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Onyx has made a name for itself with its high-end E Ink readers and tablets, offering the full Android and Google experience on E Ink screens. Most recently, the company released the Onyx Boox Tab Ultra, a 10-inch note-taking powerhouse. However, tablets are growing bigger and bigger these days, and that 10-inch screen still doesn’t give you the full letter-sized paper experience. That’s where Onyx’s new tablet comes in, the Boox Tab X.

The 13.3-inch Boox Tab X is as big as the average laptop but comes in at a much lower weight and offers much better battery life. It’s the tool for people who would otherwise juggle sheets of paper, be it because they prefer to take notes with pen and paper or because their profession requires them to read pages upon pages of text. In fact, reviewing this device, I wish I had access to something like it when I was in university. The way the E Ink carta screen emulates paper is a whole different level than an iPad with its mini-LED screen, and thanks to its simple black-and-white palette and comparatively low refresh rate, I am much less likely to drift off into the vastness of the internet.

Let’s dive into what makes this E Ink tablet special for note-taking and document-reading specialists and how it stacks up with the competition.

Onyx Boox Tab X
Onyx Boox Tab X
8 / 10

The Onyx Boox Tab X is somewhere between an Android tablet and an e-reader. It features Android 11 software, but it has a 13.3-inch ePaper screen with stylus support for when you want to read e-books or you want to sketch on the display. With a 6,300mAh battery, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, the Boox Tab X is sporting some high spec but it also has a high price for the pleasure of using it.

13.3-inch Mobius Carta e-ink with Regal support, 256 shades of gray
USB-C with OTG, Wi-Fi ac, Bluetoogh 5.0
Front Light
MOON Light 2
Android 11
310 × 228 × 6.8 mm
Format Support
8-core, 2GHz
  • As close to a regular sheet of paper as it gets thanks to big screen
  • Excellent tools to set up the E Ink screen to your liking for every app
  • Android and the Play Store are on board from the get-go
  • A Wacom-powered stylus with a dedicated eraser
  • Big size can sometimes be unwieldy
  • E Ink still has its disadvantages, especially when running Android
  • No built-in place to store the stylus when not in use
  • Very expensive for a device with such a limited use case

Price, availability, and accessories

The Onyx Boox is available on Amazon and retails for $880. The box includes a stylus and a USB-C to USB-A cable, but that’s all there is on the accessories front. You can optionally purchase Onyx’s original case for both the Tab X and the Max Lumi 2 at $50 from the company’s own store — it’s not available on Amazon at press time.



The Boox Tab X offers an understated dark green design with an aluminum-magnesium alloy back that feels nice to the touch, offering just the right amount of grip. The only thing breaking the understated look is the plastic rim towards the bottom of the tablet, which presumably houses the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas.

Boox also uses it to slap its logo and various regulatory messages on it, many of which could be implemented in software these days (e.g., the FCC logo is no longer required to be imprinted on the back). The plastic flap is accompanied by speakers to its left and right.

When you flip the device around, you’re greeted by the 13.3-inch Carta display, flanked by sizable bezels all around and an even bigger bottom bezel with another Boox branding slapped in the bottom left. The bottom bezel could have been smaller in this day and age, and it breaks the otherwise symmetrical look of the device.


There are likely some technological reasons for this, though, as the Boox tablet feels incredibly thin and light compared to regular Android tablets of the same size. It’s possible that some components just didn’t fit underneath the display and had to be moved to the bezel.

Speaking of the Tab X’s dimensions, the tablet doesn’t only feel thin, it also feels incredibly light. Compared to a MacBook or even a similarly-sized tablet, the E Ink reader invites you to long reading sessions on your couch or in your favorite armchair. Of course, it’s not as light as a 7-inch Kindle Paperwhite, that’s just physically not possible. For its size, the Tab X offers a balanced compromise.

Display and stylus


The 13.3-inch screen is about as big as a DIN-A4-sized sheet of paper, the standard size used in Europe for documents. That’s a bit taller than a letter-sized sheet, but it’s close enough to make for a comfortable reading experience even when using the default US letter format. If you’re someone who juggles documents like these on a daily basis, this is objectively the best form factor to be working on.

