Chinese electronics company Xiaomi may be best known globally for its smartphones, laptops, and media streamers, but the company makes a wide range of other products ranging from WiFi routers to smart washing machines.
In its home country, Xiaomi also sells a line of eBook readers featuring electronic paper displays. And the latest is a model called the Xiaomi InkPalm 5 that’s smaller and cheaper than many other models on the market.
Available for purchase from the Xiaomi YouPin website for 599 CNY ($~91), the InkPalm 5 features a 5.2 inch, 1280 x 720 pixel electronic paper display with 284 pixels per inch, a glass cover, and touchscreen support. It also has a front-light with support for 24 different light level adjustments and adjustable color temperature so you can reduce the levels of blue light when reading at night, for example.
Measuring 143.5 x 76.6 x 6.9mm and weighing 115 grams, the InkPalm 5 is the size of a small (by modern standards) smartphone, making it easier to carry around in your pocket than a typical eReader sporting a 6 inch or larger display.
It also has something else in common with a phone – the device is powered by Google Android, which means that while it has a custom user interface and it’s designed first and foremost for reading digital books and similar content, you should be able to load third-party Android apps on the device.
That said, as you’d expect from a device that sells for less than $100, the InkPalm 5 doesn’t exactly have high-end specs. It has just 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, ships with Android 8.1, and has a 1,400 mAh battery which should provide days or weeks of run time for reading on an ePaper device, but much less time if you try to do a lot of web browsing or other activities that can tax the system’s resources.
Other features include support for dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, and power and volume buttons on the side (the volume keys can be used as page turn keys as for controlling audio levels).
You can find more details at the Xiaomi YouPin website, or visit Xhuanlan Zihihu for a hands-on review of the InkPalm 5. The review is in Chinese, but it’s pretty easy to get the gist using Google or Microsoft Translate. Plus there are plenty of pictures.
There’s no word on if or when the InkPalm 5 will be available outside of China.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. I appreciate you too the time to do so. There’s very little info out there about this particular reader, but it looks interesting.
E-ink or even color E-ink sounds nice but the battery saving is only for e-readying, that’s it. Anything else requiring wifi will drain the battery fast! So, don’t be like me who romanticized the idea of having days worth of handheld devices like a phone or tablet replacement.
So glad someone posted about this device. I own the competing one Tencent’s Pocket Reader 2 (see here https://www.gizmochina.com/2019/12/16/tencent-pocket-reader-2-launched/) it’s very similar in size, minor spec differences, was a bit tricky to buy one but I absolutely love it.
I was surprised not to find any English tech blogs/youtubers were aware of it or this other Xiaomi device (which I considered but the other one has 2GB ram and is on its 2nd gen, no warm light though). Maybe you can write about that one too. The main reason these devices exist from what I gather is to attract new customers into their ebook marketplaces (both Xiaomi and Tencent/QQ have their own) they’re affordable gateway products, I even noticed you could get the Pocket II for ‘free’ as long as you kept up your reading stats (via their integrated store/app) every day for a period of time. However they’re also perfect for those of us who miss the ‘tech gets smaller instead of bigger’ trends of yesteryear and all ultra portable devices. Hope to see more of these, maybe Kobo will get back to doing minis.
Well actually one kinda major spec difference in the Tencent one is that it can take a sim card and although not marketed as a phone (and not at all comparable to those Hisense e-ink phones) you can make calls/text or use it for data. It also takes an SD card and has a headphone jack (not sure if this one does). So the differences are not too minor but as an ‘e-reader’ they’re very similar apart from the warm front-light and processor differences.
Just wondering, were you able to change the UI of the Pocket Reader 2 to English? And can you sideload APK files?
Hi Jim, I don’t own the Xiaomi one so can only speak for the Tencent Pocket.
I did, and yes you can. Although regular e-ink limitations for apps apply and keep in mind this is not like a Boox device (I also own a Nova2) which can handle apps very efficiently. You can change the refresh mode (2 options High Quality and Fluency) for smoother scrolling and the like, yet I wouldn’t install anything beyond the basics, it’s an e-reader after all. Simple apps for reading, email etc will work fine.
