Is This The Best Tablet You’ve Never Heard Of?

Is This The Best Tablet You’ve Never Heard Of?

The iPad can be used for so many functions — anything from an extension of your phone to a replacement for a laptop. The iOS system is fast, the apps are reliable, and the screen is filled with bright and vivid colors — all starting at $329 for the latest model. So why would anyone want to buy the new $860 Onyx Boox Max 3 Series black-and-white e-reader? After playing with one for the past couple of weeks, I can think of a few reasons.

First of all, the form factor is downright gorgeous and elegant. A sleek white frame surrounds a matte 13.3-inch E-ink Mobius and Carta hi-res display. It reminds me of a large version of the original Kindle reader. Yet it’s super-thin and feels like a top-quality device. It simply looks inviting. Everyone who’s come in contact with the unit I’m testing wanted to instantly touch it and play around with it. Plus, it’s extremely lightweight.

Secondly, it has a lot of functionality. Its tagline “Like a tablet — unlike any tablet” is spot on. The product’s name Boox — get it, as in books? — implies it is an e-reader. Which it is. And a great one. But it’s so much more. First of all, it connects to the web via Wi-Fi and runs on Android 9.0 software. You can download anything from the Google Play Store to it. When set to the proper screen refresh rate mode, you can even watch videos on it — albeit in black-and-white and sometimes with ghosting. I downloaded Tablo TV to it, just out of curiosity. Was able to watch a few minutes of a sitcom before getting a little frustrated by the ghosting. The stereo sound is nice, loud and crisp — I’ve been listening to podcasts on it. Reading books and magazines on it is pretty cool, as well, mostly because of the large screen. As with all e-ink products I’ve tried, the display tends to flash at you while refreshing as you turn pages. I got used to that real quickly. You can also do word processing, email, web surfing and sound recording on it. Plus, Boox can act as a second monitor — via its HDMI port — for a computer.

One of its cooler features is the note-taking and drawing function. The included stylus works awesome and my hand resting on the screen doesn’t seem to agitate any functions. Advanced built-in software allows you to change pressure for thickness, as well as offers plenty of other options. One curious thing is it lets you select colors — even though you cannot see the colors on the screen obviously and need to instead wait until you print it off or send the file to another device. More useful for me, you can handwrite notes on it and then it can convert the notes to typed text. It also offers voice recognition. In fact, it will generate a QR code with the click of a button — someone else can scan the code from their phone and your notes will instantly pop up on their screen.

Boox is armed with a fast Qualcomm 2 GHZ octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz) and Bluetooth 4.1. I wish it had a front light — as other Onyx products do — as I tend to read in our family room where the light is relatively dim. But the screen is too large to support that, from what I understand. Because the contrast is easily controllable on this device however, reading has been a sheer pleasure. Maybe one of the biggest lures to the Boox is its generous 4,300 mAh battery that seems to last forever. Again, because this is an energy-efficient e-ink device, the battery should last for weeks. Even with constant usage, my battery has gone easily more than a week. Plus, it fully juices up in less than two hours.

So if you’re not expecting a full-color tablet like the iPad, yet you want an extreme e-reader that’s large, sleek, well-made and fast, definitely give this some consideration.

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