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Reading msb pages in bright sunlight
#1
I have Mobile Sheets files loaded on an Acer (Android) tablet, which is very difficult or impossible to read clearly in sunlight.  Tablets like Kindle with a 'paper' surface don't have the same problem with glare.  Is there a tablet with such a surface that would be suitable for .msb files?
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#2
Hey Bazza,

E-Ink products have mostly been designed for reading ebooks so they were too small to be used for sheet music but in the last few years a handful have come out that are around A4/letter page size (or 13 inch diagonal). The early ones were still not great for sheet music because they had really slow processors which made them unreliable but the latest ones are starting to get good. I did some reading on them and ordered the Onyx Boox Max 3 which looks like it might be the best for sheet music out of the newer ones - it has a decent processor and runs Android 9 which makes it more compatible with apps than most (some run Android 4 or 6 and some just have their own OS) as well as a big battery (4.3Ah), good onboard storage (4Gig/64Gig), stylus and touch, OTG, fingerprint scanner, and good reviews. It was meant to arrive today but hasn't yet. Sony has one around the same size in their Digital Paper range but it doesn't run Android (although it can be made to) and its Bluetooth is meant to be a bit dodgy. There's an Italian company called Padmu that used to make one but they now just sell rebranded Onyx Boox products. There's also the Gvido which is two A4 tablets joined together - I don't think it's been updated for a while but they're marking them down atm.

There are also a few in the 10 inch range - a fair bit smaller but also way cheaper. The ReMarkable 2 has just come out and it looks good but is mostly designed for note taking. Onyx Boox also have a 10 inch (the Note2) which has a front light (none of the 13 inch ones have a light). Sony do a 10 inch Digital Paper too.

I just had a look at the Onyx site and between the 3rd and 21st of June they have 10% off the Max 3 and 5% off their smaller ones.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions about the Max 3. With luck I should have one soon.

Cheers, Guy
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#3
Hello Guy!

Thanks for the information.  The Onyx devices look good, but I'm a bit hesitant about the price.  The Note 2 would be about this size of my current tablet, which is o.k. for present purposes, but still fairly costly by comparison.  Like a lot of these things, it would have a lot of functions that I'd never use.  (I just want to store, manage, and display about 3,000+ Mobile Sheets pages instead of carrying around several kgs. of paper).

Having said that, I'd be interested to know how the Onyx 3 measures up, when you have had a chance to play with it. If you have a minute to post an update to this query in due course, I'd appreciate it.

Cheers,
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#4
Yeah, I guess the market for e-Ink at that size is so much smaller than for tablets that they're probably going to be more expensive for a while. Good that they're starting to put some proper tech into them though. I had a look at Acer 10 inch tablets and some of them are seriously cheap but I do a fair bit of playing outdoors so it's good to know that they don't hold up.

I spoke to FedEx this morning and the Max 3 is waiting in Singapore to get on a flight for the last leg to Sydney but they don't know how long it will take before it can get on to one. I think they're bumping everything for medical supplies still. Anyway, will report back. Really hoping that I can replace my gig folders with these - my gig bag is insanely heavy and only has a fraction of my music.
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#5
I have an Onyx Boox N96ML (almost 10-inch). The screen is great in sunlight - or indeed in any conditions - but it suffers from the sluggishness that you mentioned, Guy, in relation to these older models. The other problem with it is that the use of colour in MobileSheets for menu labels, etc, makes some things very hard to see on the monochrome screen. There is a MobileSheets version for e-screens which I assume overcomes this but it requires Android 5 or later, and this old Boox is only Android 4 and doesn't seem to offer a way of upgrading.
The Max 3 presumably fixes both of these problems ... but ouch - the price!
Like Bazza, I look forward to hearing how you find it.
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#6
Hi Raysa. Good to hear the e-Ink works well outdoors. I haven't had a chance to try the e-Ink version of MSP but Mike made a video of it and the display looks great. In his post about it he details the other differences. Looking forward to being able to tell you how it works with the Max 3. It is a shame it's so expensive but hopefully this generation of devices will be the one that really works and then take up will be big enough to eventually push the prices down. Tablets are becoming the standard way of storing sheet music and e-Ink seems to have benefits over backlit screens so the market for them could become much bigger than it is now. If the Max 3 works as well as I hope and lasts long enough for me to get some decent use out of it then it'll be worth it for me at least. Cheers, Guy
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#7
Hi Raysa and Bazza,

The Max 3 arrived a couple of days ago. Installing MSP was no problem - I got the e-Ink version through Mike's site and it all went smoothly.

