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Boox Note 2 – 10.3 inches, Android 9

Boox has recently released the Boox Note 2. Featuring a 10.3″ e-ink screen, the ability to take notes with a stylus and adaptive lighting, the e-reader is a good multipurpose device.

A Boox Note Pro evolution?

This e-reader appears as an evolution of the Boox Note Pro. We go from a quad-core processor running at 1.6Ghz to an octo-core CPU running at 2Ghz! In terms of connectivity, the Boox Note 2 gains Wi-Fi in 5ghz (in addition to 2.4Ghz), and a USB OTG plug to connect a keyboard, for example. Apart from that they share the same 10.3″ screen, and are of similar dimensions (the Onyx Boox Note 2 weighs 12 grams less, and has 200mA more battery than the Onyx Boox Note Pro).

The difference is mostly in the software, as this e-reader runs on Android 9. If the Boox Note Pro is supposed to be upgraded later to a newer version of Android, for now its users are stuck on Android 6, which may raise questions in the long run.

If the main difference in hardware was the processor, one could wonder if this more powerful CPU justifies the price of this e-reader. Indeed, this e-reader can cost a little over 500 dollars at Amazon, which doesn’t put it among the cheapest e-readers on the market; that said, all 10.3-inch e-readers are quite expensive, even the more basic PocketBook Inkpad X

But there is a difference, which may go unnoticed but is not unimportant: the Boox Note 2 has a Mobius screen, while the Boox Note Pro is on an e-ink Carta screen. What’s the difference? The part under the e-ink is glass on the Note Pro (Carta) and plastic on the Note 2 (Mobius). However, there is a Mobius screen on the very large Boox Max 3. If the choice of plastic instead of glass usually indicates a decrease in quality, this is not the case for e-readers: the most fragile element being the screen – because of this very thin and fragile layer of glass – the replacement by plastic allows to guarantee a much better durability of the product, by limiting the risks of screen breakage, whose change often costs almost as much as the e-reader, as well as a lighter weight (which we find well here, despite the larger battery). At the processor level, this CPU, more powerful than the Boox Note Pro, can also be considered as a guarantee of durability, allowing to face any software evolution and a positive argument for this e-reader… if it doesn’t have a negative impact on the battery!

On this side, nothing dramatic to fear: the autonomy remains similar. If browsing the web or loading some apps may seem faster, overall the CPU of the Boox Note Pro was sufficient for all uses. One may wonder why Onyx decided to upgrade its Boox Note Pro a few months after its release… Maybe the manufacturer wanted to get closer to what its direct competitor, Boyue, offers with its octa-core CPU, which has been upgraded to octa-core for some time? Probably, because consumers can compare the e-readers from a purely hardware point of view and say that a Boyue e-reader had the advantage. But if there’s one thing that all tests agree on, it’s that the Onyx Boox e-reader interface is faster, more fluid than Boyue’s, and it looks better finished too, even if you compare an e-reader with a quad-core processor from Onyx to an Octa-core one from Boyue.

In use? Good stuff, interesting for PDF readers!

In use, you’ll find what you liked about the Boox Note Pro: a large qualitative screen format, the ability to install applications (even if it’s not necessarily useful on a e-reader, the more minimalist e-readers, such as those from Kobo, Kindle or PocketBook have their charm and are sufficient for many users!) and above all the ability to read and annotate PDFs.

Indeed, reading PDFs in an e-reader is not as easy as one might think at first glance, as we mentioned in our article on the ideal PDF e-reader: once you get past the hardware limitations (mainly the screen size which, here, is not a problem) it is often the software that proves to be limiting. On this e-reader, this is not the case! The default software allows comfortable reading of PDFs, and it is (if needed) easy to install a third party reader and configure it to open PDFs in this way. This makes it a good e-reader for students or researchers who need to work often in this format, even if the price is high. The Boox Note Pro will suffice for most users who might be tempted by the Boox Note 2, but the guarantee to benefit from Android 9 (because, who can say when the Boox Note Pro will be updated?) can be an argument in favor of the Boox Note 2, especially for people who want to use their e-reader to check their e-mails or surf the Internet: in this case, an updated e-reader is a security guarantee that you better not go without!

Boox Note 2 vs Boox Max 3…

For a use focused on PDF in formats larger than A5 (e.g. copies of newspapers, or articles in A4) it may be relevant, as long as you invest in a high-end device, to consider whether the price difference with a Boox Max 3 (about 300 dollars more at Amazon) can be justified.

Hard to say: the 10.3 inches of the Onyx Boox Note 2 are quite sufficient for many contents, which would be too cramped in a 7.8- inch e-reader, and if one can feel cramped to read A4 in full page, the e-reader remains comfortable with most documents. Nevertheless, for those who spend their days working on A4 documents, and intend to annotate them, or even make intensive use of the margin areas, it may be interesting to start with a larger size. Conversely, the 10.3-inch format, which is sufficient for many documents, retains the advantage of great portability and ease of handling that can be lost when working with 13-inch documents.

In this respect, this e-reader is quite multipurpose, being able to be used as a work tool to read and annotate professional documents, but also as a relaxing accessory to read a novel in bed…

Any opinion, any question? Feel free to leave a comment below!

2 thoughts on “Boox Note 2 – 10.3 inches, Android 9”

  1. Thanks for a fascinating review – here and elsewhere on your site.

    I print many academic PDFs and am looking to move to an e-reader. I would also like to be able to read them in bed at night, so a backlight would be better. I’m torn between the BOOX Note 2 and the Max3. The Max3’s screen size seems great (some medical PDF articles can really test my eyesight even on A4 reproductions) but the lack of backlight (and extra cost) is a downside.

    Does 10.3 inches make some A4 articles unreadable?

    1. Hi.

      If you are having a hard time reading A4 / printed reproduction 10 inches will likely be too small for you. I enjoy reading books as well as academic PDFs on a 10 inch device, but I mostly read social science…

      Keep in mind that it’s possible to crop margins precisely and to “zoom in” when needed (to read a small graph for example). If most of your documents have a margin, 10 inch will likely be enough. If not and/or if they contain a lot of very small elements, it’s likely going to be too small. If you don’t need to read such documents too often, a possibility could be to read those in “landscape mode”.

      It really depends what kind of PDFs you want to read. In my opinion 10 inches is fine for most documents, even though sometimes (scanned books with 2 book pages per PDF page, or A4 documents with no margins at all) 13 inches would be better. We can say that 10.3 inches make some A4 articles uncomfortable to read, but not unreadable if you’re willing to zoom in when needed and/or switch to “landscape mode”.

      Good luck and please keep us updated!

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