Two minute review
What is the Onyx Boox Nova Air 7.8-inch for? Whether you buy that Amazon Kindle Paperwhite or the base Amazon Kindle, even the best kindles don’t do much. You have read books about it. The end.
While some of the best e-reader This certainly includes Kindle and its rival Kobo, it is mostly about bookstores. With the Onyx Boox Nova Air 7.8 inches, that’s not the point. Sure, it includes access to an online bookstore with public domain titles, but only a handful.
More importantly, it supports many e-book formats that the Kindle is nowhere near – like EPUB, PRC, CHM, CBR, and CBZ – but the Nova Air isn’t just for reading.
This is a hybrid e-ink tablet that is all about writing. Although it shares some similarities with the larger ones Onyx Boox Nova 3 color, the Nova Air is a pure mono device, the main aim of which is to refine and expand the e-ink experience instead of breaking new ground.
It is lighter and thinner than the Nova 3, weighs only 235 g and, with its smaller dimensions of 194 x 136.5 x 6.3 mm, can be held in one hand and taken with you. It also has a POGO pin connector on its back that allows it to be hooked up to a new cover case that adds page turning buttons. This will please some readers who hate virtual flipping, but when used naked, the Nova Air is all about gestures.
In fact, the only hard button built into the stained magnesium alloy case is an on / off switch on the top. On the base there is a USB-C slot for refueling the built-in 2,000 mAh battery, a small microphone and two tiny speakers.
The Nova Air’s biggest physical advancement, however, is an entirely new WACOM pen. Fluted and with a protruding tip, it’s easier to hold and use, with the Nova Air’s sharp-looking 1872 x 1404, 300 PPI E Ink Carta Plus screen providing the ideal surface for writing.
Despite a Moon Light 2 front light system and a protective glass layer that effectively creates a small gap between pen and “paper”, the Nova Air receives characters super quickly and offers plenty of contrast and definition.
Add in the usual Onyx Boox goodies – like an Android 10 operating system (albeit a simple skin) and the resulting access to third-party apps on the Google Play Store like Dropbox and competing reading apps like Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Libby, and the Nova Air is starting to look like a new breed of hybrid e-ink device.
It’s not really big enough for annotating PDFs and documents, but if you want to read e-books, easily load them onto a tablet, and take exquisite-looking digital notes, the Nova Air has the choice of an e-ink tablet made a lot easier.
Onyx Boox Nova Air price and release date
The Onyx Boox Nova Air was launched in mid-2021 and is one of a long line of productivity-oriented e-ink readers. Boox Nova Air is priced at $ 349.99 / £ 299.99 / AU $ 529.
It comes with a WACOM magnetic stylus in the box and, if you can find a bundle, one of two protective cases; Standard Sleeve ($ 39.99 / £ 29 / AU $ 53) and Magnetic Sleeve ($ 59.99 / £ 43 / AU $ 80). Both are available separately.
- Slim at 6.3mm
- Optional magnetic case adds physical buttons
- Improved WACOM pen
Super slim with 6.3 mm and a weight of only 235 g, the Nova Air with 194 x 136.5 x 6.3 mm is very easy to transport. While the unusually dotted back of this magnesium alloy product offers enough grip to be easily held with one hand, there are some brand new cases available.
The first option is the standard sleeve slip, which is attached magnetically, but also offers space for the WACOM stylus. This pin can be magnetically attached to the side of the Nova Air, although it is not a super powerful magnet. It tended to fall off during our test.
The second option is a new magnetic case that adds physical buttons for turning pages. It works thanks to a new POGO pin connector on the Nova Air’s spine. Readers who hate virtual paging on such devices will love it, although the Nova Air’s touch gestures work well when used naked.
Otherwise, it’s a product with almost no physical buttons, with just an on / off switch at the top and bottom of a USB-C slot between a microphone and two tiny speakers. The latter are used to play podcasts and audio books – and there is even an integrated text-to-speech option for all e-books.
- 7.8 inch E Ink Carta Plus screen
- 1872 x 1404 pixel resolution
- 300 PPI
The Nova Air is constructed around a 7.8-inch E Ink Carta Plus screen with a resolution of 1872 x 1404 pixels. That corresponds to a display with 300 pixels per inch. It turned out to be razor sharp in our test.
In our tests, we found that the screen was exceptionally papery for both writing and reading. For the latter, there is an anti-glare film on the Asahi protective glass, which enables reading in direct sunlight without impairing reading or writing.
This is surprising because it means that the pen is lifted slightly above the “paper” as you write, although it didn’t seem to make much of a difference during our writing tests; The Nova Air is super fast at receiving characters and offers plenty of contrast and definition for scribbling.