To get into more technical details, the screen is an E Ink Mobius Carta display that offers a resolution of 1650 x 2200, which is about 207 pixels per inch. The black and white display can display up to 16 shades of gray, which can be upped to 256 programmatically. Like other Onyx tablets, the Tab X offers different refresh mode options that either sacrifice speed for less ghosting or offer a better-quality image at a much lower refresh rate. You can set your preferred mode on a per-app basis, and tweak the display even further depending on what you use it for.

The screen also offers backlighting with two sets of LEDs offering cold and warm lights. You can mix and match these two depending on your preferences, which is particularly great for late-night reading sessions. Onyx also boasts that it uses flicker-free technology for its LEDs, which is supposed to help against eye fatigue and headaches during extended use.


The touch screen supports two different input methods. It offers the usual multi-touch capacitive layer on top of the screen for any gestures and finger-based input, but it also has a Wacom-powered sensor layer underneath the E Ink panel itself. This gives the included stylus up to 4096 pressure points, making the sketching and note-taking experience as close to real paper as it can be. In my testing, this works phenomenally well, but you do notice a lag between the input itself and the lines you’re drawing appearing on the screen.

The top of the stylus features an eraser, which is activated with a little bit of pressure. It's definitely nice to have a dedicated option for this, much in contrast to competitors like the iPad. When you remove it by gently prying it off, you’ll find a replacement tip hidden within the stylus, in case the pre-mounted one gets lost or breaks. On other Boox tablets, the stylus can be attached magnetically, but sadly, this option is inexplicably lacking on the Boox Tab X.



Onyx may offer access to the Play Store right on its device, but its pre-installed suite of apps is much different than on other Android device types. Onyx doesn’t have any of the usual Google apps pre-installed, but instead offers a selection of its own apps that are better optimized for the black-and-white screen and the slower E Ink refresh rate.

The most important app and the one that you will likely spend the most time in is the Library, which also serves as a document and e-book reader. It collects all the PDF and ePub files you could need in a single location and offers the best integration with the included stylus. It’s a bit of a bummer that the app has quite the learning curve, though.

The toolbar icons aren’t labeled, and while most of them make sense, there are a few that might throw you off. That’s particularly maddening as the screen is big enough to include labels for everything, and in fact, some of the buttons do offer labels that explain what they’re used for. At least Onyx offers a fully translated interface these days, something that couldn't be said a few years ago.


One of the most beneficial features that makes perfect use of the big screen is the split-screen option. When viewing PDF files, you can enter the split-screen mode by tapping the button in the bottom right corner, and you can either put two documents side-by-side or put a new sheet from the notepad app next to it.

When you opt for the latter option, you can easily take notes with the stylus all while reading in a still comfortably big enough space. You can choose between vertical and horizontal split screens, but sadly, you can’t set a default order for the screens. As a lefty who ends up covering the PDF file with my hand while writing, I always have to pull down the notification shade and flip the split-screen manually to make it work better for me.

A recent post-launch software update also added native cloud storage integration. This gives you access to all the documents in your preferred cloud provider. The biggest caveat right now is that uploading new files isn't supported. Thankfully, embedded PDF annotations and such are synced back to the cloud storage, so this might still be a useful addition. The update also adds a typing option for the Notepad app, which could easily make the Boox a great distraction-free writing machine when you pair it with an external keyboard.


Included with the pre-installed apps is the Google Play Store. This gives you access to the virtually unlimited number of Android apps out there, and it will come in handy when you want to use it for reading articles saved to Pocket, access your Kindle books, or borrow something from your local library via a service like Libby, or be able to download your documents straight from your cloud storage provider.

Android apps that aren’t optimized for the black and white E Ink screen still run surprisingly well, and the default preset settings are usually good enough.

The biggest bummer for an Android enthusiast is the outdated OS version that the Boox Tab X is using: Android 11. That’s two versions behind the current stable release, Android 13, and it’s going to look even bleaker in a few months when Android 14 is released.

Onyx’s flavor of Android is heavily customized, though, so there might be some technical hurdles in updating the device to more recent versions.

Android’s modular nature makes it possible to keep applications secure and running for a long time, but it’s still a bummer to see an Android tablet released with such an outdated version. Onyx’s flavor of Android is heavily customized, though, so there might be some technical hurdles in updating the device to more recent versions.

