I’ve been on a quest to seek out the proper E Ink gadget that mixes all the most effective options and purposes of digital ink whereas nonetheless being sufficiently small that I’ll truly wish to carry it round all day. For my wants, that gadget is the brand new Onyx Boox Nova Air, which packs sufficient flexibility to make it extra than simply a superb book reader and stable digital notepad.
Let me begin off by saying that relating to digital note-taking—or e-note gadgets—I completely adore the reMarkable tablets. No different E Ink gadget maker has put as a lot effort into enhancing and sharpening the digital paper writing expertise because the reMarkable crew has, and utilizing their tablets for note-taking is a near-perfect expertise. Nonetheless, that laser deal with making a incredible e-note gadget additionally signifies that the reMarkable tablets aren’t so nice for studying ebooks. Even the reMarkable 2 doesn’t include an illuminated display screen as a result of the reMarkable’s creators imagine it might be a detriment to its writing expertise. Bummer.
I’m additionally an enormous fan of the Kobo Libra, which I take advantage of for studying ebooks, however that’s simply concerning the extent of its usefulness to me. Because of this, it spends most of its life on my bedside desk. I’ve lengthy wished the most effective of each worlds, a hybrid of the reMarkable and the Libra, however with out resorting to an iPad, which I discover are too heavy, too fragile, and too costly for what I need from a pill. What I need is nearly precisely what Onyx has delivered with the Boox Nova Air, which ticks all of my want listing objects, even when its person interface could be a little tough across the edges.
The Good Measurement
The most effective function of the Nova Air is the gadget’s measurement. As a lot as I like the reMarkable, and assume it’s the proper measurement for note-taking, it additionally feels too giant for comfortably studying books. And whereas the Kobo Libra is the proper measurement for studying, the e-reader’s compact footprint makes its display screen too small for efficient note-taking. The Nova Air’s 7.8-inch E Ink Carta HD display screen falls someplace in between the 2. It makes the Nova Air roughly the identical measurement because the earlier generations of the iPad Mini, however with an 1872 x 1404, 300 ppi E Ink display screen that gives wonderful readability and even higher battery life than Apple’s smallest pill. With a 2,000 mAh battery inside that’s charged by way of a USB-C port on the underside, you may simply eke out a number of weeks of use between prices.
Devoted web page flip buttons are a slowly disappearing function I nonetheless love in e-readers. I’m not the largest fan of swiping or tapping the perimeters of a display screen for web page turns, which is how the Nova Air works out of the field, although I don’t assume it’s a dealbreaker. Onyx presents an elective $60 folio case that the Nova Air magnetically attaches to, just like the circumstances accessible for the reMarkable 2. Nonetheless, the Nova Air’s case presents extra than simply safety, it additionally provides a pair of bodily web page flip buttons to sweeten the deal.
The draw back is that the $60 Magnetic Case includes a shiny and easy outer end making it very tough to carry the Nova Air with one hand whereas the duvet is folded round to the again. The again of the case and the duvet simply slip and slide towards one another so it’s robust to get a stable grip on the entire thing. It made it tough to adapt my studying type with the Kobo Libra to the Nova Air, however in the event you’re used to utilizing two palms to learn a ebook, it’s not a problem.
Alternately, if you wish to use the Nova Air bare however nonetheless wish to shield it whereas it’s bouncing round inside a bag, Onyx additionally sells a fundamental $40 sleeve that accommodates the pill and its stylus with a magnetic flap to maintain it closed. It’s fundamental, however it’s additionally my most popular manner of maintaining the pill protected whereas out and about.
An Upgraded Stylus You Can Additionally Swap Out
The Nova Air is much from being the primary E Ink Boox gadget to incorporate e-note performance, however it does include a redesigned stylus with a extra textured end and a tip that stands out fairly a bit additional, making it a lot simpler to write down and draw with. One aspect is barely flattened in order that the stylus will be magnetically hooked up to the best aspect of the Nova Air, however whereas it’s a handy place to stash it, the magnetic maintain is nowhere close to as sturdy as it’s with the second-gen Pencil on Apple’s tablets. It doesn’t take a lot of a bump to knock the stylus off.
