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Onyx Boox Poke 5 review: a versatile and cute 6-inch ereader with one too many flaws
9:07 am | January 3, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Onyx Boox Poke 5: One-minute review

The first word that struck me as soon as I powered on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 after receiving it for this review was “cute”. While its little plastic body isn’t anything to write home about, the device's wallpaper and the boot-up screen's animations always make me smile.

Throw in the 6-inch screen size and the Onyx Boox Poke 5 is quite an adorable entry-level ereader that’s competing against the current Amazon Kindle (2022), as well as the Kobo Nia and Kobo Clara 2E. What sets it apart from the other 6-inch ereaders is its 32GB of onboard storage, the expandable microSD storage of up to 1TB, and access to the Google Play Store thanks to its Android 11-based user interface.

So, while Onyx doesn’t have a good bookstore to purchase content from, you can download the Kindle and Kobo apps to source your next read or audiobook. There's also a native web browser from where you can make purchases too. And with apps like Libby, you can borrow ebooks from a public library that supports this platform.

However, this headline feature – i.e. getting access to the Play Store – isn’t enabled by default as it is on other Onyx Boox models I’ve tested. You’ll see the app on the Poke 5 but users are required to register the device for access first and these steps are hidden away. In my opinion, an entry-level ereader that promises access to the Play Store should have it enabled by default.

If you don’t want to bother with the Play Store, then the best use case for the Onyx Poke 5 would be if you already have an existing library you can sideload onto the device. This is easy enough via either signing into Dropbox or Google Drive on the Poke 5, or you can use Onyx’s own BooxDrop application. 

As with all Onyx ereaders, the user interface isn’t very intuitive and, again, as an entry-level model, this makes it a little harder to recommend compared to its competition from Amazon and Kobo.

Boot-up animation on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

Onyx Boox Poke 5 review: price and availability

  • Retail price of $169.99 / £169.99 / AU$289
  • Available to buy now in most markets

Onyx ereaders don't come cheap and the same is the case with the Poke 5 as well. At $169.99 / £169.99 / AU$289 apiece, it’s a high price to pay for a 6-inch entry-level ereader without any waterproofing, although you get a lot of storage here.

In comparison, the 2022 edition of the Amazon Kindle with 16GB of storage and no waterproofing will set you back $119.99 / £94.99 / AU$179 at full price for the no-ads version, but it’s often available at a discounted price that makes it remarkable value. The 6-inch Kobo Nia, which is also a no-frills ereader is cheaper than the Poke 5 at $109.99 / £94.99 / AU$179.95, and that’s after the Japanese-Canadian company upped the Aussie RRP a couple times since it launched in 2020.

Even the Kobo Clara 2E, with a retail price of $139.99 / £129.99 / AU$249.95 is better value with a 6-inch E Ink Carta 1200 screen, waterproofing and the ability to borrow books via OverDrive, although it comes with just 16GB of internal storage.

• Value score: 2.5 / 5

The apps on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader, including Kindle and Kobo

(Image credit: Future)

Onyx Boox Poke 5 specifications

Onyx Boox Poke 5 review: design and display

  • 6-inch E Ink Carta Plus screen is good, but lacks the Kindle’s contrast
  • Brightness and light hue can be controlled independently
  • Microphone and microSD expansion of up to 1TB

When it comes to entry-level ereaders, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for design innovation, as the Onyx Boox Poke 5 is very similar to the base Kindle or the Kobo Nia and Clara 2E, with minor differences here and there.

Where the rear panels of the Kindle and Kobo alternatives are textured that offer some grip, the Poke 5 has a smooth plastic rear that’s a magnet for fingerprints. The front has a Boox branding on the lower bezel for embellishment, but the top edge houses the power button that’s easy to find and press, while the lower edge is home to the USB-C port, a mic and a microSD tray.

Tipping the scales at just 160g without a case, the Poke 5 is one of the lightest ereaders I’ve tested. To put that number into perspective, it’s just 2g more than the 2022 Amazon Kindle (which weighs 158g), while the two 6-inch Kobos weigh in at 172g for the Nia and 171g for the Clara 2E.

The USB-C port on the lower edge of the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

The compact and lightweight body encapsulates a 6-inch E Ink Carta Plus screen, which is an older technology then the current Carta 1200 displays that the Kindle and Kobo Clara 2E use, and that means the contrast here isn’t as good as what I saw on the 2022 Kindle. In fact, a side-by-side comparison between the Onyx and the Kindle makes the latter more appealing.

However, the Poke 5 allows you to not only change the frontlight’s brightness, but also its light temperature, giving you the flexibility between cool and warm hues, the latter being better for evening and night reading. This is something you’ll get with the Kobo Clara 2E as well, where you can automatically have the light hue change at a set time, but the Kindle and the Nia miss out on this feature.

Another thing the Poke 5 misses out on is waterproofing, which isn’t available on the Kobo Nia either, but considering the price you’re paying for the Onyx, I think it’s a major omission.

• Design and display score: 3.5 / 5

Onyx Boox Poke 5 review: User experience

  • 6-inch screen could be small for some users
  • Complicated UI
  • Google Play Store access not available by default

I love how portable a 6-inch ereader can be – without a case, they can easily slip into a jacket pocket if you’re going for a stroll and decide to sit down for a read somewhere nice. The small size of the screen, however, isn’t for me as the amount of text displayed is less and, although page turns are mostly responsive, 6 inches of screen real estate feels too cramped. My colleague and I had a similar experience when we tested the 2022 Kindle, and I suspect this might be the case for other users too, so make sure you’ll be comfortable with a small screen before you drop money on an entry-level ereader.

As with other Onyx ereaders, the Poke 5’s user interface isn’t as simple as it is on a Kindle or a Kobo. Despite being a basic model, there’s actually quite a lot of menu options to go through here so it’s set up just right for you, including a floating toolbar in the native library application, different refresh rates that can be set for each application, and further enhancements for text of a book within the library.

Text enhancements on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

This is where all your sideloaded books go and adding to the library is easy – you can use cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, plus you can use BooxDrop, which is accessible without an Onyx account if you don’t want to create one.

My biggest issue with the Poke 5’s user experience was needing to go through hoops to activate Google Play Store access on the ereader. While this is available by default on other Onyx that I’ve tested, it’s strange that an entry-level model requires a user to go through some steps that are buried in the settings. Onyx provides online tutorials on how to go about doing this, and it’s easy enough once you wrap your head around it, but I think it’s far from ideal on a device like this.