I also don’t love that Onyx opted for gesture navigation by default, especially since the tablet doesn’t offer any helpful animations to show you where your action is going to take you. Instead, you have to remember that a swipe from the left or right side of the screen is back and that a swipe up is home, all without any visual aid guiding you.

The problem gets worse because Onyx has added a few more shortcuts to the tablet, like a swipe up from the bottom right for screen options, which you need to remember. This is one of the few instances where I prefer button navigation over gesture navigation in this day and age.

Performance and battery life


Even with a Snapdragon processor, the Onyx Boox Tab X feels slow. That’s just the nature of E Ink devices with their special paper-like technology. There has been quite some innovation in recent years in the sector, but E Ink displays still offer slow refresh rates and can’t deal well with moving images. For this product, this is mostly an advantage, though, as it makes you less likely to venture into the internet for entertainment when you’re actually supposed to be reading a text. Underneath the screen, the Boox sometimes needs extra moments to think about actions, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary, especially when the screen is one of the slowest components in the tablet.

On the bright side, the Onyx Boox Tab X offers phenomenal battery life. That’s to be expected from a device with a low-power screen that draws virtually no power while displaying content, coupled with a 6,300mAh battery. During the three weeks I’ve tested the device, I’ve only had to recharge it once, and that was likely due to some rogue application drawing battery in standby.

Even with a Snapdragon processor, the Onyx Boox Tab X feels slow.

During regular note-taking usage with the screen light turned off, I lost about six percent of battery life in a one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting. You really don’t have to worry about recharging the tablet during a normal day — maybe even a week of medium to light usage.

As for standby battery life, it’s usually great, too. You can leave the device sitting for a week and lose less than 10 percent of the battery, all without properly turning it off. There was just one instance during my testing period where I found the tablet dead after just a few days, but the Wi-Fi network I was using was unstable. It’s possible that this is what threw the device off.


At its $880 price tag, the Boox Tab X is right up there with the Android and iPad competition. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8+ is just a tad more expensive at $900 (and can be had for much less these days) and offers everything the Tab X offers and then some. It has a regular color LED display, the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, Android 13, and cameras on the back and front. If you care for a more regular tablet experience including an optional desktop mode that can partially replace your laptop when you’re on the go, the Galaxy Tab S8+ is the smarter choice. You forgo all the advantages that an E Ink screen gives you, though, and the note-taking experience isn’t comparable on Samsung's offering, even if it includes an S Pen as well.

If you want to stick with an E Ink display but don’t want to pay this much money, Onyx’s own Tab Ultra could be worth considering at $600. The Tab Ultra comes with a little smaller 10.3-inch screen, but otherwise packs much of the same features its bigger sibling has. It even offers a camera on the back, which the Tab X doesn’t have.

If that still seems like a steep price to you (which it is), you might also want to look into the Amazon Kindle Scribe at $340. It comes with a 10.2-inch screen, includes a stylus, and offers a similar experience. However, it doesn’t run Android, which means that it only has a small selection of pre-installed and compatible apps, and adding editable PDFs is a chore. The Scribe is great if you care more about reading Manga and other formats that benefit from a big screen, but note-taking and document editing is decidedly an afterthought on it.

Should you buy it?

The Onyx Tab X is a powerhouse for anyone working with documents day in and out. At $880, it costs a pretty penny, too. That is also something that makes it hard to recommend when compared to the competition, especially full-blown tablets that offer much more than just a reading experience at the same price or at much less.

However, you know exactly what you will get with the Tab X — a device laser-focused on editing and working with big documents, on a canvas that’s as big as a real sheet of paper. If you’re someone who hates reading on an LED screen and who likes the idea of taking a step back from colorful and attention-grabbing technology, the Tab X can very well be worth its price.

Onyx Boox Tab X
Onyx Boox Tab X
8 / 10

The Onyx Boox Tab X is somewhere between an Android tablet and an e-reader. It features Android 11 software, but it has a 13.3-inch ePaper screen with stylus support for when you want to read e-books or you want to sketch on the display. With a 6,300mAh battery, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, the Boox Tab X is sporting some high spec but it also has a high price for the pleasure of using it.