tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

If you"re someone who loves to write notes by hand, an E Ink tablet could be a good fit. Not only do they provide an excellent reading and writing experience, they also boast a long battery life, while letting you save paper in the process. An E Ink tablet combines the distraction-free and easy-reading environment of a Kindle-style

The ReMarkable 2 is the best E Ink tablet for students who love to take lots of handwritten notes. It is only 0.19 inch thick and 0.88 pound, which makes it light and easy to carry in your backpack.This 10.3-inch tablet uses a monochrome digital display with a resolution of 226 DPI. The writing and text looks clear and sharp, and you can choose from over 40 different page templates for notes, including seven options just for musical notation. The software is easy to use, with clear buttons at the top for you to add notebooks and folders. It has 8GB of internal storage and now includes handwriting conversion and Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive integration. Those services used to be part of ReMarkable"s Connect subscription, but are now included for free with every device. The Connect subscription itself still exists, but now costs $3 a month instead of $8. It offers a ReMarkable 2 protection plan, along with unlimited cloud storage and the ability to add notes in your notebooks when you"re on mobile and desktop devices.

The included stylus doesn"t require pairing or charging but supports tilt detection and a standard 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Practically speaking, it offers the most realistic writing experience of any tablet I"ve ever used. The screen has a paper-like feel, which gives the pen a level of friction that feels incredibly true to life.

The ReMarkable 2 also shines with PDFs. Highlights automatically straighten themselves and turn a legible shade of gray without any needed adjustment. You can add pages to PDFs for extra notes or write in the margins with ease. The ReMarkable"s thinness, two-week battery life, pen input and PDF management capabilities made this E Ink tablet my favorites.

That being said, the ReMarkable 2 isn"t without faults. The biggest issue is that it lacks any kind of backlight, which could be a deal breaker. Much like an actual book or notebook, this device requires an external light source to use in the dark. Even the cheapest Kindle now has front light illumination for night time use. It also doesn"t function particularly well as an e-reader, as the only formats it supports are PDF and unprotected epub. That means that you won"t be able to access your Kindle content or any other epub books with digital rights management software, which includes almost all legally purchasable ebooks on the market.

Ultimately, I found this tablet to be incredibly useful. This is the cheapest E Ink tablet on our list, but it"s still essentially just a PDF and note-taking device.

The Boox Note Air 2 is the most tablet-like E Ink device I tested. This 10.3-inch tablet features a resolution of 227 DPI, runs on a customized version of the Android 11 operating system and even has its own app store, where you can download third-party apps that have been optimized for the device. And yes, while it doesn"t come pre-baked into the system, there is a way to access the full Google Play store – though I wouldn"t recommend it for anything other than downloading an e-reading app, as the Boox still has an E Ink display and isn"t made for games or video. A step-by-step on how to get the Google Play store installed is in this hands-on review of a previous model.

Also, the Boox comes with only 64GB of nonexpandable storage, so you don"t want apps filling up your system. The company does offer 5GB of cloud storage from its own service for free to help transfer documents to the device, though you can also use Dropbox, Evernote and OneNote.

The biggest benefit of the apps store is that you"ll have access to your entire collection of books from your Kindle, Nook and Kobo library. You can also download the Libby app for library books, and Marvel Unlimited users can download the app and read comics, though not in color. The Note Air 2 includes speakers and a microphone, allowing you to listen to audiobooks from Audible or other audiobook apps.

This is a great selling point of the device, but I found the in-app experience to be less than ideal. Many of the features that make the Note Air 2 unique are disabled in third-party apps. For example, you won"t be able to use the pen to take notes or highlights in books on the Kindle app. Instead, you"ll have to type in notes you want to take, like using the app on any other tablet. To write directly onto books, you"ll need to have them in DRM-free ebook format. Luckily, the Boox supports a wide range of formats including PDF, epub, DOC and Mobi.

Note-taking and PDF management are strong on the Note Air 2 but not as seamless as on the ReMarkable 2. Highlights aren"t automatically straightened, and users have to choose the color and width of the marker. The Note Air 2 provides 16 options of grayscale color, but they all look the same on the device, leaving highlights looking dark and messy. The included stylus also features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity but lags ever so slightly when writing across the page. On the plus side, you can include audio recordings for more accurate retention. The Note Air 2 also lets you open a PDF and notebook at the same time in a split-screen view, giving you the ability to read and take notes all at once.

Like the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis, the Boox Note Air 2 comes with a warm and cold front light to help make the screen easier on the eyes and give it a more paper-like look. You can easily adjust both lights with a swipe-down menu. Plus, it also measures its battery life in weeks, not days.

You might see that the company has recently announced a Note Air 2 Plus. I haven"t tried that one, but it"s almost identical to the original Air 2 -- just with a bigger battery, which also makes it very slightly heavier.

Kobo might be a smaller company than Amazon, but it"s been making e-readers for just about as long. While Amazon once made a 9.7-inch Kindle, the product never offered natural input with a touchscreen or stylus and was discontinued in 2014. More recently, Kobo was first with a waterproof e-reader, and it"s the first of the major e-reading players to make a 10.3-inch device with a stylus.

Like most Kobos, the Elipsa is an excellent e-reader and offers battery life measured in weeks, depending on use. Unlike Kindles, Kobos have a seemingly limitless ability to customize the reading experience. You can play continuously with margins, line spacing, fonts and font size to get a page that looks exactly how you want to, no matter the size of the screen. The included stylus can be used on any PDF or Kobo ePub, so it works just as well on library books as it does on books from the Kobo store.

Speaking of the library, Kobo is known for its deep integration with the ebook library service OverDrive. You can easily access, browse and download library books directly from your device, so long as your local library uses OverDrive. Borrowing an ebook from the New York Public Library was a seamless experience and one that makes all Kobos a must-have for library lovers.

Unfortunately, the Elipsa"s note-taking capabilities are lacking. There is a noticeable lag when writing with the stylus for any length of time, and the notebook features are fairly basic. Only four templates are available in the basic notebooks and only a single lined template in the advanced notebooks. Advanced notebooks do let you insert drawings, diagrams, math equations and a free-form section, while also offering the ability to convert your handwriting to text. There are only a few pen types to choose from and only five pen brush sizes.

