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Onyx BOOX M96 Universe eReader/Tablet up for Pre-Order – Android 4.0, 9.7″ E-ink Screen, 250 Euros

front-s2If you have the funds for an iPad burning a hole in your pocket and want to get an ebook reader then I have a deal for you. Arta Tech has announced that they have the latest Onyx Boox up for pre-order today, and they will be shipping after the 21st of July. Retail is 251 Euros plus taxes and shipping.

The Onyx Boox M96 Universe is the latest ereader to sport a 9.7″ Pearl E-ink screen. It runs Android 4.0 Jelly Bean on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 4GB internal storage. And yes, it has Google Play, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy it just yet.

With Bluetooth, Wifi, a microSD card slot, and a speaker, the M96 Universe is the bigger sibling of the recently released Onyx Boox T68 Lynx. It weighs in at 509 grams and is about the size of a 9.7″ tablet, and has many of the same software features as the T68 Lynx, including Ivona TTS, the option to install your own reading apps, and support for a broad range of ebook and file formats.

Alas, while it is larger it is not better than that smaller ereader/tablet. I was planning to buy one right away so I could post a review, but after seeing the specs listed on the product page I can tell you that my recommendation in that review would be to buy the T68 Lynx. And so I will save myself the money and explain why.

To put it simply, the M96 Universe is hobbled by the fact that it is really an updated version of an older Onyx ereader – one that was developed before frontlights and capacitive touchscreens were readily available.

If measured spec for spec, the M96 Universe would come up short when compared to the T68 Lynx. The larger device sports a screen with a resolution of 825 x 1200, which is a significantly lower resolution than the 6.8″ screen on the T68 Lynx. The smaller device has a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080, and I think you would appreciate the difference.

The M96 Universe also stumbles in the touchscreen and frontlight department. While the T68 Lynx has a capacitive touchscreen, the M96 Universe has an older and less desirable electromagnetic touchscreen which will only work with a stylus. It also lacks the frontlight found on many modern ebook readers.

This is a cool looking device, but it’s on my don’t buy list. Instead I would suggest you get the T68 Lynx. I reviewed it a couple weeks ago, and I have found it possible to turn it into a nifty little E-ink Android tablet.

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TheGreatFilter July 10, 2014 um 8:51 am

In that case, this device looks like a mistake. They should have concentrated on their smaller and more advanced model that seems to be selling well.

Nate Hoffelder July 10, 2014 um 9:11 am

I think they released it because they had the hardware mostly done, and the software added little to that cost.

Adam Kaczmarek – ArtaTech July 10, 2014 um 9:27 am

There is a high demand on 9,7 inch E Ink e-readers. And with Android OS it’s super fast in comparison to M92 model.

Nate Hoffelder July 10, 2014 um 9:56 am

Then perhaps Onyx should have developed something new rather than this retread.

Leonid July 10, 2014 um 10:44 am

I strongly disagree with you.
The e-ink ecosystem is more complicated than that. All the e-reader manufacturers have to rely on the screens currently available from e-ink (except some who choose to go with the cheaper Guangzhou OED Technologies who are one step back and are sued by e-ink).
The bigger companies, like Amazon, have exclusive agreements with e-ink for the newer technology they release (for example – the Carta technology) for a while and then it’s available for everyone else. This is why we saw several devices using Carta announced recently – the exclusivity period of Amazon has expired.

The bigger the screen is, the harder it is to implement an even frontlight for it. It’s important to understand that frontlight for 9.7′ screens does not exist yet. Thus Onyx could not have released a 9.7′ device with frontlight even if they wanted to.
Same goes for the touchscreen technology, though it’s important to note that while the capacitive touchscreen has advantages, it requires an (almost) transparent film to be placed on top of the screen, which reduces the contrast of the e-ink screen that does not excel in that department to begin with.

Wilo July 14, 2014 um 10:50 pm

@Loenid — it’s a shame the author of this article didn’t understand as much as you do before writing this ill-informed post.

Nate Hoffelder July 14, 2014 um 11:04 pm


Would knowing the details about the development cycle change the fact that the newer T68 Lynx has a better touchscreen, frontlight, and a higher resolution screen, and was thus a better buy?

I don’t see how it would change those simple facts. Can you please explain? Thanks!

Leonid July 15, 2014 um 11:34 am

Hey, I never meant to criticize Nate.

All I was saying is that larger screens have their own use cases and their own followers that would not buy small screens no matter how much better they are.

Knowing which displays are available by e-ink, Onyx could not have offered anything better with a 9.7′, so this is a good product for the audience that e-ink devices with 9.7′ target.

Nate Hoffelder July 15, 2014 um 12:36 pm

And it was a good comment, too, and for that I thank you.

