HipStreet E-Reader Review… plus some

Well, I was in the local Wal-Mart the other day and spotted this little device in the E-book reader section. It is the HS-M700-4GBBK version of this particular device. Here’s a shitty picture.

It’s a reasonably well laid out device. It seems to function reasonably well but has some problems. Remember though, it has quite a low price of $78 so it was a reasonable purchase. First, let’s state the features stated on the product listing and write a review on each of the features:

7″ TFT Screen (800×480 res.)

Well, this was a bit of a disappointment. The screen works ok but it is pretty dim. Any kind of ambient sunlight, even near dusk, will render this screen dark.

The touchscreen itself is pretty bad too. Well, it’s not the touchscreen per say but the responsiveness of the software is pretty poor. When switching through stuff especially when running an app, the software doesn’t seem to register hits very well. That said, it does respond just well enough to function but it is frustrating.

4GB of internal storage

Yep, it does have that and the transfer rates seem reasonable. not much to say on this.

Built-in rechargeable battery

The battery is quite large as you’ll see in the pictures later. I haven’t been able to test it’s battery life but I would say it’ll last quite some time just playing music.

Loud internal speaker

Yes, they described it as loud. the speakers aren’t bad for how small they are and play loud enough so you can hear what’s being played. A point for Hipstreet.

Dual 3.5mm headphone jack

Yes, it has dual jacks. I suppose thats for if you have a friend that wants to listen in on another set. Both jacks appear to work fine for both line out uses and headphone.

USB 2.0 interface

Yes, it runs at USB 2.0 speeds, not much to say about this.

MicroSD slot (up to 16gb)

This too appears to function adequately.

Multi-task operation compatible

Yes, you can play music and browse through the menus or photos. not much else really to do. It does become a bit slower while this is occurring.

Ebook reader functions: TXT, PDF, EPUB, FB2, HTML

Ok, here is the real crux of the issue, the EBook capabilities. Let’s just say the reading is less than stellar for PDFs. While it does render them more or less properly, you can’t make it zoom page-wide . That means that even if you set the tablet to read sideways along the long portion, it’ll simply squish the pdf page into a smaller space. With a standard pdf you have two choices, barely readable and unreadable unless the text is large print.

With TXT, EPUB and PB2’s it seems to render OK, however the rendering is really slow. flipping pages can sometimes take quite a bit of time. Changing the font size with the +/- keys can take some time too, especially with a larger text file. Though, I must say, reading with it in the dark is quite OK.

So, in closing with this feature. Don’t use pdf’s.

Music: MP3, WMA, WAV, FLAC, AAC, APE, OGG

As one might expect with a device like this, the music playing is actually quite good. I tried MP3, WAV and OGG. They all played flawlessly. There is some lag between songs but it’s acceptable.

Video: MPG, AVI, MOV, RM

I tried some MPG’s and AVI’s. They played flawlessly. Some high resolution or low compression formats seemed to lag the player but it would get over it’s hiccups eventually. The player itself is decent, however, again, the screen is really dim so it’s really only good as a nighttime player.

Photos: JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG

Well, not much to say here, it displays all of those formats fairly well and has a slide show format. The interface isn’t terribly intuitive for panning but other than that, it is a picture viewer.

Voice recorder

Can you say “WSHHHHHHHsdgfsdgklfsdgjlfdg” That’s about all you’ll hear. The mic really suck so the recording suffers. Why they include these features is beyond me. Nobody uses them.

File Browser

Yes, you can cut, copy paste and delete. not a bad feature actually. Though there is no directory creation so I can’t fathom any real reason why you’d want to perform any of those operations.

Calendar

It really is just that. A calendar. No days of interest, no scheduling. Time and date. Nothing more. meh.

Summary

For a little under $80 bucks it’s not a bad device. If you have some EPUB books or something this might be OK. It does differ from the Kindle in the fact that you can use it in the dark, this may be it’s only redeeming feature in the EReader market. However, it does excel at playing music and video files so I suppose it has its charm there. So I give this device a 6/10 . I only give it a 6 because it was so cheap.

Plus some!!!

So decided to crack this puppy open. Here are some pics


This is the full unit open to the elements. As you can see the battery is quite large and the circuitry is quite minimal.

This thing is the CPU. I tried digging up info on the BOXCHIP F15 and it was unable to find a manufacturer. It looks as though this is a very common device for pre-packaged music/video players on the market today. It probably contains both a CPU and a bunch of decoding hardware for various file formats. While it’s running it does run somewhat warm to the touch but not very. must be quite efficient.

This is the K9GBG08u0a 4gb nand flash chip. this is what provides data storage. looks like you could put another chip on and extend the storage.

This is the K4H511638J-LCCC. It is a 64MB SDRAM chip. This of course provides the working ram for the BoxChip CPU.

Well, there ya’ go. The HipStreet Ereader.