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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Using the Onyx Boox Note 3 to manage the workflow process

The Onyx Boox Note 3 is a versatile note-taking e-reader. An important feature is using the Note 3 to manage the workflow between it and other devices (the ideas below also apply to other Onyx Boox e-readers). To make the most of the feature - considering the process is not user-friendly - below are some tips on syncing content between devices:

Notebooks

It is easier to sync notebooks on the Note 3, as the feature is built-in in the native software. At the top of the screen is an icon that enables the syncing of notebooks to the Onyx Boox cloud (it is also possible to sync to One Note, Dropbox and Evernote after setting up these accounts in settings). Using Android, the Boox Assistant app allows access to notebooks created and synced on Note 3. On a PC/Mac, notebooks are accessible through push.boox.com. Further, push.boox.com enables the pushing of documents to Note 3 wirelessly from an external device. 

PDF documents

Syncing PDF documents to another device is more challenging due to the absence of in-built cloud sync support. However, working between devices is workable as Neo-Reader saves highlights, typed notes and written notes into a PDF document. As a result, changes made in a PDF document can be accessed in another PDF reader, e.g. Xodo Reader. 

An intermediary is necessary to access a PDF document on an external device that has been changed using Note 3. I found two ways to enable working between the Note 3 and an external device: (1) Folder Sync Pro (there are other options); (2) Sharing a file through a third-party file manager. 

Folder Sync Pro is an Android application that makes it possible to establish two-way syncs between Note 3 and a cloud drive (cloud drives supported include, for example, Dropbox, Google Drive and Box). Thus, the user can, for example, install Google Drive cloud sync on a PC and have all changes in a PDF document synced. To continue working on the PDF document using a PC, Xodo Docs, or Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader can open the document changed using Neo-Reader. 

Another option is to install an Android file manager app with the file-sharing feature supported (I use File Manager Plus). Once an app is installed, a PDF document can be wirelessly sent to a cloud drive or an email. 

Of course, it would be a good idea if Onyx Boox Note updates the native software to establish a cloud sync service for PDF documents like the native notebook app.  

E-Books

The syncing of e-books is more complicated. Neo-Reader does not sync reading location, highlights and notes to the cloud. Further, as Onyx Boox does not allow the option to install Neo-Reader as an app on another device, everything remains local. The best that can be done is exporting notes and highlights to another device from Note 3. Neo-Reader can create a text file of exported highlights and notes - the text file, after being generated, can then be exported to the cloud or to the local note directory (the local note folder can also be synced to a cloud service using Folder Sync Pro).

In my view, the best option is to use Moon+ Reader Pro as it syncs reading location, highlights and annotations to Google Drive or Dropbox. Thus, it is possible to read an e-book on the Note 3 and continue on another Android or Chromebook device. 

Kindle works relatively well too. The Kindle app and e-readers sync personal documents, making it a good cross-platform option. One negative is that it needs some tweaking using the third-party app optimisation settings. However, even with tweaks, Moon+ Reader Pro is better optimised to work on an Android e-reader. If you are an Android/Chromebook user than it makes sense to use Moon+ Reader Pro.

It is possible to use the Google Play Books app that potentially provides more versatility as it can be used on a Mac, iPad, PC, Android and Chromebook. The biggest problem with Google Books is its unsuitability due to the menus and text rendering slowly and poorly on an E-Ink e-reader.  

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