The Kobo Elipsa has 32GB of storage, a resolution of 227 DPI and a blue front light, but it lacks the warm light of the Boox. While this E Ink tablet misses the mark on long-from writing, it excels as a large-screen, library-friendly e-reader with the ability to scribble in the margins.

The Kindle Scribe comes with a fantastic 300 ppi, 10.2-inch display that is evenly lit and perfect for large-format reading. The writing experience is also very pleasant and natural, but the Scribe"s software limitations keep this device from soaring.

The Scribe looks and feels like an extra large Kindle Paperwhite or Oasis, though it lacks the physical page-turning buttons of Amazon"s premium e-reader. Words look crisp and clear, while the device itself is fast and responsive.

The Scribe"s notebooks are easy to use, but lacking in features compared to other E Ink Tablets. You can export your notebooks via email, but there"s no Dropbox or any other third-party support. There are 18 notebook templates available, including six lined options, graphing paper, musical notation and to-do lists. All of that is great, but these notebooks lack any smart features. For example, there"s no way to insert equations or convert your handwriting to text.

Similarly, writing in books and documents is too limited to be useful to serious highlighters and doodlers. That"s because Amazon doesn"t actually let you write directly on the page in anything other than a PDF. Instead, you"ll need to write on "sticky notes" if you want to handwrite a note in a book or even a Word Doc. Not only does this prevent you from scribbling in the margins of books, it also means you"ll need to take a separate action to start writing at all.

The sticky notes are then collected automatically in your Notes and Highlights section, where they are presented without any of the context in which you wrote them. It does allow you to jump to the page on which a note was written by tapping on your markings. This is great in theory, but is confusing if you have more than one note on each page, as it doesn"t pinpoint the exact location where the note was created. The Scribe also doesn"t let you write any kind of notes at all on manga, comics, graphic novels, magazines or newspapers.

Currently, you are allowed to write directly on the page in PDFs, but the experience isn"t great. The pen itself works well, but dealing with documents is more difficult than it should be. When you"re in a PDF, you aren"t able to adjust the font size or layout, so instead you have to pinch to zoom in order to enlarge or reposition the document. That part works well, and it"s not too hard to find a level that works best for you. However, once you"re positioned in your PDF, you can"t stay there. The Scribe makes it impossible to maintain your current zoom levels from one page to the next. Instead, you have to zoom all the way out again in order to swipe to the next page, just to reposition it all over again. This is a huge pain and makes reading long PDFs cumbersome and frustrating.

Ultimately, the Scribe is great if you want a large-screen e-reader or are eager to handwrite sticky notes in Amazon books. But it just isn"t quite good enough at either PDFs or in-line note-taking to recommend it as anything other than a gigantic, but excellent, Kindle.

Every E Ink tablet undergoes extensive hands-on testing. In this case, each tablet was used for one week of rehearsal in a professional theatrical production. This involved evaluating the set-up process, loading PDFs and books onto the devices, and using both the device and included stylus as a script during full six-hour days of rehearsal. Tasks included highlighting, taking notes in the margins, and creating and taking detailed notes in notebooks. We also downloaded ebooks onto the device and used it as a recreational e-reader.

Anecdotally, we considered the hardware design and features, stylus capabilities, overall ease of use, effective UI layouts, notebook settings, E Ink settings, PDF markup capabilities, e-reading settings and format compatibility, app support and performance, and the overall speed and reliability of the system.

Both e-readers and E Ink tablets use E Ink technology to render words and images on the page. They both offer a distraction-free experience that"s easier on the eyes than a traditional LCD color screen.

E-readers tend to be smaller than size and focus only on the experience of reading a book or PDF. E Ink tablets offer e-reading features but also include the ability to use a stylus to write notes in a digital notebook and/or in the margins of PDFs and ebooks. Since handwriting is integral to the E Ink tablet experience, the devices themselves tend to be bigger in order to more closely approximate the size of a sheet of paper.

E Ink tablets are best suited for people who enjoy writing notes or sketching by hand and who need to read and markup lots of PDF or DRM-free ebooks. They could be a particularly good fit for students, lawyers or any other professional in need of a digital, distraction-free note-taking device.

tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

I was absolutely broke in college. Like 17-dollars-in-my-bank-account broke. I could hardly buy food, let alone books. If it weren’t for older editions and crudely scanned textbook PDFs, I literally would not have been able to study along with my fellow students.

What I lacked then, and what we still kind of lack now, is an E Ink platform for textbooks. Right now we have to choose between paperback-sized e-readers like the Kindle or the Kobo and full-blown tablets like the iPad or the Galaxy Tab S7, but technical-book-sized E Ink readers either haven’t been available or have been so absurdly priced that they haven’t really reached the mainstream.

That is starting to change. Perhaps most importantly is the E Ink display technology itself. E Ink is a brand, and its 10.3-inch Carta displays are finally making their way into consumer electronics. This 10.3-inch display has found its way into the reMarkable 2 tablet that Ray Wong, our reviews editor, wrote about back in November, and it’s the display that powers the Onyx Boox Note Air that we’re talking about today.

Unlike the reMarkable 2, the Note Air runs a modified version of Android 10, which is why it first caught my attention. You can run regular Android apps, opening the door to a number of use cases that feature-specific e-readers like the reMarkable, Kindle, and Sony’s Digital Paper, just don’t offer. Though, as we’ll see in a moment, not every Android app that runs is compatible with the E ink display.

Before we get into the specifics of the Onyx Boox Air, let’s talk about these use cases. In theory, a device with an E Ink display should have insane battery life. It should also be extremely easy to read and take notes on.

Other writers and editors at Inputhave taken the plunge on a couple of distraction-free writing devices. One of them is the Freewrite, which also has an E Ink display (albeit a smaller one) and a dedicated keyboard. Another is ancient the Alphasmart Neo 2, which performs similarly but has an older black-and-white LCD.

