The Good e-Reader and Bigme InkNote Color might be the best e-note of the year. It has things that nothing else on the market brings to the table. One of the major selling points are the dual camera system with OCR functionality. You can take a picture of some documents, textbooks, schematics and it will convert it to editable text, which you can make annointatins in 16 different colors, and then save the document and export it to your PC or cloud storage. Even if you take a picture on an angle, the software will fix that and give you a proper document. It also has faster hardware and more robust software than anything on the market, whether it has a color screen or black and white.
The Bigme InkNote Color features an E INK Carta HD e-paper display with a resolution of 1872×1404 with 227 PPI. The Color panel is using E INK Kaleido Plus and has a resolution of 936×702 with 117 PPI and will be able to display over 5,000 different color combinations. Bigme has developed accumulated color optimization processing technology to display a wider gamut. One of the benefits of Kaleido Plus is how the greyscale uniformity has been drastically improved from the first generation screen tech, so the background will always be grey, instead of colors trying to mix together to create grey.
You will be able to use the InkNote Color in dark rooms or lowlight conditions, thanks to the front-lit display, which has 36 white and amber LED lights, giving you the ability to mix white and a warm candlelight effect. The vast majority of other e-notes on the market, such as the Remarkable or Supernote do not even have a front-lit display and other companies such as Boyue, iFlytek, Onyx and others don’t have as many lights as we provide.
Good e-Reader has lots of input on the design of the writing tablet, since we have reviewed every single one that has hit the market over the course of the past 7 years and have been covering the e-reader sector since 2008, so we know a thing or two on what makes a good product. On a pure hardware level, it was important for this to standout in a crowd and not look like everything else, with a piano black front and back. Adding in two cameras was something on day one, we thought that would be an excellent feature. Obviously, you can video chat with your friends, take selfies or use the rear facing camera to take photos. There is a quad microphone array that helps eliminate background noise when you are talking on Zoom or taking audio notes. On a screen level, we wanted to do color, since there are so many black and white models on the market. We wanted to appeal to lots of different types of users. People who wanted to draw using 28+ colors or take notes, students who want to make highlights and annointatins in the class, readers who want to consume all sorts of digital media.
Having a WACOM screen is critical for the success of an e-note. No matter how good the stylus that ships with the unit is, users want to either use their own or buy an alternative one, such as the X-Pen 3rd Generation or the Lamy Al-Star. The pen we built is unique to the InkNote Color and is not used on any other Bigme device. It can charge the internal battery by attaching itself to the side. It can also connect via Bluetooth, so you can turn pages of a PDF or ebook with just the click of a button, you no longer have to swipe, tap or gesture on the touchscreen to do this. It has 4096 degrees of pressure sensativity and it is voice controlled.
Underneath the hood is a A53 2.3 GHZ octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. If this storage is not enough, for whatever reason, it has an SD card, capable of an additional 128GB of storage. There is WIFI available to connect up to the internet and fetch firmware updates, which you should do right away. There are four noise cancelling mics on the bottom of the tablet, which is used for voice dictation, such as voice to text in the note taking app. The speech recognition is compatible with over 31 languages with 98% accuracy. You can also use the microphones for apps such as WhatsApp, Discord or WeChat. You can listen to audiobooks, podcasts, music or anything else via the dual stereo speakers. It also has Bluetooth 5.0 for optional wireless headphones or earbuds. There is an 8MP rear camera, and a 5MP front-facing camera. You can take advantage of the fingerprint sensor to unlock your device and set a passcode for more security. The battery is 4,000 mAh, which should be good for a couple of weeks. You can charge it via the USB-C port. The dimensions are 225.8×191.3×6.7mm and weighs 477 g.
One thing we really paid attention to, is the retail packaging. So many big brands just use plain cardboard stock and it might have their logo on the front, with a black and white cutout of the product and maybe some tech specs on the back. We wanted to do our best to have something visually interesting. The box is black with an embossed logo of Good e-Reader and Bigme on the front, that has been laser etched, with a really cool outline design. On the sides are the logos and on the back are sone tech specs, regulatory information. You open the box via a pull out tab, so in landscape, you can see a message; Just for You. Inside of the box is the stylus, device and accompanied accessories include a sleep cover case, a USB-C cable, some free nibs and a nib removal tool and an SD card slot pin, so you can use your own.
