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Onyx Boox i86 eReader With Frontlight Now Up for Pre-Order

onyx boox i86 hdml plusWith an 8″ E-ink screen and Android 4.0, the i86 has been one of the more anticipated ereaders of 2014, but it has also been one of the more delayed units.

It took over a year before the first units showed up on the market in China (they weren’t worth buying), and another 4 months passed before the i86 showed up for pre-order last week from a European retailer.

Reports are coming in that has just put the Onyx Boox i86 HDML Plus with frontlight up for pre-order for 199 euros (plus VAT). That translated to about a US price of about $270 to $300 after you factor in the shipping charges.

The i86 is expected to ship on Friday, 5 June. And yes, I did spring for one.

According to the specs on the product listing, the i86 HDML Plus is the much upgraded version of the i86 ereader I reviewed earlier this year. It has twice the storage, twice the RAM, and a frontlight, and as a result it comes closer to justifying its high price tag.

This ereader runs Android 4.0 (with Google Play) on a 1GHz CPU with 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. It’s 8″ E-ink display has a screen resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, and the device also has a frontlight and IR touchscreen.

You can find the complete specs below.

All in all this is not he most powerful ereader, nor even the best from Onyx (current 6″ models sport a dual-core CPU) but in the 8″ category this is still a solid contender. The open Android makes it possible to install 3rd-party reading apps and extend the i86’s abilities.

Want better PDF support? Install ezPDF (I thought it worked well on E-ink). Want an 8″ Kindle? Then install the Kindle Android app.

The possibilities are not infinite, and there are downsides (slow page refresh, for example), but the i86 offers a lot of bang for the buck.

Onyx Boox i86 HDML Plus Specs

  • 8” E-ink display
  • Screen Resolution: 1600 x 1200 (250 dpi)
  • Frontlight, IR touchscreen
  • CPU: 1GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB internal, microSD card slot
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth
  • Audio: 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Battery: 1.7Ah, lasts up to 2 weeks per charge
  • Supported ebook formats: PDF, TXT, HTML, EPUB, CHM, PDB, MOBI (Non-DRM), FB2, DJVU
  • Dimensions: 210 x 160 x 9mm
  • Weight: 340 grams

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Feda June 1, 2015 um 8:35 am

How does the battery life of android e-readers compare vs. those with Linux on them? I’m worried that all the bloatware on Android would have a big negative impact on battery life. Has anyone been able to test that?

Nate Hoffelder June 1, 2015 um 9:13 am

Android does impact battery life, yes. But there are Android apps which can help (DeepSleep, to name one).

Feda June 1, 2015 um 12:08 pm

Thought it would. I guess I’ll hold out for a Linux model. I don’t care about apps, I just want a nice large screen with front light and good battery life.

It had similar battery life issues, though.

Nate Hoffelder June 1, 2015 um 12:10 pm

Well, there is the Pocketbook Inkpad. I liked its 8″ screen. it was the enxt best thing to reading on a hardback, only without the weight.

Feda June 1, 2015 um 1:28 pm

From what I was reading about it around the net it’s a pretty flawed device.

Leonid June 3, 2015 um 4:48 am

I’d rephrase this a bit.

The Chinese manufacturers and programmers of the current generation of the Android-based readers (Onyx, Boyue) fail to achieve the same battery life for these. However, it does not mean that Android reader are by definition consume more battery.
We all remember the Nook ST that ran on Android 2.1 (which in general has poorer power management capabilities than modern Android versions) and still had very respectable battery life.

Nate Hoffelder June 3, 2015 um 3:00 pm

Honestly, asking about battery life is a trick question.

Android bloatware can impact battery life, but it can be fixed. What’s more, there are Linux-based devices (Pocketbook, for example) which have similar battery life issues. Those devices effectively have worse battery lifes because they can’t be patched with apps.

As you pointed out with the Nook ST, the real question is who developed the device and how good were they. B&N had good engineers when they did the Nook ST. A lot of the smaller ereader makers (and a lot of the Android tablet makers as well) don’t have engineers that good, so the battery life suffers.

Name (required) June 1, 2015 um 8:40 am

It looks like it doesn’t have hardware buttons for home, menu and back.
How was the previous model, the one that wasn’t worth buying, coping with that?

Nate Hoffelder June 1, 2015 um 9:15 am

It uses the same trick as other Android devices; those buttons are onscreen, and they fade out when you are in an app.

Scott G. Lewis June 1, 2015 um 9:44 am

"has been one of the more anticipated ereaders of 2014”

In what way, or according to what source?

Nate Hoffelder June 1, 2015 um 10:04 am

This blogger has been drooling over the i86 since I first saw a spec sheet last spring.

kurt June 1, 2015 um 12:38 pm

me too

although now I’m anticipating the review before informing paypal of my needs

Chris June 1, 2015 um 5:57 pm

Does it have multi tasking so i can read a kindle book and do text editin in another window ? Will it work with a bluettooth or usb keyboard ? Does it have speakers for listening to mp3´s while text editing ? Ta

Nate Hoffelder June 3, 2015 um 2:47 pm

No, sorry, it’s outside the range of what the hardware can accomplish. Android can barely do multi-tasking on devices with quad-core CPUs and LCD screens. This device has a single core CPU.

You can play audio in the background, though.

Nate Hoffelder June 3, 2015 um 2:51 pm

Sorry, my comment posted before I was done.

A Bluetooth keyboard should work; earlier models could use them. And it has a headphone jack, but not speakers. You can play mp3s.

Lindjackson August 28, 2015 um 9:24 pm

I just received my Onyx Boox one week ago, and so far I am very impressed with it. The I86ML is fast when it comes to page turns, and also, the front light is very good. Although I still haven’t had enough time to evaluate it better, the battery seems to be able to hold at least two weeks without problems. But if you turn the wifi on…the battery can decrease fast. But I still like it very much!

Binky October 9, 2015 um 10:02 am

Hi, does anyone know if scribbling/handwriting with a stylus is possible with this ereader? (like the M96)

Nate Hoffelder October 9, 2015 um 10:19 am

With PDFs and the right type of stylus, yes.

Binky October 9, 2015 um 9:33 pm

Thanks for the reply 🙂
So, what kind of stylus, precisely? I suppose a Wacom kind (e.g. bamboo pen) would not necessarily do?
What about palm rejection? As I would use it for taking long notes on dedicated apps like Papyrus.

Sorry for the questions, it is just that there are few reviews/videos on the web that consider this handwriting aspect.

Nate Hoffelder October 9, 2015 um 10:34 pm

It needs a stylus for a capacitive touchscreen. They’re pretty common.

There’s no Palm recognition, err rejection, sorry.

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