Rarely do new product launches signal a shift in the market, but I think there's more to this next device than meets the eye.
I just got an email from Arta Tech, an ereader seller in Poland. They're announcing the release of their newest model, the Inkbook Onyx, a 6" ereader that runs Android on a dual-core CPU.
The Inkbook Onyx sports a 6" Carta E-ink screen (1024 x 758 resolution) with frontlight and capacitive touchscreen. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM. It has 8GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, and Wifi, but there's no mention in the listing of audio support or Bluetooth.
There's also no mention of Google Play, which means you might have to put in extra effort to load Android apps. But on the plus side, you can install Android apps, and the Inkbook Onyx ships with a very adequate reading app, web browser, and a suite of cloud services from Arta Tech.
Android ereaders are a dime a dozen these days, but this one caught my eye because this one clearly isn't made by Onyx, Arta Tech's long term hardware partner. No, in spite of the misleading name the Inkbook Onyx is actually made by Boyue.
The Inkbook Onyx shares the same design and even the same screen contents as Boyue's other ereaders like the T62+ (aka the Energy Sistem Pro+ eReader), including the button placement (even the case is identical). In fact, the Inkbook looks like a clone of the T61, only with upgraded electronics. It doesn't quite have the same specs (no audio, for example) but the similarities are to great for this too be a coincidence.
Update: And I'm not the only one to make the connection. Over at MobileRead this device has been identified as the Boyue T61D. They even found a download link for the Boyue firmware running on it.
Clearly Arta Tech has a new hardware partner. This blogger finds that detail newsworthy because I have been growing increasingly frustrated with Onyx repeatedly delaying the launch of their next devices. The i86 8" model, which is due to arrive this week, was delayed for nearly a year and finally shipped with outdated specs (a single-core CPU, rather than dual-core).
I can't say whether Arta Tech shares my frustrations but we do see that they have a new partner. At the least that is a sign that the more nimble Boyue is out-competing Onyx, and that is good for consumers.