Onyx Boox i86 8 Inch Android eReader Shows Up on Amazon, Ebay

Onyx-Boox-i86[1]First teased around this time last year, the Boox i86 has proven to be an elusive device. The closest it has come to reaching the market is a limited beta test in China, but now some helpful person has started selling it on Ebay and Amazon.

If you’re interested in getting an unreleased and possibly incomplete ereader which runs Android, now’s your chance. Earlier this week a single unit popped up on Amazon.com (and was quickly snapped up by yours truly), but there are still multiple units available on Ebay, where it is selling for $249.

According to the official specs, the Boox i86 runs Android 4.0 on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. It has Wifi and Bluetooth, and there’s also a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. The 8″ Pearl E-ink display has a screen resolution of 1,200 x 1,600. The touchscreen is IR, but there’s no frontlight.

Compared to the Pocketbook 840, another 8″ ereader on the market, the Boox i86 isn’t a very good deal, but the detail about Android 4.0 holds out the hope that we might be able to add more reading apps.

But is this seller legit? I’m really not sure.

I’ve tried to get an i86 from Onyx, and was told it wasn’t available. But I also know that the i86 is being sold in limited numbers in China (I’ve been following the discussions among beta testers), so this could well be a seller who bought the i86 in China and had it imported into the US.

I won’t know for sure until I get home on Saturday and can open the unit I bought off of Amazon. A cautious buyer would wait, but if you want to take the risk you can still get a unit on Ebay.

In all honesty, I would recommend waiting for the official release. I’m expecting this ereader to ship with a frontlight, but even if it doesn’t have one the official models will likely have more polished software than what is currently running on the beta units (we don’t even know if it supports English).

Stay tuned.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Name (required)11 March, 2015

    Most of the Boox devices are elusive.
    I have broken the case of my recent reader. It still works but I do not know how long it will last.
    So I am looking for a new device.
    A 5″ front-lit e-ink with Android would be ideal.

    I have been looking at Onyx Boox and most of the e-ink readers are “not in stock” in their site onyx-boox.com

  2. Kannon11 March, 2015

    I’m really looking forward to your review! Supposedly Onyx added “Fast Refresh” (in addition to A2 mode), which you can find video of online. Fast Refresh allows for full video to be displayed — at the expense of battery life.

    Curiously, Fast Refresh did not really impact battery life on the Nook Simple Touch. I’m hoping to hear more about this feature — particularly its usability. Thanks again Nate!

  3. drjnhf11 March, 2015

    Why do you expect your reader to ship with a front light, when the description says, it hasn’t one? The discussions on mobileread.com had it, that there is demand in China for devices without front light (supposedly in order to have no layer between eye and script), which is why these models are sold now. Since nobody seems to have been willing so far to place an order over the minimum order quantity for the version with a front light, these are not yet in the wild.

    Unfortunately for people in Europe though, no seller seems to have been willing to order the non-front-lit device either. On the other hand, you can hardly blame them, if $249 would have to be their price, since PocketBook’s Inkpad 840 is available here for €175 (including VAT). The i86 without light probably wouldn’t sell too well at any higher price.

    1. Nate Hoffelder11 March, 2015

      The original spec last year mentioned a frontlight, and this device is so expensive that it needs that extra feature to help justify the price.

      I am expecting it to eventually show up with either the German or Polish Onyx reseller. They both had the T68, and 6″ and 9.7″ models.

      1. drjnhf11 March, 2015

        Eventually, that should happen. However, I know that you should be aware of the front light situation, because you replied to a post that the German seller wrote about it on mobileread: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2968395&postcount=7

        1. Nate Hoffelder11 March, 2015

          That was in November. I had completely forgotten it, and in any case a lot may have changed since then.

          And thanks for reminding me; this means that the unit on its way to me might be the commercial release, and not a beta.

        2. Nate Hoffelder12 March, 2015

          There’s now a mention of two models, including the one with a frontlight.

  4. Jmirko12 March, 2015

    Hi Nate, Please post your first impressions when you receive it. I am thinking of ordering one but too chicken to pull the trigger without any first-hand info about build quality, speed, general usability and of course the presence or absence of Google Play Store!

    1. Nate Hoffelder12 March, 2015

      I plan to, yes.

  5. Hrafn12 March, 2015

    These sales appear to be unauthorised. Onyx Boox has a post up — translates as:

    [Announcement] on the illegal sale of a Taobao shop i86, advising users do not be fooled!
    Author: Super User Posted in. News
    The matter has been resolved! The shop has been under informal shelf product sales. Please pay attention to the official sales i86’s official information, thank you!

    ————————————————– ——————

    During the Spring Festival holiday, I found that there are shops in the Division found that pre BOOX i86, the product also provides engineering prototype of foreign customers, unofficial products, our company is working to recall and make a formal complaint to this shop on Taobao. Please pay attention official notification of product sales, foreign engineering prototype unable to provide normal domestic sale protection, advise the user, do not be fooled!

    1. Nate Hoffelder12 March, 2015

      Now this is getting interesting. Thanks!

      1. Jmirko12 March, 2015

        You may soon be the lucky owner of a Limited Edition i86! 🙂

        1. Nate Hoffelder13 March, 2015

          I can’t wait!

  6. weuinh25 March, 2015

    Any news?

    1. Nate Hoffelder25 March, 2015

      I’m posting reviews this weekend.

      It’s really not worth getting.

    2. Nate Hoffelder25 March, 2015

      Let me add a little more detail.

      To start, it’s real.

      It’s slow, and the software is not finished. The interface looks like it was made for a smaller screen and then blown up. There’s Google Play, but very limited storage for apps.

      There’s no frontlight, and it’s not very nice to hold and read on.

  7. Jmirko25 March, 2015

    Thanks, Nate – disappointing, but at least your readers won’t need to waste money on this device. Seems like the Onyx disclaimer was true: someone got their hands on pre-production units and started to sell them. I look forward to the review, and hope that you can return it!

  8. […] said the 8" Android ereader model which was being sold outside of China was an engineering prototype. I can believe that. This ereader is slow, runs poorly configured software, and feels like it […]

  9. […] to be officially released. Onyx has released a limited number in China, and a handful of units have shown up on Amazon and Ebay, but it is technically not available […]

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