Review: Onyx Boox T68 Lynx eReader Android Tablet

Following in the footsteps of the Nook Glow, Sony Reader Wifi (T1, T2, T3), the Tolino Shine and Vision, and a couple 6" ereaders from Onyx, the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx is certainly not the first ebook reader to run Android.But it is the first to get it right.

The T68 Lynx combines the high-resolution screen from the Kobo Aura HD with an OS which enables readers to add addition features and format support beyond what the manufacturer installed. This gives the T68 Lynx abilities almost no ereader can match.

T68 onyx boox

Review Date: 29 June 2014 – Review unit purchased from Onyx-boox.com

Pro & Con

Pro

  • High resolution screen - at 1440 x 1080, it's the sharpest ereader screen on the market
  • Android 4.0 with Google Play
  • Sound + TTS
  • Frontlight - evenly lit and white-colored, I don't want to turn it off

Con

  • Slow page turns - it took the T68 much longer to turn the page than the Kobo Aura HD (in the stock reading apps, but not for example in Moon+ Reader)
  • Confusing settings (refresh modes, buttons, etc)
  • page turn buttons don't work with 3rd-party apps (except possibly Moon+ Reader)
  • Frontlight - the minimum setting is too bright
  • Battery - the T68 Lynx behaves erratically when the battery meter drops below 15%

Hardware

The T68 Lynx shares many design similarities with other ereaders, albeit with a larger screen and a few quirks.

This ereader runs Android 4.0 on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, Wifi, and Bluetooth. It's built around a 6.8" Pearl E-ink screen. Like the screen on the Kobo Aura HD, the screen on the T68 Lynx has a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080 (265 ppi).  That's the sharpest E-ink screen currently on the market.

On either side of the screen you'll find a pair of what appears to be page turn buttons, but aren't. The page turn buttons are on the right, while the buttons on the left are the menu and back buttons. Below the screen is a d-pad with a central enter key,  and on the bottom edge you'll find the power button, microSD card slot, headphone jack, and microUSB port.

All in all the T68 Lynx is well-designed and solidly built, although it is missing a few important details. For example, I would have preferred a second set of page turn buttons to the left of the screen in addition to the menu and back buttons. Also, there are no volume buttons, and there is no speaker. Given that this device runs Android, the limited hardware support for audio unfortunately hampers what you can do with the T68 Lynx.

Frontlight & Touchscreen

The T68 Lynx has both a capacitive touchscreen and a frontlight. The frontlight offers a total of 10 settings (eleven if you count the option to turn it off). I found the frontlight to add a nice even glow to the screen. The screen sans frontlight is gray, so I usually kept the frontlight on at the lowest setting all the time.

At its brightest the frontlight isn't as bright as the screen of one of my LCD equipped tablets, which is okay. The max brightness on an LCD screen is usually only required for daylight visibility, and since the T68 Lynx has an E-ink screen it doesn't need any help there.

At its dimmest, I think the frontlight is too bright and I would much rather have the lowest setting similar to what the Aura HD offers. When I read in dim lighting conditions I want the light as low as possible. The Aura HD makes this possible with a 1% option, but the T68 Lynx does not.

Here is the T68 with the frontlight set to the minimum setting, max setting, and off.

Battery

Onyx claims 8 weeks of battery life, but after my practical tests I found that the battery will last a week to 10 days of moderate use.  I usually kept the frontlight at the minimum setting, which may have reduced the effective battery life, but it improved the reading experience so much that I was loath to turn it off.

I think a week of battery life is great; it's better than what you would get from a smartphone and it's as good as most tablets. While it's not the weeks or months that most device makers claim, that claim was always a bunch of hooey anyway. It didn't reflect how most people used their ereaders and it was dependent on lab conditions which could not be met in real life.

Is the screen sturdy?

I can confirm that the screen passes my sturdiness test. I worked up the courage stupid to perform a key drop test like the one which killed the frontlight on my original Nook Glow in 2012. Like retty much every ereader except for the original Nook Glow, the T68 Lynx survived the test without any sign of damage, which is what I was expecting.