Once you’ve managed to activate Play Store access, though, you’ve got a plethora of Android apps at your disposal that you can use. For me, it was downloading the Kindle and Kobo apps so I could access my existing library on both platforms, but note that when using the apps, you don’t have access to the font and page customizations available in the native library app. If that doesn’t bother you, the Poke 5 could be worth it just by giving you access to a multitude of bookstores to purchase content from, even online via the native web browser.

Don’t want to purchase books? You can also download the Libby app that helps you borrow ebooks from a public library, but you will need to check with your local one if this option is supported.

• User experience score: 3 / 5

Control Center on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

Onyx Boox Poke 5 review: Performance

  • Good processor but sluggish performance
  • Decent battery life
  • Responsive page turns in native library application, but not on downloaded reading apps

I’m not sure why Onyx chose to use an E Ink Carta Plus screen for the Poke 5 when the Carta 1200 is a better option in terms of both responsiveness and contrast, but the display here isn’t bad at all. Text is still sharp and clear, and given you can adjust both brightness and light temperature, it’s readable in any kind of ambient light. The only way you can tell there’s something better out there is if you do a side-by-side comparison with the 2022 Kindle... or if you take my word for it.

However, the Poke 5’s overall performance is a little sluggish compared to the Kindle and the Kobo Clara 2E, but on par with the Kobo Nia, which is a much older model. That’s despite the Poke 5 having a better processor and more RAM – it comes with a 2GHz quad-core Qualcomm CPU and 2GB of RAM compared to the Kindle and Clara 2E’s 1GHz CPU and 512GB of system memory.

This is reflected in the occasional sluggishness of the onscreen keyboard – I found that I sometimes had to select a letter twice or three times for it to register when typing. While tapping to turn a page when using the native library app is mostly fine, I found that to be a bit hit and miss on the Kindle app where I sometimes needed to tap twice for the function to take place and, when it did, it was a little delayed.

The Kobo app opening on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

Ghosting, however, was quite rare when I was testing the Poke 5. This was something I was expecting to happen a lot given my previous experience with other Onyx e-ink tablets, so it was a pleasant reading experience to not have to deal with overlays of a previous application or page. 

As expected from an Onyx ereader, battery life is quite good. There’s a 1,500mAh battery that lasted a little over four weeks for me (about 34 days), dropping to 12% before I plugged in for a charge. This is with brightness set to mid level and light temperature at warmer hues, plus Wi-Fi and Bluetooth always on, and refresh rate set to every 1 tap. 

Topping up the battery didn’t take long for me either – about 55 minutes from 12% to full – as I had it plugged into a 65W GAN wall charger via a good quality USB-C to C cable. If you use a laptop or one of the best power banks to charge the Poke 5, note that it will take longer than plugging it directly into a wall adaptor.

• Performance score: 3.5 / 5

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Poke 5?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If you’re looking for other options to the Onyx Boox Poke 5, your best bets are the Amazon Kindle (2022 release) and the Kobo Clara 2E. You can take a look at some direct specs comparisons below.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Poke 5

  • Used every day for about 5 weeks but intermittently for longer
  • Sideloaded some of my own previously purchased content, plus used the Kindle and Kobo apps
  • Browsed the web via the native web browser

A page of a book displayed on the Onyx Boox Poke 5 ereader

(Image credit: Future)

I’ve had the Onyx Boox Poke 5 for a while now, but while I was working on the Onyx Boox Page review, I used it only intermittently. However, once that was complete, the Poke 5 became my everyday ereader.

When it became my main reading device, I used the Poke 5 for about 2-3 hours a day (I am a voracious reader) and tried some different apps and played around with the custom settings too.

While I used Google Drive and BooxDrop to add some content to the device, I also downloaded the Kindle and Kobo apps to access my existing libraries on those platforms as well and read on those apps. This, however, required me to first enable Google Play Store access on the device, which took some doing. I was expecting to be able to sign in on setup, but after some research realized that it needed me to dig into some hidden menus to enable.

I like the idea of having a web browser on an entry-level ereader as it allows me to immediately do any research while reading a particular title.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed Jan 2024]

Google Play Store to let you uninstall apps remotely from other devices
12:12 am | December 20, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones news | Tags: | Comments: Off

Play Store version 38.8 is out and Google is adding the ability to uninstall apps remotely from devices connected to the same account. The remote uninstall is supposed to work on all platforms - PC, Auto, Phone, TV and Wear. As of now, you can only install apps on devices under the same Google account, but you can't remove them. The new functionality allows you to also uninstall and the Play Store's new UI compiles all of your installed apps in a more manageable list. For instance, you can order by size, group by device, etc. Screenshots from the new Google Play Store...

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C review: an ereader that’s colorful and compact, but expensive
7:06 am | September 27, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers eReaders Gadgets Tablets | Tags: | Comments: Off

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C: Two-minute review

The Onyx Boox Tab Mini C joins the ranks of the many color ereaders that Chinese manufacturer Onyx already has. In fact, it’s also a note-taking tablet – a smaller version of the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C, but without a rear camera for scanning documents.

Going small from a 10.3-inch color E Ink screen to one that’s 7.8 inches is a good call in my opinion. You get everything that’s on the Tab Ultra C, with the sole exception of the rear camera to scan documents, making this a more compact, portable and more affordable alternative. And considering I found that camera superfluous on the larger tablet, I don’t miss it here at all.

Onyx has stuck with the latest E Ink Kaleido 3 screen tech for the Tab Mini C, so don’t expect all color hues to pop. Some will look good, others will be muted. I’m still waiting for someone to perfect the Gallery 3 screen and use it on a color ereader – it promises good saturation, but there’s no word on when it will be available on mainstream devices.

Reading and writing on the Tab Mini C is good, even in color. Despite the color screen resolution being just 150ppi – half that of its grayscale resolution – it’s a lot easier to read in any lighting condition than some other color ereaders, like the PocketBook InkPad Color 2, thanks to better contrast.

As with all of Onyx’s newer tablets, the Tab Mini C also runs Android 11, which means you get access to the Google Play Store and can download quite a few apps that you think you might use. This includes the Kindle or the Kobo apps, so you get access to bookstores. This is handy as Onyx doesn’t have its own to purchase content from. And given it’s got a web browser pre-installed, you can even buy content from other online stores as well.

There are other pre-installed apps that will be sufficient for most users, including a reading application. If you don’t like any of them, you can always get the Android version of your favorite apps off the Play Store. The note-taking app is a little complicated for most people, so if you use EverNote or any other app, you can have that on the Tab Mini C easily enough.

