By unveiling the BOOX Max Lumi, Onyx Boox innovates. This tablet is indeed the first eInk tablet on the market with a 13.3-inch screen equipped with adaptive lighting and Android 10. Is the device, now available at Amazon, the right one for academics and PDF fans?
Hardware: a high-performance e-reader.
This digital ink tablet is an improvement of the Boox Max 3: it features a 13.3.inch screen (E Ink) but the Boox Max Lumi adds an adaptive lighting layer, and comes with an improved Octa Core processor, 4GB of RAM (DDR4, faster), 64GB of storage, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz + 5GHz), BT 5.0, and USB-C Type-C (with OTG support, making it possible to use a USB keyboard).
Adaptive lighting is a challenge on large screens, as we saw when Kobo innovated by offering lighting on its 7.8-inch e-reader, which was often defective. Here, Boox worked for months and developed more than a hundred prototypes to achieve homogeneous lighting. The e-reader’s color can be adjusted to read comfortably at low light levels. This is the main advantage of the Boox Max Lumi compared to the Boox Max 3 (which is still a very good device). Another major difference comes from the fact that the Max Lumi runs natively under the 3.0 firmware, based on Android 10.
Software: Android 10, many applications available.
By using Android 10 on this device, Boox allows users to benefit from an increased security, but more importantly to be able to run all the PlayStore applications. This implies that this device is not just an e-reader: it is a tablet with an eInk screen. This is far from a device dedicated to reading, or even taking notes, like the reMarkable 2: the Boox Max Lumi is extremely versatile. While it may seem like a big “plus” because you can read all kinds of files, answer your emails or consult the web in a very fluid way thanks to the integrated browser optimized for eInk, you can, as with a tablet, be distracted or find yourself “surfing”. That’s the advantage of minimalist devices like the reMarkable or the Supernote A5. Nevertheless these two devices, more minimalist, are much less powerful than the Boox Max Lumi and are equipped with a 10.3-inch screen, when the Lumi is equipped with a 13.3-inch screen.
The difference is important because it allows you to switch from A5 to A4 format and thus read A4 PDFs in native format, without the need to remove the margins. It is also possible – and this is the advantage of a less minimalist solution – to split the screen into two equal parts, and thus perform several tasks in parallel: reading and note-taking or translating, for example.
With 3.0 firmware, this multitask function has been improved and the split screen mode is now available for all Play Store applications. It is therefore possible to read a PDF and annotate it while taking notes on the other half of the screen, in another document, but also to use this other part of the screen to perform a quick search on the Web or share a quote by email.
In this respect, this eInk tablet is very versatile, and with the possibility to easily install a Bluetooth or USB-C keyboard on it, or to use it as a screen on a computer, you are really in the way between an e-reader and a computer, but with the comfort of an eInk screen.
The ultimate digital ink tablet for reading PDFs?
This tablet is much more than an e-reader, and, with its adaptive lighting – a preliminary in this screen diagonal – is an excellent choice for those who want to read mainly A4 PDFs without margins, or scanned books where each page of the PDF has two book pages on it. Reading such documents is then very comfortable, and the power of the machine makes it possible to take notes in parallel very comfortably.
It is far from being a device dedicated primarily to note-taking, but with the possibility of installing any type of application, we find a real tablet, equipped with a screen not LCD but digital ink, allowing you to work for many hours in full sunlight as at home, without tiring your eyes. This tablet is therefore very interesting for researchers and academics wishing to read and annotate PDF documents such as scientific articles with several columns or theses.
The 13.3-inch format, while extremely relevant for using the “split screen” function comfortably or for reading and annotating A4 documents without margins, is nevertheless quite large, limiting the comfort of handling in certain positons. In this respect, a 10-inch device such as the Boox Note Air appears more versatile, allowing you to read comfortably lying down, for example.
As a work tool or for those looking for the ideal device to read PDFs, both may be suitable, although the Boox Max Lumi is better suited for reading A4 documents in a print-like format. With its good PDF processing capabilities, it will nevertheless also be possible to read A4 documents on the Boox Note Air, by cropping the margins: the 10-inch format can be suitable for most documents, although for some people a 13.3-inch eInk screen is necessarily the most comfortable.
Available at Amazon for a little more than $800 USD, the Boox Max Lumi is not cheap. It is nevertheless the price to pay for a powerful eInk tablet, equipped with a 13.3-inch screen and allowing to read and annotate comfortably PDF documents like any A4 digital file without having to remove the margins or resize them…