Onyx Boox has just released the Special Edition of the Poke 3 e-Reader. It has an all-new color scheme, instead of being all black like the original Poke 3, this model is white, on the front and back. There is a small piano black color strip along the bezel. Onyx has also designed a totally unique case to protect it. It is snow white and has a few pictures of snowflakes on the back of it, the case comes for free with the purchase of the reader.
The Poke 3 Special Edition features a 6-inch E INK Carta HD capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1448×1072 and 300 PPI. It has a glass-based screen that is flush with the bezel. It has a great front-lit display with white LED lights, that provide a great reading experience when in dark rooms. There are amber LED lights, they provide a warm candlelight effect, so you can read at night, and help mute the white light. There is no WACOM layer with this product, so you cannot interact with the screen with a stylus.
Underneath the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 2GB of DDR4X RAM and 32GB of internal storage. The Poke 3 now has a USB-C OTG port to power and transfer documents. It also has Bluetooth 5.0 to connect up wireless headphones or an external speaker. It has a microphone and powered by a respectable 1,500 mAh battery.
The Poke 3 Special Edition packaging is really well designed. It is dark blue with snowflakes on the top, with clear white on all of the sides. You open the box up like a book, it has a magnetic snap, so you can open it with ease. This is the first time I have ever seen an e-Reader company employ magnets on a box. Opening the box, you are greeted with all white packaging. The USB-C cable is also white, which matches the theme. You also get the standard user guide and warranty information.
Interestingly enough, the E-Reader is already in the case at the factory level. So it is very well protected during shipping and transit times. The case has a small cardboard sleeve that easily comes off, this is designed to keep it shut. The case is snow white, with no other colors. It has a snowflake on the front and its back. It is made of rubber and silicone. The inside of the case is made of felt and there is a magnet, which allows you to close the case and keep it closed.
The Onyx Boox Poke 3 Special Edition has Google Android 10 and comes with the Boox OS, which is basically a skinned version of Android. They have their own unique Launcher, which makes it ideal for E INK screens. There are tons of features that come directly from Android, such as pull-down notifications, and pull-down options, such as Bluetooth, WIFI, Airplane mode. Some advanced options exist on this e-Reader that is indicative just to Onyx products. You can screencast to your PC, adjust the contrast, speed mode and split screen view. Contrast is a neat feature, you can deepen the blacks, so they are more pronounced, or make everything lighter. There is also a manual refresh button. You can also adjust the luminosity of the front-lit display and color temperature system, which both have individual slider bars. You can just have the white LED lights on if you want or all of the lights off, or a blend of white/amber led lights.
Google Play comes installed on the Poke 3 Special Edition, except you have to activate its support from the settings menu, add in your Gmail account and download the framework from the Onyx Boox App Store. It is very easy to do, and normally people have zero problems, since its just check marking boxes and downloading a few files. If you have any problems, Good e-Reader produced a YouTube video that walks you through the process. Once you activate Play from the settings menu, you need to wait around 15 minutes for your device to become certified, sometimes after this time period has elapsed, you also need to restart.
One of the best 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.
On the home screen is a little trackball icon on the bottom right. When you touch it, it provides radial options, such as volume levels, multitask windows, power and quick settings. Now, you can get more advanced and actually attach your own shortcuts on the track ball. You aren’t stuck with the defaults, which is cool. If you hate the trackball, you can disable it completely. You can also drag it from its default position and move it anywhere you want.
There are a few navigation options that are on the bottom of the screen. This includes, Library, Store, Storage, Apps and settings. The library menu basically shows all your ebooks that you have sideloaded on your device or have come for free with purchase. You can sort by grid or list view, fetch metadata, such as missing cover art and other useful sorting options. The Store, is basically Onyx’s own bookstore, mostly comprising of royalty free titles. The App Menu is where the Onyx App Store is, also all of the other preinstalled apps, and future apps you download. This is also where Google Play will appear, once you enable it. Storage, is basically a file explorer, so you can browse your devices internal drive. Settings is where you will spend the most time when initially configuring the Poke 3. You can search for firmware updates, establish your WIFI network, register your Google Account, and customize the device.