As an editor, distraction-free writing was high on my list of things to try on an E Ink tablet, but reading naturally follows close behind. I should be able to load up the New York Times or the Washington Post app and enjoy the paper on, uh, e-paper. It just makes sense. I should be able to load up Pocket and slurp down articles like a pro. Perhaps there are doctors and lawyers out there that need to read academic papers?

So can the Note Air be the all-in-one convergence E Ink device that makes all these special-purpose reading and writing machines irrelevant? Almost. It’s complicated.

Onyx has actually been making Android E Ink devices for a while now, but the Note Air and the larger Max Lumi are the company’s first that really look like fully-baked consumer products. Past versions have shipped with very old versions of Android and lacked a real, coherent industrial design language.

When I saw the Note Air announcement, I thought that had really changed. Instead of a generic gray slab with an E Ink display, the Note Air was unveiled with a handsome blue paint job with orange accents, and even though that might not be for everyone, it looks like the team at Onyx really tried to give this device some identity.

Plus, the Note Air comes with a fairly modern processor and Android 10, so at least within this niche, the Note Air really stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to raw performance.

One thing you’ll notice, though, is that the battery is surprisingly small at 3,000 mAh. Samsung’s Tab S7 has a 8,000 mAh battery, or about 2.6x as much power. We’ll come back to this.

For a device maker out of China that you’ve probably never heard of, the Note Air is only slightly worse than you’d expect after seeing the pictures. For one thing, the paint that Onyx is using scratches very easily. The screen is also set about half of a millimeter behind the glass, and the mask that Onyx uses to paint around the screen is actually slightly off on my model, meaning that if there’s text that’s aligned all the way to the left of the screen, it will be just slightly obscured by the screen mask. Not a deal breaker, but definitely something to look out for.

Speaking of the screen, its matte finish attracts smudges like crazy. Seriously, if you have anything other than freshly washed hands, expect some real grime to accumulate. On the one hand this matte finish makes writing on the Note Air with its included stylus a real joy, but on the other hand it makes the devices extremely slippery. Expect it to slip off of tables, couches, chairs, or anything with a mild slope.The battery is surprisingly small at 3,000 mAh.

Speaking of the screen, it’s beautiful to look at but there are limitations. Reading on this large E Ink screen is brilliant, but if you get close you can see the pixels pretty easily as this screen is only 1,872 x 1,404. However, Onyx has also included both warm and cool LEDs around the edges of the screen, which is something you"ll only find on the more premium e-readers out there. It would be nice if Onyx could find a way to automatically adjust the color temperature, but I will happily accept the ability to do it manually over having just one tone to work with. Heck, my ancient Kindle doesn"t even have a backlight.

Overall though, the Note Air as a material object is pretty good, but the quality is still years behind what you"ll get with a tablet from a more well-known brand like Apple or Samsung. It’s completely functional, but that tiny attention to detail just isn’t there. Did I mention that my review sample is slightly curved?

When I first powered on the Note Air I was delightfully surprised that the company had several updates queued up that improve small details like system UI translations. For Chinese companies making somewhat generic Android products, this is extremely rare. It’s fantastic to see Onyx supporting its products like this, and I hope that other vendors adopt do the same, even if the updates are small and mostly for polishing out small bugs and mistranslations.

Once the device is up and running, you’ll notice that Onyx has created a totally custom UI on top of Android for the Note Air, and you’ll quickly find out why. The slow refresh rate of the E Ink display breaks some of Android’s default interface paradigms, so Onyx had to do some work to mitigate those issues.

One of those mitigations is the launcher, which uses left-aligned tabs to separate your library of books, Onyx’s book store, the Notes section, the Storage section, and, finally, the Apps folder. For a device like this, I actually appreciate Onyx’s approach of focusing on the most common out-of-the-box use cases when designing the launcher. Plus, I love a wireframe interface (RIP Holo UI.)

The next change to Android is just a bit of remixing in the notification shade. Up top you can see where Onyx has hidden Android’s classic navigation buttons (though you can enable some rudimentary gestures in the system settings) followed by some Quick Settings tiles, some of which are custom for the Note Air, like the refresh rate settings. With these you can tune the refresh rate of the display to be slower with less ghosting or faster with more ghosting. I’ve found that Onyx’s “A2 Mode” is nice and quick for typing, but for everything else I tend to leave in “Normal Mode.”

Then there’s the floating utility button that Onyx called the Navigation Ball. If you’re an Android user, you’re probably familiar with Chat Heads and other various floating button paradigms in Android, and here Onyx has deployed the button to give you quick access to a bunch of different handy things like a back button and a button to force the screen to refresh (which gets rid of ghosting if you’re in the faster modes.) You can also customize the button by adding and removing features so that you can keep it tidy.

This is what we"re all here for, right? The defining feature of Onyx’s E Ink tablets is the ability to run regular Android apps. This means that you can use your own e-book reader app, your own web browser, or whatever else suits your fancy.

But, as I’ve alluded to above, there are compatibility issues with the E Ink display. Every app I’ve tried has run, but whether you’ll be able to make anything out on the screen is another matter entirely.

Before you can get your apps, you have to do a little song-and-dance to get the Google Play Store on your tablet. You have to go into the settings, tap “Enable Google Play,” log in, and then generate yourself a “GSF ID,” which is some kind of back-end Google Play ID. This didn’t work perfectly for me the first time, but with just a bit of fiddling I was able to get it going. That said, if you’re not experienced at mucking around with Android, this will probably seem daunting.

Once I had that out of the way, I was able to use the Google Play store just like normal. It definitely looks weird in monochrome, but it’s fine. I loaded up just a few apps, like iA Writer (for distraction-free writing, of course), Pocket, Google Maps, Lithium (my e-book reader of choice), Google Drive, and Today Weather (which I chose because it’s mostly monochrome anyway.)

It should be noted that Onyx includes its own app store which does have a pretty good (though certainly not extensive) curation of apps, but Onyx didn"t get permission from the app developers to use them, so their origin is, frankly, questionable. I appreciate Onyx"s YOLO mentality here, but I would recommend doing the work to get apps through the Play Store.

