Onyx Boox Leaf 2 review: ebook freedom

1 week ago 14

I don’t mean to beryllium picky, but the Kindle is not capable for me. For years, I called the Amazon Kindle Oasis the platonic perfect of e-readers, with its carnal page-turning buttons, crisp display, coagulated backlight, and (then) unsocial design. It felt similar I’d deed e-reader endgame. But then, I embraced Libby for room books, Viz for manga, and started speechmaking much galleys consecutive from publishers, and the Kindle felt much similar it was getting successful the mode than helping maine work the things I wanted to.

So I started buying Android E Ink tablets from China and waiting for 1 to yet merge Android’s flexibility with Amazon’s superior plan and physique quality. And I’m beauteous definite Onyx Boox’s caller $199 Leaf 2 has it. This is, astatine slightest for now, my endgame e-reader.

You mightiness not beryllium alert of Onyx Boox, and that’s okay. The institution is based successful China, and the lone mode to get its products successful the US is from Good e-Reader (a tract that reviews e-readers and besides sells them), Onyx Boox’s website (boox.com), oregon Amazon. And due to the fact that the institution is mostly based successful China, tech enactment is spotty astatine best. Complicating the substance adjacent much is the information that Onyx Boox besides shares its sanction with what appears to beryllium a Russian institution with a virtually identical URL and perfectly identical merchandise lineup. The feeling of scams is beardown with this brand.

But I’ve interacted with existent radical from the (Chinese) company, received embargoes and pricing information, and present purchased astatine slightest 3 antithetic products from its website with nary issues, truthful the Boox recovered astatine boox.com is, astatine slightest successful my experience, connected the up and up.

Onyx Boox has been making Android E Ink tablets for years now, but they thin to beryllium highly costly compared to a Kindle oregon a Kobo. The Leaf 2’s $199 terms is simply a batch much than you’ll wage for a basic Kindle oregon adjacent a Paperwhite, but it is simply a afloat $150 little than the premium Kindle Oasis. For the price, you get 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a seven-inch 300ppi E Ink display, lukewarm and chill beforehand lights, Android 11, and a microSD slot. The lone happening missing is it being waterproof, but I’m not usually settling into a bath to read, truthful this isn’t a deal-breaker for me.

A close-up presumption    of a microSD paper  slot, a speaker, and a USB-C port.

Along the handle, there’s a microSD paper slot but besides a weirdly located USB-C larboard for charging. This would person been amended connected the bottommost oregon apical of the device.

Its show is virtually identical to the 1 recovered connected the latest Kindle Oasis, and substance is crisp and casual to read. Black-and-white comics look arsenic bully connected it arsenic they bash connected an iPad, and the beforehand airy gives you the quality to tweak the brightness of lukewarm and chill lights individually oregon separately truthful you tin ever set them to the cleanable brightness for immoderate fixed speechmaking situation. (I usually permission them disconnected if I person different airy sources around.)

But the diagnostic that truly sets the Leaf 2 isolated from immoderate different Android E Ink tablet (or their little flexible e-reader acquaintances) is its page-turning buttons, which magically marque this 1 of the champion e-readers I’ve used. The Leaf 2 comes with 2 carnal page-turning buttons connected the near broadside of the instrumentality and, acknowledgment to the interior G-sensor, the leafage volition rapidly orient itself erstwhile you power hands.

Also, caller to the Leaf 2, the buttons volition enactment with conscionable astir immoderate app — careless of if it has a built-in diagnostic to admit page-turning buttons. Typically, Onyx Boox and different Android E Ink tablet makers person relied connected an accessibility diagnostic that turns the measurement buttons connected a telephone into page-turning buttons. The e-readers would simply representation the page-turning buttons to volume, and voilà — a Kindle oregon Nook acquisition arsenic earthy arsenic their autochthonal e-readers.

