Onyx Boox has been developing e-readers and digital note taking devices for over ten years. They are well regarded in the community because they run Android and have full access to the Play Store. They have hardware that meets all of the different price points, so you can get an entry level device for less than $200 and they are one of the only brands that offer a 13.3 inch device with cutting edge specs. Did you just buy a Onyx Boox or thinking about it? Here is everything you need to know.
Onyx Boox only makes a few dedicated e-readers with no note taking functionality. Their Poke line of products are just used for reading ebooks and using apps. This includes the only color e-reader that they have ever made, the Poke 2 Color.
Digital Note taking devices
Onyx specializes in e-notes or digital note taking products with E INK screens. They have a WACOM layer for stylus interactions, such as pressure sensitivity and their screens have palm rejection technology. Their products are ideal for freehand drawing, editing PDF files or making annointations in ebooks. Their stock software is tremendously robust, there are different pen/pencil types and different types shapes and text overlays. Backgrounds can be downloaded from the internet, but there are around 25 that are preloaded, such as sheet music, or college rules. Notes can be exported as a PDF or PNG and downloaded to your PC/MAC or the Onyx Mobile app. Their current generation of e-notes include the Nova 3, which has a 7.8 inch screen, Note 3 and Note Air which have 10.3 inch screens and Max Lumi, with a giant 13.3 inch screen.
Google Play requires a few steps to get working properly. You need to download the framework from the Onyx Boox App Store. Once you install Google Play, attach your Google Account you need to go to Settings, Applications, Enable Google Play. This process takes around 15 minutes, so grab a coffee and relax. You need to restart your device and Google Play will be enabled. You can then login and get access to any apps you had purchased on your smartphone or tablet or make new purchases/downloads. Onyx Boox is the only company besides Boyue that offers Google Play.
Onyx Boox keeps things fresh by offering modern version of Android. The latest generation devices such as the Note 3, Poke 3, Nova 3, Max Lumi and Note Air all employ Android 10. This is tremendously useful, because it has all of the latest security updates. You can also sideload in your own apps or download them from Google Play.
Onyx Boox has they own layer, that is running on top of Android. BooxOS is their own sub-os, that gives you different UI elements than a vanilla version of Android. There is a radial navigation wheel at the bottom of the screen, that provides shortcuts to different programs. There are some stock options, but users can add their own. It also provides split screen view to show two apps at the same time. These can be apps that you have downloaded from Google Play. Or built-in apps that ship with it. This could include the PDF editor and the digital note taking app. Or have two PDFs open at the same time, one that you are editing and the virgin PDF on the other side of the screen. Select devices can screencast content to your PC. Onyx constantly issues new updates every couple of months, often providing new enhancements, bug fixes and features.
One of the big things that Onyx has ever done, is go far beyond the standard A2 mode, which degrades the image, with an increase in performance. Normal mode is the default e-reading experience or viewing PDF files. Speed Mode provides a little bit more ghosting and is designed for rapidly viewing pictures, this is ideal if you are browsing the internet via Chrome or Firefox. A2 mode which seriously degrades image quality and is only ideal for content with a ton of images. X-Mode is also a new feature, it was designed for watching Youtube videos, it actually performs really well, as you can see from our review video. We actually play a Youtube video, with all 4 modes playing at once, so you can see how it influences performance
Onyx Boox Assistant
Onyx has a companion app, this is useful for sending images and PDF files from your smartphone or tablet, to your Onyx Boox, and then from your Boox, back to your smartphone. This app can also be used for sending news articles and webpages. If you have a digital note taking device, you can use view all of your edited notes in the app too.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.