Anyway, once you have the apps you want on your device, they will start up just like any other. Pocket, for example, needed a little tweaking to make it look right on the E Ink screen, and for that you just need to tap on the Navigation Ball and enter the “App Optimization” settings. Here you can set the refresh rate mode and, critically, the contrast of various UI elements within the app. I could run through each setting, but I just played around with the sliders until the app looked legible. For Pocket this made the app perfectly usable, but in Lithium’s case (the e-book app), there was no amount of tweaking or fiddling that could make the app usable.

Let’s talk about the use case that piqued my interest in the first place: writing. Onyx’s press pictures show the Note Air working with a Bluetooth keyboard. E Ink laptop!?I thought, imagining an E Ink MacBook Pro with forever battery life. Unfortunately the keyboard that comes with the Note Air is a generic Bluetooth “tablet” keyboard. I was hugely disappointed to be honest; this keyboard is the technology equivalent of a paper-thin H&M shirt destined for a landfill.

I didn’t have a tablet stand that worked perfectly for the Note Air, so I 3D printed one and was off to the races. Once iA Writer was in the A2 screen mode I mentioned earlier I was blasting out copy like a total boss with minimal screen lag and a tolerable level of ghosting. I loved this, and I think devices like the Freewrite are really moving toward a fantastic, if niche, product category.

That’s the thing though; ergonomically it would be far better to have a custom made keyboard for the Note Air. Given how slippery the device is, it’s actually quite difficult to keep it standing upright while you bang away on a wireless keyboard. Getting a little too enthusiastic about distraction-free writing? Get ready for this sucker to slide.

In addition to Onyx’s perfectly serviceable e-book reading app that comes packaged with the device, you can download the Kindle app in Onyx’s app store or the Play Store. This ability to bring in basically any book you’ve purchased in the past, across whatever ecosystem, is unique to the Boox Air. The reMarkable 2, for example, can’t access your Kindle library, and neither can Kobo tablets, or any other “dumb” e-reader.

The crowning glory, in my opinion at least, is being able to read my Pocket queue on an E Ink display without jumping through any hoops. Truly, it’s a dream come true. Would this motivate me to read everything I dump into Pocket? Absolutely not.

If you have any E Ink devices in your life right now, you’re probably used to measuring its battery life in weeks, not hours. As you"ve probably guessed at this point in the review, the battery life on the Note Air is its major downfall.

With the backlight on, the Note Air has egregiously short battery life. We’re talking maybe a day of casual use with the backlight on. For an E Ink tablet, that’s just not acceptable. It’s true that you don’t have to use the backlight most of the time, but these days my eyes aren’t the best, and I found myself using the backlight more than I expected during these short winter days.

Battery life with the backlight offis much better, but still not what you’d expect. To be fair, other E Ink tablets aren’t connected to Wi-Fi all the time and switching between fairly heavy apps, but the Note Air costs $479, which is more than I bought my Galaxy Tab S6 for and more than Apple’s base-level iPad. I did a little bit of side-by-side comparing, and the Tab S6 actually lasts longer than the Note Air if you simply put it in battery saver mode but use it as you normally would.I just can’t think of a reason why someone would opt for the Note Air over a tablet.

And herein lies the huge problem with the Note Air: For the price of a very decent tablet, you’re getting something that’s dramatically slower, more limited in its utility, isn’t made as well, and doesn’t last as long on a charge.

If the Note Air were $199 this would be a totally different story. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t buy the Note Air if you’re really dying for an E Ink Android tablet, because aside from the perplexingly small battery, the Note Air actually accomplishes a lot of what it sets out to do. But given how good the displays are on the Galaxy Tab series and the incredible library of apps on the iPad, I just can’t think of a reason why someone would opt for the Note Air over a tablet from one of these larger brands. This is coming from someone with basically zero impulse control when it comes to technology purchases.

Still, I can"t shake the notion of an E Ink laptop. With an appropriately sized battery and a good keyboard, Onyx could take what it has right now and make a really compelling product. But unless you have money to burn, the Note Air will likely be remembered as a stepping stone on the path to something far better.Stay up to dateSubmit

tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

Most devices that use an electronic paper screen are built for specific tasks like reading, note-taking, or even just displaying price tags on grocery store shelves. The Bigme InkNote Color has greater aspirations, and with two cameras, microphones, and a multi-function stylus, it’s the best and most versatile e-note device we’ve ever tested. After going hands-on with a pre-production unit from this promising Kickstarter, we have high hopes, but it’s a shame that it’s most notable feature is also its biggest letdown.

E Ink devices have been available to consumers for almost 20 years, starting with the Sony Librie back in 2004. For the longest time, devices with E Ink displays were

The InkNote Color (top) is more or less the same size as the reMarkable 2 (bottom), but slightly thicker and heavier.Photo: Andrew Liszewski | Gizmodo

The InkNote Color is a little shorter and wider than the reMarkable 2, but also thicker and heavier as it includes extra screen layers for color reproduction as well as screen illumination. So unlike on the reMarkable 2, you can actually use the InkNote Color in a dark room without the need for a lamp or a flashlight close at hand.

The InkNote Color is powered by an A53 2.3 GHZ octa-core processor with 6GB of RAM. It’s also got 128GB of storage (expandable through a microSD card) and runs on Android 11, boasting specs more on par with a full tablet device. This lets it include features we haven’t seen before on e-notes. The power button on top features a built-in fingerprint reader, making it easy to lock and unlock the device to secure your documents on it. Why haven’t e-notes gotten this feature before?

The InkNote Color’s 8MP rear camera is really only useful for snapping pics of documents you want to scan for editable text.Photo: Andrew Liszewski | Gizmodo

The same goes for the InkNote color’s rear camera. It’s useable, but the images it takes are disappointing by today’s mobile device standards. Even photos snapped on a bright but overcast day come out grainy and with disappointing color saturation. Despite what this sample photo seems to indicate, the grass in my backyard isn’t completely dead. The rear camera is more useful as a productivity tool than for creativity, as the InkNote color includes OCR capabilities for extracting editable text from scanned documents.