As good as it is, the Tab Mini C is not perfect. Despite being a smaller size, it’s a relatively heavy ereader by virtue of its big battery and metal chassis. Its weight and thin side bezels make it a little difficult to hold while reading, but I like its sleek, metal body.

Despite having four different refresh rates to choose from for different applications, I still found ghosting can be a problem, particularly in the default notes app. It’s a niggle that may not bother too many users, but I found it a distraction if I didn’t force a screen refresh.

Like most other note-taking ereaders that ship with a stylus, one side of the Tab Mini C allows the pen to stick on magnetically. As strong as the magnet is, it’s not the most secure way to stow the pen. Instead, a magnetic flap to close the optional sleepcover holds the pen in its spot on the side bezel. This additional expense can pinch as the Tab Mini C isn’t cheap – it carries a premium price tag to match its premium build.

The library setup on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C review: price and availability

  • Retails for $450 / £450 / AU$765
  • Available to buy now directly from Onyx and resellers
  • Ships with a stylus but sleepcover sold separately

At $450 / £450 / AU$765 for the tablet and the accompanying stylus, the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C is an expensive investment, but it could be worthwhile if you use all its features. That includes taking full advantage of its color screen – as washed out as the colors might appear – and use its writing capabilities to the fullest. And considering you can use a plethora of Android apps as well, its price begins to make a little sense.

However, if you don’t need any writing features but would still like a color ereader, you can save money by opting for something like the PocketBook InkPad Color 2 (although I wasn’t too sold on its low-contrast screen) for about $329 / £345 / AU$595.

If note-taking capabilities are important but you don’t need a color screen, then perhaps the 8-inch Kobo Sage for $269 / £259 / AU$459 would be a good option. And if you do feel like splurging, you can go bigger and snap up the Amazon Kindle Scribe or the Kobo Elipsa 2E for their writing abilities and great (grayscale) screens for $339 / £339 / AU$549 and $399 / £349 / AU$629 respectively. They’re still cheaper than the Tab Mini C, but you aren’t getting a color screen with any of the other note-taking ereaders. 

Keep in mind that you’ll want to consider the magnetic sleepcover for the Tab Mini C if you want to keep your stylus safe, and that will set you back an additional $43.99 / AU$79.99 (about £36).

• Value score: 3 / 5

The Onyx Boox Tab Mini C's stylus lying across the display showing grayscale text

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C key specs

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C review: Design and display

  • 7.8-inch flush glass screen with great contrast
  • Metallic body with solid build
  • Stereo speakers

Onyx really knows how to make some good-looking e-paper writing tablets. I’ve had high praise for most of them, as they all feature metallic bodies that look pretty sleek. The Tab Mini C is no different, featuring a black chassis with a screen that sits flush with the bezels. 

A layer of glass on the top gives it a smooth finish, but has no detrimental effect on the touch functionality, readability or the anti-glare nature of the display. While this gives a slightly glossy look to the top, the rear panel has a matte finish. Along with slightly rounded rear edges, the Tab Mini C gets a decent grip compared to its bigger brethren.

The sides of the device are clean, with just a small, slightly raised power button on the top left corner, and the USB-C port and two speaker grilles on the bottom.

USB-C port and speakers on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

As I’ve already mentioned, the screen measures 7.8-inches, which is a good size for most users. It makes the tablet more portable than other writing ereaders, most of which are 10.3 inches. And the glass layer on the top makes writing on it a pleasure – it’s not as smooth as it feels on the Amazon Kindle Scribe, but it comes close. 

Importantly, getting a full color display means you can enjoy comics and graphics novels as they were meant to, or just ogle at some book covers in color before you start reading. You can sketch and draw, with a few colors at your disposal when choosing your pen or brush type. 

However, because of the limitations of the technology, the colors appear a little washed out. Some hues do look good, though, and the screen has excellent contrast to make reading a pleasure. This became evident to me when I was comparing it to the PocketBook InkPad Color 2 – another 7.8-inch color ereader, but with an older screen technology and no writing capabilities.

The Onyx Boox Tab Mini C stylus lying across the tablet

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Speaking of writing, the stylus that ships with the Tab Mini C is a basic option compared to what comes with the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra and Tab Ultra C – what you miss out on here is the eraser on the top of the pen. The stylus has a grippy, textured surface, with a flat side that attaches magnetically to one edge of the tablet. Strangely, the strongest way to attach the stylus is nib pointing down – if you attach it the other way, the magnet isn’t as strong. Either way, the pen can get dislodged when taking it in and out of a bag, for example, making the magnetic sleepcover an additional purchase to consider.

For an ereader in this size category, though, the Tab Mini C is heavy (as are most other Onyx tablets) by virtue of its large battery and metal body. While it’s not uncomfortable to hold, it can start to feel heavy after about 20-30 minutes, particularly if you’re using it with its sleepcover.

• Design & display score: 4.5 / 5

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C review: software and user interface

  • Runs modified version of Android 11 with access to the Google Play Store
  • Four refresh rates to choose from for individual apps
  • Plenty of ways to sync/transfer books and notes

Like all other Onyx ereaders, the Tab Mini C runs a modified version of Android 11. While I’ve previously said that Android 11 does feel dated now, and I still stand by the statement, Onyx isn’t alone in using it for its devices. Amazon’s latest version of its Fire OS is also a modified version of Android 11.

The default notes application on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Running Google’s operating system means you get easy access to the Play Store and the good thing about that is you can download and use a huge number of Android apps on the Tab Mini C. This includes YouTube for watching videos. Yes, the video won’t look its best because of the E Ink screen and its limitations, but it’s just about watchable.

Where it comes in handy is being able to purchase content directly from the device via the Kindle or Kobo apps, as well as using third-party note-taking apps. In fact, you can link a number of accounts to gain access to your work – Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, OneNote, Everdrive and more. In my case, I had a bunch of ebooks stored in Google Drive, and linking it made it easy to transfer files to read on my Tab Mini C.

For most users, though, the default apps would suffice. You can use BooxDrop to transfer files (ebooks, audiobooks, PDFs, photos, music and more) and you just need your mobile number to set it up, you don’t necessarily have to open a Boox account if you don’t want to.

Color options for highlighting text on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Within each app you use, there are four refresh rates available, each meant for different types of media – from HD for general reading to Ultrafast for watching videos – and these are accessible via the E Ink Center that appears when you swipe down from the top right corner of the screen to open up the device's Control Center. This is also where you can adjust volume and the frontlight, and take a screenshot, record your screen or get into split-screen mode. The setup is great, but there are a lot of features to wrap your head around and the settings can be far from intuitive if you’ve never used an Onyx tablet before.

