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Onyx Boox Note Air 3c Review: Color E-Ink Tablet With Great Pen

The Onyx Boox Note Air 3c with E-Ink color display and stylus impressed me in my review. However, it’s unsuitable for Netflix and games.

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Onyx Boox Note Air 3c test

The Onyx Boox Note Air 3c is an exciting 10-inch tablet that offers an E-Ink color display and a very good pen. E-Ink is the kind of display you know from e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle. The Air 3c’s can display colors and it’s an Android tablet including Google Play Store. What is it good for? That is what you will learn in this review.

E-Ink Display & Colors

The most important unique selling point of the Onyx Boox Note Air 3c is the 10.3-inch E-Ink color display. If you don’t want an E-Ink display, there’s no point in getting this tablet, because that’s the most important feature. And if you don’t need colors, you can also go for the simple Note Air 3 – the tablet is also available with a traditional black/white E-Ink panel.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c e books

With the Air 3c, we get a so-called Kaleido 3 display from E-Ink, which can display 16 shades of gray and 4096 colors. For black and white content, it has a resolution of 2480 x 1860 pixels, which results in a sharp pixel density of 300ppi. Colors, however, are displayed with 1240 x 930 pixels, so the pixel density is halved.

4096 colors sounds like a lot at first if you imagine over 4000 crayons. However, this is actually very little for a display. Colors are still relatively new on an e-ink screen and you will notice this especially when you look at photos and videos. Although the sharpness is good, the color spectrum is greatly reduced. And the colors don’t look very saturated.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c color display

Nevertheless, I think it’s cool that e-ink screens can display colors now. This is useful if you like reading comics or magazines, for instance. The 10.3 inch color display is particularly suitable for this.

The advantages of E-Ink stay the same. Power is consumed when you turn the page only and change the image. And when you switch on the backlight. In a bright room, in daylight or with a reading lamp, you don’t need the backlight.

Onyx has covered the display with a matt, slightly roughened paper surface. This makes it almost non-reflective and feels more like paper.

One disadvantage of E-Ink remains the low refresh rate. In any case, it is well below 24 frames per second, as you will be familiar with from e-book readers. The Boox Note Air 3c has an ultra-fast mode, which is significantly faster than a typical e-book reader. But even if the YouTube app works without any problems, it’s no fun to watch videos with it.

It is very useful that you can pull out a menu from the bottom left in each app to change settings of the display. There are various modes with which you can either minimize ghosting or ensure a particularly high-quality image. You can also set how often the screen should refresh completely. This allows you to reduce ghosting to 0.

Active Pen: Testing The Stylus

An important feature of the Boox Note Air 3c is the active stylus, which is included. The stylus is made of plastic, has a whole range of replacement tips and a cap and is magnetically attached to the tablet. It never needs to be charged.

The tip is pressure-sensitive and supports up to 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It also recognizes when you hold the pen at an angle. This is useful for shading when drawing. It’s a very good pen that is precise and responds quickly. Similar to the flagships from Samsung and Apple.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c notes app

And thanks to the slightly roughened display, it feels more like you’re writing on real paper or more like writing on cardboard. I think this is much more pleasant than on a smooth display and it’s definitely more fun.

Pre-installed and integrated into the operating system is a notes app, which is simply called “Notes”. You can create and manage different notebooks in this app and they can have as many pages as you like. You can choose whether the notebook consists of blank pages, is lined or checked, and so on.

I really enjoyed writing notes in the app and I actually think that the Note Air 3c is really good if you are looking for a device for handwritten notes.

With an Onyx account, you can synchronize your notes via the cloud and download them to any other device. This works as a PDF or image file, so you can open and read your notes on any other device. So you don’t have to be tied to Onyx in the long term, which is important.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c drawing

You can use it for drawing as well, of course. And it’s just as good for drawing, at least if you draw in black and white. It’s less suitable for colorful artwork due to the limited color palette.

By the way: You can install any note-taking or drawing app from the Google Play Store. Like Notewise or Sketchbook. However, the pen lags a lot in these apps and ink only comes out of the tip with a slight delay. These apps are therefore no fun and if you want to use a third-party note-taking app, this tablet is not for you.

As I said, however, the pre-installed app is a very good one. You can also edit PDFs with it and use handwriting in Word documents. In EPUBs too. So many file formats are supported.

An example: If you have to read a lot of long PDFs for work or university and want to write notes in the margins, it’s well suited for this.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c for annotating PDFs

If, on the other hand, you like to mark sections with a highlighter, I don’t think it’s a good choice. Due to the display, the contrast of black text is significantly lower as soon as you draw over it with a color highlighter.

