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Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color: A Review of the Multi-Purpose E-Book Reader

Onyx Boox

Onyx Boox Nova 3 is a hybrid e-ink reader and one of the first devices to offer a fully colorized and interactive reading experience. This hybrid e-reader allows you to do more than the standard e-book reader. You can read any file that you want, including magazines and comic books. You can write notes and draw colorful art using specialized apps and listen to audiobooks and podcasts. In this article, we’ll uncover the wonders of the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color and why it may be the most innovative e-reader yet.

Onyx Boox
Photo by Perfecto Caucine via Pixabay


What Is Onyx Boox?

Onyx Boox is an electronics company that specializes in producing Android-based e-ink (ePaper) tablets. The company has been in operation for more than a decade now. During this period, they have experimented with both LCDs and e-inks. Now, they have come up with a combination of the two technologies, the Boox Nova series. The latest in the series is Boox Nova 3, with an upgraded version called the Boox Nova 3 Color.

As a hybrid device, the Boox Nova 3 Color functions as an Android tablet and an e-ink reader. An e-ink reader is a type of technology that tries to duplicate the effect of ink on paper. Unlike most LCD or OLED screens, the e-ink reader screen does not rely on electricity to reflect the text. Instead, it relies on a kinetic process involving polymers and electrodes to generate pigments on a paper-like screen. It’s the same technology being used by Kindle that gives their e-books a realistic appearance.

The e-ink technology and LCD combination come at a high price for the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color. Nevertheless, the price is fully warranted when you consider the number of tasks that you can accomplish with the device and the number of files and in-document functions that you can access.

Also check out these top e-reader models that will make you want to read more.


Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color: Design

Onyx Boox
Photo by Onyx Boox via Onyx Boox Official Website


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color has a very sophisticated and modern design. As a hybrid device, it combines the functionality of a colored e-reader and an Android tablet, although the latter function has yet to reach a stage of maturity. Here’s a breakdown of the design aspect of the e-reader:


Build Quality

Build Quality
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The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color looks like your standard e-book reader, except it has a 7.8-inch display. The tablet’s exterior is protected by a thick plastic case that extends over its back to its sides. Meanwhile, there are bezels around the tablet to protect it from bumps.

The bezels around the screen are slightly elevated, which protects the screen in case of a fall onto a flat surface. You also get a free screen protector in the package, presumably to protect your screen from all types of scratches.

The device also comes with its own stylus for drawing and writing notes. It is very sensitive to pressure, although it does include a digital eraser at the back. Unfortunately, there’s no way to attach the stylus to the tablet, although its triangular shape allows it to stay still on a flat surface. It also has a small loop that you can attach to a lanyard.

The device also features a Wi-Fi module that supports dual-band 2.4 GHz/5G Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 protocols.



Onyx Boox Display
Photo by Kaboompics via Pexels


An e-ink reader’s display is perhaps the most important design aspect. The Nova 3 Color sports both a Kaleido Plus e-ink screen and an LCD screen. The LCD and Kaleido e-ink screens are stacked on top of each other, and either screen is activated depending on the app you are using. Neither screens require backlighting, although you get front-based reading lights that you can turn on in the dark.

The key difference between the original Boox Nova 3 and the Boox Nova 3 Color is their displays. The original Nova 3 only has a single e-ink screen that can display both monochrome or colorized files. Meanwhile, the Nova 3 Color has the same e-ink screen, but it has an additional LCD screen.

The Boox Nova 3 Color has one of the most advanced e-ink screens available, capable of presenting files in both monochromes and full-color format. But because the technology is relatively new, there is still some disparity with the resolution of black and white and colored files. The resolution for black and white documents can go as high as 1404×1872 with 300 dpi. On the other hand, the resolution for colored materials is only about 468×624 with 100 dpi.


Ease of Use

Onyx Boox
Photo by Perfecto Capucine via Pexels


The Boox Nova 3 Color is very easy to handle and use. Despite having a plastic exterior, the tablet offers a good grip. But when it comes to keeping your tablet safe from accidental breakage, you could benefit a lot from using a tablet case. Tablet cases are specially designed to hold your devices, and they usually offer a better grip. Additionally, most tablet cases can prop your device at different angles. So you can read, write, or draw better.

