Hiebook Review

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This is a review of the Hiebook Reader


[edit] History

  • Released in '99 as a Beta
  • Full production and 'finalised' hardware in 2000, though w/ bugs
  • First-Gen hardware had poor battery management, dim backlight and unreinforced "pocket-style" carry-case.
  • Second-Gen (common after 2001 incl. Godspeed); Better V. regulation, battery life, brighter screen/backlight, improved "folding-wallet" carry-case.
  • Firmware: 3.2.0 Builds-1 ~ 10
  • Third, last release: Godspeed, added hot-glue spots for screen support (internally).
  • Firmware: 3.5.0 Builds-9 ~ 15

[edit] Features

  • Languages Supported: English (Romantic languages, chars), Korean (w/ some Chinese), Russian.
  • File Types Supported: KML, TXT, DOC**, HTML, MP3 (as long as it was =/< Word 95 .doc and Word-95 proggy).
  • Currently Supportable: KML, TXT, HTML, MP3
  • PC Operating Systems required: Any 32-bit from Win98 through XP.
  • PC Operating Systems not supported: Vista (0 and 3), Linux (natively)

Memory can be easily extended using SMC (Smart Media Card-up to 128MB) or, by using a xD-SMC-convertor. This can be had on eBay for ~$20 with memory. The plastic 'dog house' may need to be removed to allow full insertion.

Battery: common cell phone-sized, 1400~1800mAh, 3.6~3.7V, 10mm(D) x 34mm(W) x 50mm(L) max

[edit] History of firmware:

Two generations of firmware: 3.2.x for all Hiebook-branded units. is most common and still available. Godspeed modified, creating their first Bible tools version; At some point after build 10(?), all production and firmware was produced in Korea, whom then delivered units ready with ~ 15. A build-11 has never surfaced.

The hardware being identical (internally), firmwares may be swapped using two loader programs.

The first program supplies the emOS (Embedded Multimedia Operating System) and a layer called 1.0 (Hiebook) or 1.1 (Godspeed) which is a DRM function. This layer is key to the dictionary function (Hiebook) or Bible-Tools function (Godspeed). The second is the Apps package, as built, depending on Build number. Godspeed (3.5.0.x) was written to dump in the whole thing (to unit via USB) and the Hiebook (3.2.0.x) allows selecting individual items; great if stripping down a unit for single purposes, conserving space. Apps could always be added again later.

[edit] History of Content:

Hiebook as a reader was slated for online .kml book purchases. It's lock-in was for that content. Godspeed Released eBible to leverage protestant users with Christian text. This was via online downloads <<method? dunno, never saw it in work>> . Once the site closed up, that content became abandonware in the form of copies on various memory cards, throughout the world. This content includes:

  • Bibles: CEV, HCSB, Message, NASB, NIV, NKJ, KJ, New Living, and a Spanish version of King James.
  • Commentary: BarnesNT, Geneva Footnotes, John Wesley, Treasury of Script, Easton, KSVD and Naves.
  • Lexicons: Strong's Greek and Hebrew
  • KJV Translator Footnotes, Mathew Henry Concise
  • Webster's 1913 Dictionary
  • Thompson's Chain
  • Samples (complete) books: Praying God's Word, Experiencing God came with new units.

A couple bibles were included on memory cards; when bought, they could be delivered pre-populated.

Total volume of the online content was less than 50MB, not much, and also limited the market-share. Also available were Daily Living prayer guides (monthly) and such.

No games were included on the Godspeed version. Those for Hiebook (and ones written/ported later) work fine on either style. Original Hiebook games: Othello, puzzle, Sokoban, Omok. Later was added Minesweeper "hiemine-0.3.0.exe" All games could and can be added via a PC executable file.

The units were inherently unreliable due to poor case design -plastic being very lightweight. This ultimately decided Godspeed Computings' focus and marketing. The glass often broke if unit was unduly twisted or dropped. The DC socket was cheap and would oxidize, center-pin failing after a couple years, sooner if near the ocean. The backlight was more reliable...but still relative.

Hot gluing the screen in, soldering the back-side of the connector and a jumper can get around these issues -and add USB charging functionality. Charging wasn't an issue when first produced. PC-99 computer standards weren't believed to be consistently executed to rely on the USB port for more than 100mA, the surge required to hook the internal charging chipset. So, no charging ability via the USB -though the unit uses 5Vdc, delivering it to within a 1/4-inch of the USB. And so is born the jumper trick.

Godspeed took back too many units as they easily broke down with ordinary care. They refocused on and retooled their core-competency to serving Christians with more interaction and dynamic content (the authors words, not theirs), later using the Palm platform. Too bad for little Hiebook, but good for their people and the public.

This info was compiled was web-searches and archiving over the years, dismantling, databasing, modifying 50+ books, bricking *many*. As a side note: of the dozens this author has re-distributed, most go outside the USA; mostly Europe and Australia, none to Asia-Pacific. And, after modifying, none have failed in the field.

35MB of the abandonware content, the above listed, is still available. All the original build tools, various PC software and Hiebook/ Godspeed firmware ( and loaders are still available. Contact honico via this forum (wiki.mobileread.com) or eBay for more info.

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