After I first tried the Boox e-note gadgets with the Nova three Shade earlier this yr, I wasn’t anticipating a nasty writing expertise, however I wasn’t anticipating something nice both. Fortunately, I used to be fully incorrect, and the Nova Air e-note writing expertise is incredible, and almost nearly as good because the reMarkable 2, which I nonetheless contemplate the benchmark for note-taking on an E Ink gadget. It’s uncertain any person will ever actually discover the 4,096 ranges of strain sensitivity the stylus presents, however because of a pre-applied display screen protector that provides a extra paper-life texture to the floor of the Nova Air, the writing expertise feels nice, and is attentive to even my crude all-caps hen scratch-like printing.
It’s additionally good with the ability to take notes on the Nova Air at midnight because of its inclusion of entrance LED lighting that additionally presents full coloration temperature changes to be used at night time earlier than mattress. The function does introduce a slight hole between the E Ink display screen itself and the writing floor of the pill (which is why the reMarkable tablets don’t embody LED lights) however it’s a negligible hole, and I’d relatively have a display screen I can see at midnight, even when there’s no ambient mild sensor to make brightness changes on my behalf—it’s all completed manually with a pair of sliders.
As incredible as the most recent iPad Mini seems to be, one more reason I want the Nova Air is that it truly makes use of Wacom’s expertise for the display screen and stylus. So not solely do you by no means need to cost the Nova Air’s stylus, it would truly work with any Wacom-compatible stylus, together with those accessible for reMarkable tablets in the event you occur to want these and don’t thoughts that your alternative presumably received’t magnetically connect to the aspect of the Nova Air.
Android 10 Makes This Extra Than Simply an E-Reader
The explanation that Amazon and Kobo’s e-readers are two of the preferred choices world wide is that each supply entry to 2 of the most important book shops on the market. The Nova Air does include entry to a retailer out of the field, however the ebook choice seems restricted to titles within the public area, and is disappointing at finest. Nonetheless, the Nova Air can be one among only some E Ink gadgets that runs Android 10, permitting you to put in the Google Play Retailer. From there, you may obtain each the Amazon Kindle app and the Kobo Books app, offering entry to each book shops on the identical gadget, in addition to book lending companies like Libby.
Operating Android 10 additionally means you may set up your favourite studying app on the Nova Air in the event you don’t just like the default book reader, or need one thing higher suited to studying comedian books or different recordsdata. You’ll be able to even set up video games and YouTube if you’d like, though you’ll rapidly run into the restrictions of E Ink, which merely can’t refresh as quick as LCD or OLED shows are in a position to. The Nova Air does permit for a shocking quantity of customizability on how the E Ink display screen performs on a per app foundation (like growing the refresh price) and enjoying easier video games like Solitaire works simply tremendous. However attempt to play video, or video games with extra motion, and your eyes will hate you.
The Nova Air isn’t flawless, nevertheless. It isn’t operating inventory Android 10, and as a substitute includes a customized front-end that simply doesn’t really feel anyplace as polished as what you’ll discover on the reMarkables, Kindles, or Kobos. It really works, and it doesn’t take lengthy to seek out your manner round, however it’s not fairly, and might be the one large trade-off of the Nova Air. To make navigating an Android gadget with an E Ink display screen barely simpler, the pill options an omnipresent on-screen button that may be positioned anyplace, offering fast entry to a bunch of generally used options by means of a radial menu like residence, undo, forcing a display screen refresh, accessing settings, energy, and so forth., and it’s extremely customizable. It even seems on display screen when studying a ebook, and whereas initially I discovered it to be distracting and turned it off, the function has grown on me now that I’ve it personalized for my very own wants. I’d nonetheless want bodily buttons throughout the underside of the Nova Air, however the shortcut button is a satisfactory comfort prize.
Is the Nova Air completely good? No. Is it good for my wants? Sure. For an e-note I wouldn’t go any smaller, and whereas I nonetheless love the Kobo Libra, I’ve to confess that my eyes aren’t what they was once and the bigger display screen of the Nova Air higher accommodates the rising font sizes I want. The general expertise isn’t as fluid and polished as it’s with gadgets just like the reMarkable 2, however the inclusion of display screen lighting is a big plus right here, as is having many various methods to sync notes and buy ebooks, together with content material acquired by means of different gadgets.
However the most effective function, surely, is getting access to Android 10 and the Google Play Retailer. It makes the Boox Nova Air really feel like extra than simply an e-note/e-reader, which additionally helps justify its $350 price ticket. That’s not low-cost, however when you think about the premium Amazon Kindle Oasis will nonetheless set you again $270, the Nova Air simply presents a lot extra performance for an additional $80.