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Archive for July, 2011

Air cooler vs. air conditioner: an opinion

I was recently in the need to find a cooling solution for a small room (20 sq.m, approx. 215 sq. feet), not too overheated, and I was considering buying an air conditioner. But taking into account that an air conditioner it’s a pretty expensive solution, I searched for an alternative and thus I discovered the evaporative air cooler (EAC), which promises to be a cheaper air refreshing solution. Despite the fact that online reviews weren’t very positive, I said to myself: “What the hell!”, and I decided to buy one (the exact model is Romix CO20).  It costed me only approx. 60 euros. At this price, it looked like a bargain.

Now, after a week of usage, here are my findings:

  • Don’t buy it if your room is really hot, because this small appliance will not improve the room’s temperature. I’ve use it with a big block of ice but the inside temperature remained absolutely the same. Not a single degree in minus. It just doesn’t cool the air.
  • What this appliance really does, is to increase the level of humidity in the room. In my room the level of humidity was quite low, 37%, and thus the air felt very hot and dry. When this appliance started to work, the air became instantly fresh and pleasant. Although the real temperature wasn’t lowering, the body was feeling much better.

Some people say that this EAC is nothing more than an overpriced cooler, but they are wrong. A cooler doesn’t improve the level of air humidity (relative humidity). I would compare the evaporative air cooler’s effect with the effect of a waterfall in the mountains, in a warm, sunny day. I suppose that anyone has seen at least once in a lifetime such a waterfall, and knows how pleasant the air is around it.

So, in conclusion, if your needs are limited, you can try the evaporative air cooler. I would say, if the temperature in the room doesn’t go over 26-27° C / 78-79° F, and the humidity is low, you can give it a try.  Otherwise, buy an air conditioning – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Prestigio PER5162b e-reader review

I am a fanatic of reading. I read since I was a little child. I have read tons of books up to my 20′s, and a lot more since then (I am a philosophy graduate). That’s why I was very interested to get an e-reader and I finaly bought one: a Prestigio PER5162b.

1. Why not a Kindle?

I searched and looked at a lot of Kindle reviews on Youtube and other video sharing websites, but since the recent discovery of Apple and Android security failures, I simply don’t trust anymore the big brands. I know that Kindle looks impressive, but the hidden marketing strategies that must be incorporated in it and the limitation of reading formats were enough and strong reasons for me to drop any choice regarding a Kindle purchase.

2. Why a Prestigio? What is Prestigio?

Prestigio is a brand originating from Cyprus. In fact, the parent brand is Asbis. Asbis is one of biggest IT hardware distributors in Eastern Europe and Prestigio is the brand-name for their e-readers and tablets. Most of their products are researched, developed and manufactured in China, but definitely not by any of the so many low-profile Chinese producers.

Currently, Prestigio sells three models featuring an e-ink display (I didn’t even bother to take into consideration buying an e-reader with TFT display – a tablet would be a better a choice if one needs to watch movies or color pictures). The low-end device is Prestigio PER3362, which costs around 100-125 euros and it is strictly an e-reading device, while the high-end device is PER5062 which has a touch-screen display, wi-fi connection, touch-screen keyboard and is sold for around 180-200 euros.

In between lays Prestigio PER5162 which looks much similar to Kindle 3 and is sold for around 150-170 euros. PER5162 has a 6” display, wifi connection and built-in mini-keyboard. Good to know, every Prestigio model, no matter the price, comes with a free leather cover and a pair of headsets, which are a very nice and useful add-on to the package.

PER5162 comes also with a 2Mb storage card.

3. Technicalities

There is little to be said about this e-reader. I think it is one of the best.

It can read the most popular formats: epub, fb2, pdf, doc, txt, rtf. When using the fb2 format, one can take notes and markups. The pdf reflow function is excellent, very convenient and it works smoothly. This e-reader can also reflow docs, but with long docs the processing time it’s much longer, so my suggestion is to save the docs as pdfs and only then put them on the e-reader.

The books can be organized in folders, with no matter how many levels in depth, for example “Authors – A” > “Aristotle”, “Authors – B” > “Bakunin”, “Baudelaire” etc. Thus, you can really organize an entire library into the card. The e-reader supports mini-SD cards up to 32 Gb.

Of course, the e-ink display makes it easy to read in plain light or in the sun. There is no screen reflection. The drawback of this technology is given by the fact that you cannot read without an external source of light.

The e-reader is very easy, it weights around 300 gr. including the leather cover. The buttons are very soft, but firmly. The main input control is a mini-joystick very similar to the joystick from PSP. I’m curious to see how long it will last, but it seems to be very solid.

The wi-fi and browser function is very convenient. The wi-fi receptor is very powerful, while the browser (a Linux browser) is excellent for basic tasks, such as checking emails or reading a newspaper frontpage. Of course, everything will be seen in black and white. However, from what I have seen in videos over Youtube, the Kindle’s web browser is more powerful. Luckily I don’t need it.

This e-reader also features two little games, a built-in radio, a photo viewer and an mp3 player. Honestly, I didn’t use so much these functions, but when I tested it looked ok. According to the specifications, you can read and in the same time listen to the radio or music player.

The reading options are very diverse. No matter the format, any document can be zoomed in and out (and there are at least 4 levels of zoom). The page can be fitted on the screen for the best reading experience. As stated before, with some documents, such as pdfs and docs, you can reflow the text, then zoom in and out until you have the best option. In the gallery, you can see a page from a pdf document, in initial mode, then in reflow mode (with the maximum zoom out level). As you can see, the reflowed text looks great and the page is much easier to read.

A notice about the gallery pictures: I did the pictures using the flash light. As you can see, the e-ink display looks exactly like a paper page. It doesn’t reflect light, it doesn’t “kill” your retina.

Although you close a book, the e-reader remembers your settings so the next time when you open that particular book, it will open exactly where you leaved it, and how you leaved it. All the reading activity is stored under the “History” menu.

I didn’t have until now any trouble with special Romanian characters, such as ş, ţ, â, î etc. I think that this e-reader can display virtually any european language. When taken out of the box, the storage card is filled with free books in a lot of languages, from English and German to Russian and Polish. I was curious to open one such book from every language, and I didn’t see any trouble.

There is also a voice reading option, but in my opinion this needs to be improved. There are only two languages, Chinese and English, and the English voice is quite dubious. When reading a literary work it really sounds bad. It works much better with journalistic texts.

4. Conclusions

Definitely, Prestigio PER5162b is one of the best e-ink e-readers currently on the market. It is a little bit more expensive than Kindle, but the package includes the leather cover and it reads virtually any e-book format. I’m highly recommending it.

As a final word I’m also recommending to download and install the firmware upgrade from the Prestigio’s website. It adds several options in the reading menus and solves some bugs with the wi-fi and the browser.

Later edit: other names / brands of this e-reader:

- Boeye G6 e-reader
- Delyca S600k