The InkNote Color is running Google Android 11 and ships with Google Play preinstalled. This will give users the ability to download and purchase millions of apps. This means you won’t have to worry about all of the complications of sideloading in apps. There are four different speed modes which give you increased performance to take advantage steaming audio, video, coding, looking at high quality pictures or just wanting to scroll very fast while browsing the web. In 2022, having a single A2 mode is too limiting.
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 InkNote 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.
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 apps and light games.
Now lets talk about languages, there is native support for for 37 different languages. These include German, Thai, Slovenian, Icelandic, Turkish, Ukrainian, Russian, Vietnamize, Laotian, Slovak, Dutch, Khmer, Spanish, Romanian, Norwegian, Croatian, Finnish, Greek, English, Arabic, Hindi, Danish, Malay, Catalan, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanize, Swedish, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Czech, French, Korean, Polish, Hebrew, Tamil, and Italian. This is more languages than any other e-note supports.
Here are some of the things this beast can do.
With an 8MP rear camera, inkNote Color can convert photos into text to create documents, add annotations, and upload to mobile or laptop v
With four integrated noise cancelling microphones, inkNote Color can be used for voice dictation, such as voice to text using the note taking app. The speech recognition is compatible with up to 37 languages with 98% accuracy. You can also use the mics for apps such as WhatsApp, Discord or WeChat.
- Voice Control System
Configured with an intelligent voice control system, Bigme inkNote Color enables hands-free operation that optimizes your workflow and boosts your productivity while working, studying, or creating content.
- 2-on-1 Screen Split Mode
inkNote Color can split the screen and switch it horizontally or vertically to streamline workflow & multitasking and doubles your efficiency when reading, annotating, or working on document translations.
- One-touch Screen Casting
inkNote Color supports one-touch screen casting which allows you to control programs remotely during presentations. Control can also be achieved using the stylus.
- Fingerprint Encryption
Bigme inkNote Color also includes a powerful fingerprint encryption feature to keep your information safeguarded at all times.
If 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 InkNote Color? This will last you weeks, to a over a month, between charges.
Writing on the InkNote Color 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.
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, magazines, comics, webtoons and any other color content that doesn’t look great on a black and white screen.
One of the other benefits of this InkNote 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 user experience.
It is hard to give a proper review to something we developed ourselves, in conjunction with Bigme. I wanted to basically give you a sense on what this brings to the table and provide an idea on what it is capable of and who should buy it. Bigme has been making e-notes for 3-4 years now, but has been in business for 10 years. They have made a name for themselves with making quality black and white and color devices. Over time, they have refined their software and hardware, giving users various options to purchase. They are not as well known in the industry as Remarkable or Onyx Boox, but they are slowly growing in fame.
Why did we partner with Bigme? Good e-Reader has released two different e-notes, back when the market wasn’t as saturated. So, we know a little bit about hardware and software. We went with Bigme, because our company reviews basically every new E INK device that hits the market, both the good and bad. This has given us a unique perespective on features that are lacking or underutilized. Like, SD cards, a lost art, hardly anyone includes them anymore, so we wanted to have one. Security is a big deal with corporate customers, so we includes a fingerprint sensor and a device passcode. The hardware itself, is really good and performs well in real life scenarios. The software is polished and ditto with the note taking app. Oh yeah, everything is in full color, take that Kindle and Kobo!
Should you buy this? It is going to retail for $699 when it hits the Good e-Reader Store in two days and I will update the link where you can buy it. There are precious few color E INK products on the market. The InkPad Color by Pocketbook is just an ebook reader and Onyx has the Nova Air Color, both have 7.8 inch screens, whereas our device has a A5 sized screen, which all sort of books and other digital content look better. There are no 13.3 inch e-notes or e-readers on the market right now, but this might change next year.
Good e-Reader and Bigme InkNote Color$699.99
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.