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My Onyx Boox T68 has Arrived – What Should I Do With It?

T68_tapeta3After waiting nearly 8 months, I finally got my hands on the Onyx's 6.8" ereader. The Onyx Boox t68 Lynx marries the 6.8" screen from the Kobo Aura HD with Android 4.0 running on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM. It has a screen sharper than on the Kindle Paperwhite, a capacitive touchscreen, frontlight, 4GB storage, and a headphone jack.

I pre-ordered mine from Arta Tech, Onyx's retail partner in Poland, and it arrived today.

At $250 (prices plus shipping to the US), it's a very pricy ereader. So rather than put readers in my position of taking an expensive gamble on an unknown device, I would like to help everyone make an informed decision about this ereader.

In short, what would you like me to try and comment on?

The T68 ships with Google Play, so if you suggest an app I will try to install it and then report back. I can also answer questions about Onyx's software.

So far I have only set up the Lynx, added a few ebooks, and configured my Google account, and my first impressions are not favorable.

Update: But that changed as I figured out more of the settings and quirks of the T68.

I don't think this will prove very useful as an E-ink Android tablet, and it's a good thing I had already tried the Sony Reader PRS-T1 and found that device workable as an E-ink Android tablet. Otherwise the poor performance of the Lynx would be enough to make me give up on the idea.

  • The stock settings on the Onyx reading app combine illegible text with badly rendered images. And while I fixed the issues with the text I don't see a way to get the T68 to render images properly (see below).
  • Google Play and a lot of other basic Android features are nearly unusable due to poor graphics; apparently no one at Onyx thought that it was necessary for color menus to be legible on grayscale E-ink.
  • The Kindle app crashed. I also cannot get it to sync correctly or download ebooks. Update: Changing the refresh mode fixed the issue with the Kindle app.

Onyx has been making ereaders for 5 years now and working on Android on E-ink since 2012, but I can't see that technical expertise in the T68 Lynx. The software is best described as rough. If you plan to get one I would wait until after the next major update.

258 Comments on My Onyx Boox T68 has Arrived – What Should I Do With It?

  1. I’d like to know how Moon+ Reader and Calibre Companion work. Also, I have a Boox 60 that I’m not too fond of because the fonts were gray instead of black – are the fonts when reading better on this device?

  2. I had to select the option to make all of the text bold in order to be able to read an ebook.

  3. I’m still waiting for my Earl, so I hope they learn from this example…

  4. Moon+ Reader works quite well. It’s a lot nicer than the Onyx app.

    Calibre Companion installed and ran okay, but I haven’t had a chance to connect it with my calibre install.

  5. Oh, shoot. I hadn’t thought about the Earl having similar issues. I hope they know what they are doing.

  6. Light text was also an issue with the iRiverHD.
    It is a sign of sloppy font use. (Remember how Amazon and Kobo brag of tuned fonts?)
    It is a known issue in the PC world dating back to the transition from SVGA video cards to XGA: higher resolution = smaller pixels resulting in less black surface area. It is also why scalable font outlines traditionally add hinting to the basic outline curve descriptions.
    Just sloppy work; that stuff is a solved problem.

  7. The same goes for images and graphics on E-ink. It’s been 10 years since the librie, which is long enough for this problem to be solved. Amazon certainly solved it, and so have other companies.

    And it’s not like I am asking for a picture perfect replica of a color image; just something which can be recognized. My standards are low, but Onyx cannot meet them.

  8. I’m kinda curious exactly what your expectations were. I have both a Aura HD and a Nexus 7 tablet here and the thought that Android would look good — or even be usable — on a E-ink screen never crossed my mine. I’ve used the experimental browser on the Kobo like twice, and the screen simply isn’t suitable for that kind of application. This Onyx sounds like a turkey to me.

  9. I’d like to see a video of the A2 mode, please.

  10. Name (required) // 14 June, 2014 at 3:52 am //

    You are scaring me Nate!
    I am eagerly waiting for the InkPhone E43 from Boox. It looks I am not going to buy it the moment it comes out, I will wait for some brave reviewer with a good reputation to get it and write a thorough report.

    18 months ago I purchased a heavily discounted Nook Simple Touch. I wanted a cheapo, modest, simple Android tablet. One I could use to read books and also run a few simple apps. Despite my very low expectations I was very disappointed and I ended up selling it.
    One of reasons for my disappointment was that NST ran Android 2.1 – an ancient version that can only install apps to the [very limited] main memory [not the SD card].

    I follow this blog daily and this article is a very good example of why I keep coming.
    I would very much prefer to read that device performs wonderfully, with perfectly tuned fonts in reading app, but I guess that this is more valuable – buyers know what to expect 😉

  11. And it looks like I might be scaring us all unnecessarily. I”m not sure what I did, but I got it to display images correctly.