There are tricks to using it so that you avoid some of the pitfalls of e-Ink and I guess I'm just starting to learn those. For example to start off with I was trying to scroll through pages by dragging them evenly down the screen but it works better if you don't try and do it smoothly or if you just use the page down button, plus it took me a while to realise that the contrast was set at zero. Sheet music and in particular scanned sheet music is easier to read with the contrast up a bit. It's totally fine for reading in daylight but I'm surprised at how good it is in low light. Whatever they use for the backing seems to pick up low ambient light really well.

It takes around 20 seconds to switch on but once it's on it seems to be able to deal with whatever I've asked it to do without lagging. Moving round the OS is really quick and the few apps I've tried on it all seem to work without any problems. There are some features on the OS that will probably come in handy but I'm just starting to work them out. My next gig isn't until the end of the month at this stage so I'll get to keep trying it out before I have to use it in public and I guess to start off with I'll take printed parts along just in case.

I haven't tried the different refresh modes yet and the device has settings for optimising each app and for freezing background apps which I also haven't touched. The e-Ink version of MSP is already optimised so that shouldn't be a problem and I might have a play with the refresh rates but it all seems fine as is so far. I think I've noticed the battery depleting faster with wi-fi on but haven't tried bluetooth yet (or even had to charge it so far).

It came with a couple of screen protectors and I made the mistake of playing around with it for a while before putting one on so there are a few bits of dust trapped under it now but it's not a problem. It also came with a folio cover, spare nibs, remote control, USB-C to MicroSD dongle, cables and stylus. The stylus is great for sketching and note taking but for MSP you can just use touch controls (so I won't be stuck if I don't have the stylus at a gig).

The English language version of the manual and the OS seem to have been translated by a non-native speaker so they're quite idiomatic but not incomprehensible.

I've had a look for conventional tablets of the same size so that I could compare them to the e-Ink because I thought they would be cheaper but the 13 inch ones available round here all seem to be more expensive than the Max 3 and if you want one with a decent processor then they're a fair bit more. I might have a look at some 10 inch tablets to see whether they would be big enough but I'm guessing they'll be too small for the music I use (staff notation rather than lead sheets or chord charts) which is a shame because the Boox Note 2 would be great with it's front light.

Bazza, how do you go with the 10 inch? Do you use it with notated parts?

Let me know if you have any questions. If I find any problems I'll post again. Next thing for me is to try out the companion and have a look at some BT page turners. Very happy with it so far.

Cheers, Guy
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#8
(06-06-2020, 11:32 AM)Oz Cello Wrote: Let me know if you have any questions. If I find any problems I'll post again. Next thing for me is to try out the companion and have a look at some BT page turners. Very happy with it so far.

Cheers, Guy

It would interesting to hear your experience with battery life while connected to BT turner (with Wifi off) and also in different refresh modes.

I've heard many complaints about Wifi depleting battery quickly at mobileread forum but there are also many people with dead battery after few years of usage.
Hopefully yours will be fine. I was the impression that e-Ink screen device would be charged at least twice less often compered to LCD device so battery life (over the years) would last much longer.

Another downer for me was that e-Ink 13.3-inch readers have no front light (similar to backlight on LCDs) - most of my performances would be in dimly lit venues where some clip on light is preferable.
And security - using confidential sheets/scores/files on devices like Onyx is not someone should try.