It has a custom stripped down Android UI and you can’t change language from the settings but I used an app called morelocale to ‘force’ the English UI, did this partly via adb (you can unlock developer mode and activate USB debugging pretty easily) mainly so that sideloaded apps run on English by default because the UI is bare bones and it wouldn’t have been a problem to keep in Chinese, but apps were also running in the default language and not all have the option to change this. It worked well.
I bought mine ‘used’ so it already had ‘developer options’ activated and a file explorer app installed so I just dragged APKs via usb and installed from the file explorer. The device has a ‘your apps’ section called App Center so I suppose they offer a way of installing via their software/cloud. But you can just as easily install via USB/adb once you activate developer options (while you will have to do this in Chinese, it helps to use the google translate camera on your phone).
My only real issue has been finding a good app for reading! The inbuilt one is no good, and I find most Android ones sub par. I really liked Koreader when I tested it, thought it was the one, but it only worked well with Epubs (mobis are messy, no covers, no metadata and no separation of pages) and even at that sometimes it failed (crashed when opening a large epub) if not for that I would’ve kept it as otherwise it looked and worked great.
So far the only other app I liked was Lithium (which is ONLY for Epubs) but it doesn’t allow custom fonts or dictionary so I settled on good old Moon Reader which works perfectly for everything but I’ve always found it doesn’t render text as efficiently as it should and leaves a lot of unnecessary ‘gaps’ so you really have to tweak it to find a sweet spot, and even when you find it there will be an unexplainable gap somewhere in the text. It’s strange since it’s actually designed to be used on phones! I plan on writing to the developer about this. But apart from that just finished my first book on the device yesterday and I really enjoyed reading on it. It’s very light, you can hold it in one hand and very easily turn pages, the screen is good, and it’s fast. I had little to no ghosting, and barely notice any refresh while reading using the HQ mode.
If there’s a reading app you recommend I’d be happy to try it! Of course the Kindle app works fine (it comes with the Chinese one pre-installed so you’ll have to remove that and use your local one as it won’t allow you to sign in) but while I do like reading on a Kindle device I’m not a fan of the app. Other regular reading apps should also work.
OK. Just to add I finally settled on KOreader (vs. Moon) It renders text SO much better than MR and is overall a very pleasant app to use. Turns out it also didn’t actually crash as I mentioned, just took a long time to open the file and because I didn’t have the ‘keep screen on’ option enabled when I turned the device back on it said ‘app taking too long to respond’ but actually, if you click ‘wait’ (or if the screen stays on) it does finish loading the massive EPUB. Has a little progress bar and everything. Worth pointing out this only happens with that file which is thousands of pages. Now I’ve gone and decided to better just use EPUB files from now on (as I mentioned MOBIs do work on the app, but not as well) so just for future reference KOreader works charmingly well on the device. 🙂
Is there a way to change the UI to English?
I use my hisense a5 solely as an ereader and it’s my favorite eink ereader ever. The normal kindle form factor was never that comfortable for me to read or carry, so I very much recommend this more phone-ish form factor and imo android is a great ereading os, far better than any proprietary os out there. Read anything, ebooks, newsletters, blogs, email, journals, websites etc from any source in any software you like without hassles like conversion and trying to shoehorn content into the form Amazon wants you to read it in.
The a5 was about twice the price of this, but it comes with a familiar very battery efficient qualcomm chipset, a much larger battery, great build quality, so I’d say it was worth it, though I do wish I had that color temperature feature, and this does look like it would be more fun to unbox.
“1280 x 7200”
Wow, ah 5.62:1 Aspect Ratio is really something new.
Doesn’t even look that tall in the bictures.
Or it does have a real odd pixel geometry.
(Jokes aside, I think there is a 0 to many)
128 x 7200 would be pretty wild!
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