the university on the 8th of April. It is finally done! You can download a PDF of my thesis on Academia.edu: https://www.academia.edu/11943811/A_Grammar_of_Pnar
It's great to be done, and now I'm back home in the US for a bit spending time with family, working on family projects and doing spring cleaning. I'll go back to Singapore at the end of May for a potential job there doing more research. My next post will give an update about the bunkhouse project.
I promised a few updates of my travels, and I'm off to Indonesia this weekend, so I figured I'd better write a couple blog posts this week. First up: CEBU! This always reminds me of the Veggie Tales short "Song of the Cebu". Now of course cebu in Spanish refers to a kind of cattle. Google defines it in Spanish as "Mamífero rumiante bóvido parecido al buey, con orejas colgantes, papada pronunciada y una o dos gibas sobre los hombros, en las que acumula grasa; vive doméstico en la India y en África, donde se utiliza como bestia de carga y se aprovechan su carne y su leche." So basically a cow.
According to this site, the island in the Philippines is called Cebu from the word SEBU which means 'animal fat'. No idea why though. Anyhow, I had heard that the diving in Cebu is amazing, and since I'd been wanting to learn how to scuba dive (yet another Veggie Tales reference) I joined a random group of folks who quickly became friends. We were greeted at the airport by the usual sign:
And then the adventure began with an uneventful 2-hr drive to the dive site. I'd be learning how to dive with my new Singaporean friend, and our instructor was Anqi, a friend-of-a-friend who had helped arrange the whole thing at The Blue Abyss dive shop in Moalboal. Probably my favorite part of learning to dive there was that the skills were part of the dive - no need to practice in a pool, we simply walked out into the more shallow part of the house reef where there was a sandy bottom. Once I realized I could breathe easily under water, diving was simple.
We had a series of beautiful days, and beautiful dives. I saw so many incredible things: pipefish of all varieties, pygmy seahorses, flame file shell, giant frogfish, scorpion fish, rock fish, lion fish, leaf fish, razor fishes, sardines, needle fish, porcelain crab, and many many more. What struck me was how beautiful the colors were, with great visibility, even at 18 meter depths. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera to take pictures with underwater, but now I know to be prepared next time.
Toward the end of the trip, while the rest of the group went to swim with whale sharks in Oslob, I stayed for a few more dives, and saw some of the most incredible things of the whole trip. On the last day we visited a local waterfall, a perfect end to an amazing trip. I'll definitely be going back, and now as a certified diver, maybe I'll get an advanced certification so I can visit wrecks. I'm actually seriously considering becoming an instructor, I enjoyed diving that much. So we'll see what happens. Until next time, Cebu!
I've been traveling a lot the last few weeks, holidaying in Cebu (where I learned how to scuba dive, which was fabulous) and Hong Kong, and I'm off to Indonesia next week. My church also released a new EP, which I'll blog about shortly. And more blogs to come about my travels. For now, though, I made an instructional video of how to play the song 'Breathe Deep', which is a jazzy tune on my first full length album of the same name. The catalyst for this video was a friend in Norway who wanted to learn it, which made me realize that all I had to show people how to play it was a rough chord chart. I play most things by ear, and I don't always know what the names of the chords are that I come up with for my songs, so for those who are not as ear-oriented I thought this video would be helpful. Check it out below.
A couple weekends ago I went to Phuket, Thailand with some friends. We found a really great deal and just decided to go for it. Initially it was just four, but then two friends wanted to come, and two more, so we ended up being eight. We got there on a Friday night and took a taxi to Kata beach, and the following day wandered around Phuket, checking out the viewpoint, having seafood, swimming in the ocean. The second day we took the ferry to Phi Phi island and did some snorkeling in a couple places. Here's a view from the shore of Maya Bay, which was rather crowded.
Well now that I've submitted my thesis I have been happily doing other things than writing. Among which, moving house (I'm staying with a friend for a couple months), planning adventures, hanging out with friends, and applying for jobs. It's been good to catch up with people and not have something hanging over my head any longer.
Last week I also tidied up my desk and tied up some loose ends, one of which was a Praat script. As I have mentioned before, online communities are a fabulous place to learn about various things, and one that is particularly active in regards to Praat can be found here on Yahoo. Praat is a free program to image and manipulate sound files (particularly for linguistic purposes) and scripts that automate various features can be extremely useful. I tried to write one that would plot a series of vowels with a circle encompassing the vowel spaces and a single character of the vowel in the center of each ellipse, but I was having trouble. José was able to rewrite the script for a cleaner and better result, for which I am extremely grateful.
For other linguists interested in a script that plots a series of vowels (F1, F2) from a CSV file, check out the link above or the file below.
Travel plans are coming together nicely, so I'll be updating a bit more often in the coming weeks, unless I get too busy having fun!
I finally submitted my PhD thesis last week. It has been a crazy final month. The reason I had that deadline was that here in Singapore (at least at NTU) all PhD students are given 4 years of funding in which to research and write their thesis. If your four years end before your thesis is completed, you are required to pay tuition for the remaining semesters that you continue writing.
Additionally, part of the requirement for the linguistics division (I think also for some of the other divisions in Humanities) is that you have to take 6 courses, which I did in my first year. So I only started doing research on Pnar 3 years ago, which is not much time in which to write a grammatical description of a language. Despite that fact, I managed to write a grammatical description of Pnar that totals about 550 pages of description and 100 pages of texts and appendices. So I'm pretty proud of that - though the description still needs a lot of work to clarify analyses and fix mistakes.
I used LyX/LaTeX to write and format the thesis, and I thought it might be useful to other students at NTU or those who use LyX in general if I included some of the files that I created for formatting purposes.
So here is the LyX file that you could use to write your thesis: NTU_PhD_Thesis_template.lyx
And this is the PDF that it can generate: NTU_PhD_Thesis_template.pdf
Of course this doesn't include my actual PhD, but that's partly because it's under examination. The next step in the process is to wait for comments from the examiners and then work furiously to incorporate them into the document, before I can resubmit and hopefully set a date for defense and confirmation of the actual degree. At least at the moment I'm feeling much more free!
I haven't had much time for blogging recently, since it's crunch time on my thesis. I was working even on the brief holiday (that's 'vacation' for all you Americans) I took to the US for my brother's wedding.
It's always a fabulous trip, visiting Silver Lake in the summer. This year was no exception. Despite a few rainy days, the weather was accommodating enough to allow for some good lake time. With nieces and nephews multiplying it makes for some fun times!
And the wedding was great. We even got to set off Chinese wish lanterns. But my favorite part was being able to spend time with family and friends - what a great trip! Now here's to writing!
I'm a linguist and singer-songwriter. I write about life, travel, language and technology.