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Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Onyx Boox Note 3: Initial Impressions

The Note 3 is Onyx Boox's latest 10.3-inches note-taking e-reader. It is an incremental update to the previous generation and does not offer anything significant that justifies its release. I've been using the e-reader for a few days and below are my initial impressions:
  • The Onyx Boox Note 3's processor is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 - a processor that is found in many budget smartphones. Onyx Boox equipping the Note 3 with the processor results in the fastest performance of any e-reader I've used. Browsing feature-rich websites and opening news applications work relatively well. Of course, the limitations of E-Ink means I would instead browse the internet on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Yes, the extra performance is welcome but, ultimately, it offers little considering the use-cases of a note-taking e-reader. For example, the processor makes it possible to smoothly play a Youtube video, but the experience is terrible. As stated in previous posts, I am firmly in the camp that is against using full-blown Android on an e-reader. Instead, it makes more sense to develop a purpose-built operating system and applications that are optimised for the use-cases of E-Ink.
  • We still get the generic Wacom-based stylus that Onyx Boox and Boyue use with their e-readers. The Note Air's stylus is the only one designed explicitly by Onyx Boox. Also, there is no nib set, let alone spare nibs, for a different writing feel.
  • The screen isn't completely smooth. It appears that Onyx Boox chose a display layer, so it has some friction when using the stylus. The downside of the friction is that a stylus with a softer tip needs extra pressure when writing, e.g. it is difficult writing with a Samsung Tab S6 Lite S-Pen due to its rubbery tip.  
  • Onyx Boox does include a screen protector in the box - a second one would have been useful considering the included screen protector may wear over time. Screen protectors can be tricky to install but more so on an e-reader. Once installed, the extra layer generates further friction that is meant to mimic writing on paper. Unfortunately, the added layer affects the clarity of the E-Ink screen when reading. Despite the positives provided, I decided to remove the protector for better clarity.
  • The front light, considering the 10.3-inches screen, is excellent. It is distributed evenly with hardly any shadowing. I would say the Note 3 has the best front light I've used on an e-reader.
  • My initial impressions regarding battery life are positive. Battery consumption in standby mode is negligible, and it preserves capacity well when doing tasks like typing documents and writing notes.
In general, I am impressed with the Onyx Boox Note 3. A future post will be dedicated to a more in-depth review.

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