There are several customizable gestures and functions that take time to delve into in the settings but, once you’ve gotten used to them all, they do make using the ereader easier. For example, swiping up from the bottom bezel takes you back to the home screen, while swiping down from the top opens up your notification center. The user interface isn't as streamlined as a Kobo or a Kindle ereader, but neither of the bigger brands have as many features as the Onyx tablets do, so kudos for the brand for trying to fit it all in. And I definitely prefer the Onyx interface to what PocketBook offers on its ereaders.

• Software & user interface score: 4 / 5

A crude color drawing of a boat on water on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Onyx Boox Tab Mini C review: Performance

  • Excellent reading and writing experience
  • Sluggish refresh rates, with significant ghosting
  • Remarkable battery life

The Tab Mini C is a great ereader and writing tablet. Despite its color screen resolution topping out at 150ppi, there’s very good contrast that makes it a much easier display to read on in any kind of lighting condition than the PocketBook InkPad Color 2. Admittedly some colors aren’t as good as they would appear on, say, an LCD display, but it’s important to remember that the Tab Mini C is not meant to be a multimedia tablet like an iPad. All the colors will be recognizable, though.

Onyx uses a powerful 2GHz processor and 4GB of RAM for the Tab Mini C, and it shows in how quickly the device responds to touch and stylus functionality. Page turns are rapid, pen input is excellent and apps open quite quickly too.

What doesn’t really work on the Tab Mini C is the significant ghosting visible in several applications. Despite four options to choose from for different purposes, having an imprint of the previous page or application is very distracting. Forcing a refresh each time is not ideal. Ghosting can occur when reading in color or black and white, but it’s most prevalent in the former. I noticed it in the default notes app when changing pen types and colors while drawing. I seen it on the home screen after I’ve used the Control Center to adjust volume or frontlight brightness. This is an issue I saw with the bigger Tab Ultra C and Onyx clearly hasn’t figured out how to minimize ghosting or optimize the refresh rates better.

Ghosting visible on a drawing on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C

A significant amount of ghosting occurs on the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C despite four different refresh rates to choose from (Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Speaking of volume… I have to say I am amazed at how loud the stereo speakers can get on this little tablet. While the sound quality isn’t comparable to some of the best headphones or best earbuds, it’s not bad for listening to audiobooks. And the volume far exceeds what the PocketBook Era or the InkPad Color 2 can hit.

Another good thing about investing in the Tab Mini C is the battery life. With a 5,000mAh pack inside, it feels like the tablet can go on forever. Battery management here is definitely better than what I experienced with the Tab Ultra C. Depending on how you use the Tab Mini C, you’ll likely get up to eight weeks of use between charges. Topping up will take a little while, but if you have a good USB-C to C cable plugged into a wall socket via a high wattage adaptor, the Tab Mini C could top up in about 2.5 hours from 35% battery.

• Performance score: 4 / 5

The sleepcover of the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C holding the stylus

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

It’s not too hard to imagine the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C competing for your attention amongst the best ereaders you can get today, but it’s a very expensive investment. You can get better performers from more popular brands that will cost you less – you just need to be willing to forgo the color display.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C

  • Used as main ereader for a few weeks
  • Wrote notes on it, and used it to draw as best I could, plus listened to music and audiobooks
  • Compared with other ereaders in the same size class and with note-taking features

The Onyx branding on the boot-up page of the Onyx Boox Tab Mini C color ereader

(Image credit: Sharmishta Sarkar / TechRadar)

As with all my ereader testing, I used the Tab Mini C for a few weeks before I started noting down my thoughts… on the device itself, by the way. I used it for an average of two hours a day most days, but occasionally that would be a lot longer (on weekends) or for less (on weeknights).

I used the BooxDrop feature to transfer some ebooks I own, but I also linked my Google Drive account – via the Settings pane – to download a bunch more. While I did a lot of my reading using the default reader app on the device, I also downloaded the Kindle and the Kobo apps to access my library on each of those platforms.

I absolutely cannot draw to save my life, but I gave it a go to see how the colors looked and how changing the pen type and size can help with sketching. I also made my own notes – this included editing existing notes I’d already made on other Onyx tablets that got synced to my account. 

I used the Tab Mini C to browse the internet using the default browser, and downloaded a couple mobile games to see how they performed on an E Ink screen.

I compared the Tab Mini C with other ereaders, including the Kobo Sage and the PocketBook InkPad Color 2 that are in the same size class, as well as to the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C for a direct performance comparison. During my testing, I also had the Kobo Elipsa 2E and the Amazon Kindle Scribe for more comparisons.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed September 2023]

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: this ereader’s color screen is its only redeeming feature
8:58 am | June 15, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C: two-minute review

I take my hat off to ereader maker Onyx for trying to do something different with its Boox E Ink tablets – making them a little more multimedia-friendly. It did that with the Boox Tab Ultra and didn’t quite hit the mark. The company has tried again with a color version of the same tablet – the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C. 

The color screen makes quite the difference, particularly when you’re reading something that’s supposed to be viewed in color. As with other color ereaders, however, the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C uses the E Ink Kaleido 3 screen that has some significant limitations. It can only display 4,096 colors without a lot of saturation, so what you see is rather muted. Still, even that little bit made my reading experience more enjoyable, particularly when I’m absorbed in something like a Sandman graphic novel. “You can enjoy them better on an iPad,” I hear you say. As true as that may be, the Tab Ultra C is first and foremost a note-taking ereader and I’ll refrain from comparing it to an actual multimedia tablet.

As great as having the color screen is, the ghosting here is really significant. Despite Onyx bringing over the multiple refresh rates from the Boox Tab X, even the fastest Regal option can be disappointing. 

Despite a decent processor – for an ereader that is – performance was generally slow and laggy, even for simple tasks like page turns – something my colleague also noticed when he tested the monochrome Boox Tab Ultra. Battery drain is also rather high when compared to other 10.3-inch notetaking ereaders, including the Onyx Boox Note2 Air Plus, with the whopping 6,300mAh pack draining away in a week.

While access to the Google Play Store is great, I think using Android 11 as an operating system feels dated. It’s not really an issue here, but there will be some apps you might want to use that are no longer optimized for this version and Onyx doesn’t offer a way to update to Android 12 or 13 on its ereaders.