TheGreatFilter July 10, 2014 um 11:12 am

Then maybe they should have waited on the 9.7″ and focused on what does seem to be selling well. Mind you, 250 euro isn’t a bad price. It’s not much more than the 6.8″. Actually, I take it all back. At that price, I think it will sell.

Nate Hoffelder July 10, 2014 um 11:18 am

The M96 Universe costs $500 plus shipping and VAT. I paid a total of $250 for my T68 Lynx.

Leonid July 10, 2014 um 11:20 am

BTW, it has been available in Russia for about a month already and judging from the activity on Russian forums, it’s quite popular and sells well.
Remember that Italy, Russia and Poland are the primary markets for Onyx -readers.

m3l7 July 10, 2014 um 12:25 pm

imho the EM touchscreen is a good feature. A 10 inch ereader is made for taking notes, write and underline pdf files.
It would be difficult with a capacitive touchscreen where you cannot put your hands on the device.
The real disadvatage is the lack of the light.

Adam Kaczmarek – ArtaTech July 11, 2014 um 2:25 am

Exactly 🙂

Utomo July 10, 2014 um 7:36 pm

I am waiting for color ebook reader.

Nate Hoffelder July 11, 2014 um 11:36 am

Color E-ink is a dead end for ebook readers. It simply cannot offer decent color.

djrichard July 11, 2014 um 12:03 am

Figure the 9.7″ has the same port of Android as the 6.8″? The reviews on the 6.8″ have been mixed from an OS reliability perspective.

Nate Hoffelder July 22, 2014 um 7:58 am

It probably does, yes.

Stuart Burpfart July 29, 2014 um 12:42 pm

Wow! What a biased "review", right from the start and based on reading the specs only!

Dear readers, If you are really interested in this device go to the following forum where people who actually used it discuss its pros and cons:

I had M92 and now have M96 and I think M96 is a decent upgrade and a nice reader. I use it every day and I have my entire library of textbooks, manuals and documents on it. This "review" is a disservice to people interested in buying an ereader.

Finally the use cases for tablets and ereaders are very very different and it’s not as simple as saying ditch eraders go buy yourself a tablet because they have better specs. I never use my tablet for reading because it sucks at being a reader, just like I never use my ereader for watching movies because it sucks at being a multimedia device (although it will play audiobooks or music for that matter).

Nate Hoffelder July 29, 2014 um 1:59 pm

Where exactly did I call this post a review? Please tell me.

All i can see is a discussion of the specs and a comparison with the specs of a related model. That is entirely appropriate content for a post about a product launch.

Ya August 12, 2014 um 4:39 pm

Respectfully, a review is done after using a product for some time. Nothing (even an iPad) can substitute an eink 9.7 inch device so to "recommend" a T68 without trying the M96 is like recommending a skateboard to a car buyer or of similar sort. The market is devoid of 9.7 inch readers case in point the exaggerated price of the sluggish Kindle DX s all over the net. I say buy buy buy to the M96.

Wilo August 12, 2014 um 4:43 pm

quite right. I just bought one (for twice the price of the T68), and I’m very happy with it — despite the assurances to the contrary of this self-appointed 'expert'.

Geekswantbigereaders August 13, 2014 um 2:44 pm

EM is a lot better for writing, that’s what Wacom stuff uses.

10 inch or bigger devices are essential to replace heavyweight textbooks (I have back problems and my ADHD makes me to get very messy with managing tons of deadtree stuff) and technical documents, something smaller is insuitable and a pain in the ass to use. i had a Kindle DX, it was deadly slow with scanned PDFs and relatively low res but usable for my geeky needs.

I agree the eink screen has an awfully crappy low resolution, I believe these sizes should be 2k at least. But unfortunately there aren’t better alternatives, unless you are millonaire and buy a corporate grade Sony 14 inch ereader.

I hope Google makes Android L more eink friendly and Amazon monopoly gets destroyed. There are too few interesting ereader options, most of them have crappy hardware and very buggy software.

For some of us, A4 friendly ereaders are the only usable option.

Pocketbook InkPad 840 8" eBook Reader up for Pre-Order – 179 Euros – The Digital Reader September 5, 2014 um 11:32 am

[…] The InkPad 840 compares well to larger ereaders like the Onyx Universe and the Kindle DX. Those devices feature a 9.7″ E-ink screen with a resolution of 825 x 1,200, or about 150 ppi. The InkPad also costs significantly less than the Universe, although the Universe does have the advantage of running Android. […]

guney November 8, 2014 um 5:03 pm

Have onyx boox M96 universe' s processor dual or solo core ?

Nate Hoffelder November 8, 2014 um 5:29 pm


guney November 9, 2014 um 10:36 am

Sorry but some e reader sites say that its processor has dual core. I researched about freescale processor but I haven’n find true information about its processor’s core number yet. How can I be sure? Thanks.

