Xiaomi has been making eBook readers with E Ink displays for a few years, but now the company is throwing its hat into the growing ePaper tablet space with the launch of the Xiaomi Note.
It’s a 10.3 inch Android 11 tablet with a black and white E Ink display, a 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A55 quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and support for pressure-sensitive pen input. The Xiaomi Note sells for 2,699 CNY (about $385), and it’s up for pre-order now in China, where customers can reserve one for a deposit of 100 CNY (about $14).
Tablets with E Ink displays and digital pen support have been around for a while. Sony has been selling models under the Digital Paper brand for almost a decade. But they’ve picked up steam in recent years with the arrival of niche devices from companies like reMarkable, Onyx BOOX and Bigme. More recently we’ve seen Kobo and Amazon enter the space, and this week Lenovo even launched an E Ink tablet for the Chinese market.
Compared to the competition, the Xiaomi Note looks… pretty much par for the course. It’s a lightweight tablet that weighs 440 grams, or about one pound. That should make it relatively easy to hold in one hand while reviewing eBooks, PDF documents, or other files on a screen large enough that you may not have to resize content that’s designed for an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.
The included pen supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing you to annotate documents, take handwritten notes, or draw images. There are also dual microphone which you can use for voice input or to make voice calls.
And the 3,000 mAh battery should provide weeks of battery life. The tablet has a USB Type-C port and support for up to 18W fast charging (with a 9V/2A charger, although you can also use a 5V/3A charger for 15W fast charging. It also supports dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 5.2.
The Xiaomi Note includes native support for EPUB, PDF, and text files. But it can also handle Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents thanks to the inclusion of WPS Office. And since the operating system is based on Android 11, you should be able to install third-party apps, assuming you can find apps that play well with greyscale screens with low screen refresh rates.
There’s a split-screen mode that lets you view two apps side-by side, in case you want to take notes in one window while viewing content in the other.
Xiaomi’s pen can attach to the side of the tablet magnetically for safe keeping when you’re not using it. And the tablet works with a magnetic case cover as well, which can automatically put the device to sleep when the screen is covered and wake it up when you lift the cover away from the screen.
While I’d be surprised if Xiaomi brought this particular E Ink tablet to North America anytime soon, it’s always interesting to see a major electronics company jump into what was once a very, niche market.