Today I’m reviewing the Onyx Boox Nova 2. Onyx has continued to roll out EReaders at a rapid pace and this is one of their latest. With a flash new display, significant improvements to the UI and running on Android 9, it’s no wonder that Onyx are definitely making a name for themselves in the EReader market.
Let’s start with a quick overview video before we jump into some of the special features
Running On Android 9
This has a lot of benefits which makes it more similar to your mobile phone as opposed to a traditional EReader. One of these is having multiple applications running at the same time. For example, listening to music whilst you’re reading an EBook. One thing to note though is that the device will get slower with the more apps you have running. So Android doesn’t officially support EReaders which means some applications will look a little strange running on the EReader (e.g. UI looks bigger than it should be in some cases). Onyx has put in a few features to mitigate this as much as possible though.
Great to see that they’re trying to push EReaders into the Android space rather than going with a native solution. Some of these features include:
- Dots per Inch (DPI)
- Color Optimization
- Refresh Mode
- App Animation
The Nova2 also takes advantage of some Android specific features such as split screen mode. This allows you to open two documents at the same time and add notes to them.
So the Nova 2 comes with a number of apps pre-installed and I’ve given my two cents on how well they perform and their usefulness.
Web Browser: Not great and apparently uses a lot of battery power according to PC news (1% for every 10 pages). It’s also not a standard browser either (e.g. like Chrome or Firefox) which is quite disappointing given that the device is running on Android.
Calculator: Pretty handy, especially if you’re reading research documents
Calendar: Pretty useful and works quite well
Clock: Has limited value as the time can be seen from the home menu already and most other screens
Dictionary: Pretty useful and you can also download other languages too. Great for the international market.
Email: Didn’t test the app that much but the reality is that I’d probably use my phone anyway as it’s more fit for purpose
Moon Reader: Pointless, unless you’re really into knowing about the different phases of the moon
Music: Works pretty well
Screensaver: Novel idea but it does use battery life. I tend to just put my EReader into standby mode
WeChat: Great if you’re on WeChat
Nook Read: Didn’t get a chance to verify it’s usage but have read a number of articles where people have installed 3rd party apps and they work just fine
One thing to call out here is that whilst you can install additional apps, you cannot install paid ones. This is something that Onyx doesn’t currently support but we may see it in the future. At this stage I think that’s fine as there’s already of ton of apps on Android you can download for free.
Stylus Pen: A Great Addition
The stylus pen is pretty versatile. It allows you to:
- Highlight areas on text within EBooks and publications
- Create separate notes with a decent level of AI recognition to convert your handwritten notes into text
- Sketching and doodling
Onyx have really outdone themselves here with the stylus pen. It feels just like an actual pen and has multiple pressure sensitivity levels in order for you to get exactly the level of detail or highlighting you want. It also comes with an eraser at the top of the pen too in case you make a mistake.
This is ideal for those students taking notes in textbooks. You can find out more on this feature on the Onyx Website
Warm Light Mode: A Nice Enhancement
Onyx have followed the trend of many other EReaders and introduced warm light mode where a user can adjust the screen colour to suit the time of the day that they’re reading. This isn’t automatic but that’s my personal preference as it consumes less battery life this way. A great feature for those who want to avoid eye strain. It has a staggering 32 levels that you can customize this to? Personally I think that’s way over the top but somebody might find that level of customization useful.
The Navigation Ball – A New Way Accessing Apps Quickly
The navigation ball is an Icon that sits above all apps and allows you to customize five buttons in a variety of ways:
- App switching
- Opening specific system settings (e.g. Wifi)
- App Optimization
I’ve not seen this on any other brand of EReader so it’s great to see Onyx pushing UI boundaries to benefit users.
Other Key Features To Call Out
There’s a few more features that I wanted call out as a summary that may interest readers:
- Device Pin Lock: Can have up to an 8 digit pin
- Different page viewing modes to suit the speed of your reading
- Screenshot for taking pages is neat and you can share these fairly easily via QR codes
- Onyx claims the device can run up to 7 weeks on a single charge!
Let’s move onto the design. Firstly it’s bigger than your standard EReaders boasting a decent 7.8 inch super high resolution screen. Most EReaders in this class come in at 6 inches. Even though it is larger, it doesn’t feel too overbearing.
I also like the minimalistic design with fewer buttons and more screen space. Though I would prefer it had a metal back as opposed to plastic. Since the Kindle Oasis moved to a metal back case I can’t go back!
Onyx claims it’s pretty light, weighing in at 265 grams. I have to disagree with this as this puts it in the heavier weight category range. For example, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite weighs 191 grams. Now I know this doesn’t sound much but over long periods of time this can make a real difference.
The Nova 2 does come with an audio jack but it’s unfortunately USB-C rather than 3.5mm. Personal preference here as there’s technically nothing wrong with USB-C. It does mean that you can’t charge it and listen to content at the same time though. Onyx are just following the trend here though of other EReaders.
The Nova 2 also has a built in mic which I think is the first time I’ve seen that in an EReader. Initially I thought why have they included this? Then I realised that they have an built in app which allows you to record audio notes. I guess I could see some practicality around this though personally I’d never use it.
Alright, so I’ve talked about a lot of features that Onyx have bundled into the Nova 2 but how does the price stack up? Well as you’d expect, it ain’t cheap. At the time of writing it was considerably more than Amazon’s flagship Oasis EReader. With that said, it is still fairly new and so I expect the price to come down over time.
you can check out the latest price on Amazon here
Some Specs To Compare Against
I’ve included some standard specs to compare it against other EReaders so you can see how it fairs:
|Onyx Boox Nova 2||Kobo Firma||Kindle Paperwhite||Kindle Oasis|
|Size||7.8 inches||7 Inches||6 Inches||7 Inches|
|Display||300 PPI||300 PPI||300 PPI||300 PPI|
What I Like
Overall I like the level of customization you can do with the Onyx Boox Nova 2. You have the chance to really make it your own. With the fact that they’re keeping up to date with Android versions, you can tell they’re committed to this type of flexibility long term. I also really like the navigation ball feature. Given the number of menus, settings and applications you can install, it’s a great way to move between the frequently used ones. Finally, the stylus pen is a great feature for highlighting textbooks or if you feel like just having a doodle.
What I Don’t Like
The price is a little steep for me. I totally get that this number of features comes at a cost, but to be more significantly expensive than the Kindle Oasis is a challenge for me. A pet peeve for me is when EReaders are experimenting with web browsers but don’t really commit. Looks like Onyx is no exception here with their preinstalled browser. Yes you could technically install Chrome from the android store but it still doesn’t really give you the same experience. Finally some of the pre-installed apps were a little redundant in my opinion (e.g. email, moon phases etc).
What Amazon Customers Are Saying
Overall Amazon customers are pretty happy with the device. They love the level of customization and the flexibility of the EReader. They do have some nagging issues relating to the installation of the screen protector being pretty difficult and Google play being a challenge to get set up initially but these are pretty minor.
There’s also an instance of a customer making use of it for Piano sheet music!
So to sum up, this is a really powerful EReader if you want to put the time and energy into making it your own. It’s probably not for beginners just starting out on their EReader journey and is more tailored towards students or researchers who will get the full use of the stylus pen.
Do you own this EReader already? Would love to hear your views! What works and doesn’t work for you.
Until next time
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