The writing experience, however, is good and on par with the other Onyx tablets I’ve tested. Like its monochrome sibling, the Boox Tab Ultra C can also be used with a keyboard – the folio can be purchased separately. While I enjoyed typing on this keyboard, there was the occasional lag to deal with, which was a little disconcerting when typing at speed.

If it’s just the color screen that is its main selling point, then the Tab Ultra C can be a rather expensive proposition.

A color graphic novel page displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Price and availability

  • Available in two bundles directly from Onyx or select retailers
  • Standard bundle list price: $599.99 / €649.99 (around £559) / AU$979
  • Keyboard cover bundle: $665.99 / €715.99 (around £615) / unavailable in AU

Onyx has priced the color version of its Tab Ultra E Ink tablet the same as its monochrome counterpart, at least in the US. The Tab Ultra C retails for $599.99 / €649.99 (around £559) / AU$979 for what is called the Standard bundle – this includes a magnetic case and the stylus in the box.

While you can buy the keyboard folio separately, there’s a bundle for that as well and it will set you back $665.99 / €715.99 (around £615). The Keyboard Cover bundle is unavailable in Australia, but the folio costs AU$179.99 to purchase separately. 

You can get both bundles directly from Onyx’s Boox Shop in the US and Europe (UK customers can choose the EU storefront). In Australia, only one retailer, Elite Electronics, stocks Onyx products.

While the price point might seem fine given it’s a large, color E Ink screen, it is an expensive tablet. And the value diminishes further as its performance is subpar. 

As much as I hate making this comparison, a 10.9-inch iPad would be a better (and potentially cheaper) investment if it’s a color screen you’re after. Throw in an Apple Pencil and you wouldn’t be spending too much more either. If a color screen isn’t important and you want a really capable note-taking ereader, then I’d recommend the Kobo Elipsa 2E in a heartbeat and you’ll save a lot of money too. 

• Value score: 2/5

Drawing with the stylus on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C: specs

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Design

  • 10.3-inch color E Ink screen
  • Thicker and heavier than other large-screen ereaders
  • Features a rear camera

In terms of overall design, nothing has changed from the Tab Ultra. The Tab Ultra C is still a “black slab” as we called the black-and-white model and is really quite thick and heavy. Compared to other 10.3-inch note-taking ereaders, it really is chunky and heavy. Pick it up and you instantly feel every bit of its 490g bulk – it’s perhaps one of the heaviest ereaders I’ve tested. Add in the weight of a case, particularly the keyboard folio, and this is not a very comfortable ereader to use on the go or read while lounging in bed. However, the sharp corners give it a sleek look.

Branding on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C pen

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

A rear camera bump – for scanning documents – means the tablet doesn’t lie flush on a table, but it's not as pronounced as it is on other multimedia tablets. And it won't be an issue if you use the magnetic or keyboard case. There’s no front-facing selfie camera here. 

The front bezels are free of any embellishment with the sole exception of a barely-visible Boox branding in one corner. On the side of the top bezel is the power button and a speaker, while the bottom bezel houses the uSB-C port, mic and microSD card tray. This supports up to 1TB of expanded storage in addition to built-in 128GB. 

There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack here but the speakers don’t sound too bad. However, connecting to your favorite Bluetooth headphones or speaker will be better if you’re listening to music (two audio files are supported, so you can sideload some MP3s).

The rear camera on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

I was sent the Keyboard Cover bundle for this review, so I don’t quite know how the magnetic case looks with the device, but I do like the keyboard. This attaches via the five-pin connector on the side of the tablet. Despite its compact size, the keys are comfortable and there's good feedback from them. Some users might find the keys clacky, but I didn’t mind it at all. Likewise, the stylus that ships with the Tab Ultra C is also great and it attaches magnetically to empty side of the Tab Ultra C. I’ve used it before with the Onyx Boox Note2 Air and the Tab X, and it works really well. I personally love the eraser on the top as it actually manages to erase more surface area than the Kindle Scribe’s pen.

• Design score: 3/5

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: display

  • Large 10.3-inch color e-paper screen
  • 150ppi resolution in color
  • 300ppi resolution for black and white

A finger highlighting a passage in pink on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

The main talking point here is the 10.3-inch color screen… there aren’t too many such options on the market. Using E Ink’s Kaleido 3 screen tech gives the Tab Ultra C a nice display for comics and ereaders. All your ebook covers will be displayed in color at a resolution of 150ppi, which is standard for most color ereaders. Screen resolution for black and white is 300ppi. 

Having a color screen also means you can choose to highlight text in different colors if you are in the habit of adding annotations and notes. And you can draw in color too.

Don’t expect bright colors like you would on an iPad or any other multimedia tablet. E Ink Kaleido tech has limitations and can only display about 4,096 colors that appear washed out on screen. A new tech called Gallery 3 is ready for mass production which promises better saturation, but we still haven’t seen a single color ereader with this screen yet. Soon perhaps. Even with muted colors, it’s a pleasure reading on the Tab Ultra C’s screen.

• Display score: 4/5

The four refresh rates on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: performance

  • Powerful processor for an ereader, but sluggish performance
  • Heavy ghosting
  • Bad battery management

The color screen is sadly where all the good things end with the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C. While I loved reading on it, simple tasks like page turns are occasionally slow – whether you use the screen to navigate to the next page or the keyboard (the PgDn key). And this happens on both the default reading application and on the Kindle or Kobo apps that I downloaded from the Google Play Store.

The Tab Ultra C has multiple refresh rate options like the Tab X. And while they work really well on the bigger 13-inch tablet, they don’t seem to function as well here and that means there’s heavy ghosting on most of the applications. It’s very noticeable when reading, which disappears as soon as you change the refresh rate, only to reappear a few pages later. The same occurred when using the built-in web browser or any other downloaded application.

Drawings can be in color on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Using the on-screen keyboard is a laggy experience. I’ve used other 10.3-inch ereaders that have faster response times than the Tab Ultra C, and this includes other Onyx tablets. Switch to the keyboard and, while I was expecting a lag there, it’s not as significant. Still, text doesn’t appear in real time and can be a little disconcerting when you’re typing at speed. 

It’s a similar experience my colleague had when he tested the Tab Ultra, so Onyx hasn’t done anything different here except to use a different screen. In both cases, this disappointing performance for basic tasks is surprising as the devices have powerful processors in the form of an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 662… well, it’s powerful for ereaders. It’s possible that an over-the-air firmware update might sort a lot of this out – although the two that I did get pushed through to my device didn’t help.

