The Bigme Pocketnote 7 comes across as a handy little device that is part e-reader and part e-note device. That said, it seems more of the former than the latter though that has much to do with the limited screen real estate that the 7-inch display can provide. This again makes for a rather interesting scenario considering that Bigme traditionally makes e-note devices, and their line-up lacks a full-fledged e-reader device as such. However, with the Pocketnote 7, Bigme isn’t trying to offer an e-reader device either. Rather, it has stuck to its roots in offering an e-note. It’s just that the Pocketnote 7 is the smallest and the most affordable in their line-up. However, did Bigme cut corners to save cost, or by going small, is the device optimized for note-taking or multi-tasking? That’s some of the things we are going to delve into in this review. Read on!
Design and specs
Bigme has kept things simple so far as the looks are concerned. Bezels are quite thin on all sides save for the left ledger which helps in holding the device during one-handed operation or while using the device as an e-reader. The sides have also been beveled from the rear, which together with the lightweight form factor makes the device a joy to hold and operate. The power button is placed at the top left edge and is done up in red, which breaks the monotony of the black and white that the device otherwise comes in.
A nice feature of the device is the dual stereo speaker setup at the rear bottom bevel along with dual microphones flanked on either side of the USB Type-C port that sits in the middle. Also, with the dual microphone array, you can always talk to your friends using voice communications apps such as WhatsApp. The mics are also handy for note-taking and saving those on your device. With a suitable transcription app, you can also translate the audio into the text as well.
The display sits that tad bit down and away from the surface so that you can even get to see the bezel casting a thin shadow on the display. There is a layer of screen protector on the top though and it sits flush with the bezel. Also, while still on the display, it’s a 300 PPI 1680 x 1264 resolution display that you get which makes things to simply pop out. There is 36 LED front lighting which ensures you have the most optimum reading comfort irrespective of the ambient lighting condition.
The Pocketnote 7 being a note-taking device as well is also accompanied by a pen which however is of the active capacitive type. What that means is that the pen does not use Wacom and the Pocketnote 7 too lacks a Wacom layer. That way, you are tied to using only the bundled pen with the e-note. That said, Boyue and Meebook pens too are compatible with the Pocketnote 7. Further, the pen runs on an AAAA battery which needs to be inserted via the rear and has to be replaced periodically.
Specs-wise, the Pocketnote 7 comes with a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor under the hood that is coupled to 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. It connects to the internet via Wi-Fi while the onboard Bluetooth 5.1 support will allow you to connect to wireless headphones to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, Text-to-Speech, or music. Power comes from a 2300 mAh battery which should last a couple of weeks.
Software and User Interface
The Pocketnote 7 runs Android 8.1 and provides access to the Play Store. That way, you can install your own apps as long as the apps can make the most of the monochrome E Ink display. Bigme has its own app store as well though that mostly comprises Chinese apps that aren’t likely to be of any use to those living outside China. The device otherwise comes preloaded with a bunch of apps which include WeChat Reading, Kindle, Palm Reading, and Office. Fortunately, you can uninstall all of these apps and can replace those with apps of your choice. You can also source your apps from the Google E-Reader App Store as well for all the apps you will ever need.
The UI has been kept simple and is easy to navigate. It is also similar to what you will find on any Bigme device. Features like Handwriting, Status Bar, Applications, Refresh, Back button, and so on are all listed on the top. Arranged along the left in a vertical stack are options like Meeting Records, Notes, Task List, Offline Books, and so on. You can in fact customize the left panel to show the features you’d like to. This can be done via the Menu Management option shown at the bottom.
It offers different speed settings as well. Video playback in Normal Mode and Speed Mode is completely lag-free and is another thing to be done with the device when you are not reading or writing on it. That’s so long as you don’t mind the monochrome display, of course.
With a 7-inch 330 PPI E Ink display and supporting apps, the Pocketnote 7 is as good an e-reader as any you can have. It can be great for reading e-books, PDFs, manga, or other digital content. The default reading app offers a lot of functionality, which includes Font, Font Size, Typesetting, Text Contrast, and Picture Contrast. The latter two make for an interesting scenario as the device views the two elements differently and will allow you to set the contrast for the text and picture independently. The device will also allow you to change individual settings and view the effects live in the background. It’s like sliding the Font Size option towards the max position and seeing the change take effect in the page in the background.
The above is also available in other features such as Double Current Document, Double Translate, Double Notes, and such. Of these, mention must be made of Double Note which perhaps is among the coolest features of the Pocketnote 7. That’s because the feature will show you the e-book on one half of the display while allowing you to take notes on the other half.
The feature essentially splits the display into two with each half functioning independently of the other. Note-taking on one half won’t affect the other half functioning as an e-reader. A cool feature it sure is but marred by the rather small screen space that each half is allocated which can be smaller than what we have come to be used to with most smartphones currently in vogue. So, while the UI is great for multitasking, there just isn’t enough screen space available to do justice to it.
The 300 PPI E Ink display makes any PDF file look simply great. Quality and speed are top notch with pages turning extremely fast. Note-taking too is instantaneous with almost zero latency. Also, since it runs Android complete with Play Store support, you always have the option to install any PDF reading software you like. That said, the stock software that the Pocketnote 7 comes with does a great job and you aren’t likely to ever have any issues with it reading PDF files.
Note-taking ability is also one of the reasons Bigme would like you to consider Pocketnote 7. Apart from using the pen as a pen, the software will also let you use it as a pencil or a brush, which can be great if you’d like to draw something. For this, you also have around 8 colors to choose from as well, which range from black and white as well as different intermediary shades of it in between. Then there are Red, Green, and Blue color options as well. Other options that you have include Eraser, different templates for note-taking, and different shape options that you can insert in your notes. Plus, there are options to export files, transfer texts, and insert pictures, to name a few.
It being an active capacitive pen, response times, as already stated, is almost instantaneous. That makes note-taking or drawing on the device pure joy. Plus, there is pressure sensitivity as well, something that isn’t usually to be found on active capacitive pens. So, you can press the pen a little harder for darker lines while softer touch will induce pencil-like soft lines that are great for drawing lighter shades. That said, a significant drawback with the pen is its hard plastic tip, something that usually is the case with all capacitive pens. That coupled with the display which is more glass-like makes using the pen to have that hard-plastic-on-glass feel which isn’t exactly ideal.
Pocketnote 7 has a lot of things going for it. It has a brilliant 300 PPI E Ink display with a backlight that offers excellent contrast and brightness. There are a pair of stereo speakers onboard as well. The device running Android complete with Google Play Support is another huge positive with the device. Response times are great, and things are pretty fast with the device. You might feel a bit cramped with the 7-inch display, but the Pocketnote 7 can be a great e-reader as well. It’s compact and lightweight, which means holding on to it with one hand is never a chore.
The pen is fast and effective with almost zero latency. The hard plastic tip that’s typical of active capacitive pens, together with the glass-like display might not make for the most ideal writing experience but that is the price to be paid for a device that otherwise is quite affordable. In fact, Bigme focussed more on the cost-effective aspect of the device than the writing feel. This should suffice those who are looking for a small E Ink note-taking device for something around the $300 price bracket, and it’s a real bargain at that price.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.