Onyx has released two new color e-readers in the past year, the Nova 3 Color that came out at the beginning of 2021 and the Onyx Boox Nova Air C which debuted a week ago. These two e-readers and e-notes have a lot in common, in terms of tech specs. There are subtle differences with the overall design, the Nova Air C has a slimmer profile and is a bit smaller. The biggest difference is the inclusion of On-Cell Touch technology on the Air C, the touchscreen and Kaleido Plus layer have merged, this has resulted in a 45% wider color gamut, putting them side by side, you really see the difference.
The Nova Air C and Nova 3 Color both have a 7.8-inch E INK Carta HD and E INK Kaleido Plus color filter array. The resolution on the black and white display is 1404×1872 with 300 PPI and the color resolution is 468×624 with 100 PPI. The screen is flush with the bezel and protected by an AG glass flat cover-lens. The Nova 3 Color has a front-lit display with around 20 LED lights, while the Nova Air C has a front-lit display AND color temperature system with a total of 36 LED lights. During our testing, when the white and amber lights were combined, it provided a whiter screen than the Nova 3 color. It took awhile to find the sweet spot, but when we did, there was no contest. When both lights on both units were turned off, the image quality was basically the same. When just the white LED lights were on, the Nova 3 Color screen looked blue.
The resolution on both devices are the same. The black and white display is 1404×1872 with 300 PPI and the color resolution is 468×624 with 100 PPI. However, the Nova Air is employing On-Cell Touch. What is On-Cell? This is the brand-new e-paper module that was announced last year. It incorporates touch directly into the e-paper – making the display clearer for the end-user. This new technology dramatically increases performance of black and white displays by 30% and increases the contrast ratio, providing readers with clearer and more defined text. When used with E Ink Kaleido Plus, the color contrast ratio and color saturation increase by 40% and 15% respectively, providing an enhanced display for color ebook and digital textbooks. Basically, the Nova Air C, is the first product to use On-Cell Touch.
There is a slight difference in the processor. The Nova 3 Color is employing a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 Octa core processor, while the Nova Air C uses a Snapdragon 662 Octa core processor. They both have 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. You can connect up to the internet using WIFI and it supports wireless headphones or an external speaker for audiobooks, music, podcasts and more, thanks to Bluetooth 5.0. If you don’t feel like using headphones, there is two stereo speakers on the bottom, which has amazing sound. There is a USB-C port, which is useful for charging the e-Reader to your PC or MAC, or even a wall charger. The Nova Air C battery is smaller, it uses a 2000 mAh battery, while the Nova 3 Color has a 3150 mAh. The Nova 3 Color dimensions are 96mm, 137mm, 7.7mm and weighs 265g and the dimensions of the Nova Air C is 194×136.5×6.3 mm and weighs 235g.
Lets talk about some of the other differences. The Nova Air C pen can magnetically attach to the side. There is also a pin connector on the left side, this is used for magnetic page turn cases, so you can flip the pages of an ebook, without having to swipe or gesture on the screen. They retail for around $59. The Nova 3 Color has Android 10, while the Nova Air C has Android 11, both of them have access to the Onyx Boox App Store and also Google Play. The Nova 3 Color is discontinued, however some distributors might still have them in stock. When it was available, it retailed for $399, whereas the Nova Air C is just a tad extra. You can order it today from the Good e-Reader Store for $419.99.
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.