Running on E-Ink


This is a first trial running SailRacer app on E-Ink Adroid reader, and it looks promising.

Visibility in direct sunshine is the biggest problem for mobiles phones and tablets. Most of them have LCD screens that works with backlight LED’s – certain pixels are dimmed on top of light panel to form a view. E-ink technology reflects the light – what makes it ideal for outdoors.

We have tested this Android inkBook reader and here are some conclusions:

  • Visibility is PERFECT!
  • Battery time. Most of e-reader’s manufacturers makes it as an advantage, but… for updating the screen (not for holding the static view) it requires even more power than LCD. It depends on a data flow, but SailRacer updates a screen at least two times per second – this kills 2000mAh battery in 4 hours.
  • Android version 4.2.2 (very old). Also, it is kind of customized Android version without GooglePlay and without important services like GoogleMaps etc. Apps can be installed only manually by putting and running the APK file.
  • Bluetooth 4 is not supported. Even specification says that it has Bluetooth 4 chip, but Android 4.2.2 does not support it. BLE libraries were introduces in Android 4.3. So there is no way to connect Smart devices like Datalinker.
    The only way to connect data NMEA  – via TCP/WiFi, or to use Mobile as a bridge: Datalinker -> Phone with Datalinker server app, Tethering/Hotspot ->e-reader.
  • It is not waterproof.

Next steps:

  • Replacing battery to 4x bigger one;
  • Adding small solar cell for constant charging;
  • Flash it to full version of Android 4.3;
  • Waterproofing;
  • Special SailRacer app version for mirroring the screen – It will save some computing power also will enable to mount this screen on a mast.

If you have similar or better experience with e-inks, let us know. Maybe it is time to build sailors e-ink reader tablet.