Hardware Addendum

If you get a T68 Lynx, you might also want to get the smartcover. I can't confirm this myself, but one of Onyx's retail partners in Europe posted a video which shows that the T68 Lynx has a smartcover. Close the cover, and it will put the ereader to sleep. Open it and it will wake up. The case looks to be cheap and made from pleather so I wouldn't want it, but this is a nice feature to have.

Software

The T68 Lynx runs Android 4.0, and since it ships with Google Play you have the option of installing any of a broad selection of apps.

It also ships with AlReader, Onyx's own ebook app, and stock Android apps including a web browser, gallery, email client, music player, calculator, etc. There are also signs that FBReader and Coolreader are included but they are not listed in the app folder. (According to one Onyx retail partner, Onyx uses those apps in its reading app.)

Native Apps

Before I cover the many third-party apps I have installed on my unit, let me share a few details on  Onyx's own reading app. It offers quite a few features and customization options, including a couple that surprised me.

I did not see an option to change the line spacing, but there were 4 margin options, a screen rotation option, a control for the frontlight, a refresh button, a notes submenu, and search.In addition to a dictionary, the T68 also offers annotation and TTS (provided by Ivona, which I did not test).

The font selection extended to some dozens of fonts, including both OTF and TTF. I can't tell you how many font sizes are offered because I couldn't find a specific set of 6, 8 or however many settings. But I do know that the 32pt font is an option, and that the smallest font size is so small that you would need a magnifying glass to read it.

On a related note, I also discovered quite accidentally that the T68 Lynx can offer a 3 column mode at the smallest font sizes. I found that while confirming that pinch-zoom works to change the font size.

Third-Party Apps

The T68 Lynx lets you install third party apps, and that goes a long way to justifying its high price tag.

Any app you install can be found in the app drawer, which is only a single click away from the main library menu. This is whee you run the apps, and it is also where you manage (move to the internal SD card, for example) or delete an app. A long-press on an app icon will bring up a menu in the upper right corner which lets you go to the settings menu for the app, delete it, or change the order in which the apps are displayed (install date, name, etc).

If you have the T68 long enough and install more than a handful of apps, you'll need to get used to managing the apps by moving them to the internal SD card.  If you don't move the apps you will quickly run out of space.

Over the past couple weeks I have been taking requests for apps to try on the T68. Not all of the apps were compatible, but I have installed enough different apps that this is the singular most capable ereader on the market. For my own use, I have Kindle, RepliGo (PDF), Adobe Reader, Opera Mini, Aldiko, ES File Explorer, Moon+ Reader, and more.

Unfortunately, not all apps can be installed.

For example, Dolphin browser and Opera Mini work but Google Play says that Chrome and Firefox are not compatible. Also, Opera Mobile crashed. Feedly worked, and so did Flipboard, but Pulse was not offered as an option. One other problem I encountered was that some apps require Google Play Services to be installed. The T68 Lynx has it, but whatever Onyx did to customize the app has made it incompatible with a number of other apps, including Youtube.

T68_tapetaHere is a partial list of apps which can be installed on the T68 Lynx.

  • Kindle
  • ComiXology
  • Google Play Books
  • Google Play Newsstand
  • Goodle Docs
  • Scribd
  • Moon+ Reader
  • Aldiko
  • Feedly
  • Evernote
  • Kobo
  • Pocket
  • Opera Mini
  • Dolphin Browser
  • Adobe Reader
  • RepliGo
  • ezPDF
  • Logos
  • DropSync
  • ES File Explorer
  • ADW Launcher
  • Gmail
  • Flipboard
  • BBC News
  • Menestrello
  • Scribd
  • Oyster
  • Anki

Verdict

I'm not an ereader user; I love real Android tablets and I plan to go back to one as soon as I am done with this review. That being said, I can see what this ereader cum tablet brings to the table. It is by far the single most capable ebook reader on the market.