The Poke 3 Special Edition on the software side of things has more advanced options to craft your own experience than other comparable e-Reader. It is simple for new users to get started and learn about all of the cool new features as time goes on. Onyx is super reliable for firmware updates, they tend to release one every month, they squash bugs, introduce enhancements to the OS and even update the stock e-reading app. There are around 30-40 supported languages that will turn the entire UI and all of their device’s keyboard into your preferred language.
The Onyx Boox Poke 3 Special Edition is a dedicated e-Reader. It does not have any note taking functionality. The stock reading app is called Neoreader and it should be enough to read your own personal collection of digital content, such as books, comics, and manga. It supports a myriad of formats, such as PRC, RTF, Doc, Text, DJVU, PDF, Mobi, FB2, EPUB, CBR and CBZ.
The best thing about most ebooks is that their layout is changeable. Which means they can offer a custom reading view if the display device provides the settings. Compared to the well-known players in the market, BOOX provides more customization tools for ebooks. For instance, you can change the font, text size, word and line spacing, padding and margins.
Also, images and text contrast are available for separate adjustment. So you can increase or decrease one’s intensity without changing the other one’s. In addition to layout customization, you can also use the built-in Text-to-Speech feature to listen to the books. And the Slideshow feature will turn pages at a set interval to save your hand from swiping. In the Progress section, you can do more than listen to the texts and read with the Slideshow. You can also preview all the pages and jump to one of them precisely.
BOOX e-Readers won’t tie you into any content providers. Instead, they offer ultimate openness. Use Amazon Kindle app on BOOX? No problem. How about Kobo? Sure thing. Also available with Scribd, Google Play Books, Audible, Libby…And the list goes on. If you’re also tired of switching a device to another just to access different content, BOOX can end this hassle. Thousands of ebooks from all kinds of Android apps are awaiting exploration. And you can read all of them. On BOOX.
One of the big advantages of the Poke 3 Special Edition is the Amazon Kindle app. The company has optimized the stock app on a software level. You will not have animated page turns when flipping pages, instead they will be instant. If you use the Kindle app on any other Android e-Reader the page turns will be animated, not really providing a good experience on an E INK screen.
One thing great about Onyx Boox Poke 3 Special Edition is the E Ink screen, which means they are power-efficient and can display crisp texts with high contrast in the sunlight just as paper. When reading at night, you can easily turn on the front-lit display, which has a series of white and amber LED lights, that are positioned alongside the bezel and project light evenly across the screen and not into your eyes. This ensures while reading a book, you will not get eyestrain like you would on a tablet or smartphone with backlit displays.
What are the main differences between this model and the regular Poke 3? It is just visual aesthetics. The color scheme of the reader is white, instead of black and it comes with a free case, that is really well designed, likely the best-case Onyx has ever made, which is also white. The other tech specs, in terms of resolution, PPI and software experience is the exact same.
Should you buy the Poke 3 Special Edition? This e-Reader really stands out in a crowd. If you are coming from the original Poke or Poke 2, I believe this one is worth the upgrade. If you already have a Poke 3, I would not bother. If you have an older ebook reader, such as Kindle, Kobo or Nook, or other brand, you will experience a huge difference. Most big brands lock you into one specific ecosystem. When you use these devices for a number of years, the home screen doesn’t really change and seldom are totally new features introduced. An Android reader gives you totally flexibility and control with crafting your own experience. You can control global contrast, making the blacks, richer and whites, more vibrant. You can install any app you want, so if you had a Kobo and Kindle in the past, you can simply download both of their apps and get access to all of your past purchases.
Onyx Boox Poke 3 Special Edition209.99
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.