Based on Wacom’s stylus technology, the InkNote Color’s bundled stylus, the A5, doesn’t realistically need charging, and is completely interchangeable with other devices and stylii boasting Wacom compatibility. (Such as the reMarkable’s stylus.) That’s one of the most important features you should look for in an e-note device, as your comfort with a stylus plays a big part in how much you’ll use it and how comfortable you’ll be transitioning away from pen and paper. If the stylus included with a device doesn’t work for you, can always swap it out.

The A5 stylus’ shortcut buttons rely on a Bluetooth connection, requiring the stylus to be charged by magnetically docking it to the edge of the InkNote Color.Photo: Andrew Liszewski | Gizmodo

The most important feature in an e-note is how well it reproduces the pen on paper experience. If you’re trying to quickly scribble down notes and your e-note is four or five strokes behind the tip of your stylus and struggling to keep up, it just makes the experience too frustrating to stick with. Our high bar for e-note performance is the

Its note-taking performance is just fantastic, and at no point does it ever feel like the tablet is struggling to keep up with a flurry of strokes, even when challenged with my choppy, chicken-scratch printing that’s sure to make my grade school penmanship teachers hang their heads in shame.

It’s as good as you can get when it comes to a simulated pen-on-paper experience, right down to the screen texture. One of the biggest complaints Apple Pencil users have is that writing or drawing on the tablet’s smooth glass display just doesn’t have an authentic pen-on-paper feel. Many E Ink devices, like the InkNote Color, avoid this by using a top layer with a textured matte finish that not only helps dissipate glare, but also has just enough resistance as you scribble across it to make it feel like actual paper. The only downside? That pen-on-paper feel tends to wear stylus tips down faster.

Unlike the reMarkable 2, you can even write in your choice of 11 different colors, in addition to black, white, and several shades of gray. As the name implies, the InkNote Color is another e-note device that has taken advantage of E Ink’s color e-paper technology, but might it actually be better off without it?

As innovative as E Ink’s push into color electronic paper has been, the technology still has lots of room for improvement, and it’s part of what holds the Bigme InkNote Color back from being perfect.

When displaying simple text, the InkNote Color’s screen (right) appears darker and muddier than the reMarkable 2"s screen (left.)Photo: Andrew Liszewski | Gizmodo

The most obvious drawback is that the extra layers the InkNote Color’s Kaleido Plus screen use to display color result in a display that looks darker and muddier than strictly black-and-white E Ink screens. The difference is especially obvious when comparing the InkNote Color to the reMarkable 2. There’s less contrast with Bigme’s e-note, and even when using the device somewhere with ample ambient lighting, you’re going to find yourself leaving the adjustable screen lighting on most of the time. That’s certainly not a deal breaker, but the biggest appeal of E Ink has always been how easy on the eyes it is when relying on reflected light, which feels negated when you need a glowing screen to see it.

Running Android 11 instead of a proprietary Linux-based OS (like many other e-readers use) means the InkNote Color also has access to apps like Netflix and YouTube, but you’ll have a far more enjoyable experience Lightyear trailer on an E Ink device is negated by limited colors, extreme ghosting, and choppy frame rates.

If a color E Ink screen is important to you, this looks like it’s going to be the e-note device to get. But if you’d rather wait for color E Ink to mature a little more,

tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

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tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

Some people use camomile tea, others use breathing exercises, but, for me, the most reliable tactic for getting to sleep quickly is to avoid screens before bed. Yet, actually doing so requires some creativity if I want to keep up with news online. My current system involves saving articles to the read-later app Instapaper, which sends a daily digest to my Kindle each evening. But it’s a hacky approach where articles often aren’t formatted properly and sometimes don’t appear at all.

I could switch to a Kobo, which offers native integration with rival read-later app Pocket, but the Onyx Boox Nova Air C offers a much more tantalizing alternative. Unlike either a Kindle or Kobo, its E Ink display is capable of showing colors, and it’s running a modified version of Android that allows you to download and run a variety of apps that go far beyond reading ebooks. It opens the door to numerous read-later apps as well as full-on word processors and third-party note-taking software. It even includes a stylus for handwritten notes.

At $420, it’s pricey compared to Amazon’s Kindles, which often cost well under the $200 mark. But that price gets you something closer to a full-on Android tablet than an e-reader. It’s just a shame that the total package doesn’t fully deliver on the promise.

The Onyx Boox Nova Air C is an unassuming device, with big bezels around its 7.8-inch screen and a generally plastic-feeling construction. Its power button is on the top left, while a USB-C port is on the bottom alongside a pair of downward-firing speakers. They’re roughly as bad as I expected them to be, but it’s better than nothing. (Amazon’s Kindles haven’t included them for years.) Internally, the Nova Air C is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.

The main attraction here is the color E Ink display. The Nova Air C is equipped with E Ink’s Kaleido Plus screen, which uses a color filter layer on top of a more typical E Ink panel to offer 4,096 colors. The approach comes with some obvious drawbacks. For starters, the screen can’t display color content with the same resolution as black and white, so while the display reaches 1404 x 1872 in black and white (300ppi), it’s limited to a paltry 468 x 624 (100ppi) when showing color. And even then, the colors are far more muted than what you’d get from even a cheap LCD panel, whose range of colors can be counted in the millions — not the thousands. My former colleague Sam Byford described the colors on the similar Kaleido-equipped PocketBook Color as like “a newspaper that’s faded over a few days,” which felt like a very apt description of the Nova Air C.

And yet, even basic color is better than no color at all. The Nova Air C’s colors might look washed out and low resolution, but the essence of the image remains — unlike on a Kindle, where color imagery just looks broken. I’d almost liken using the Kaleido screen to watching a foreign movie with subtitles; you miss out on a lot of the subtlety, but you can still fundamentally understand what you’re looking at.

I briefly tried watching video on the Nova Air C’s screen via YouTube, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Content looks incredibly juddery thanks to the screen’s low refresh rate, colors look washed out, and there’s a huge amount of ghosting. You can see what’s going on in a pinch, but I’d rather watch video on literally any other screen.

Despite the color, the tablet retains the benefits of an E Ink display. I had no issue reading the Nova Air C in bright sunlight, and, with a small boost to its screen illumination feature, I was also able to read it in low light before bed with no eye strain. Battery life is also as impressive as any other e-reader. I’ve been using the tablet on and off for the better part of two months, and its battery level is still sitting at 55 percent.

