by james | 6:21 am

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 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

 

Special Features

 

Moonlight Technology

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 that you see as standard on some of Onyx’s competitors such as the Amazon Kindle.

 

Snowlight System

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.

 

Storage

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.

 

International Support

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:

  • Email
  • Image viewer
  • Calendar
  • Calculator
  • 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.

 

The Design

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.

 

Price

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
Weight 182g 194g 217g 230g
Display 212 PPI 300 PPI 300 PPI 300 PPI
Colours available Black Black Black/White Black

 

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.

 

Conclusion

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

Cheers

James

 

Any questions? Feel free to drop in a comment below

Comments

Stefan

I think I’d like to test this onyx boox.

The reloading of every new page is really a bit destructing and boring when reading for many hours. I’d like to see how the Darwin copes with this problem using the snow light system.

The name of the system is really a bit fat out but who cares 🙂

At the moment I still use my old EReader but will follow the evolution of the onyx and see how they improve in the next generation. More pixels and Bluetooth would be nice. It could also be a bit bigger.

Nov 26.2018 | 02:19 am

    james

    Hi Stefan,

    Thanks for your comment. Onyx are certainly starting to make a name for themselves and I think the future will be bright for them if they keep innovating. I’ll continue to review their products and let you know how they progress.

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 01.2018 | 09:26 pm

jackvo29

Thanks for your very detailed post. Onyx Boox does look like an interesting EReader. The fact that you can install Android apps on it is very interesting. However, in my opinion, I think it is very hard for Kindle owners to jump ship to another EReader device. Also the price $250 is quite steep so hopefully in the future, they can drop the price a bit to make it more affordable as a EReader device

Nov 26.2018 | 02:29 am

    james

    Hi Jackvo,

    Thanks for your post. It is a great feature to customize the device with additional apps. You make a good point regarding the jump from Amazon to Onyx as they are quite the powerhouse when it comes to sales. The only counter point here is that Amazon are gradually increasing the price of their newer products so we may see a closer cost parity between the two companies in the future.

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 01.2018 | 09:33 pm

Steve

James, very thorough review, I thought you did a great job.  I would like to know if if you thought the 212 PPI was hard on the eyes compared to the 300 PPI?  That’s a 30% difference compared to the other 3 models you included in the comparison.  The lower PPI almost seems contrary to the attempt at lowering eye strain with the Moonlight technology.  One thing I liked about the Onyx is the fact that it’s the lightest, which, in my opinion, could be very important for reducing fatigue after reading a few hundred pages.  Thanks for the information!

Steve

Nov 26.2018 | 02:32 am

    james

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the comment. To answer your question regarding the PPI, it depended on the content. So for a standard EBook there wasn’t much noticeable difference. However with graphic novels and PDF’s, this is where you could tell. So ultimately it would depend on what you are reading most of the time.

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 14.2018 | 08:58 pm

Dora

Hi James,

I have been looking for a new Ereader to give to my husband as a present, because he is always using mine and I am sick of fighting him for it.  The Onyx Boox Darwin 3 looks like great option for him, because he’s stuck on everything Android.  Thanks for in-depth review.

-Dora

Nov 26.2018 | 02:42 am

    james

    Hi Dora,

    Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you found it useful and sounds like an Android EReader is ideal for him. Well as Christmas is around the corner, seems like the ideal time to get one!

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 14.2018 | 09:00 pm

Huy

Hi I  was curious to know what version of Android is supported by this tablet and how is the selection of apps for this device. I like the moonlight and snowlight technology but I already have glasses to help me with digital eye strain and that is quite a steep price to pay for just a nice page turn.

Nov 26.2018 | 02:44 am

    james

    Hi Huy,

    Thanks for your post. From my research it looks like the Onyx devices are currently running Android 6.0 through they do provide regular updates. App selection by default is pretty good from the basic installation (e.g. Calendar, Email, Browser etc) but the additional benefit is you can add more to customize. 

    Fair enough on the price point, but worth considering as the new year sales are coming round the corner!

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 17.2018 | 01:53 am

Marios Tofarides

Hey James,

Onyx is quite a new brand of ereaders. Russian, from what I see in the video. And I’m not sure what devices are its competitors. I mean, its monochrome, so it should compete with Kindle (and other) ereaders, but  also takes Android Apps, so the competition is Kindle Fire and all the Android tablets? I’m not really sure what this device tries to achieve. Amazon is a well established brand with a great ecosystem and bookstore, and so is Kobo, Apple and B&N. I hope you can enlighten me a bit on that.

Thanks for a great review!

Marios

Nov 27.2018 | 08:18 pm

    james

    Hi Marios,

    Thanks for your post and great question. So the main Unique Selling Point for Onyx is their flexibility. With Amazon and other major EReaders, the number of apps is fixed and even with updates they rarely include additional functionality. Onyx’s aim here is to all you to customise your EReader more by allowing you to download a set of apps from the Android store.

    Hopefully that clears up your understanding but happy to expand more on this

    Cheers

    James

    Dec 19.2018 | 08:50 pm

David

Nice review. Before today I had not heard of Onyx. Do they produce other electronics? Tablets for example? Just curious what their background is.  

It has some nice features but the big one is the weight. The lighter weight, albeit slight, can make a big difference when you’ve been reading for an hour or so. This alone might make me consider this reader when choosing one. 

Nov 30.2018 | 03:07 am

    james

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the post. As far as I’m aware Onyx only seem to make EReader’s at this stage but I’m sure they have grand plans for expansion due to the popularity of their devices. Agreed the weight can be a bit of an issue and does come down to personal preference as to whether or not this is a key factor. 

    If you have any further questions, please let me know

    Cheers

    James

    Jan 03.2019 | 08:18 am

Sharon

Sounds like a great ereader to take on a vacation, because of the battery life.

Would you recommend this for someone with poor eyesight? I usually like to enlarge the font size and adjust the contrast to make reading easier. When I enlarge the font size I need to turn the page more often. This device sounds like turning the pages would flow nicer than other ereaders.

Nov 30.2018 | 10:56 pm

    james

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for the comment. Regarding larger font sizes the Onyx is OK but not the best. If you’re looking for true font customisation then I would recommend something like the Kobo Forma as it has increased flexibility in this space, especially around the larger front sizes. Hope this helps and happy to answer any other questions.

    Cheers

    James

    Jan 09.2019 | 06:33 am

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