The Bime B1 Max+ Color is a tour de force. It is simply the best powerful color e-paper digital note taking device in the world. This device has 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a massive quadcore processor. You can freehand draw, take notes, edit PDF files and annointatins ebooks with 20+ different colors. There are precious few large screen digital note taking devices you can buy, and if you are looking for something that will handle all of your favorite Android apps, look no further.
The Bigme B1 Pro Max+ Color features a 10.3-inch E INK Carta HD and E INK Kaleido Plus color filter array. The resolution on the black and white panel is 1872×1404 with 2277 PPI, the color panel resolution is 936×702 with 117 PPI. The screen is flush with the bezel and protected by a layer of glass. The color scheme of the device is white and has a small black strip on the left-side, this looks like a spine of a book. There are four microphones at the top of the screen, this is used for voice communication apps such as WeChat, WhatsApp, Discord or a myriad of others. Audio notes can also be recorded and interjected into the note taking app. Additionally, recordings can be translated from language to another.
This 10.3-inch display can easily read A5 documents. A5 is exactly half the size of A4 size for the ISO paper size all sizes are the square root of two. So for example the width and the height of pages are related to each other like a side and a diagonal area of a square. A5 paper is a popular size option used for a wide range of applications from document printing to greetings cards making and photo reproduction. It can be used to view and edit PDF files, but this format looks the best on A4 e-notes that have a 13.3 inch screen.
There are 36 white and amber LED lights that are positioned alongside the sides of the bezel. They are used to project light not into your eyes, but evenly across the screen. This is called a front-lit display and the amber LED lights provide a warm candlelight effect. The lights can be blended into each other, and once you find the sweet spot, the screen is brilliantly white. You can control the illumination settings from the dropdown menu, by tapping the top of the screen.
Bigme employs a WACOM screen on the Max+ Color. This allows you to use the accompanied stylus to draw or take notes. The Max+ Color comes with a free stylus. The pen has 4,096 degrees of pressure sensitivity, which means the lighter or harder you press, the thicker/thinner the lines will become. Many pens for Wacom screens are battery free, but not the Bigme one. The top of the pen is removable, with a USB port, you can connect up a USB cable to your MAC/PC and charge it. The cap is magnetic, so it is easy to remove. The design of the pen is grey, it has a power button to turn on or off, helps conserve battery life. It also has a back, forward and eraser button on the sides.
Underneath the hood is an octa core 2.3GHZ processor, 6GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. You will be able to connect to the internet with WIFI, it has Bluetooth 5.1, users can pair wireless headphones or earbuds to listen to audiobooks, podcasts or music. If you don’t feel like using headphones, there is a pair of stereo speakers on the back. The audio provides good quality sound and it can be adjusted with the volume buttons on the side or with the dropdown menu from the top of the screen. It is powered by a massive 4,000 mAh battery and the dimensions are 232x191x7.7mm and weighs 0.99kg.
The B1 Pro Max+ Color is running Android 11 as the operating system. There are some preinstalled apps, such as WeChat reading, Jingdong reading and Kindle. There is also a fair amount of standard Android apps, such as the music player, pictures, file manager. Obviously, the stock apps are not going to do it, if you want to use the CC as your daily driver. This will warrant having to sideload in various apps. This solves the problem not having a great app store that serves English users, but the real problem is keeping the apps updated. I recommend installing an alternative app market, this will give you a good source of apps and keep them updated. You can basically install anything you want, since the processor and RAM will be able to handle it. This includes alternative PDF editing apps, or drawing apps such as Sketchbook or OneNote/Evernote. You want to install some cloud storage ones too, such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive. One of the most compelling aspects of the Max+ Color is that it supports English and Chinese. During the setup process, if you select English, the entire UI, menu, settings and everything else flips over. This makes it extremely viable for anyone who wants a digital note taking device that supports color e-paper.
