The Onyx Boox Note Air 2 is a welcome refresh to the company’s popular e-reader/tablet hybrid. It’s got a new design, a new processor, more RAM, and support for the latest features from E Ink. It’s not a huge upgrade from the original Note Air, but it’s a definite improvement in almost every way.
Design and hardware
The Note Air 2’s biggest change is in its design. It’s now a bit more angular, with squared-off corners and bezels. The original Note Air had more curves and rounded edges. The new design is a bit more businesslike, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste. I actually prefer the look of the original, but the new design is still attractive.
The other big change is the processor. The Note Air 2 uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, which is a significant upgrade from the original’s Snapdragon 400. That’s the same processor used in the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Forma, so it’s no surprise that the Note Air 2 feels just as snappy as those devices.
The Note Air 2 also has more RAM than the original, now up to 4GB. That’s still not a ton of RAM by tablet standards, but it’s enough to keep things running smoothly.
The rest of the hardware is largely the same as the original Note Air. It has the same 10.3-inch E Ink Carta display with a resolution of 1872×1404 and 227 PPI. It’s still a great display, and Onyx’s front light system is still one of the best in the business. The Note Air 2 is also still running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is a bit of a disappointment. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it would be nice to see Onyx move to a more recent version of Android.
The Note Air 2 does have one new hardware feature that’s worth mentioning: support for fingerprint sensors. Onyx has included a fingerprint sensor in the power button on the side of the device. It works well, and it’s a nice addition.
Software and features
As I mentioned, the Note Air 2 is still running Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That’s not a huge deal, since most of the e-reading apps you’re going to use are still compatible with that version of Android. But it would be nice to see Onyx move to a more recent version of Android, especially since the company is now using a more powerful processor.
The good news is that the Note Air 2 does support all of the latest features from E Ink. That includes the new Carta screensaver, which is a nice addition. It also supports the new E Ink XE platform, which is a big deal for developers. E Ink XE is a new set of APIs that will allow developers to create more immersive and interactive experiences on E Ink devices.
The Note Air 2 comes with a few apps pre-installed, including the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix. But Onyx has also included a few apps that are specific to the E Ink display, like an e-book reader, a PDF reader, and an app for taking notes.
One of the best things about the Note Air 2 is its support for Onyx’s new BOOX Max 2 Pro. The Max 2 Pro is a 13.3-inch E Ink tablet that can be used as a secondary display for the Note Air 2. It’s a great way to get more work done, and it’s a huge advantage over the Kindle Oasis, which doesn’t have a similar feature.
The Note Air 2 is also compatible with Onyx’s new BOOX Pen 2, which is an active pen that supports pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. It’s a great addition for anyone who wants to use the Note Air 2 for drawing or taking notes.
The bottom line
The Onyx Boox Note Air 2 is a great refresh to the company’s popular e-reader/tablet hybrid. It’s got a new design, a new processor, more RAM, and support for the latest features from E Ink. It’s not a huge upgrade from the original Note Air, but it’s a definite improvement in almost every way.
The Note Air 2 is available now from Onyx’s website for $549.99.
Disclosure: Onyx provided me with a review unit of the Note Air 2 for this review.