The T68 is not without its quirks and odd features, but it was still a joy to use. In addition to reading a couple Kindle and Epub ebooks, I also read a 200MB graphic novel PDF. That worked surprisingly well in RepliGo (less so in Adobe Reader or ezPDF) and it shows that the T68 Lynx has admirable memory management abilities.

Between the high resolutions screen, audio, and Bluetooth, it has the best specs of any ereader on the market. And thanks to the ability to install apps, it also offers the most software features as well as the broadest support for ebook and other file formats.

While it is also one of the most expensive ereaders on the market, I think it compares well against its immediate competitors. Setting aside generic 9.7" ereaders and Onyx's larger models, I think the T68 Lynx has two serious competitors, the Kindle DX and the Kobo Aura HD.

The Aura HD may have the same screen but it is limited to just running Kobo software. And while the Aura HD can be hacked to run Android, it is described as buggy and frustrating. Given that the T68 Lynx costs only $30 more in the US, I would say that the extra capabilities more than justifies the price.

The Kindle DX may be larger and come with 3G, but it hasn't been updated in years. It lacks a touchscreen and frontlight, and it can't even come close to matching the T68 Lynx's speed and screen resolution. The KDX also limits users to poor PDF support and incomplete support for the Kindle format (no support for KF8  or digital comics, for example).

The T68 Lynx is easily the best ereader on the market.

Videos

Where to Buy it

Arta Tech, Onyx's retail partner in Poland, is probably your best bet for getting a T68 Lynx. At the time I wrote this review they sold the device on several websites.

Specs

  • CPU 1GHz single-core Freescale i.MX
  • RAM -  512 MB
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Screen - 6.8" Pearl E-ink screen, 1440 x 1080 resolution (265 ppi)
  • Capacitive touchscreen
  • Frontlight
  • Storage - 4GB internal, microSD card slot
  • Connectivity - Wifi, Bluetooth
  • Audio - headphone jack, no speaker
  • Battery - 1.7Ah
  • Battery Life - 8 weeks (manufacturer's claim), 2 weeks ( based on actual use)
  • Weight - 236 grams
  • Dimensions - 1942.2 x 132 x 8.8mm

About Nate Hoffelder (11598 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

52 Comments on Review: Onyx Boox T68 Lynx eReader Android Tablet

  1. Hi Nate,

    thanks for this comprehensive review – seems the Lynx was more persuasive in actual use than at first glance.

    Could you or anyone reading this recommend an rss reader that works well on e-ink? My daily news on e-ink, with the option to refresh newsfeeds directly on the device would make this my preferred news reader.

  2. Thanks for the review, I ordered mine. With anki, some dictionaries (EBPocket) and an rss reader, it seems like the reader I always wanted. ^^

  3. I had been looking at a new reader for some time but my latest holiday pushed me over the line after having to charge my Sony 3 times in 3 weeks… And I couldn’t even use it all the time as it doesn’t have a backlight!

    I had been looking at the Aura HD, but once I heard about this one, I knew I had to buy it. It’s the same price as the Aura HD (both are around 170 euro incl S&H), both have a frontlight and both are 6.8″.

    But the OS made the choice for me. On this one, I can install my newspaper app! I won’t have to use my Windows 8 tablet for that anymore (as the app is android-only and I need bluestacks to read my newspaper on vacation).

    After playing around with it on Saturday (didn’t expect it to arrive this quickly, as the site said on Thursday evening that it wasn’t in stock :P), I decided to use one of the default reader apps as it gives me everything I need (respect the book CSS, use the included font and have annotation abilities). I also installed Calibre Companion and my local newspaper app. I was afraid the newspaper would be too slow, but it’s working very nice indeed.

    I agree with one thing on your review: the backlight on lowest is way too bright. I’d have loved to replace my tablet for night time reading, but with this brightness, that’s just not an option. I wonder why you’d need to be able to turn up the brightness as high as you can. I can understand the need on a tablet (to counteract the brightness of the surroundings), but on a frontlit e-ink screen, I’d have thought it would just be the opposite, from just bright enough to read in a pitchblack area to just bright enough to make the background appear white…

    And I still need a cover for it…

  4. I find it interesting that they choose to feature the Google Play installation so prominently on their product page – right in the headline.