The main UI comprises of a sidebar, with a few options on the top. The sidebar has options to record meetings, access notes, create a task list, library, office documents, local storage, cloud files, voice assistant, settings and a home button. There is close to three pages of options on the menu, but you can access the menu management feature. This will provide a list of all of your apps, and all of the default menus. You can merely uncheck the ones you do not want displayed and checkmark things you want there. This allows some degree of personalization to the entire navigational structure. If you swipe downwards from the top, there is a dropdown menu with a bunch of useful settings. You can establish what speed mode you want, control the brightness of the front-lit display and color temperature system, control the volume, Miracast, conduct a screenshot, and do a full-page refresh.
There are a few different speed modes on the Max+ Color, that dramatically increase the performance. The default mode is HD, which gives you the best picture quality, and synergizes well with all of the stock apps. If you intend on doing some internet browsing or running some light apps, you will want to engage in speed mode, which is basically an A2 mode. Normal mode, is the middle ground between HD and speed mode. These are all global settings; however, you can make sure specific apps, or programs open with a specific mode.
The settings menu provides all of the typical Android settings, but it doesn’t have a vanilla experience, Bigme has added and removed lots of things. You can do the usual WIFI login and passwords, pair Bluetooth accessories, language settings, data and time, sleep timeout, check for firmware updates and run various calibrations for the Smart Pen and even control what you want the side buttons of the pen to do. By default, the pen has a home button, eraser and a forward and backward button, which makes reading ebooks a walk in the park. Normally, with e-readers you have to tap on the screen or do a swiping gesture. The Bigme pen can control page turns with just a click on the stylus. I can’t think of another product that does this.
There is a stock reading app that is great for books that are sideloaded or are housed in cloud storage. It reads a myriad of formats such as PDF, EPUB, TXT, FB2, AZW3.It is also great for reading manga. Max+ Color can record meetings and organize the recordings into text in real time, with an accuracy rate of over 98%, saving a lot of time and energy in meeting recordings. At the same time, it supports 27 dialects and more than 20supported international languages in the world, and can be automatically translated. There are four microphones on the Max+ Color, which will pick up audio better than any other E INK product in the world.
The software experience seems to be really polished. Everything works really well. Some of the features I really liked was being able to kill all background processes, which helps conserve battery life. The speed modes make listening to Spotify, YouTube Music or Audible better, since it severely reduces latency. You won’t be able to really watch videos, mainly due to the limitations of E INK, although you can run some serious apps and games.
Writing and Drawing
f you are going to spend the type of money that flagship tablet, smartphones or even a new PC would cost, you want to get value. The Apple Pencil on the iPad provides good value, but it doesn’t work natively with every app, just supported ones. The new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra has a stylus and a holder for it, and is running Android, but again, the stylus is only compatible with certain apps, and latency is an issue with 3rd party apps. You are lucky to get a day or two, at most with all of these devices, whereas the Bigme Max+ Color? This will last you weeks, to a over a month, between charges.
Writing on the CC is slick and seamless. Drawing or making annotations is not exclusive to the drawing app, but you can do it in all of the pre-loaded ones. You can view and edit PDF files, make highlights or write in the margins. Load in your favorite books? You can edit those too. There are a total of 16 colors that you can select from the palette. They are; purple, light blue, lilac, black, white, dark green, yellow, orange, pink, sky blue, blue, red, green, light grey, dark grey and grey. One of the interesting things about all of these color choices, is that Bigme supports the widest array of colors. Their competition, such as Onyx only have 10 colors.
The main drawing app has many cool features. You can select your writing utensil, eraser, undo/redo, insert text, insert photos/clipart, pick one of the 40 background templates, save or create another page. There are only a few of the settings that are really relevant to freehand drawing. One are the writing tools, you can select between pen and pencil, each one has a slider bar to control the thickness of the lines and the other is the color palette. The writing latency is very low, when putting stylus to screen. Everything appears in under 20 milliseconds. You can easily spend hours, just drawing in color. You can insert text, images, vector art, or use the quad-microphones to use speech to text and inject them, right into your notes. The AI system is marketed very well, but is kind of weak. There were many simple grammatical errors, and fails to use any punctuation. I found this more to be a gimmick, rather then an essential feature, everyone would use.
