There are a growing number of devices available with E Ink’s new Kaleido color display technology which allows the company’s electronic paper displays to show up to 4,096 colors while offering the benefits of E Ink including low power consumption, sunlight visibility, and reduced eye strain.

Most of those devices have been designed primarily for reading eBooks and digital comics and periodicals. But the new Onyx BOOX Nova3 Color is basically an Android tablet with support for pen and touch input and an E Ink display.

That means in addition to reading color and black and white content, you can annotate documents with handwritten notes and run third-party Android apps to edit documents, play games, or even watch videos — although some things work better on tablets with E Ink displays.

The BOOX Nova3 Color is now available for $420.

A few things to keep in mind before pulling out your wallet:

  • E Ink Kaleido color displays do not show as many colors as an LCD or AMOLED screen, and the colors tend to look duller due to the way they’re implemented with a color filter over a grayscale E Ink display.
  • That color filter also results in a lower resolution and pixel density when viewing color content. The Onyx BOOX Nova3 Color can display black and white text and graphics at 300 pixels per inch, but color shows up at just 100 pixels per inch.
  • The screen can be viewed using nothing but ambient light, but there are side-lights that illuminate the screen to make it easier to view in dimly lit environments. Unlike some other front-lit eReaders though, the Onyx BOOX Nova3 Color does not have adjustable color temperature for reading with less blue light at night.
  • Screen refresh rates are much lower on E Ink displays than most other modern display types. This makes videos difficult to watch and many games difficult to play. In a review of this eReader, Gizmodo shows that ghosting is also an issue (where a portion of graphics from earlier scenes remains on the screen for a few seconds while new frames of a video are displayed).

On the bright side, the Onyx BOOX Nova3 Color should offer days worth of battery life, the ability to read and annotate documents on a handheld device with pen support, and at least the possibility of trying out Android apps that may not be available for other E Ink Color devices, even if some may not be all that usable on a device with this type of screen.

Here’s a run-down of some key specs for the latest member of the Onyx BOOX family:

Display7.8 inch Kaleido Plus
4096 colors or 16 shades of gray
1872 x 1404 (300 ppi grayscale)
624 x 468 (100 ppi color)
Glass cover
Capacitive touch
Wacom digitizer (4096 levels of pressure with pen)
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 636
Storage32GB eMMC
WirelessWiFi 5
Bluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB Type-C OTG
AudioSpeaker & mic
SoftwareAndroid 10 with custom UI
Dimensions197.3 x 137 x 7.7mm
Weight 265 grams

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