Review: The Onyx Boox Firefly Shows that There’s More to an eReader Than Screen Tech and a Frontlight
Several weeks ago I got a new ereader shipped to me from Europe. It’s the Boox i62HD Firefly, and it’s Onyx’s latest and greatest 6″ ereader with the new HD E-ink screen, frontlight, and pretty much all the same great hardware as the Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Glo as well as a couple things the other ereaders lack, namely a microSD card slot and page turn buttons.
I generally found this to be a run of the mill ereader, and given that it costs 30 euros more that the European price for the Kobo Glo I’m not sure I see the point. Also, given the poor quality of the frontlight I feel I must discourage anyone from buying this ereader.
In terms of looks, the Firefly would best be described as a cross between the Nook Touch and the Kindle Touch. It matches the gray color of the KT, while adding the page turn buttons of the Nook Touch on the sides of the screen. It also has a single button below the screen like the KT, and on the bottom edge it has a headphone jack, microSD card slot, and mini USB port.
The back is a smooth but largely featureless gray. As I hold it in my hands, I find that it is quite the heavy ereader. It feels like there’s a noticeable difference, even though according to the specs the KPW is only about 30 grams lighter (12%).
The frontlight is best described as splotchy and fragile. I can see distinct shadows and bright spots on the screen when using the Firefly, and when I look at the screen edge on the unevenness of the lighting is even more distinct.
This ereader also failed the drop test. Remember when I reported that you could drop keys on the Nook Glow and damage the frontlight? The Firefly has the same problem. In fact, the first couple dings on the screen happened before I tested this ereader – even though this ereader came with a case.
It works adequately well as an ereader, and the page turn speed is about as fast as on my K4. You can highlight, type notes, and look words up in the dictionary. There’s also bookmarks, search, and TTS, though that last is painful to listen to.
While this ereader should have shown that a nimble smaller competitor could put out a better product than the big guys, the i62HD is actually missing the one thing I was looking forward to.
I have owned past Onyx devices, and I had come to know and love the annotation options. The earlier ereaders had a Wacom touchscreen, and you could use the stylus to write notes on the text. There were certain limitations, but being able to scribble, underline, or highlight relevant notes was really cool.
Absent the note-taking, this is simply a more expensive, heavier, and somewhat less desirable alternative to the Kobo Glo or Kindle Paperwhite.
Update: It turns out I was wrong. The annotation features which I recalled using with past Onyx models only ever worked with PDF and images, not Epub or other text based ebooks. Please note that I tried to fact check that feature before posting this review; none of the Onyx reps corrected my mistaken assumption.
Where to Buy
The Firefly seems to only be available in Europe, where it is sold by.
You will be able to get the same ereader (albeit with a different firmware) fromin January. I would suggest that you buy from the latter site, even though it is more expensive. I have found that eReader-Store.EU doesn’t exactly want to communicate with me. The alternate model is also worth considering because it has a better TTS engine. According to the website it will use the Ivona engine.
- HD E-ink screen (758×1024)
- Frontlight, IR Touchscreen
- 800MHz Freescale i.MX508 CPU
- 4GB Flash, micro SD card slot
- supported Formats: FB2, TXT, PDF, DJVU, DJV, IW44, IW4, RTF, HTML, PRC, MOBI, CHM, EPUB, DOC, HTML, TCR, CBR, CBZ
- Weight 250g
- Size: 171 ? 124.8 ? 10.9 mm
- Additional features: Text-to-Speech, Dictionaries, Widgets, Web Browser, Music Player