Onyx Boox Nova Air C review: Color e-ink on an ambitious tablet

Some individuals use chamomile tea, others use respiratory workouts, however for me, essentially the most dependable method to falling asleep shortly is to keep away from screens earlier than mattress. Nonetheless, doing so truly requires some creativity if I wish to sustain with the information on-line. My present system consists of saving articles in Learn Later Instapaper, which sends a each day abstract to my Kindle each night. However it’s an excessive methodology the place usually the articles will not be formatted correctly and typically they don’t seem in any respect.

I can change to Kobo, who affords Native integration with the rival Pocket Learn Later apphowever the Onyx Field Nova Air C It affords a extra thrilling various. Not like the Kindle or Kobo, the E Ink’s show is color-capable, and it runs a modified model of Android that permits you to obtain and run quite a lot of apps that transcend simply studying e-books. It opens the door to many studying later apps in addition to full-fledged phrase processors and third-party note-taking software program. It even features a pen for handwritten notes.

in $420It is fairly costly in comparison with Amazon’s Kindle, which frequently prices loads lower than $200. However that value brings you nearer to an Android pill than an e-reader. It is a disgrace that the complete bundle does not ship on the complete promise.

The Onyx Boox Nova Air C is a modest system, with giant bezels round its 7.8-inch display and an total plastic construct. The facility button is on the highest left, whereas the USB-C port is on the underside together with a pair of audio system going through downward. It is virtually as dangerous as I anticipated, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing. (Not included in Amazon’s Kindles for years.) Internally, the Nova Air C is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor mixed with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

The primary attraction right here is the E Ink colour display. The Nova Air C is provided with E Ink’s Kaleido Plus show, which makes use of a colour filter layer on high of a typical E Ink panel to render 4,096 colours. This method comes with some apparent drawbacks. For starters, the monitor cannot show colour content material on the identical black and white decision, so whereas the display goes as much as 1404 x 1872 black and white (300 dpi), it’s restricted to 468 x 624 (100 dpi) when displaying colour. Even so, colours are extra muted than what you get even from an affordable LCD panel, whose colour gamut may be counted within the hundreds of thousands – not the 1000’s. My ex-colleague Sam Byford described the colours on the same kaleidoscope pocket ebook colour Like “a newspaper that vanished over the course of some days,” which appeared like a really apt description of the Nova Air C.

Ebook covers (proven right here within the Kindle app) notably profit from added colour.

The monitor might have problem dealing with advanced colour photos.

Nonetheless, even a fundamental colour is best than no colour in any respect. Nova Air C colours might look light and low-resolution, however the core of the picture stays – in contrast to Kindle, the place colour pictures look damaged. I used to be virtually like utilizing a kaleidoscopic display to look at a overseas film with subtitles; You miss out on lots of subtlety, however you’ll be able to nonetheless principally perceive what you are .

I briefly tried watching the video on the Nova Air C display through YouTube, however I do not suggest it. Content material seems extremely uneven due to the display’s low refresh charge, colours look washed out, and there is a substantial amount of ghosting. You possibly can see what occurs in a pinch, however I might relatively watch the video actually on some other display.

Regardless of the colour, the pill retains the benefits of the E Ink display. I had no drawback studying the Nova Air C in vibrant daylight, and with a small improve in display brightness, I used to be additionally in a position to learn it in low gentle earlier than mattress with out eye pressure. The battery life is simply as spectacular as some other e-reader. I have been utilizing the pill on and off for two months higher, and its battery stage continues to be 55 p.c.

Nonetheless, a part of the explanation for such a powerful life is probably going because of the Nova Air C’s highly effective energy administration settings, which, by default, sees the pill fully turned off if you have not used it for simply quarter-hour. This might imply ready about 27 seconds for the pill to activate every time you wish to use it. I might recommend adjusting the “energy failure timeout” within the settings for a day and even two days, which can enable the laptop computer to get up in a number of seconds once you wish to use it. However be ready to sacrifice slightly battery life for this improve in responsiveness.

Taking notes is straightforward on the inbuilt app.

Booting from a full shutdown can take a while.

The spotlight of the Onyx Boox Nova Air C is the built-in note-taking app. Handwriting notes look nice with the included stylus, with pen strokes showing on display virtually instantaneously and 4,096 ranges of stress sensitivity offering loads of versatility. There are a selection of various brush types and colours, and this system can attempt to copy your handwriting into typed textual content and even emojis.

Character recognition labored nicely in restricted instances however struggled with lengthy passages. As soon as written, it is easy to export notes to a PDF or PNG file by merely scanning the QR code together with your smartphone or sharing it to a different app in your pill. All of this makes the Nova Air C an ideal useful note-taking system.

