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Ultra-light ebook reader runs Linux

Dec 19, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 7 views

PDF software company Foxit is readying an electronic book reader that weighs 6.4 ounces, measures 0.4 inches thick, and runs Linux. The Foxit eSlick offers E Ink's low-power electronic-paper display, ships with an MP3 player, and sells for $100 less than an Amazon Kindle.

(Click for larger view of the eSlick)

Hanlin eReader V3
(Click for details)

As if spurred on by the success of the hard-to-come-by Amazon Kindle, which was rekindled by a recent endorsement by Oprah Winfrey, more and more vendors appear to be jumping into the ebook market. Like the Kindle, many of the new ebooks run Linux, and nearly all use the low-power E Ink EPD display technology.

The eSlick appears to be very similar to the recently introduced Hanlin eReader V3, as well as Bookeen's Cybook, which is on sale in Europe. Both of those products run Linux (Wolf Linux in Hanlin's case), offer similar 7.2 x 4.7 x 0.4-inch dimensions, provide similar USB and MP3 player features, and share the same E Ink 6-inch, 800×600 gray-scale display.

Whereas the eReader V3 and Cybook use the Samsung S3C2410 clocked at 200MHz, the eSlick runs the faster Samsung S3C2440, which offers an ARM920T RISC core clocked at 400MHz. The eSlick provides more memory than the Hanlin and Bookeen readers, with 128MB RAM, and like these two E Ink cousins, it supplies an SD card slot for storage, in this case offering a 2GB card standard, expandable to 4GB.

eSlick in white

The eSlick boasts up to 8,000 pages of continuous reading on a single charge, Foxit claims. An actual duration claim in hours is not provided, because EPD displays use power only to set an image, and none to maintain it. For more about EPD technology, see E Ink's AM-100 EPD dev kit.

E Ink says its technology has appeared in a variety of watches and other consumer electronic products from Seiko, Citizen, and Microsoft. It is also used in Sony's LibriE e-book, which is available in Japan. Linux ebook readers that use E Ink e-paper include the Readius, Amazon Kindle, eRead Star eBook STK-101, and the original iRex iLiad.

eSlick up close

Aside from the low weight, the key asset that seems to differentiate the eSlick is Foxit's embedded display software. The ebook reader offers Foxit Reader preinstalled, providing features including font controls with text reflow, and a zoom capability that is said to enlarge pages from 50 percent to 400 percent. Format support is limited to PDF and TXT files, but the device ships with Foxit's PC-based PDF Creator software, which is said to convert any printable document with formats including TXT, PPT, DOC, XLS, and HTML to PDF document format. Documents can then be downloaded to the eSlick via the USB connection. The Creator software, however, only runs on Windows.

The eSlick includes an MP3 player

Specifications listed for the eSlick include:

  • Processor — Samsung S3C2440 ARM 400MHz
  • Memory — 128MB
  • Flash expansion — SD Card slot (2GB card included); supports up to 4GB
  • Display — 6-inch E Ink Vizplex screen with 600 x 800 resolution and 166 dpi, 4-level gray scale
  • USB — 1 x USB 2.0 port (cable included)
  • Audio — MP3 player; earphones and adapter
  • Controls — Buttons for power, up, down, left, right, enter, delete, menu, and music
  • Plugs — Euro 2Pin, UK 3Pin, US 2Pin
  • Battery — rechargeable Lithium
  • Case colors — black, gray, or white
  • Dimensions — 7.4 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches (188 × 118 × 9.2mm)
  • Weight — 6.4 oz (180g) with battery; AC adapter included
  • Text formats — PDF, TXT
  • Bundled software — Foxit Reader Pro Pack, PDF Creator, PDF Editor (trial); PDF Page Organizer Pro (trial)
  • Operating system — embedded Linux


The Foxit eSlick will be available in January for an introductory price of $230 (standard price $260). More information may be available here.

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