One of the other benefits of this Max+ Color, is due to the hardware, it is really ideal for large PDF files. Page turn speeds are lightning quick, even on files that are 900 MB or larger. You can easily draw all over the document, make underlines, highlights, write in the margins, and also control the PDF file, with options such as scale, rotate landscape/portrait mode, crop, contrast and even control the reflow. PDF files really shine, and the color accuracy is really solid. This is one of the best PDF writing experiences you will find on any e-note, anywhere.
This makes a very capable e-reader. With the stock app you have all of the normal things, you will find on virtually every other e-reader on the market. You can adjust text size, font type, alignment, margins, and more. What makes the Bigme unique, is being able to draw on sideloaded books, right out of the gate. You can do anything with the stylus, as you would your fingers. The page turn buttons on the stylus, make turning pages a little bit easier. Not everyone will want to sideload in books of their own, even the most hardcore of readers. Instead, most have a preferred ecosystem they already deal with to read, listen to audiobooks or podcasts. We tested Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Libby, Audible and Spotify and they all worked great, although I would install the “Lite” and “Go” apps on E INK devices, since they are stripped down versions of the main app and lack things like animations. Animations are an E INK killer, but the Bigme is armed with tools to combat this. The speed modes will make sure work of animations, providing the best experience.
Bigme has three E INK Kaleido Plus 10.3-inch digital note taking devices that are worth your money. They all have a 10.3 inch screen with mostly the same specs, in terms of resolution and are all using Kaleido Plus. The Carve Color has a slimmer design, but has a quadcore 1.8 GHZ quad core processor and 4GB of RAM. It is made of aluminum block and the speakers on are on the sides, so the audio is better, it also has a SD card for 128 GB. It retails for for $999. The B1 Pro Plus Color has a thicker design and weighs more, it basically has the exact same specs as the Carve Color, but the body is made of plastic and retails for $850. I think the B1 Pro Max+ Color is the better buy, the extra RAM and processing power is going to be important if you want to install apps. Adobe Creative Cloud is something most professionals would want to install on Android to use Photoshop or Adobe Acrobat, you will need extra juice to get a good experience. If you intend on using complicated apps, or want them to perform well, the Max+ Color is the most powerful on the market.
Should you buy this right now or wait until Kaleido 3 color e-paper comes out? E Ink Kaleido 3. It offers richer colors, increasing its color saturation by 30% compared to the previous generation, E Ink Kaleido Plus, in addition to 16 levels of grayscale and 4,096 colors. Kaleido 3 also uses E Ink ComfortGaze, a new front light technology that reduces the amount of blue light, with a reduced Blue Light Ratio (BLR) and Blue Light Toxicity Factor (BLTF) by up to 60% and 24% respectively. BLR is the ratio of toxic blue to total blue light output, and BLTF is the ratio of brightness to hazardous blue. Additionally, the responsiveness of the ink means that Kaleido 3 can play animations and videos. The E Ink Kaleido 3 module is available in various panel sizes, including 7.8-inch, 10.3-inch, and finally has native support for 13.3 inch devices. This is a huge deal, because Kaleido Plus only supported a maximum screen size of 10.3. This year Bigme released three 10.3 inch e-notes that utilized Kaleido Plus technology, which basically are the only ones of this screen size on the market. It is very likely we will start to see the first new e-readers using Kaleido 3 in April, and larger devices in the Fall or Winter of 2022 and likely into 2023.
There will not be any viable large screen e-notes until the end of the year. Kaleido 3 appears to be a incremental upgrade with the same 4,000 colors and 100 PPI as previous generation technology. The only thing that is really changing is the light will look better and there will be finally support for 13.3 inch screens. I would say, the B1 Pro Max+ Color is the very best that money can buy right now and would recommend getting one if you want to view and edit color content.
Bigme Pro Max+ Color$949.99
- Android 11 and can run apps
- Powerful hardware
- E INK Kaleido Plus
- Lots of colors for note taking
- 4 microphones for audio + Speakers
- No Sd
- Only a Chinese app store is preinstalled
- Faster Speed Modes would be welcome
- Not a household name, yet
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.