Avonelle's Blog

Onyx Boox announces new Nova3 Color

By Avonelle Lovhaug on 3/7/2021

I was pleasantly surprised to watch the announcement of this new device. I wasn’t expect a color note-taking device from them quite yet. I’m a fan of e-ink generally, and the Boox devices specifically – they have a lot of features, and are updated semi-regularly. I have a Nova2, and I use it quite a bit for note-taking and reading books and other documents. The size is optimal for me, because I can easily take it with me in a purse or other bag, which means I’m more likely to use it. The battery lasts a LONG time, and I prefer to use a stylus for several kinds of note-taking over typing. (Obviously there are plenty of cases where typing is preferable, but often jotting a quick note during a phone conversation or on the go is much easier to do with handwriting.)

While I’m not a fan of Android, it is a benefit on these devices as you then have access to Android applications. Most won’t work very well on e-ink devices, but some do. For me, the big one that works great is the Kindle app, which means I won’t need to replace my existing Kindle when it dies. I wish OneNote worked better on it, but there are two problems – it is really hard to see the menus, etc. because of the black/white nature of e-ink, although if you mess around with the settings quite a bit you can get something that sort of works. The bigger problem is that the OneNote in the Android store isn’t optimized for e-ink in general or Onyx Boox devices in particular, making the writing experience very laggy and barely worth it. Which is too bad, since that’s my preferred note-taking tool across platforms. But their built-in note software is pretty good.

Back to the new Nova3 Color – while I’m not artist, I can definitely see the appeal of a color device, even though the colors will never be “vibrant” on e-ink. Being able to highlight or take notes in color is definitely a plus. They’ve also added a microphone to the device, and you can record audio in your notes. I use this feature regularly in OneNote on other devices, so that’s pretty great. It sounds like there are firmware improvements too. I hope the firmware improvements make their way down to older devices like mine.

You pay a premium for color – as of this writing, the Nova3 Color is $90 more than the Nova3, and e-ink devices are already more expensive than comparable LCD devices because there is less interest in them, hence smaller production runs. If battery life and eye strain are an issue for you as they are for me, e-ink can be worth it, but is the added color cost worth it too? If you want to use it for drawing, or reading comics/manga, then maybe.