But with the Leaf 2, there’s an alternate mounting successful the paper (under Side cardinal settings) that lets you unit different apps to admit page-turning arsenic well. So with the Nook and Kindle app, I usage the Volume Button setting, and with apps similar Libby, which has nary page-turning diagnostic astatine all, I hop backmost to the Turn Page Button setting. It’s a small finicky and could beryllium annoying if you’re hopping astir aggregate apps to work daily, but it besides allows maine to neatly crook pages successful Libby — a happening I haven’t been capable to bash before!

A close-up of the Boox logo connected  the handle. Below it are the 2  metallic  buttons utilized  for turning pages.A close-up of the navigation shot  connected  the display. It has aggregate  buttons for navigating the instrumentality  by touch.<em>The page-turning fastener  settings page.</em>


These buttons enactment amazingly well.

As for artillery life... it depends. If you person a batch of Android apps moving and Wi-Fi active, you tin expect astir a week oregon little of artillery life. But turning the Wi-Fi disconnected means I usually lone person to complaint each fewer weeks.

The Android apps tin drain the battery, but they besides springiness this instrumentality flexibility, and it’s the flexibility of the Leaf 2 that charms me. The Leaf 2 comes with its ain built-in mediocre app store, and due to the fact that it’s a Chinese e-reader, Google Play isn’t disposable retired of the box. But Onyx Boox provides a usher for getting the Play Store working — which chiefly involves registering the instrumentality with your Google relationship and waiting for Google’s servers to admit its beingness (in my experience, this takes astir 2 to 3 hours, but Onyx Boox warns it tin instrumentality up to 48 hours).

Once the store was working, this conscionable becomes a full-fledged E Ink Android tablet, and it was casual to download apps for Libby, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and adjacent NetGalley — which handles publication galleys for publishers. You tin besides adhd video apps, if you’re truthful inclined, but laggy black-and-white versions of YouTube and TikTok aren’t an perfect mode to usage either app, truthful I wouldn’t urge it.

Agree to Continue: Onyx Boox Leaf 2

Every astute instrumentality present requires you to hold to a bid of presumption and conditions earlier you tin usage it — contracts that nary 1 really reads. It’s intolerable for america to work and analyse each azygous 1 of these agreements. But we started counting precisely however galore times you person to deed “agree” to usage devices erstwhile we reappraisal them, since these are agreements astir radical don’t work and decidedly can’t negotiate.

By mounting up the Onyx Boox Leaf 2, you’re agreeing to:

Optionally, you tin adhd the Google Play Store. If so, you’re agreeing to:

  • Google’s Terms of Service
  • Google’s Privacy Policy

Final tally: 1 mandatory statement and 2 optional ones.

An existent automatic download for maine was EinkBro, a browser designed for E Ink. That sounds silly fixed the Leaf 2 comes with its ain browser, but EinkBro is accelerated and volition paginate websites alternatively of forcing you to scroll — highly utile if you’re speechmaking immoderate 200,000-word java store AU connected Archive of Our Own.

Besides the built-in browser, the Leaf 2 has a batch of different apps intended to marque it enactment much similar a tablet than I’d like. There’s an audio recorder, a gallery, a euphony player, and, dissimilar the iPad, adjacent a calculator. With the Play Store installed, I ne'er bothered utilizing Boox’s app store — aforesaid goes for BooxDrop, the autochthonal unreality retention app. Both necessitate an Onyx account, but I’ve ne'er acceptable 1 up and haven’t missed thing arsenic a consequence.

Despite the many, galore caveats, and contempt each the goofy built-in apps trying to benignant this arsenic a rival to accepted tablets, the Leaf 2 is simply 1 of the astir pleasurable ways to work books. I’m not constrained by anyone’s walled garden, and I don't person to marque weird sacrifices to work what I privation erstwhile I want. I person existent carnal buttons to property to crook pages. The Onyx Boox Leaf 2 has yet scratched that itch I’ve had for an perfect e-reader, and I don’t spot thing displacing it anytime soon.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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