Nate Hoffelder November 9, 2014 um 10:45 am

Who says it’s dual-core?

The retailer does not:

guney November 9, 2014 um 11:29 am

I was investigated this link before you send me. In there, retailer doesn’t say core number. In freescale oficial site there are solo and dual core with 1Ghz processor. ?n my opinion its solo core but its not clearly. Th ebook reader .com says android eraders uses dual core. I send to artra tech an email for my core question. Thanks.

Nate Hoffelder November 9, 2014 um 11:36 am

A rep for the retailer I mentioned above is following this thread. I’m going to let him answer this question.

Adam Kaczmarek – Arta Tech November 10, 2014 um 1:51 am

The only e-book reader with Dual-Core processor is AfterGlow 2.

guney November 9, 2014 um 5:44 pm

I have learned from retailer that it has single core.

Nate Hoffelder November 9, 2014 um 5:56 pm


TheGreatFilter November 10, 2014 um 9:40 am

As it stands, this device is the only practical candidate to be used as an e-ink screen for a laptop. If it has blue-tooth or USB support it should be possible to slave it to a laptop. At 250 Euro, it’s a step in the right direction.

Andrew April 2, 2015 um 6:46 am

You should not be reviewing a device you never used.

Nate Hoffelder April 2, 2015 um 7:22 am

I have no idea what you’re talking about. I didn’t post a review.

Alain DĂ©silets April 10, 2015 um 10:08 am

DO NOT BUY! Terrible device, terrible customer service!


I bought this device because I wanted an e-ink reader with Text-to-Speech (TTS), that could double up as an easy-on-the-eyes Android tablet for browsing the web and reading email.

The device was sort of OK as a vanilla book reader but it failed miserably at all other tasks I had bought it for. Even worse, it stopped working after 3 days, and Onyx refused to refund me in spite of much negotiations and their supposedly “no-questions-asked” refund policy.


The Onyx Boox Universe was sort of OK as a vanilla book reader but failed miserably at everything else (which makes it kind of pointless to buy this instead of say, a Kobo or Kindle, which are better optimized for book reading).

The TTS feature didn’t work. It only read the first sentence of each page, then stopped.

The web browser took forever to display most pages (like… 30 seconds per new page), and very often, it would not properly refresh pages when paging up or down. For example, I was unable to use it to post to the MobileRead forum, because I would be typing a forum post in a text box, then scroll down the page, and when I came back to the top of the page, the submit button had disappeared (and all form buttons for that matter) . This meant that I could not submit my post. Pressing the refresh button didn’t help. I literally had to leave the page, come back to it, and restart the process, this time, making sure I didn’t scroll down or up before posting. This kind of major annoyances happened regularly, I’d say about once every 30 mins at least.

Also, in order to use this device to answer email, I had to get a Bluetooth keyboard, because otherwise, you have to type with a “single finger” (the screen only works with the stylus) and that’s way too slow for my taste. I didn’t mind buying the keyboard but the problem was that every time I put down the tablet for say, 30 mins, it would loose the bluetooth connection. I would then have to go into settings and reconnect the tablet to my keyboard, which took about 1-2 mins each time. This is a real pain if you are using the tablet for short burst interspersed with long pauses as I do.

At that point, I was starting to think that I would ask for a refund, as per their “no questions asked” refund policy which is described at the bottom of this page:

The final straw happened when the device stopped working altogether after I installed an app to change the orientation to landscape. This is a standard feature of all android devices, but I was surprised to find that it’s not standard on the Onyx Boox. So I downloaded and installed an app called Set Orientation. It worked fine for 2 days, until I ran the Onyx pen calibration routine. At that point, the device became completely unusable, because there is a bug in Onyx’s calibration routine (it does not take current orientation into account). This bug caused it to learn a screen mapping that is completely warped. As a result, most of the icons that I see on the screen, including the very important Apps and Settings icons, have become “unclickable”. Clicking on those icons does nothing, or ends up clicking on a different icon, and there are no locations anywhere on the screen that end up clicking on those two icons. I can’t even reset the device to factory settings, because you can’t do that using only physical buttons on the device.

At that point, I asked for a refund and after much back and forth with the company, they ultimately refused, claiming that they do not support landscape mode. I tried to argue that if it’s the case that changing orientation renders the device unusable, then it’s THEIR RESPONSABILITY to make sure that no application can ever do that. Or at the very least it’s THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that you can reset the device to factory settings using physical buttons only, so that if an app does mess up the screen mapping, you can still get back on your feet. But they still refused to refund me.

I conclusion, I would strongly advise anyone against buying this device, nor any device manufactured by Onyx.

pre order 07e9 – hear a voice within you say May 27, 2018 um 7:24 pm

[…] Arta Tech has announced that they have the latest Onyx Boox up for – today, and they will be s… […]

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