The fact that the device also comes with its stylus is a significant convenience. The stylus is useful for writing notes on documents, drawing art, and navigating the tablet without direct touch. But while the stylus responds to pointed pressure, it doesn’t offer much variance in line thickness.

You may also notice some discrepancies in the stylus’ performance across apps. That is, the stylus may work better or best with native apps but less so with third-party apps. Case in point, the lines that you draw can get a little behind the stylus for third-party apps, which makes it hard to create very detailed artworks.



Onyx Boox Accessories
Photo by RF Studio via Pexels


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color tablet comes with its Wacom stylus and a USB-C cable for transferring files and charging.


Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color: Software

Onyx Boox
Photo by kaboompics via Pixabay


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color has its operating system, and it comes pre-installed with a variety of utility apps. Here are the apps that you can expect to find on your new device:


System Software

Native Software
Photo by janjf93 via Pixabay


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color runs on the Android 10 operating system. Android 10 is a much more efficient version of Android than the original Boox Nova’s Android 6. Additionally, app sources like Google Play and Google Play Protect are also natively available. However, they will require a couple of permissions before they can be activated. Once they’re activated, it’s already possible to install Google apps straight from the Google Play Store.


Pre-Installed Apps

Pre-Installed Apps
Photo by janjf93 via Pixabay


Like most devices, the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color is pre-installed with a variety of essential utilities. These include a calculator, calendar, clock, dictionary, email, music, notes, reading stats, tablet search, and sound recorder. Additionally, there’s a web browser built-in, though it’s not ideal for comprehensive research. That said, it’s safe to say that up until this point, web browsers for e-ink screens are still experimental.


Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color: Features and How to Use Them

Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color
Photo by Onyx Boox via Onyx Boox Official Website


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color features an e-book and a few features of an Android tablet. As such, you can read, take notes, listen to e-books, convert e-books, create artworks, and download specialized apps using them. These features are joined by plenty of functionality to help make your reading, writing, or drawing experience that much easier.


File Support

File Management
Photo by Mike via Pexels

The Neo app has extensive support for different file formats. This includes more popular file types like TXT, HTML, DOC, DOCX, MOBI, EPUBs, and the ubiquitous PDF.

It also supports image-type file types, including JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP. Even the more obscure file types like RTF, FB2,, PRC, CHM, DjVu, MP3, WAV, CBR, CBZ are supported.


Zooming and Cropping

Photo by RF Studio via Pexels


The original Onyx Boox Nova 3 had a lot of zooming and cropping features. This latest edition still carries zooming and cropping capabilities. But the only difference is that these functions have been watered down. Now there’s a simple toggle that lets you zoom in on documents according to percentages. Additionally, you also get one-click shortcuts to options like fit-to-width and fit-to-page. A pinching gesture will still get you to zoom in and out of the document.



Onyx Boox Display
Photo by Kaboompics via Pexels


The Neo reader allows you to customize how the app moves the document forwards or backward. You can also customize the direction in which your document navigates. For example, you can view two-column PDF files from top to bottom and left to right. If you’re reading a comic book, you can set it to go from left to right.

Just like with most e-readers, you can also use a variety of touch-based shortcuts. For example, you can switch between pages by using intuitive two-finger movements. If you feel like taking a quick screenshot, you can tap on any corner of the screen to initiate it. You can even share your screenshots with a friend or colleague by scanning QR codes.


Multiple Documents

Multiple Documents
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The Neo reader app allows you to open multiple documents and keep them on standby using tabs. Technically, you can only view a single document at a time. Even if you could view multiple documents at a time, you would not be able to read them. In any case, the experience is not that different from opening multiple files on Adobe Reader.


Notes and Highlights

Notes on the wall
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash


One of the key features to love about the Boox 3 Color is note-taking. The stylus has been optimized to work with the e-ink screen, and all you have to do is open a document and start scribbling. You can customize the appearance of your notes using different colors of inks and various pen thickness levels.