Interestingly, using apps downloaded from the Google Play Store – including some mobile games – run quite well. I even watched YouTube videos and didn’t think they were too bad! And yet basic tasks aren’t being handled well, go figure.

Typing via the keyboard case on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

There’s also something not right with the battery management on the device. The drain on the 6,300mAh battery pack seems significant even when you’re just reading. The Onyx Boox Note2 Air Plus has a 3,700mAh battery and lasts about 5-6 weeks while reading, writing, browsing the web and playing mobile games. Similarly, the Kindle Scribe’s 3,000mAh battery goes on for weeks at a time too. The Tab Ultra C, on the other hand, drained in a week while mostly reading with a few minutes of typing via the keyboard cover thrown in…and this is both before and after the firmware update.

Topping up the battery also takes a while but that’s expected from a massive 6,300mAh pack – it took about 4.5 hours to go from 7% to full when plugged into a 9W USB-A wall adapter. For me, it was easy enough to let it charge overnight after I’d finished reading for the night to wake up to a fully topped up ereader. 

However, general performance is just not up to scratch, something I did not expect from an Onyx device – pretty much every other one from ereader maker I’ve tested has impressed.

• Performance score: 2.5/5

The Control Center of the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Camera

  • 16MP rear camera
  • Used for scanning documents
  • Feels superfluous

Like the Tab Ultra, there’s a 16MP rear camera on the Tab Ultra C too. Its main task is to help you scan documents and it does that well enough, but not consistently enough. The good thing about the scans are that they’re in full, saturated color… once you’ve shared them to yourself via Dropbox, Boox Drop or cable transfer (or any other method – you link you Google Drive and OneDrive accounts). 

The advantage of having this scanning facility is that you can sign the digital copy using the stylus and directly email it as an attachment to whoever needs the document (you can download the Gmail app from the Play Store).

That said, the scanned documents aren’t of the best quality and I occasionally found some copy looking a little fuzzy. That could perhaps be because my hand was shaking too. The device is heavy and you have to hold it two hands to keep it focused on the sheet you’re trying to scan. I found using my iPhone 13 Pro to scan to be a lot easier, rendering the camera on the Tab Ultra C superfluous.

This isn’t a camera you’d use to take regular photos. While it can, what you see is a pixelated, fuzzy rendering of the scene that’s saved in PDF format, not JPG. So you can’t even edit in post-production like you would a regular photo.

• Camera score: 2.5/5

The TechRadar website displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C browser

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Software

  • Runs Android 11 with basic interface
  • Access to Google Play Store

Software is where Onyx’s tablets shine, with all of them running on Android 11. This gives you access to the Play Store, so you can download pretty much anything… as long as it will run on the E Ink device.

More importantly, though, Onyx has done a marvelous job of adapting the OS to suit the device. The company’s tablets arguably have the most number of settings parameters for you to tweak of any ereader out there and it’s the same here again. In fact, there are times when I feel the adjustments are overkill, but they all work well and once you’ve used them, you wonder why other such devices don’t have something similar. And this goes for the multiple refresh rate options accessible via the E Ink Center (swipe down from the top right corner to bring up the Control Center)… but strangely enough they don’t seem to work as well here.

However, Android 11 is now nearing its use-by date. While security updates may not be important for an ereader, there are going to be apps that no longer run on Android 11, and there’s no way to update to Android 12 (or 13 for that matter).

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C home screen

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Moreover it’s not the easiest of user interfaces to come to grips with. There’s so much going on – take the default notes application as an example – that it will take someone with a decent amount of technical knowledge to become comfortable with it quickly. The note-taking app looks like a stripped back version of an Adobe application with lots of tools at your disposal. You’ll need time to familiarize yourself with them all to make the most of them. On the other hand, Kobo’s Advanced Notes – despite also offering a lot of features having – is actually a little easier to get to grips with. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the UX, it’s just… complicated and is a steep learning curve.

Still, I am a big fan of having Android as the OS on my ereader… I’d really like a newer version though. Android 11 on an ereader released in 2023 feels very dated.

• Software score: 3.5/5

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C propped on its keyboard case with a highlighted page displayed

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

It’s hard to consider the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C as a contender for one of the best ereaders on the market, so if you’re looking for similar alternatives, take a look at a few other options below. There aren’t any other 10.3-inch note-taking ereaders with a color screen, so all the alternatives below have a black-and-white E Ink display.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

  • Tested for about two months, which included a new firmware update
  • Used extensively for reading, writing, drawing and typing using the keyboard folio
  • Also used to listen to music and browse the internet often
  • Compared with Amazon Kindle Scribe and Onyx Boox Note Air2 Plus

A color page displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

I’ve had the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C for a while and, during my testing, I’ve had a firmware update rolled out. I began my testing from scratch after this update, in case there were new features or improvements to performance. All told, I spent two months with the device before I started writing my review and used the Kindle Scribe and Onyx's own Note Air2 Plus at the same time to make comparisons.

During this time, I used the Tab Ultra C as my primary ereader, to make notes – particularly for this review – using both the on-screen keyboard and the case, and creating hand-written todo lists and other notes.

While reading, I used different colors to highlight passages of interest to me and also attempted to draw something using different colors. My reading was primarily on the Kindle and Kobo apps that I downloaded from the Play Store – I have accounts for both with purchased ebooks that I could read. 

I even spent a lot of time browsing the internet on the default browser. I also watched a few YouTube videos to test the different refresh rate options. I also used it to listen to music by sideloading MP3 files to the default player.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed June 2023]

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: this ereader’s color screen is its only redeeming feature
8:58 am |

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , | Comments: Off

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C: two-minute review

I take my hat off to ereader maker Onyx for trying to do something different with its Boox E Ink tablets – making them a little more multimedia-friendly. It did that with the Boox Tab Ultra and didn’t quite hit the mark. The company has tried again with a color version of the same tablet – the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C. 

The color screen makes quite the difference, particularly when you’re reading something that’s supposed to be viewed in color. As with other color ereaders, however, the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C uses the E Ink Kaleido 3 screen that has some significant limitations. It can only display 4,096 colors without a lot of saturation, so what you see is rather muted. Still, even that little bit made my reading experience more enjoyable, particularly when I’m absorbed in something like a Sandman graphic novel. “You can enjoy them better on an iPad,” I hear you say. As true as that may be, the Tab Ultra C is first and foremost a note-taking ereader and I’ll refrain from comparing it to an actual multimedia tablet.