Design & Build Quality

The Boox Note Air 3c is made entirely of aluminum and has a high-quality feel to it. It has a wide display frame on the left-hand side, making it easy to hold. It’s 5.8mm thin and weighs 430g.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c build quality

Cameras are missing. On the left side, it has a USB C 2.0 port, a microSD card slot and two speakers. The speakers are actually quite decent and Onyx also says that you can listen to audio books with them well. That is indeed the case. It’s also well suited for podcasts.

At the top is the power button, which has a built-in fingerprint reader. It works well. It doesn’t have any other connectors.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c usb c port

You also get a magnetic protective cover with the tablet, which protects it well and allows you to set it up at different angles. It’s just a shame that the USB port is covered when the cover is closed. I wanted to charge it in my backpack with a power bank and had to leave the display unprotected. Usually, the USB port is always exposed on covers.

Hardware & Performance

The Onyx Boox Note Air 3c is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 chipset with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. You can expand this with a microSD card. There is no version with 5G.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c Geekbench 5

Considering the price of $500, the Note Air 3c performs comparatively poorly in my Geekbench 5 benchmark. After all, you can get the iPad 10 for less. But the Note Air 3c doesn’t want to impress with its processor performance, but with its display and stylus.

The Snapdragon 680 is not the fastest in benchmarks, but it is definitely fast enough for all common apps, including YouTube.

Although it often feels as if the tablet is not as fast as other tablets, this is due to the comparatively slow display. I don’t think it’s even possible to notice a faster processor, simply because the display is comparatively slow. Just typical E-Ink.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c chess

Obviously, I don’t recommend it as a gaming tablet because of the screen. Unless you like to play chess and similar games. Because it’s great for that.


The tablet runs Android 12 out of the box and although I have already installed updates, I don’t expect it to get Android 13 and 14. Probably just security updates.

The interface is very customized. The home screen is your library consisting of e-books, PDFs and other documents. Then there is a store where you can download classic literature for free, for the most part. I’ve already mentioned the notes app called “Notes”. And under “Storage” you have access to your files, it’s a file manager.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c books

What’s unique, especially compared to the Kindle Scribe and Huawei MatePad Paper, is that under “Apps” you have full access to your apps including the entire Google Play Store offering. As I said, it’s Android and it’s Google Android. I have Chrome and Gmail installed, as well as YouTube and Feedly and many more.

The tablet is great for surfing the web, Feedly, Gmail and similar apps. Also for working in Microsoft Word, by the way.

Battery Life

I didn’t do my usual YouTube battery test. Although you can watch videos with the device, I don’t think it makes sense and I wouldn’t recommend it for that.

The battery easily lasts a working day if you write down notes, read something and surf the internet. Even more than a day without the backlight. But if you always have it on, you’ll have to charge it at night.

It feels like the battery doesn’t last as long as my Kindle Paperwhite, but I only use that one to read books. I do a lot more with the Note Air 3c, so the battery can last for a shorter time.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c Review: My Conclusion

So, what is my verdict on the Onyx Boox Note Air 3c? That is twofold. I actually really enjoyed using the tablet. I think it’s really great for handwritten notes, it’s also great for reading books, magazines and comics. Also for news and emails. I have a small e-book reader and can well imagine replacing it permanently with the Note Air 3c.

Onyx Boox Note Air 3c books

However, the price is quite high at $500. That’s how much an iPad 10 including Apple Pencil costs and you can also use it to read e-books and take notes, but also play graphically demanding games and watch Netflix. The Note Air 3c is not suitable for the latter.

Obviously, the iPad 10 and comparable tablets do not have an e-ink display or a paper surface. I can therefore recommend the Note Air 3c if you are prepared to spend around $500 on a better e-book reader with an E-Ink color display and a great stylus. That is, if you want to have a device for books and extra handwritten notes in addition to your normal tablet.


Onyx Boox Note Air 3c test
Review: The Onyx Boox Note Air 3c is an excellent tablet if you are looking for an e-ink device specifically for reading e-books and PDFs, as well as for handwritten notes. The two big highlights of the Note Air 3c are the 10.3-inch E-Ink color display with paper surface and the well-designed active stylus included in the scope of delivery. Compared to the competition, it is great that the Google Play Store is pre-installed. It's just a shame that the processor performance isn't as good. Naturally, it's not suitable as an entertainment tablet for videos and games.
  • Chic design
  • Great E-Ink color display
  • Good paper surface
  • Excellent stylus
  • Good notes app
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Google Play Store
  • Weak CPU
  • Android 12 only
  • Limited use cases
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