Kindle Alternatives: E-Ink Devices

Cosmos

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Since I'm using E-Ink devices for reading, note-taking, smartphone capabilities and music and refused to use the pretty limiting and "evil" Amazon-Kindle devices, I was searching for alternatives a number of years ago and thought I should share what I'm using.

As usual for me, I researched the topic of e-ink devices quite extensively before I decided to use the ones from a company called „Onyx Boox“. IMO they are the best you can get and that for very good/reasonable prices.

I have two devices from that company. The one I'm using for reading is called „Poke 2“. They sell a newer updated version of it now which is called „Poke 3“ which is essentially the same device with small upgrades such as a USB-C port.

They have many different types of e-ink readers and tablets in different sizes, with different features and for different purposes.

Here is a comparison chart of all their current readers/tablets:


Recently I also bought the „Nova Air“ tablet for writing and note-taking from them (in addition with a handy magnetic case which adds two physical push buttons to the system). I use both devices daily, and I’m very satisfied.

You can get quite a number of their products pretty easily online within germany/europe.

For anyone interested, I can highly recommend the following YouTube channel when it comes down to knowledge and reviews about e-ink devices:

https://youtube.com/c/MyDeepGuide

Here he is reviewing both of the above-mentioned devices that I’m using:



In terms of features, the devices from Onyx Boox can do pretty much everything the Kindle can do (including a sophisticated front light system that is designed around eliminating blue light and flickering). In fact, they can do much more since they are open systems based on the Android platform. So they are very customizable. They can read and work with pretty much every file formats without restrictions. You can read through the specs yourself, since there is a lot I won't mention now.
 

Cosmos

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I also own a Chinese E-ink smartphone device. Sounds crazy, but yes, those exist! The one I bought has a color E Ink screen! Yes, color E-ink exists. I have loaded all my books into that device and all my music and videos etc. and it is primarily meant to be a safety/emergency storage/device which is stored in my Faraday bag. It has a dedicated HIFI chip in it, since it is also primarily meant to be a great music device. Thus, if you have good headphones that support HIFI quality, the sound of the music coming out of this device is just amazing! I've compared the music quality with a number of other devices and can say the music coming out of this device is the best (from those I compared). It also has a superpower-saving mode with which you can use the device for a pretty long time without recharging, which is pretty much unheard of in smartphones. And many other capabilities since it is a smartphone.

It is from a company called "Hisense". There are just a handful of smartphone producers out there that use/try the E-Ink technology and from my research the ones from "Hisense" are by far the best. The prices are pretty cheap/reasonable too. The device I have is called "Hisense A5 Pro CC". Here is a review:


"Hisense" has/is producing a number of different E-Ink smartphones (some in the normal black and white format, others also with color) and normal smartphones as well. Here is a partial list:


During my research I noticed that finding the true number of devices from that company is difficult since they constantly bring out new stuff and nobody really knows (at least in the west) if there is a new one out that hasn't been listed or mentioned in the western internet.

But it should be mentioned that you have to do quite some digging and find solutions in order to download apps since it has no google store. It works, though, but with detours.

PS: By the way, since the "Hisense A5 Pro CC" has USB-OTG, you can use the internet, watch videos etc. via an Ethernet connection, so you don't have to turn on the evil rays.
 
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aimarok

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One way to make Kindle less evil is Koreader application. I use it on Kobo device for a long time, but I only use it as a reader. For more complicated activity laptop is a way better choice IMO.
 

gottathink

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Thanks so much for this info
Can anyone make a recommendation for a large screen to read A4 PDFs (scientific journals) capable of incorporating hand written annotations?
A few years ago, when I started looking for something like this they weren’t yet on the market but seemed to be in development.
 

brandon

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Thanks for the reccs @Cosmos ! I've been thinking of buying a new kindle because I lent mine to my grandma and am having some trouble getting it back 😅 Bless her. She loves it, since she can't easily get library books now.

How long does the Poke 2 battery generally last you with normal use? Matter of weeks, like a kindle?

@gottathink some of these Onyx ones Cosmos was talking about sound like they'd do the job.. eg 'MAX Lumi' has a 13.3 inch screen! only slightly smaller than an actual A4 page.. and lets you draw/write on the page with a stylus. A bit pricey though!
 

Cosmos

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@gottathink some of these Onyx ones Cosmos was talking about sound like they'd do the job.. eg 'MAX Lumi' has a 13.3 inch screen! only slightly smaller than an actual A4 page.. and lets you draw/write on the page with a stylus. A bit pricey though!

Yes there are a number of bigger options from them that can do that including older versions that you can probably find for cheaper prices. There are also other Brands/Companies but as I said I think Onyx Boox is the best. One thing to look out for though is the pen issue that guy in the first video of the first post points out. Only the Nova Air has a fairly good one that attaches easily as well. That might have changed for newer models thought by now.
 
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KS

Jedi Master
I really like my Boox Nova 2. Really good device, backlight illumination is really useful when reading at the night. I've bought one after my third Kindle died a few days after the warranty. Was surprised by note-taking, it feels really good and is quite usable. Taking notes on PDF or EPUB is also a great feature. Nova 2 is too small for reading some PDF documents, it has the ability to reflow content, but sometimes it is not usable. A lot of superlatives, so it is easier to write what didn't like:

- Onyx stopped releasing OS updates in April. New features aren't a must, bo it's good to have security updates.
- Onyx has shady business practices. They are violating the Linux kernel license, and It seems that this is the standard practice for them.
- Integrated book store is not really usable.
- It lacks some polish: some of the system apps are native e-Ink applications, some not (ex. Calendar).
 

Persej

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This isn't a technology for E-Ink devices, but it does change how the picture is presented on screens. Is it a good or a bad thing I don't know, but it is something that could potentially be useful for reading.

 

Persej

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Something interesting came out of AMD. It changes the way that the static picture is presented on the screen, similar to the feature that is presented in my previous post. We still don't know which products will use this feature.

With regard to the video card, FreeSync has also got an interesting new feature, FreeSync PSR-SU. FreeSync PSR-SU also has a power-saving feature that allows only those parts of the screen that have actually changed to be updated. The feature also includes PSR-SU Rate Control, which reduces the refresh rate for full-screen video playback for those parts that update at all.


FreeSync PSR-SU dynamically brings down refresh-rate to sync with what's being displayed on screen. If there's a 24 FPS video playback, panel refresh-rate is brought down to match the frame-rate. Selective update allows different regions of the display to update at a different rate.

 
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