Onyx BOOX Max Review: 13.3″ E-ink Reader

E-ink based e-readers have a leg up over conventional ebook readers that come with your typical mobile phone. They are designed to provide the closest reading experience you can have with a real, physical book while taking advantage of the flexibility of digital files.

The Onyx BOOX Max aims to take things to a new level by meeting the needs of a specific, more technically demanding niche. Read on to learn more.

Onyx BOOX Max Review

Hardware Specs

  • Cortex-A9 1GHz Dual-core Processor
  • 1GB LPDDR2 RAM
  • 13.3″ E-ink Mobius Display
  • 1600 x 1200 Screen Resolution
  • 16 GB of Built-in Storage
  • 802.11b/g WIFI
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 4100mAh Li-polymer Rechargeable Battery
  • Micro SD Card Slot for Expanded Storage Up to 32 GB
  • Onboard Speakers and Microphone
  • 3.5mm Headphone Jack

Features

The Onyx BOOX Max comes with a 13.3 inch E-ink screen featuring a 1600 x 1200 resolution, which equates to a 150 PPI pixel density.  It’s powered by an Android OS and is compatible with third party Android apps. Downloading apps and installation is easy since the device also comes with Google Play installed. The device also allows for note-taking and note-editing with its stylus and built-in tools. Four physical buttons are located on the chassis: Menu, Page Up, Back and Page Down. Actual buttons are a nice feature that makes it easy to operate the BOOX Max without having to touch the screen.

Document sharing is easy and fast with Bluetooth 4.0. Audio-wise, the device has decent audio support and comes with a microphone for audio recording and a speaker plus 3.5mm headphone jack for media playback. Designed as a niche product, Onyx decided to pack the BOOX Max reader with 16 GB of storage making it suitable for blueprints and academic files with large file sizes. There’s also the option to increase memory with the microSD card slot that is expandable to up to 32 GB.

Handing drawing using the included stylus

The sheer size of this reader makes it great for ebook reading as well as reading larger documents, PDF files and technical files and is large enough to allow more than two people to view it at the same time. Like other E-ink readers such as the Kindle, it can be used to open virtually any type of document file. However, this device is essentially for a niche market, something very similar to the Sony DPT-S1 which was intended for business users. This is essentially what makes the Onyx BOOX Max so different from conventional ebooks readers like the Kindle.

While both devices sport E-ink technology, the size difference means that the Onyx can be better appreciated by users who prefer larger, wider screens for specific uses, such as viewing detailed blueprints and construction plans or detailed technical papers. The device does support Kindle apps, allowing for a smoother transition from Kindle to the Onyx BOOX Max. Mainstream users tend to prefer the portability of smaller ebook readers so the device’s 13 inch frame may prove to be too bulky for the majority. However, this large screen size is one of the biggest strengths of the Onyx BOOX Max for those who require a device for more advanced reading and note taking.

Viewing the BOOX Max from multiple angles

Pros

The sheer size of the reader makes it great for people who prefer reading ebooks on a larger screen. The device shines best when used as a PDF document reader, especially for making annotations while reading highly technical books, blueprints and academic papers. This is great news for professionals or students who desperately need a way out of lugging heavy textbooks and large documents wherever they go. Reading is comfortable with the device’s fantastic bright display that comes with good ambient light reflection. The screen is fairly sharp and boasts good contrast levels so text is easy to read. The size makes it great for reading documents on original A4 or US letter size. Best of all, the Onyx BOOX Max is an open system, so there is practically no limit to the type of files that can be viewed. You aren’t tied to any one ecosystem.

Cons

One of the disadvantages is that some apps that are designed for regular Android devices may or may not work well when installed on the Onyx. Android apps are typically not designed for E-ink screens so users may encounter a number of problems with apps unrelated to e-reading. It doesn’t come with a backlight so using in a dark setting may be difficult. Also, the size will not appeal to a large portion of the broader ebook market. I suspect most will find the Onyx BOOX Max is too large to be used as a simple and portable ebook reader, although for its size the reader is surprisingly lightweight.

Final Verdict On the Onyx BOOX Max

The Onyx BOOX Max is a device well-loved by users who have specific requirements when it comes to digital reading devices. A larger screen size makes it suitable for reading advanced documents such as legal text, technical PDFs, academic papers and blueprints. While it works perfectly for reading standard ebooks as well, and comes with a Table of Contents feature for easier navigation of conventional books, the sheer size does not make it ideal as an ultraportable reading option for users who just want to read the latest novel on the go.

The Kindle Paperwhite remains the stalwart for those seeking a compact, portable and affordable device for casual reading. However, the Onxy BOOX Max has carved out a premium niche of its own. The device not only meets but exceeds the demands of the unique audience for which it was designed. For satisfied users, it’s combination of size, design, performance and features makes the Onyx BOOX Max one of the best e-reader devices for these specific needs.

Check pricing of the Onyx BOOX Max

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