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

Some folks use chamomile tea, others use respiration workout routines, however for me, essentially the most dependable method to falling asleep shortly is to keep away from screens earlier than mattress. Nevertheless, 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 every day abstract to my Kindle each night. However it’s an excessive methodology the place usually the articles should not formatted correctly and generally they don’t seem in any respect.

I can swap 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. In contrast to 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 regularly prices so much lower than $200. However that value brings you nearer to an Android pill than an e-reader. It is a disgrace that the total bundle does not ship on the total promise.

The Onyx Boox Nova Air C is a modest system, with massive bezels round its 7.8-inch display and an general 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 virtually as dangerous 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 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 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 could be counted within the hundreds of thousands – not the 1000’s. My ex-colleague Sam Byford described the colours on an analogous kaleidoscope pocket guide colour Like “a newspaper that vanished over the course of some days,” which appeared like a really apt description of the Nova Air C.

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

The monitor might have problem dealing with complicated colour photographs.

Nevertheless, even a fundamental colour is healthier than no colour in any respect. Nova Air C colours might look light and low-resolution, however the core of the picture stays – not like Kindle, the place colour images 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 possibly can nonetheless mainly perceive what you are taking a look at.

I briefly tried watching the video on the Nova Air C display through YouTube, however I do not advocate it. Content material appears extremely uneven because of the display’s low refresh charge, colours look washed out, and there is a substantial amount of ghosting. You’ll be able to 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 brilliant 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.

Nevertheless, a part of the explanation for such a powerful life is probably going as a result of 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 counsel 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 whenever you wish to use it. However be ready to sacrifice just a little battery life for this enhance in responsiveness.

Taking notes is simple on the in-built 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 number of various brush kinds 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 simple to export notes to a PDF or PNG file by merely scanning the QR code along with your smartphone or sharing it to a different app in your pill. All of this makes the Nova Air C a fantastic useful note-taking system.

However making an attempt 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” in-built, in apply it appeared to be full of primarily public area work, and I could not discover any of the newer books I might have favored to learn.

This leaves you with a number of different choices. You’ll be able to obtain e-books from anyplace 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 truly bought an ePUB from eBooks.com and tried to add it to Nova Air C, I came upon that it does not help Adobe DRM that the shop makes use of. (The one DRM the e-reader helps is China-focused JD DRM.)

Thankfully, 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’ll be able to obtain and set up most apps from the Play Retailer as when you have been utilizing every other Android pill, together with, mainly, Amazon’s Kindle app. Establishing 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 net articles I choose to learn later over the course of my day; obsidian for taking notes; and Comixology for studying comics.

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

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

That is what I hoped could be the superpower of Nova Air C: the power 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. However it works much less nicely for typed notes, which is what you would possibly wish to do if in case you have a Bluetooth keyboard to pair along with your pill.

So, as a substitute, you downloaded a note-taking app obsidian. It labored nicely, 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 cellphone, I can fortunately do it late at evening with out having to have a look at a brilliant display. You need to use any phrase processing or note-taking program you possibly can consider – so long as it has an Android app. It’s also doable 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 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 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’ll be able to management apps on the Nova Air C with a mix of faucets and swipes, simply as you’d 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 laborious to “really feel” your approach in every app. You can’t swipe midway to examine what a full swipe would possibly do; You must completely commit and I hope you bought it proper.

Issues look so much higher whenever you begin utilizing the bodily buttons to regulate the pill, which is made doable 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’re going to 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 dear given its necessity.

Elective pouch and pen included.

The 7.8 inch display appears like a pleasant dimension.

I had excessive hopes for the Onyx Boox Nova Air C. I wished her to have the ability to do the whole lot: 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 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 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 immediately. You must select the app, and perhaps the guide first.

I wished lots of the Nova Air C, and at $450, I feel it is cheap to anticipate it. Kindles from Amazon value virtually 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 may 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.

Photograph by John Porter/The Verge