However making an attempt to make use of the pill like a conventional e-reader is extra sophisticated, and you will have to leap via extra loops than competing units just like the Kindle. Though the Nova Air C technically comes with a “retailer” inbuilt, in observe it appeared to be full of primarily public area work, and I could not discover any of the more moderen books I might have appreciated to learn.

This leaves you with a number of different choices. You possibly can obtain e-books from anyplace else on the web after which Switch it to your pillIt helps an excellent vary of file varieties, together with PDF, ePub, TXT, RTF, and MOBI. However after I truly bought an ePUB from eBooks.com and tried to add it to Nova Air C, I came upon that it does not assist Adobe DRM that the shop makes use of. (The one DRM the e-reader helps is China-focused JD DRM.)

Happily, Onyx makes use of a closely modified model of Android 11 as software program on the Nova Air C, which suggests you are not restricted to utilizing the built-in software program. You possibly can obtain and set up most apps from the Play Retailer as for those who have been utilizing some other Android pill, together with, principally, Amazon’s Kindle app. Organising Google Play Companies on the system is a little bit of a bizarre course of that requires you to do it Hop via a few bizarre hoops. However as soon as I used to be constructed, it was comparatively simple to make the most of my pre-existing Kindle library. Whereas I used to be there, I downloaded two extra Android apps: Instapaper to learn all the online articles I choose to learn later over the course of my day; obsidian for taking notes; and Comixology for studying comics.

It’s fully potential to obtain the Kindle app and use it together with different Android apps.

When the textual content is monochrome, the textual content is good and correct.

That is what I hoped could be the superpower of Nova Air C: the flexibility to obtain and set up any Android apps I wished.

Take notes. The Nova Air 2 comes with an honest running a blog app that works very nicely with the stylus. Nevertheless it works much less nicely for typed notes, which is what you would possibly wish to do when you have a Bluetooth keyboard to pair together with your pill.

So, as a substitute, you downloaded a note-taking app obsidian. It labored nicely, because it allowed me to put in writing notes a lot quicker than I might write them by hand. And in contrast to my laptop computer or telephone, I can fortunately do it late at evening with out having to take a look at a vibrant display. You need to use any phrase processing or note-taking program you’ll be able to consider – so long as it has an Android app. It is usually potential to obtain various stylus appropriate apps, however my expertise was a bit poor. OneNote labored nicely, however INKredible felt sluggish with the Onyx stylus.

I used to be additionally in a position to get Instapaper up and operating with minimal trouble. I had full entry to all my saved articles and was prepared for me to learn them with out having to undergo the troublesome syncing course of that Instapaper’s Kindle integration required. Comixology labored nicely for studying comics, however the display was so low on decision and small that it felt like I used to be getting essentially the most out of the expertise.

However, fairly shortly, I began having points with these apps that have been clearly by no means designed with e-ink screens in thoughts. You possibly can management apps on the Nova Air C with a mix of faucets and swipes, simply as you’ll on some other Android pill. However the E Ink show is a lot much less responsive than the 60Hz LCD or OLED screens on most different Android units that it is laborious to “really feel” your manner in every app. You can’t swipe midway to test what a full swipe would possibly do; It’s a must to completely commit and I hope you bought it proper.

Issues look loads higher once you begin utilizing the bodily buttons to regulate the pill, which is made potential by Onyx’s Nova Air Magnetic case. Not solely does this add a protecting cowl to the pill, nevertheless it additionally features a pair of bodily quantity buttons, which many reading-focused Android apps can help you reset page-turning controls. If you’ll get the Nova Air C, I extremely suggest getting this case. It is bought individually from the pill for $59.99, which makes it a bit dear given its necessity.

Optionally available pouch and pen included.

The 7.8 inch display seems like a pleasant measurement.

I had excessive hopes for the Onyx Boox Nova Air C. I wished her to have the ability to do every thing: learn books; learn articles on-line; And it acts as a repository for all my notes — all in a kind issue that I can fortunately use late at evening with out eye pressure.

And sure, she will truly do all of these issues. However the extra I demanded from the pill, the extra I felt the E Ink display squeak below stress. E-ink panels are greater than responsive sufficient to learn books with software program designed particularly with them in thoughts. However put an app designed for a 60Hz contact display, and it may be laborious to make use of. Packing a lot performance implies that the Nova Air C struggles to match the straightforward Kindle relating to merely with the ability to open it up and begin studying straight away. It’s a must to select the app, and possibly the ebook first.

I wished lots of the Nova Air C, and at $450, I believe it is cheap to count on it. Kindles from Amazon value virtually half what Onyx orders, and you may even get a alternative e-reader with it PocketBook colour display for $234. Or, in case your priorities aren’t about getting an E Ink display and extra about getting pill performance, you will get an iPad Mini with an 8.3-inch display for $499 or a base-tier iPad with a ten.2-inch display for $329. None of those units will tick all of the packing containers. However, once more, Nova Air C did not.

Photograph by John Porter/The Verge