As great as having the color screen is, the ghosting here is really significant. Despite Onyx bringing over the multiple refresh rates from the Boox Tab X, even the fastest Regal option can be disappointing. 

Despite a decent processor – for an ereader that is – performance was generally slow and laggy, even for simple tasks like page turns – something my colleague also noticed when he tested the monochrome Boox Tab Ultra. Battery drain is also rather high when compared to other 10.3-inch notetaking ereaders, including the Onyx Boox Note2 Air Plus, with the whopping 6,300mAh pack draining away in a week.

While access to the Google Play Store is great, I think using Android 11 as an operating system feels dated. It’s not really an issue here, but there will be some apps you might want to use that are no longer optimized for this version and Onyx doesn’t offer a way to update to Android 12 or 13 on its ereaders.

The writing experience, however, is good and on par with the other Onyx tablets I’ve tested. Like its monochrome sibling, the Boox Tab Ultra C can also be used with a keyboard – the folio can be purchased separately. While I enjoyed typing on this keyboard, there was the occasional lag to deal with, which was a little disconcerting when typing at speed.

If it’s just the color screen that is its main selling point, then the Tab Ultra C can be a rather expensive proposition.

A color graphic novel page displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Price and availability

  • Available in two bundles directly from Onyx or select retailers
  • Standard bundle list price: $599.99 / €649.99 (around £559) / AU$979
  • Keyboard cover bundle: $665.99 / €715.99 (around £615) / unavailable in AU

Onyx has priced the color version of its Tab Ultra E Ink tablet the same as its monochrome counterpart, at least in the US. The Tab Ultra C retails for $599.99 / €649.99 (around £559) / AU$979 for what is called the Standard bundle – this includes a magnetic case and the stylus in the box.

While you can buy the keyboard folio separately, there’s a bundle for that as well and it will set you back $665.99 / €715.99 (around £615). The Keyboard Cover bundle is unavailable in Australia, but the folio costs AU$179.99 to purchase separately. 

You can get both bundles directly from Onyx’s Boox Shop in the US and Europe (UK customers can choose the EU storefront). In Australia, only one retailer, Elite Electronics, stocks Onyx products.

While the price point might seem fine given it’s a large, color E Ink screen, it is an expensive tablet. And the value diminishes further as its performance is subpar. 

As much as I hate making this comparison, a 10.9-inch iPad would be a better (and potentially cheaper) investment if it’s a color screen you’re after. Throw in an Apple Pencil and you wouldn’t be spending too much more either. If a color screen isn’t important and you want a really capable note-taking ereader, then I’d recommend the Kobo Elipsa 2E in a heartbeat and you’ll save a lot of money too. 

• Value score: 2/5

Drawing with the stylus on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C: specs

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Design

  • 10.3-inch color E Ink screen
  • Thicker and heavier than other large-screen ereaders
  • Features a rear camera

In terms of overall design, nothing has changed from the Tab Ultra. The Tab Ultra C is still a “black slab” as we called the black-and-white model and is really quite thick and heavy. Compared to other 10.3-inch note-taking ereaders, it really is chunky and heavy. Pick it up and you instantly feel every bit of its 490g bulk – it’s perhaps one of the heaviest ereaders I’ve tested. Add in the weight of a case, particularly the keyboard folio, and this is not a very comfortable ereader to use on the go or read while lounging in bed. However, the sharp corners give it a sleek look.

Branding on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C pen

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

A rear camera bump – for scanning documents – means the tablet doesn’t lie flush on a table, but it's not as pronounced as it is on other multimedia tablets. And it won't be an issue if you use the magnetic or keyboard case. There’s no front-facing selfie camera here. 

The front bezels are free of any embellishment with the sole exception of a barely-visible Boox branding in one corner. On the side of the top bezel is the power button and a speaker, while the bottom bezel houses the uSB-C port, mic and microSD card tray. This supports up to 1TB of expanded storage in addition to built-in 128GB. 

There’s no 3.5mm headphone jack here but the speakers don’t sound too bad. However, connecting to your favorite Bluetooth headphones or speaker will be better if you’re listening to music (two audio files are supported, so you can sideload some MP3s).

The rear camera on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

I was sent the Keyboard Cover bundle for this review, so I don’t quite know how the magnetic case looks with the device, but I do like the keyboard. This attaches via the five-pin connector on the side of the tablet. Despite its compact size, the keys are comfortable and there's good feedback from them. Some users might find the keys clacky, but I didn’t mind it at all. Likewise, the stylus that ships with the Tab Ultra C is also great and it attaches magnetically to empty side of the Tab Ultra C. I’ve used it before with the Onyx Boox Note2 Air and the Tab X, and it works really well. I personally love the eraser on the top as it actually manages to erase more surface area than the Kindle Scribe’s pen.

• Design score: 3/5

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: display

  • Large 10.3-inch color e-paper screen
  • 150ppi resolution in color
  • 300ppi resolution for black and white

A finger highlighting a passage in pink on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

The main talking point here is the 10.3-inch color screen… there aren’t too many such options on the market. Using E Ink’s Kaleido 3 screen tech gives the Tab Ultra C a nice display for comics and ereaders. All your ebook covers will be displayed in color at a resolution of 150ppi, which is standard for most color ereaders. Screen resolution for black and white is 300ppi. 

Having a color screen also means you can choose to highlight text in different colors if you are in the habit of adding annotations and notes. And you can draw in color too.

Don’t expect bright colors like you would on an iPad or any other multimedia tablet. E Ink Kaleido tech has limitations and can only display about 4,096 colors that appear washed out on screen. A new tech called Gallery 3 is ready for mass production which promises better saturation, but we still haven’t seen a single color ereader with this screen yet. Soon perhaps. Even with muted colors, it’s a pleasure reading on the Tab Ultra C’s screen.

• Display score: 4/5

The four refresh rates on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: performance

  • Powerful processor for an ereader, but sluggish performance
  • Heavy ghosting
  • Bad battery management

The color screen is sadly where all the good things end with the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C. While I loved reading on it, simple tasks like page turns are occasionally slow – whether you use the screen to navigate to the next page or the keyboard (the PgDn key). And this happens on both the default reading application and on the Kindle or Kobo apps that I downloaded from the Google Play Store.

The Tab Ultra C has multiple refresh rate options like the Tab X. And while they work really well on the bigger 13-inch tablet, they don’t seem to function as well here and that means there’s heavy ghosting on most of the applications. It’s very noticeable when reading, which disappears as soon as you change the refresh rate, only to reappear a few pages later. The same occurred when using the built-in web browser or any other downloaded application.