  5. This might just be the ereader I’ve been waiting for. I like reading on my 1st gen Kindle PW but I need to use my rooted Nook HD+ for RSS using Press, Instapaper and Safari to Go.

    Has anyone tried these apps or would they be willing to give them a try?

    As to the frontlight, I wonder if any of the screen filter apps would work? I’m guessing not but as this is an Android device, it may be possible to create an app to lower the brightness.

  6. Is it possible for you to post a picture of the T68 next to another eink device with both open to a book? I’d like to be able to compare what the text looks like on each. I just remember how bad the fonts while reading looked on my Boox 60 and I’d like to see if it has improved. The fonts were gray instead of black and looking at the Boox next to my Sony 950 the difference was striking.

    • Yes. My todo list includes comparison posts with the KPW2, Aura HD, and KDX. I would have gotten started on one of the posts this morning but a health issue got in the way.

      • Thanks!

      • But please check also custom fonts. It is not a problem to change font and I would like to compare more quality of screen then font which was used…

        I’m interested in this device but I have some concerns:
        1) Contrast and comfortability of reading in comparison with kobo aura hd and kindle paperwhite II (but i don’t want to compare font because I can change it on onyx).
        2) Is it too bright to read at night?
        3) Precision of touchscreen (I know it was a update for this problem, but I don’t know if it is better now and how bad or good it is now).
        4) Some issues connected with technology of frontlight (a way how a brightens is lowered).

  7. Just got a mail for Arta tech.

    They are giving only 1 year warranty for devices bought from Amazon US.

    And i bought mine from Amazon US. If anything goes wrong, i am at the mercy of these crooks whom you support so vehemently

    • Please refrain from calling anyone crooks!

      • I can do that if you can explain why it is written in the description at Amazon US that Warranty is 24 months, When the actual warranty is 1 year only.

    • ArtaTech Support // 1 July, 2014 at 4:42 am // Reply

      Anmol

      Quotation from our warranty card:
      ”3.3 The producers warranty period is 12 months from the date of sale.
      3.4If you have purchased device in your country, and law regulation in your country demand longer warranty period, then you are granted such warranty for a period not longer than minimal allowed by law”

      So please check warranty conditions in your country and let us know. Support ticket would be the best option.

  8. I use Instapaper, and it works fine. As for font quality, it depends on the app, strangely enough. Of the four reader apps that come with the T68, the Onyx Reader comes closest to looking like what you get on the Kindle or Nook apps. Font quality is largely good. However, you will see a word that isn’t quite right now and then, as though your copier were running out of toner. Other apps don’t have this issue – or I haven’t seen it yet in three days of occasional reading.

    You choose the reading app you want by choosing a book in your library and long pressing it. You’ll then see the four options that come with the T68, plus any third party readers you’ve installed (like Moon or Aldiko).

  9. Slow page turns occurs only in one of the system software for reading, called OnyxReader. In the other system (CoolReader, FBReader or AlReader), as well as other external programs, pages change very quickly …

  10. The buttons actually work in moon+ reader. I worth I could figure out how to make my imported books show up in the library. It seems that moon reader saves to a different folder than the pre installed books. Those do show up in the library.

  11. Any chance they will fix the “bright light” with a future firmware update? Would be nice to hear something about this.

    I got mine this weekend and I too find the light too bright on the lowest setting. For the rest I’m very impressed with the e-reader. It’s a shame the buttons don’t work on all the apps, but that’s something I can easily live with.

    Loving the tips in the comments here and thanks for writing a nice review. I wholly agree with your findings!

  12. Thank you for your feedback. We are going to try do our best to adjust this setting.

    • Another Pat? 🙂 Well I’m going to assume this is feedback from the manufacturer since I didnt post that… It would be nice if the brightness gets a fix, for me this is the biggest let down, but not a dealbreaker for me.
      I was hoping for similar results as on the C65.