A new side note feature lets you add notes that open up to the side of the document instead of directly on top of it. Another you can do is press and hold on to a sentence or paragraph to highlight that section. You can choose to export a copy of your document, complete with or without notes and highlights. You get additional settings and options to make it easier to handle your notes.


Color Adjustments

Color Adjustments
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon via Pexels

The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color tablet includes a display system. This system offers three controls: color contrast, saturation, and brightness. You can toggle these functions along a scale to determine the proper levels for your eyes.

With color contrast, for example, you can make your text bolder or darker, depending on the quality of the file.  Another example will be if you’re into colored comic books. You can adjust the saturation to make the colors appear brighter and more intense.


Text to Speech

Onyx Boox
Phoot by Linkedin Sales via Pexels


If you’re more into audiobooks, the Boox Nova 3 Color does have a tiny speaker on the reverse side. This speaker was specifically designed to play MP3 files of audiobooks and podcasts, but you probably shouldn’t use it to play music.



Photo by Lukas via Pexels


The Neo reader app has a reflow function that converts your PDF file into an e-book. The conversion allows you to adjust the font and layout of your file, just like an e-book.



Photo by Pixels via Pixabay


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color comes pre-installed with an open-source dictionary called StarDict. There are two ways to access the dictionary. For instance, you can long-press on a word to show its definition, or you can search for the word directly through the device’s dictionary. In addition to this, you can install as many dictionaries as your storage capacity will allow. But take note that the device only accepts directories in DICT format.


Screen Lights

Onyx Boox
Photo by Pexels via Pixabay


Anytime it gets too dark to read, you can open the tablet’s front lights to illuminate your text. The lights make use of a special lighting technique that produces soft and comfortable light. Moreover, this light is non-glaring and non-harmful to the eyes. This makes it a sustainable light source for long hours of reading. It’s a great alternative to LED lights that can be harmful to the eyes with prolonged exposure.


Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color: Alternatives

Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color

Sony Digital Paper Ratta Supernote A5X Digital Note iPad Pro 12.9 (2nd Gen) reMarkable 2
Wireless Wi-Fi, 5G optional, Bluetooth Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Touchscreen Capacitive, 2 point touch 2 point touch, Capacitive Capacitive, 2 point touch 2 point touch, Capacitive Capacitive, 2 point touch
Memory 3 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage 4 GB RAM internal storage,  32 GB external 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage 6GB RAM, 128GB internal storage 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage
Screen 1404 x 1872 resolution  Kaleido Plus E-Ink 100 PPI 1200 x 1600 resolution Mobius E-Ink 150 PPI 1872×1404  resolution, Mobius E-Ink 226 PPI 2048 x 2732 resolution, Mini-LED 265 PPI 1872×1404 resolution, E-Ink Carta 226 PPI
Formats RTF, HTML, MOBI, PDF, TXT, CBR, CBZ, EPUB Only supports PDF formats without copyright protection ePub, PDF, Word,  PNG, JPG TXT, EPUB, MOBI, CBR, CBZ, KF8, Word, MOBI, TXT, CMX-HD,  AZW, and PDF PDF, EPUB, except DRM or copyrighted ebooks
Audio Speaker, microphone No speaker or microphone No speaker or microphone Speakers, microphone No speaker or microphone
Battery Life 48 to 168 hours per full charge 40 hours per full charge 12 hours per charge 10 hours and 40 mins per full charge  336 hours per full charge full charge
Price Range USD 399 to 440 $ 599 to 700 $ 499 to 559 USD 400 to 580 $ 399 to 450

Final Thoughts on the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color

Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color
Photo by Perfecto Capucine via Pexels


The Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color is easily one of the most innovative e-readers available today. It’s the closest thing you can get to ink and paper set up outside of the traditional book. Using an e-ink reader is one of the best ways to go paperless. Naturally, this paperless route is both very practical and environment-friendly. In addition to that, you also get to cut down on harmful blue light emissions that come from staring at LCD screens for too long. On the other hand, if your primary intention is to watch videos or conduct internet searches, you may be better off with an Android tablet. Nonetheless, this is overall a highly flexible and novel e-reader offering great value for your money.

Next for the certified bookworm, read about the best books on Kindle Unlimited which you can read on your Onyx Boox device as well.

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