  12. Oh my

    I ordered it too. I am one of such brave gamblers. My only hope is that we can tinker with it, given that it is stock android.

    I have been betting on eink since 2007. One disappointing after another for no avail :(

    For sure it is a niche technology. But I CANNOT understand why vendors don’t offer a solid software experience. C’mon, we are in 2014, there are tons and tons of experience about android!!!

  13. You probably switched the A2 mode off.

  14. I’ve done a little Android programming but not at the level needed to port it to a new device. The kinds of customisation needed to get it to play nice on an eInk screen with 3rd party apps that don’t know they’re not running on a high-refresh full-colour display are likely to be not trivial. It’s one thing to fix problems in an OS where you have complete control (e.g. Kindle) and another to do it while maintaining compatability. One would at least hope for some well-written apps from the vendor themselves.

    TLDR: the problems are understandable if still disappointing.

  15. Dude, where is that switch?

  16. Gimme a little hope, please. I’m pretty scared because I’m going to receive it on tuesday

  17. Yep. I just checked and it looks like that was it.

  18. In the main menus, look at the status bar across the top of the screen. Click the refresh symbol in the upper right corner and select the “quality first” option. The other option is the A2 mode, which requires less battery power but looks worse.

    Sorry, I was wrong. The way to get good graphics is to not have the A2 symbol showing in the upper right corner. The non-A2 is a third mode.

  19. Could you please test RepliGo Reader or EzPDF reader apps and let us know how they work? I think the ability to merge annotations to a PDF file and view them on the computer is critical. From what I read on the M96 forum, the Onyx reading software does not yet have this ability. Is this true on the T68 as well?

    RepliGo installed without any problems, the menu is usable on the E-ink screen, and it worked nicely.

    I was able to read a 200MB graphic novel without issue. The text was small but the screen was sharp enough that it was readable. (It helped that I switched from a continuous scroll to a single page at a time.)

    I was also able to test the annotation features (in a much smaller text only PDF). They worked (including highlights and other marks in colors which i could only see as grayscale), and I saved the new file with the annotations added.

  20. how is speaker ? strong and good enough to listen to a speech in a small/medium room ?

    how is web browsing on it ? did you find web browsers better than others ?

    did you try the gmail app ?

    No speaker, just a headphone jack.

    the Gmail app is usable (I haven’t tried the stock email client that Onyx included). It took the gmail app a few seconds to get caught up with my current status but once it did the app was responsive and I even sent out an email. This would not be my first choice for an email tool but it works.

    The stock web browser is very slow; it works to display even animated graphics like today’s Google Doodle. But it is slow so you might not want to use it much.

    And I haven’t tried other web browsers, but given that this is a 1GHz CPU I’m not sure they’ll have better performance.

  21. From what I’ve read so far, there are three display modes. “Quality first” and “Performance first” supposedly control display refresh, while both of them are said to disable text anti-aliasing. About that “A2” mode I’ve read it reduces colour depth but also reduces the minimum display refresh intervall, allowing for up to 8 page refreshes per second. Reducing colours from 16 to 4 or less might only be acceptable for plain text though, since displaying an image with only black and white and no shades in between would probably look like that Eric Flint book page from your first image (×375.jpg).

  22. Peter Montoro // 14 June, 2014 at 10:16 am //

    Read your blog everyday – thanks for all the hard work! Could you see if the Bible app published by Logos Bible Software [] works on this device? Most of my library is in this format and it would be a dream come true to be able to read it on an e-ink device without hand converting each title. Also, you had mentioned that the kindle app had crashed — did changing the refresh mode fix this, or is it an outstanding issue? Thanks in advance!

  23. I got mine yesterday. The screen is lovely, the light is fantastic but I’m having serious trouble to get it going. It crashes every 15 minutes. Frustrated, not yet disappointed…

  24. @ Nate the ?great? take your time to do contentful review, you are allways to hasty in your thoughts, conclusion and writing when it comes to e-reader-review’s

  25. Mine doesn’t crash but it keeps going to sleep.

  26. Try Amazon music. :)
    Fbreader with subpixel addresing on. (Just to see what happens or not.) Both FBreader and Coolreader have font gamma controls and such, so they may be able to fully exploit the screen.

  27. The Logos app installed okayI setup an account on my PC, logged in on the app, and I can read the free ebooks that came with the account. The app is a little slow to turn the page, though.

    And thanks for the suggestion about the Kindle app; you were right. Changing the refresh mode may have fixed the compatibility issue. it works now.

  28. How about Pocket and Evernote?

  29. maybe opera would improve the performance, specially with reduced graphics

    I am eager to test pocket with it

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