That said, part of the reason for this impressive life is likely to be the Nova Air C’s aggressive power management settings, which, by default, see the tablet fully shut down if you don’t use it for just 15 minutes. This can mean waiting around 27 seconds for the tablet to boot up every time you want to use it. I’d suggest adjusting the “Power-off timeout” in settings to one or even two days, which will allow the laptop to wake in a couple of seconds when you want to use it. But be prepared to sacrifice a little battery life for this increase in responsiveness.

The highlight of the Onyx Boox Nova Air C is its built-in note-taking app. Handwriting notes feels great with the included stylus, with pen strokes appearing on the screen near-instantaneously and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity that offer a lot of versatility. There are a variety of different brush styles and colors, and the software can attempt to transcribe your handwriting into typed text and even emoji.

This character recognition worked okay in limited cases but struggled with lengthy passages. Once written, it’s easy to export notes to a PDF or PNG file by simply scanning a QR code with your smartphone or sharing them to another app on the tablet. It all makes the Nova Air C a great device for taking notes by hand.

But trying to use the tablet like a traditional e-reader is more complicated, and you’ll have to jump through more hoops than on competing devices like the Kindle. Although the Nova Air C technically comes with a built-in “Store,” in practice it seemed to be filled mainly with public domain works, and I couldn’t find any of the modern books I was hoping to read.

That leaves you with a couple of other options. You can download ebooks from elsewhere on the internet and then transfer them to the tablet, and it supports a good range of filetypes, including PDF, ePub, TXT, RTF, and MOBI. But, when I actually purchased an ePUB from and tried to load it onto the Nova Air C, I discovered that it doesn’t support the Adobe DRM the store uses. (The only DRM the e-reader supports is the Chinese-focused JD DRM.)

Thankfully, Onyx is using a heavily modified version of Android 11 as software on the Nova Air C, which means you’re not limited to using its built-in software. You can download and install most apps from the Play Store as though you were using any other Android tablet, including, crucially, Amazon’s Kindle app. Getting Google Play Services set up on the device is a bit of a weird process that requires you to hop through a couple of strange hoops. But, once I was set up, it was relatively easy to benefit from my preexisting Kindle library. While I was there, I downloaded a couple of other Android apps: Instapaper for reading all the web articles I bookmark for reading later throughout the course of my day; Obsidian for note-taking; and Comixology for reading comics.

Take note-taking. The Nova Air 2 comes with a decent note-taking app that works very well with the stylus. But it works less well for typed notes, which you might want to do if you have a Bluetooth keyboard to pair with the tablet.

So, instead, I downloaded the note-taking app Obsidian. It worked well, allowing me to type up notes far faster than I could ever handwrite them. And, unlike when using a laptop or my phone, I could happily do so late at night without having to look at a bright screen. You could use whatever word processing or note-taking software takes your fancy — so long as it has an Android app. It’s also possible to download alternative stylus-compatible apps, but my experience was a bit hit and miss. OneNote worked well, but INKredible felt laggy with Onyx’s stylus.

I was also able to get Instapaper up and running with minimal hassle. I had full access to all my saved articles ready for me to read without having to go through the clunky sync process that Instapaper’s Kindle integration requires. Comixology worked okay for reading comics, but the screen was just slightly too low in resolution and small for it to feel like I was getting the most of the experience.

But, very quickly, I started encountering issues with these apps that had obviously never been designed with E Ink screens in mind. You control apps on the Nova Air C with a combination of taps and swipes, same as you would on any other Android tablet. But its E Ink screen is so much less responsive than the 60Hz LCD or OLED panels found in most other Android devices that it’s hard to “feel” your way around each app. You can’t half-swipe to check what a full swipe might do; you have to fully commit and hope you got it right.

Things feel a lot better when you start using physical buttons to control the tablet, which is made possible via Onyx’s magnetic Nova Air case. This not only adds a protective cover to the tablet but also includes a pair of physical volume buttons, which many reading-focused Android apps will let you remap into page-turning controls. If you’re going to pick up a Nova Air C, I’d strongly recommend getting this case for it. It’s sold separately from the tablet for $59.99, which feels expensive given how necessary it is.

I had very high hopes for the Onyx Boox Nova Air C. I wanted it to be able to do it all: read books; read online articles; and act as a repository for all my notes — all in a form factor that I could happily use late at night without eye strain.

And, yes, it can absolutely do all of these things. But the more I asked of the tablet, the more I could feel its E Ink screen creaking under the pressure. E Ink panels are more than responsive enough for reading books using software designed specifically with them in mind. But throw in an app designed for a 60Hz touchscreen, and it can be a struggle to use. And packing in this much functionality means that the Nova Air C struggles to match a simple Kindle when it comes to simply being able to flip it open and immediately start reading. You have to choose the app, and possibly even the book, first.

I wanted a lot from the Nova Air C, and at $450, I think it’s reasonable to expect it. Amazon’s Kindles cost roughly half of what Onyx is asking, and you can even get an alternative e-reader with a color screen from PocketBook for $234. Or, if your priorities are less about having an E Ink screen and more about having the functionality of a tablet, you could get an iPad Mini with an 8.3-inch screen for $499 or a base level iPad with a 10.2-inch screen for $329. None of these devices will tick all the boxes. But, then again, neither does the Nova Air C.

Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it — contracts that no one actually reads. It’s impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit “agree” to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people don’t read and definitely can’t negotiate.

tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

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tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

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tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

Paper can be used for both reading and writing, but the vast majority of e-paper displays on products like Amazon"s Kindle are used exclusively for reading. This is due to a number of technology and market forces. For example, when Amazon launched the Kindle, its first major digital device, the product tied into the book-buying franchise that was the company"s foundational strength. Furthermore, unlike far more popular LCD and OLED technologies, E-Ink displays don"t wash out in direct sunlight. They reflect external light rather than trying to compete with it, thus providing a reading experience that is more familiar to eyes accustomed to tree-based competition. E-paper uses little power and can display an image indefinitely without any power consumption, making for long reading times.

