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

Some individuals use chamomile tea, others use respiration workout routines, however for me, essentially the most dependable strategy to falling asleep rapidly is to keep away from screens earlier than mattress. Nonetheless, doing so really requires some creativity if I need 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 typically the articles aren’t formatted correctly and typically they don’t seem in any respect.

I can change to Kobo, who gives Native integration with the rival Pocket Learn Later apphowever the Onyx Field Nova Air C It gives 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 allows 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 lots lower than $200. However that worth brings you nearer to an Android pill than an e-reader. It is a disgrace that the total package deal would not ship on the total 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 dealing with downward. It is nearly as unhealthy as I anticipated, but it surely’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 principle attraction right here is the E Ink colour display. The Nova Air C is supplied with E Ink’s Kaleido Plus show, which makes use of a colour filter layer on prime of a typical E Ink panel to render 4,096 colours. This strategy comes with some apparent drawbacks. For starters, the monitor cannot show colour content material on the similar 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 inexpensive LCD panel, whose colour gamut will be counted within the tens of millions – not the 1000’s. My ex-colleague Sam Byford described the colours on an analogous kaleidoscope pocket e-book colour Like “a newspaper that vanished over the course of some days,” which appeared like a really apt description of the Nova Air C.

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

The monitor could have issue dealing with complicated colour photos.

Nonetheless, even a primary colour is best than no colour in any respect. Nova Air C colours could look pale and low-resolution, however the core of the picture stays – in contrast to Kindle, the place colour images look damaged. I used to be nearly like utilizing a kaleidoscopic display to look at a international film with subtitles; You miss out on a number of subtlety, however you possibly can nonetheless principally perceive what you are taking a look at.

I briefly tried watching the video on the Nova Air C display by way of YouTube, however I do not advocate it. Content material appears to be like extremely uneven due to the display’s low refresh fee, colours look washed out, and there is quite a lot of ghosting. You possibly can see what occurs in a pinch, however I might reasonably watch the video actually on every other display.

Regardless of the colour, the pill retains some great benefits of the E Ink display. I had no drawback studying the Nova Air C in shiny daylight, and with a small enhance 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 every other e-reader. I have been utilizing the pill on and off for two months higher, and its battery stage remains to be 55 p.c.

Nonetheless, a part of the explanation for such a formidable life is probably going because of the Nova Air C’s highly effective energy administration settings, which, by default, sees the pill utterly 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 need to use it. I might recommend adjusting the “energy failure timeout” within the settings for a day and even two days, which can permit the laptop computer to get up in just a few seconds if you need to use it. However be ready to sacrifice a little bit battery life for this enhance in responsiveness.

Taking notes is simple 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 nearly instantaneously and 4,096 ranges of stress sensitivity offering loads of versatility. There are a number 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 effectively in restricted circumstances however struggled with lengthy passages. As soon as written, it is simple 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 incredible helpful note-taking system.

However attempting to make use of the pill like a standard e-reader is extra sophisticated, and you will have to leap by way of extra loops than competing gadgets just like the Kindle. Though the Nova Air C technically comes with a “retailer” inbuilt, in follow it appeared to be stuffed with primarily public area work, and I could not discover any of the newer books I’d have preferred to learn.

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

Luckily, Onyx makes use of a closely modified model of Android 11 as software program on the Nova Air C, which implies 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 in case you have been utilizing every other Android pill, together with, principally, Amazon’s Kindle app. Organising Google Play Providers on the system is a little bit of a bizarre course of that requires you to do it Hop by way of a few bizarre hoops. However as soon as I used to be constructed, it was comparatively simple to reap the benefits 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 completely attainable 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 can be the superpower of Nova Air C: the power to obtain and set up any Android apps I needed.

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

So, as a substitute, you downloaded a note-taking app obsidian. It labored effectively, because it allowed me to write down notes a lot quicker than I may write them by hand. And in contrast to my laptop computer or telephone, I can fortunately do it late at night time with out having to have a look at a shiny display. You should use any phrase processing or note-taking program you possibly can consider – so long as it has an Android app. It’s also attainable to obtain various stylus appropriate apps, however my expertise was a bit poor. OneNote labored effectively, however INKredible felt sluggish with the Onyx stylus.

I used to be additionally in a position to get Instapaper up and working with minimal problem. 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 effectively 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 rapidly, 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 every 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 gadgets that it is onerous to “really feel” your method in every app. You can not swipe midway to verify what a full swipe would possibly do; It’s a must to completely commit and I hope you bought it proper.

Issues look lots higher if you begin utilizing the bodily buttons to manage the pill, which is made attainable by Onyx’s Nova Air Magnetic case. Not solely does this add a protecting cowl to the pill, but it surely additionally features a pair of bodily quantity buttons, which many reading-focused Android apps let you reset page-turning controls. If you will get the Nova Air C, I extremely advocate getting this case. It is bought individually from the pill for $59.99, which makes it a bit expensive given its necessity.

Non-obligatory pouch and pen included.

The 7.8 inch display appears to be like like a pleasant dimension.

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

And sure, she will be able to really 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 onerous to make use of. Packing a lot performance signifies that the Nova Air C struggles to match the easy 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 e-book first.

I needed a number of the Nova Air C, and at $450, I feel it is affordable to anticipate it. Kindles from Amazon value nearly half what Onyx orders, and you’ll 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 gadgets will tick all of the containers. However, once more, Nova Air C did not.

Picture by John Porter/The Verge