      For the rest I agree with the people below (TheGreatFilter and Nate) some minor cons like buttons that don’t work as they should and battery level… (I haven’t gotten it to drop so low yet, but I’ll probably start charging around 20% now)

      I notice that when I try to hit certain buttons in apps the accuracy sometimes seems off, I seem to miss from time to time where with a normal tablet I hardly ever miss/hit the wrong item) Not sure if that comes with the different material from e-ink devices or if I’m getting buttery fingers lately. Anyone else notice something similar?

      For the rest I’m very happy with the device, it’s a joy to read and by using Dropsync I dont even have to connect it to the pc to get the books on.

      I’m also wondering what people are doing for idle/power off mode. The screen sorta stays on even when off and I wonder how much “powering up” costs since the direction button light goes on and it takes a small amount of time to properly activate. Should I just let it go to “idle mode”? or disable it all? (fyi I usually read with the wifi off and the lights off)

  13. TheGreatFilter // 1 July, 2014 at 7:48 am // Reply

    Cons:
    Slow page turns – Software issue only. How fast is Coolreader?
    Confusing settings (refresh modes, buttons, etc) – irritating, but not a show-stopper.
    page turn buttons don’t work with 3rd-party apps – comes with the territory of Android on an e-reader. No big deal.
    Frontlight – the minimum setting is too bright – one can’t use these lights in pitch-darkness so it doesn’t matter. But yeah, it would be better to have a lower setting. This is the biggest con IMO.
    Battery – By 15% one needs to recharge.

    Overall, I’d say the cons don’t matter to me.

  14. Hi Nate,

    you forgot to mention our store 😉 We also ship T68 worldwide and have better scope of delivery as mentioned in your review shops. I hope you had good experience with our store in the past

  15. long time satisfied kindle reader. Bought 2 T68 for my kids just graduating. Mutiple mac and android tablet experience. Very happy about the combination of kindle, pdf, other formats and via play store support for Danish library apps. Not suited for normal tablet activity, but that’s ok. HW, battery, light etc all fine. Only drawback I’ve found – and I only tested one sofar – is very bad precision on the touch screen. Ok for reading, but logging on etc on the DK mandatory library apps is a pain. The touch is interpreted up and down and right and left, so I have to give up in many circumstances. Otherwise great

    • Hi steen palvig, I just received my T68 today and the only drawback I’ve found (so far!) is the bad precision on the touchscreen when typing. Mine seems to constantly read my touch “low” and the character below what I’m typing appears. Then when I try to adjust and touch “high” it sometimes still goes wrong.

      I remember when tablets etc used to have a system of calibrating your personal screen touches but can’t find one here. If anyone knows a way of improving this touch “problem” I’d be very glad to hear.

      All-in-all, very happy with it. I was a bit afraid to buy after the clunker Onyx M92 I bought a while back but the T68 is in a different league.

  16. Hi Nate, I just checked for an update but it came back none available. My machine is running:
    Build number: 2014-06-20_11-50_1.5.0_36c2d29
    Is this the latest that you are aware of.
    (Thanks again for a great blog)

  17. Is there any chance to get this model with perfectly working touchscreen? Today arrived but not possible to use the touchscreen even after the update. top right and bottom right part touches 2-3 cm off. I am sending back but don’t know what to do. Order a new one from amazon or from somewhere else?

  18. Mine is still not working correctly and to tell the truth, I have given up on it and have gone back to using my Kobo Aura HD which is far superior to the T68 as a reader. This is now the second time I have wasted money on an Onyx product and will never ever go near that brand again.

  19. Did you try to install any application with maps ? I read many reviews and no one ever tried any maps on T68. IMHO that seems such a good idea to try for high contrast e-ink display :).

    Do you know what kind of devices can be connected via bluetooth ? I read that “some but not all”. But what does that mean. If I could connect something to Android 2.2, will I be able to connect it to T68, for example external Pentagram GPS Logger ? It worked with 2.2.

  20. Thank you for this nice review of the Onyx reader. I’m looking for a new e-ink screen reader and this looks very good.

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