But people create outside as well as read. Why hasn"t there been more of a market for e-paper creation devices? More than a decade ago, the One Laptop Per Child XO-1 laptop used a sunlight-readable display by a company called Pixel Qi. But the display company found no sustainable customers after the children"s clamshell faded.

Today, there are a few specialized e-paper products that position themselves as hybrids of reading and writing/sketching. These devices are optimized for consolidating and marking up large documents. They tend to feature screen sizes of 10 inches or larger, such as the Digital Paper models from Sony. Sony has a long history with E-ink. The company pioneered E-Ink readers before Amazon jumped in and now has a joint venture with the technology supplier with much in the queue, according to Good E-Reader.

More recent introductions include the 10-inch reMarkable tablet, which advances on Sony"s software user interface, and the curious Lenovo Yoga Book C930 2-in-1, for which an E-Ink touch screen doubles as an e-reader in tablet mode and displays the keyboard when in clamshell mode. It represents a leap in functionality (as well as price and performance) over the first-generation Yoga Books, which used LED-lit outlines for keyboards.

These larger e-paper products appeal to those who wants to be able to accomplish anything outside that doesn"t rely too much on fast-moving color -- applications more like AirTable than Asphalt 9. Indeed, even Amazon hasn"t revisited the large e-reader market since it discontinued the Kindle DX introduced back in 2009 (to the dismay of some). While the reMarkable tablet was introduced as more of a creative tool, it has found an audience with enterprises who have a need for its outdoor legibility. The Sony Digital Paper product has seen most adoption among professionals such as lawyers and movie script editors who need to mow through reams of documents while minimizing eye strain. While both support touch screens and styluses, these products lack the app ecosystems and Bluetooth keyboard support of Android tablets and smartphones.

But that is changing. Already in China, HiSense sells smartphones that feature an LCD on one side and an e-ink display on the other. Tapping a button in the navigation control row on either screen lets you continue working on the other. And since the crowdfunding campaign of the FreeWrite Traveler that I wrote about last fall, a number of E-Ink-equipped computing products have recently hit crowdfunding platforms. These include an 8-inch Not-eReader tablet/display from Dasung, the LTE-capable 10-inch E-Pad from Eewrite and, most recently, a 5.2-inch dual-SIM Kingrow K1 smartphone (which had not launched its campaign as of this writing). The K1 offers two weeks of standby time, a throwback to the feature phone era.

All the new products have estimated delivery dates within the next few months. A bona fide e-paper clamshell remains elusive, although the E-Pad should be sized right to work with a number of Bluetooth keyboard cases. Onyx, an early maker of Android E-Ink tablets, had previewed a 2-in-1 it originally called the Onyx Boox Typewriter, but then hit the Delete key.

There have also been a couple of basic digital memo/sketch pad products such as the web browser-equipped MobiScribe that cost considerably less than those with full-fledged Google Play compatibility. But the largest and most expensive recent intro is Dasung"s 13-inch Paperlike Pro, which recently launched on Indiegogo. Unlike Dasung"s smaller Not-eReader, the Paperlike Pro includes no operating system of its own but rather works with other devices as a monitor.

The Paperlike Pro best exemplifies the trait that has made e-paper more practical for applications beyond reading -- far greater responsiveness. While it still cannot keep pace with LCDs, it represents a huge leap forward from the early days of E-Ink products, where simply turning a page would result in a distracting flash effect as the display updated its image.

In addition to relatively slow refresh rates, the lack of color screen availability has made these screens no match for more common displays when it comes to consuming video or even looking at photos. Indeed, color e-paper in general has faced a tough road. Two smartwatches that used reflective color displays, the Pebble smartwatch and Qualcomm"s ToQ proof-of-concept that used a display technology from now-defunct Mirasol have been among the few products to see limited distribution.

Still, Lenovo, which has been the PC vendor most willing to experiment with e-paper, has invested in an E-Ink competitor called CLEARInk. The display vendor has shown off color displays, but recent viewings indicate the same lack of vibrancy that has detracted from previous attempts. While e-paper displays are flexible and can fold, Lenovo is using a foldable LCD for its newly shown folding ThinkPad tablet.

More competition can only help the e-paper device market beyond the Kindle and digital signage. While entry-level Kindles are now very affordable, the price of these more capable devices are high compared to their LCD-based counterparts because of minimal competition and low volumes. It"s unlikely that these new devices can make a significant dent in the market for LCD smartphones and tablets. However, they have stronger market potential for workers who must get their digital work done in bright sunlight. That scope of tasks demands the ability to run popular and custom applications, an issue that Android compatibility can help address.

tablet with e ink and lcd screen free sample

If you"re someone who suffers from eyestrain, migraine, or any other physical condition exacerbated by backlight technology, the Onyx Boox Mira is a worthy purchase. It offers a number of features that its only real competitor, the Dasung Paperlike, cannot match, including warm and cold LED frontlights, variable refresh modes, and USB Type-C input as well as HDMI input, as well as DP Alt Mode. At a cost that"s only slightly higher than the Paperlike, the Mira is a better buy.

The Onyx Boox Mira is a rare 13.3-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio E-Ink display that can handle spreadsheets, web browsing, and more, without producing light. Although it struggles to display video, and it"s limited to grayscale, the monitor can function as a drop-in replacement for an LCD monitor. If you"re like me, and intense backlights cause headaches and insomnia, a no-glare display can improve productivity. For everyone else, the $800 price tag puts it out of reach of anyone without deep pockets or a medical need for a migraine-friendly display.

I used the Mira as a secondary display for several weeks and its low-eyestrain front light, screen clarity, and lightweight aluminum body left an extremely positive impression on me. The LED front lighting is adjustable, so you can customize its intensity and color hue to get the perfect amount of light. And like most front-lit devices, the Mira only needs illumination when there isn"t an ambient light source. The frontlight isn"t the only customizable feature. The Mira"s variable refresh mode allows for the display of anything from crystal-clear images and text to jerky, low-resolution video. And the two USB Type-C ports make it easy to connect to any computer.