I was very tempted to go with rooted 13.3" Sony's Digital Paper but I was not able to verify that BT turner would work.
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#9
Really useful info, Guy - thanks. As a result of this discussion (and the recent good weather with opportunities to play outside in sunshine) I have fired up my old Boox N96 and installed the latest MSP.

As mentioned before, the e-ink screen is great in sunlight or any light down to darkness (the N96 has a switchable/adjustable top-light which does for an e-ink screen what the back-light does for LCD screens - doesn't the Max have that?).

I envy the considerably advanced specifications of the Max3 and other recent models compared with the N96 - especially their use of later Android versions which allow the e-ink version of MSP to be used (having to use the standard MSP on an e-ink screen has some big disadvantages).

In answer to both you and 'otnt', Wi-fi is a big drain on any tablet and is best switched off except when needed. Bluetooth, however, seems to use very little power - I use an AirTurn page-turn foot pedal without any problems on both the N96 and a normal LCD tablet.

Cheers, Ray
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#10

.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11)
.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11)
.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11)
.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11)
.pdf   Bosham polka (a).pdf (Size: 15.97 KB / Downloads: 3)
.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11)
.pdf   Bosham polka (a).pdf (Size: 15.97 KB / Downloads: 3)
.pdf   Lady Pentweazle's Maggot (G) (3-pt).pdf (Size: 39.98 KB / Downloads: 11) Guy, Thanks for your helpful information about the Onyx 3. It all sounds good and, if i can steel myself to the price, well worth further thought.  I don't often play outdoors but, when I do, the poor visibility of a conventional tablet is a real liability. 

You ask: 'how do you go with the 10 inch? Do you use it with notated parts?'   For my purposes, a 10" screen is usually ample - and a lot more tidy and discreet than a music stand.  Most of our material (folk trio) consists of 32-bar tunes, often with at least one accompaniment line: I use a notation app and save them as .PDF files (A5 landscape) to bring into Mobile Sheets.  One screen will hold a one-tune page quite readably - i.e. 4 double staves.  Tunes are generally played consecutively in sets of 2 or 3 and I use a Donner
Bluetooth forward-and-back page turner pedal.  Longer tunes, and those with 3-stave arrangements, go over more than one page: deft footwork can be needed but it's no real hardship. (I'll try and attach a couple of examples).
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#11
Thanks for your replies otnt, Ray and Bazza.

I haven't tried to measure how much extra power the wi-fi takes on the Max3. The Sony DP site says that it triples the consumption and I've read double for some of the other Boox tablets but they use very little power without wi-fi. Apparently bluetooth doesn't consume much but I don't have a BT turner yet to try that out on.

The refresh modes don't seem to be much use for MSP - the e-Ink version is optimised for Normal mode (no scrolling/animations) and the other modes are different ways of trading off image quality if you need faster loading (speed mode), smoother scrolling (A2), or video (X mode) which MSP doesn't. I did give them a quick try and they don't seem to give any useful improvements and the ghosting is a little worse with them. On the Max3 normal mode has been fast enough so far - I have a few pages that are dense images rather than scalable vector fonts and they sometimes take a moment to load but it's very quick. Pages printed to pdf from Sibelius come up instantly.

The Max3 has no front light. I've read that 13 inch screens are too big for front lights to work and they only just manage the 10 inch screens. I've got some reading lights for my music folders which I'm sure will work but they might be overkill - the light from my phone screen is enough for me to read the Max3 so I might see if I can find a small clip-on light. Most of my gigs are in good light.

Having Android 9 on the Max3 is supposed to be better for security (I think there are apps that will encrypt your data) and it has fingerprint and password security but I haven't tried to work with any of that yet.

I looked into the Sony Digital Paper before buying the Max3. Their 13 inch is cheaper but the Max3 just looked like it was better thought out (plus it has Android 9 and good BT integration).

Bazza, those charts look like fun. They do look like a 10 inch screen would be more than enough. Our charts are denser, often 10 or 12 lines of music and quite small type. With some of the parts I've created on Sibelius they're even smaller because I've tried to fit them into one or two pages. I imagine we could get away with 10 inch screens if they were landscape but then we'd need two or three scrolls for each page and repeats/DCs etc would take some sorting out - probably a false economy for us.

