Today I’m reviewing another EReader from Onyx, the Darwin 3 which is available in both the US and Russia. With an EReader which boasts Moonlight technology, a Snowlight system and support for a variety of languages, let’s dive in and see if it stacks up against other common EReaders on the market
Apologies that this promo video is only available in Russian but still gives you a good overview of the look and feel
So Onyx’s description of this technology is a little bit technical:
“The light-conducting layer is located over the display. The light goes through this layer and is reflected towards the screen being absorbed by the dark elements of the image and then this reflected light enters the eyes.”
Basically this means they have added an extra layer to ensure that the contrast of the text crisper and easier on the eyes. Eye strain is a common issue that tablets suffer from so it’s great to see Onyx taking even further steps to protect their users eyes. This isn’t what you see as standard on some of Onyx’s competitors such as the Amazon Kindle.
With the majority of EReaders, when you turn the page, the device has to perform a full screen refresh which after reading a couple of hundred pages can get a little annoying. Onyx have tackled this problem by creating Snowlight system. Although the name doesn’t really give away what it actually does, the device only needs to perform a partial screen refresh when turning pages. This is less distracting to the user so they can focus more on the part they love doing, reading.
This feature also helps remove those residual lines of previous items that have been on the screen after you turn the page. It does use a little more battery life but Onyx do give you the option to disable this. Another nice customisation here.
So the Darwin 3 has an impressive 8gb of storage. This is enough to store a lifetime’s worth of books onto your device. However, if that’s not enough, the EReader comes with a MicroSD slot which means the storage capacity can then be increased to 32gb. To put that into perspective, you could roughly store 32,000 books with this kind of power. Larger than your local library, on a device that can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand!
Free Case Included!
Onyx have taken a leaf out of Amazon when they built the original Kindle Oasis and have included a stylish case. However, this has more functionality than just it’s aesthetic appearance. Upon opening and closing the case the Darwin 3 will enter and exit sleep mode, making your battery life last even further. Onyx have also made a further improvement on Amazon’s design by not requiring you to have the case on for charging.
What I like here is that the device is pretty responsive to opening and closing with the device engaging within half a second.
Even though Onyx are mainly focusing at targeting the US and Russia, their devices supports opening documents in a number of international languages which include English, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Arabic Swedish, Chinese and Japanese. The Darwin 3 also allows you to translate words on the fly whilst you’re reading. I think this is a great feature for those wanting to learn new languages by reading books in other languages. The device itself can be used in Russian or English
Android Pre Installed Apps
So as the system runs on Android, you can download additional apps to customise it to your needs. It comes with the following pre installed already:
- Image viewer
- Stats analysis of your reading habits
What I particularly like about this is that you don’t need to switch devices (e.g. your phone) if you need to send that quick email whilst you remember. Then can you get back to more important things such as finishing that chapter!
Also as it’s running on Android you get a working web browser. None of this ‘experimental, disclaimer rubbish which is the case on other EReaders’. When you’re browsing web you’re using the Chrome browser.
OK, so let’s move onto to the design. The screen is 6 inches and has a E Ink Carta display. 6 Inches is the standard for most EReader’s these days. The case consists of black plastic with an easy grip back. There is a bevelled edge means the screen is slightly sunken into the case giving it a more professional feel. A thing to note here is that as well as supporting multi-touch screen, the case as two physical buttons on the sides of the case for page navigation. This is something we’ve seen on the Kindle Voyage and gives the user more flexibility on how they want to navigate pages.
The device supports nighttime reading and updates the brightness level in less than half a second. Some EReader’s I’ve reviewed sometimes have a delay on this issue so I’m glad to see Onyx is not one of them. With that said the light itself can seem a little cold compared to other EReader’s.
With a little customisation you can get the battery to last about a month. The is the equivalent of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.
The final point to note here is that the EReader can be used in both portrait and landscape mode. Great idea when you’re reading some pretty text heavy PDF’s. This can be changed in the settings menu.
So let’s talk price and where you can buy it from. I’m pleased to see that that this product is now available on Amazon (although only the Canadian store from what I could find) but it’s a start. For the rest of the US market there are a couple of options. There are a couple of psychical stores in New York which you can pick the device up from. Alternatively you can can use the online store ECTACO for around 250$ US.
So when comparing this model to other EReaders out there it’s significantly more than the Kindle Paperwhite and is the same price range of the Kindle Oasis. This does reflect the extra functionality it includes compared to a standard EReader.
Some Specs To Compare Against
I’ve included a summary of some of the specs that I feel are personally important to consider when looking at getting a new EReader.
|Onyx Boox Darwin 3||Kindle Oasis||Kindle Paperwhite||Kobo Aura One|
|Size||6 Inches||7 Inches||6 Inches||7.69 Inches|
|Display||212 PPI||300 PPI||300 PPI||300 PPI|
What I Like
I like the fact that Onyx are bringing innovation to the EReaders by introducing tech which makes the reading experience more enjoyable, especially the Snowvision feature. This coupled with the fact that they’re delivering EReaders at a rapid pace is impressive. It’s also great to see them using Android as the operating system as it gives a little more flexibility on functionality the Darwin 3 can provide. Finally, I love the fact it has a functional web browser.
What I Don’t Like
Whilst they are innovating, the price point is a little too high for my liking. For example, the new Kindle Oasis is waterproof and supports Bluetooth speakers for the same price range as the Darwin 3. Also the level of font customisation is pretty basic (similar to the Kindle Paperwhite) which could be improved upon. Finally, the Pixels Per Inch (PPI) is a little low for a modern EReader but this I think is something Onyx is working on improving.
If you’re willing to spend a little more to get the flexibility of an EReader running on android then this EReader is for you. A good all round EReader with a clean design and one of the lightest in its class. Definitely worth looking into more if you’re interested.
Until next time