Drawings can be in color on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Using the on-screen keyboard is a laggy experience. I’ve used other 10.3-inch ereaders that have faster response times than the Tab Ultra C, and this includes other Onyx tablets. Switch to the keyboard and, while I was expecting a lag there, it’s not as significant. Still, text doesn’t appear in real time and can be a little disconcerting when you’re typing at speed. 

It’s a similar experience my colleague had when he tested the Tab Ultra, so Onyx hasn’t done anything different here except to use a different screen. In both cases, this disappointing performance for basic tasks is surprising as the devices have powerful processors in the form of an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 662… well, it’s powerful for ereaders. It’s possible that an over-the-air firmware update might sort a lot of this out – although the two that I did get pushed through to my device didn’t help.

Interestingly, using apps downloaded from the Google Play Store – including some mobile games – run quite well. I even watched YouTube videos and didn’t think they were too bad! And yet basic tasks aren’t being handled well, go figure.

Typing via the keyboard case on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

There’s also something not right with the battery management on the device. The drain on the 6,300mAh battery pack seems significant even when you’re just reading. The Onyx Boox Note2 Air Plus has a 3,700mAh battery and lasts about 5-6 weeks while reading, writing, browsing the web and playing mobile games. Similarly, the Kindle Scribe’s 3,000mAh battery goes on for weeks at a time too. The Tab Ultra C, on the other hand, drained in a week while mostly reading with a few minutes of typing via the keyboard cover thrown in…and this is both before and after the firmware update.

Topping up the battery also takes a while but that’s expected from a massive 6,300mAh pack – it took about 4.5 hours to go from 7% to full when plugged into a 9W USB-A wall adapter. For me, it was easy enough to let it charge overnight after I’d finished reading for the night to wake up to a fully topped up ereader. 

However, general performance is just not up to scratch, something I did not expect from an Onyx device – pretty much every other one from ereader maker I’ve tested has impressed.

• Performance score: 2.5/5

The Control Center of the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Camera

  • 16MP rear camera
  • Used for scanning documents
  • Feels superfluous

Like the Tab Ultra, there’s a 16MP rear camera on the Tab Ultra C too. Its main task is to help you scan documents and it does that well enough, but not consistently enough. The good thing about the scans are that they’re in full, saturated color… once you’ve shared them to yourself via Dropbox, Boox Drop or cable transfer (or any other method – you link you Google Drive and OneDrive accounts). 

The advantage of having this scanning facility is that you can sign the digital copy using the stylus and directly email it as an attachment to whoever needs the document (you can download the Gmail app from the Play Store).

That said, the scanned documents aren’t of the best quality and I occasionally found some copy looking a little fuzzy. That could perhaps be because my hand was shaking too. The device is heavy and you have to hold it two hands to keep it focused on the sheet you’re trying to scan. I found using my iPhone 13 Pro to scan to be a lot easier, rendering the camera on the Tab Ultra C superfluous.

This isn’t a camera you’d use to take regular photos. While it can, what you see is a pixelated, fuzzy rendering of the scene that’s saved in PDF format, not JPG. So you can’t even edit in post-production like you would a regular photo.

• Camera score: 2.5/5

The TechRadar website displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C browser

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C review: Software

  • Runs Android 11 with basic interface
  • Access to Google Play Store

Software is where Onyx’s tablets shine, with all of them running on Android 11. This gives you access to the Play Store, so you can download pretty much anything… as long as it will run on the E Ink device.

More importantly, though, Onyx has done a marvelous job of adapting the OS to suit the device. The company’s tablets arguably have the most number of settings parameters for you to tweak of any ereader out there and it’s the same here again. In fact, there are times when I feel the adjustments are overkill, but they all work well and once you’ve used them, you wonder why other such devices don’t have something similar. And this goes for the multiple refresh rate options accessible via the E Ink Center (swipe down from the top right corner to bring up the Control Center)… but strangely enough they don’t seem to work as well here.

However, Android 11 is now nearing its use-by date. While security updates may not be important for an ereader, there are going to be apps that no longer run on Android 11, and there’s no way to update to Android 12 (or 13 for that matter).

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C home screen

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Moreover it’s not the easiest of user interfaces to come to grips with. There’s so much going on – take the default notes application as an example – that it will take someone with a decent amount of technical knowledge to become comfortable with it quickly. The note-taking app looks like a stripped back version of an Adobe application with lots of tools at your disposal. You’ll need time to familiarize yourself with them all to make the most of them. On the other hand, Kobo’s Advanced Notes – despite also offering a lot of features having – is actually a little easier to get to grips with. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the UX, it’s just… complicated and is a steep learning curve.

Still, I am a big fan of having Android as the OS on my ereader… I’d really like a newer version though. Android 11 on an ereader released in 2023 feels very dated.

• Software score: 3.5/5

Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C propped on its keyboard case with a highlighted page displayed

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

Should I buy the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C?

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

It’s hard to consider the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C as a contender for one of the best ereaders on the market, so if you’re looking for similar alternatives, take a look at a few other options below. There aren’t any other 10.3-inch note-taking ereaders with a color screen, so all the alternatives below have a black-and-white E Ink display.

How I tested the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

  • Tested for about two months, which included a new firmware update
  • Used extensively for reading, writing, drawing and typing using the keyboard folio
  • Also used to listen to music and browse the internet often
  • Compared with Amazon Kindle Scribe and Onyx Boox Note Air2 Plus

A color page displayed on the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C

(Image credit: TechRadar / Sharmishta Sarkar)

I’ve had the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra C for a while and, during my testing, I’ve had a firmware update rolled out. I began my testing from scratch after this update, in case there were new features or improvements to performance. All told, I spent two months with the device before I started writing my review and used the Kindle Scribe and Onyx's own Note Air2 Plus at the same time to make comparisons.

During this time, I used the Tab Ultra C as my primary ereader, to make notes – particularly for this review – using both the on-screen keyboard and the case, and creating hand-written todo lists and other notes.

While reading, I used different colors to highlight passages of interest to me and also attempted to draw something using different colors. My reading was primarily on the Kindle and Kobo apps that I downloaded from the Play Store – I have accounts for both with purchased ebooks that I could read. 

I even spent a lot of time browsing the internet on the default browser. I also watched a few YouTube videos to test the different refresh rate options. I also used it to listen to music by sideloading MP3 files to the default player.

Read more about how we test

[First reviewed June 2023]

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Author: admin | Category: Mobile phones | Tags: , , , | Comments: None

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