The Max3 came with a dedicated remote control which I've had a play with but I realise that I'll need a pedal turner, and probably a stand designed for holding a tablet too. At least quarantine has given me time to look into all this.

Thanks again for your help. Guy
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#12
I just tried out the Max3 at a wedding gig for the first time. All worked well. I've been using it every day and it hasn't glitched on me yet. If that keeps up I'll look at changing the quartet over to them.

I borrowed a friend's Blueturn and that connected easily and worked without me having to mess with the settings. I'm keen to get myself a Firefly though.

I got to try out the X mode. I installed a tuner app and the pitch display worked much better than in the normal mode. I doubt I'll end up using it though because if I need a tuner I normally use the one on my phone. MSP is still working well in normal mode.

I haven't come across any problems with MSP yet. I set up a separate library for quartet parts and I'm going to have to work out what to do about duo and trio music. Really looking forward to the versioning update and I imagine that will change how I control the parts a bit.

Mike, just wondering what order your planning on doing the upcoming updates in? I think I saw you mentioning that the annotations update is almost ready to go and that you have other updates planned like the iOS version. Any idea when the versioning update will be coming?

Guy
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#13
Guy,

My planned order is the annotations redesign, then the iOS version, then I'll be working on both the song versioning and chord pro additions (chord grids, and other promised features). I don't think I could pin down a date on when the song versioning will be released though, as there are too many variables with the iOS version to know exactly when it will be ready to be released.

Mike
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#14
Hi Mike,

Thanks for the reply.

I have a problem with the auto-scroll on the Max3. Just wondering whether this is likely to be the Max3 or the app or just me not understanding how it's meant to work. Auto-scroll was working fine when I was using it with the default setting but when I set the speed as 'immediate' it doesn't do anything when I try and start the auto-scroll. In fact once auto-scroll is started the page doesn't change at all, even if I change it with the scroll bar (the scroll bar position changes but the page doesn't) or try and drag the screen. I have the upper touch areas set up for previous piece, top of piece, and next piece, and those all stop working as do the default left and right page turn touch actions. Touching the centre still works as usual. If I then change the scroll settings so that the speed is no longer immediate (I've been using fastest to avoid animation) then that doesn't change anything (the page stays where it is and the touch areas that are meant to move it don't) unless before I save the scroll settings I also tap on another field in the scroll settings. In fact even if I don't change the speed away from immediate but I tap on one of the other fields then the page jumps to where it's meant to be (where the scroll bar says it should be or where the auto-scrolling would have taken it to in the time elapsed I guess). But if I do leave it on immediate then it still won't auto-scroll. I just tried it on my laptop which has the free google play version and it does the same thing so I guess it's not the Max3. [I've just done some more playing around with it on the Max3 and it has this problem in vertical scrolling mode but not in single page mode - it doesn't scroll by percentage of page in single page mode but it also doesn't freeze the page; plus I found that once or twice I could use the top right touch zone to move to the next piece while it was frozen but the next piece was then blank and it wouldn't go back to the piece I'd started on.]

Another small problem on the Max3 is that when I change to a different library in the library settings it doesn't highlight the library when I touch it so I couldn't work out how changing the library worked. I had to try it out on my laptop to see what was happening there and now I can change to a different library without any problems but only because I know that it should be highlighting the library when I select it.

When I was at the wedding gig the other day I remembered that I'd seen an option for displaying the time on the screen but couldn't remember where. I spent ages looking through the settings before I found it in the action bar. I then did the same thing again this morning when I was trying to find it on my laptop. I don't know whether it would be possible to add it to the display settings but thought it might be worth mentioning.

Many thanks, Guy
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#15
Hi again Mike,

Just wanted to check how backups work with multiple libraries. When you do a back up does it back up all libraries or just the library you're in? I was assuming it would do everything but the back up is the same size as the synchronise folder for the default library.

Cheers, Guy
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