The viewing angles are wide for reading and there is also an adjustable front light system called Moon Light 2 that illuminates the page in low light. This can be at home on a winter day or in a darkened cabin during the flight. It’s flicker-free, so it’s really convenient to use, but most pleasant with the brightness on a low setting.
This is up to the user, because although an ambient light sensor activates Moon Light 2, it does not change its brightness depending on the light intensity.
Read and write
- Nice to look at
- Lots of customization options
- Great new pen
The e-ink reading experience on the Nova Air is both comfortable and highly customizable. You can control the size of the margins, text, cropping, alignment, contrast, and sharpness. It is even possible to bleach a watermark in the background of an e-book or document.
As always with E Ink screens, the Nova Air reading experience includes different balances of speed and refresh rate depending on which setting you choose.
These include normal mode (slow update but no ghosting), speed mode (fast update and minimal ghosting) and A2 mode (frame rates so fast that you can even watch videos with ghosting effects on YouTube). There’s also a new feature on the Nova Air called “Snow Field” that includes a partial refresh to clean up the page without the distraction of a full refresh.
There are several brushes, shapes and layers to choose from for writing and drawing, and a really useful handwriting recognition feature is built into the Notes app.
A big physical improvement over previous Onyx products is the slightly chubby WACOM stylus that is included and works very well with the display. Not only is it fluted and 9.5mm wide, making it easier to hold, it also has an excellent pointy nib (though there are five more nibs in the box that are interchangeable) that detects 4,096 levels of pressure.
Together with the display’s palm rejection technology, it ensures a truly accurate, smooth, and engaging digital note-taking experience.
- Android 10 OS
- 8-core processor with 1.8 GHz and 3 GB RAM
- 32 GB of RAM
It’s not just an open source device that supports almost every file format imaginable (TXT, HTML, RTF, FB2, FB2.zip, DOC, DOCX, PRC, MOBI, CHM, EPUB, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, PDF, DjVu, MP3, WAV, CBR and CBZ) the Nova Air uses an Android 10 operating system. Don’t expect a smartphone-like experience, but rather a rather simple operating system that integrates elements of Android 10.
The condition is that the Google goodness isn’t quite finished yet; You need to enable it first (Settings> Applications> Enable Google Play). You can also log in to Evernote, Dropbox and OneNote from one central location, if necessary.
The native operating system itself is divided into six self-explanatory areas; Library, Store, Notes, Storage, Apps and Settings. The library can be fed with books and documents downloaded either from the Onyx Store (which is basically a bunch of public domain classics), the many (many) other e-book apps available, or via a QR code-based basic file exchange from a smartphone or tablet.
The latter feature is similar to Release and very convenient. Notes are where digital doodles are stored – complete with impressively accurate OCR for doodling – and apps include a link to the Boox App Store.
Inside you will find dozen of reading-oriented apps like Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Libby, Hoopla, Google Play Books, Goodreads, Moon Reader, PocketBook Reader and Gutenberg Reader. You can also find some web browser apps that can be saved for later, like Flipboard and Pocket (but not InstaPaper).
There are a few audiobook apps out there too, notably Audible from Amazon, Audiobooks.com, and LibriVox. You can attach wireless earbuds Connected to the Nova Air via Bluetooth, but there is no headphone jack, so a USB-C adapter must be used for the hardwired connection.
The app selection also includes BBC News, Guardian, New York Times, and The Economist (among other publishers), though perhaps the most important of all are Google Chrome and the built-in NeoBrowser so you can access anything you want about it WIRELESS INTERNET ACCESS.
For notes, there are Evernote, One Note, Microsoft Word, Google Drive, and Write Plus (as well as Gmail, Outlook, Dropbox, and Trello), but there are few caveats; Using the pen is much smoother in the built-in note taking app. In our review with a wireless keyboard with the Nova Air via the Writer app worked surprisingly well.
Despite a few tiny rough edges in a very simple operating system, the 8-core 1.8 GHz processor and 3 GB of RAM-operated Nova Air proves to be a chic device.
- Built-in 2,000 mAh Li-Pol battery
- Charging via USB-C slot
- Lasts about two weeks
One of the joys of eReaders is their long battery life – at least when compared to an LCD tablet – and the Nova Air continues that tradition. It has a 2,000 mAh Li-Pol (lithium polymer) battery that is charged via the USB-C slot on the base of the Nova Air. A 100 cm USB-C to USB-A cable is included.
This battery lasts about two weeks, although the exact duration depends entirely on the refresh rate used and the frequency with which WLAN is switched on. If you want to fill it up with a few books and take it with you on a trip, you probably don’t need to top it up.
Should you buy the Onyx Boox Nova Air?
Buy it when …
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First review: November 2021