The Mira is a 13.3-inch backlight-free E-Ink external monitor with a resolution of 2,200 x 1,650 "pixels" (207 PPI). But that"s not what makes it so special. Rather than using an LCD panel, the Mira comes with a monochrome E-Ink Mobius screen. Mobius panels are designed to be lightweight and are both more resistant to drops and lighter than glass substrate panels, with no weighty glass to shatter. It"s also worth mentioning that it offers warm and cold LED front lighting, variable refresh modes, and Mini HDMI video input, as well as USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode (DP Alt Mode).

The Mira features 75x75mm VESA mounting holes for connecting to a stationary monitor arm. It even includes a detachable, foldable cover that doubles as a stand. As such, it"s suitable for both desktops and laptops. Unfortunately, because of its black-and-white E-Ink Mobius panel, it"s not suitable for color-sensitive work or video, but it"s usable for word processing and spreadsheets.

It"s also small and portable enough that I can take it with me wherever I go. Enhancing its portability is a pair of USB-C ports. This means you can receive power using any USB-C device, such as from a laptop or from a portable backup battery or USB-C power supply. The only requirement is that it needs at least six watts, otherwise it may not fully function. Most power sources can output the requisite amount.

If you suffer from migraine headaches, cybersickness, eyestrain, or have problems viewing motion videos or bright lights, the Mira can possibly help. The being that E-Ink doesn"t need a backlight. That means it can be viewed with ambient light. If there"s not enough ambient light, you can optionally turn on a "frontlight" that produces far less light than a television or computer display.

For those who just prefer reading off pulped wood, E-Ink is slightly closer to paper than LCD screens. But E-Ink"s visual clarity isn"t equal to paper. It"s a softer, gentler experience scanning a spreadsheet on E-Ink compared to a computer monitor. While there is some evidence that artificial light suppresses your body"s ability to produce melatonin, which initiates drowsiness, there"s not much evidence that E-Ink can help with sleep. But even so, those who struggle with insomnia might want to at least try out an E-Ink display to see if it helps them sleep better.

But don"t misunderstand me here: the Mira is not a drop-in medical solution. If you suffer from any medical condition which causes discomfort, the first step is to speak with a doctor, not buy an expensive monitor.

The Onyx Boox Mira can connect to your desktop or laptop through one of two ways: Mini HDMI cable or HDMI Alt Mode, which requires a USB-C connection.

If your computer, smartphone, or tablet supports HDMI Alt Mode, you can connect it to any computer (which supports Alt Mode) with USB-C. This will send power as well as video and audio signals over a single cable, untangling any rat"s nest of cabling you might have. For comparison, other monitors require a separate power source as well as a cable for carrying video and audio cables. That usually means a power brick and a bulky display cable.

If your computer doesn"t support HDMI Alt Mode, you can still connect the Mira over a Mini HDMI cable. Unfortunately, this configuration will only transfer video and audio signals, so you still need to power the display with a USB-C cable. In fact, you can connect the Mira via USB-A or USB-C ports on your laptop or attach a separate power source, including a smartphone charger. That"s because the display requires a paltry six watts at peak consumption. For context, that"s about equal to a small LED light bulb.

However, some chargers with Power Delivery may not supply power to the Mira if the "handshake" between both devices isn"t established. As such, it"s more reliable to power a Mira over a USB-A port or wall wart. Part of the reason the Mira requires so little power is that it lacks integrated speakers. As such, I don"t advise using the Mira as your only display unless you"re using an external speaker or headphones.

Furthermore, there are no wireless output options, so you"ll have to use a wired connection if you want to use the Mira with a laptop or desktop computer. Although to be fair, few LCD monitors offer functional wireless display options either—the Edge 2.5D external wireless display is an exception.

The Mira can function in a mixed mount. To mount the Mira using its 75x75mm VESA mount, you screw the VESA-mounting plate to the four screws in the back. Unfortunately, the required M4 VESA-mounting screws aren"t included.

VESA screws use the metric threading system and are anywhere from 6mm to 10mm in length, so they"re easy to find at any hardware store, though. It mounts securely and without any issues.

The Mira 4:3 aspect ratio and grayscale colors make it useless for streaming video or photo editing. But outside of multimedia, the Mira can perform most of the same computing tasks that an LCD monitor can. However, there are some caveats: all operating systems use color and video to make buttons and icons visually distinct. That means you may have to turn on your operating system"s high-contrast display options in its accessibility settings. It goes without saying that some webpages or programs may become difficult to use, particularly if you haven"t enabled high-contrast mode. But if you can get over its foibles, there"s a lot you can do with the Onyx Boox Mira.

First and foremost, its light weight of 590 grams gives it the heft of a bottle of beer. So not only does it weigh less than any LCD, it also consumes less power than any equivalently-sized monitor. Low weight and power draw make it perfect for use as a secondary mobile display. And because its folio case doubles as both protection for its screen and as a stand, you can take it anywhere and not need to worry about scratching its plastic-coated surface in transit. The soft-touch vinyl folio case is magnetic, so it"s easy to attach and remove on the go. Just fold and go, or unfold and plug into a computer.

Secondly, the Mira"s softer, on-demand brightness makes it perfect for taking breaks from an LCD screen. I kept a browser open on it and turned to a webpage with news articles (such as RSS). When used in brief, five-minute breaks, as called for by the Pomodoro Technique, it helps spare my eyes.

You could use the Mira as a fixed, external monitor thanks to its 75x75mm VESA-mounting screw holes. But while it"s great as an external monitor, particularly when paired with an LCD screen, it"s at its best when used with a mobile device. Ideally, you"d be able to use it on an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. Unfortunately, I could not test the Mira with a compatible mobile device. That"s mainly because DP Alt Mode isn"t common on low-end consumer devices. In fact, only a few Android devices support DP Alt Mode and all of these are high-end handsets that cost thousands of dollars each.

However, DP Alt Mode on Apple devices is far more common. As of 2022, DP Alt Mode compatibility will require using a Lightning to USB-C adapter. The reason? Only Apple devices made in 2024 and beyond will support USB-C. You can thank a new European Union law that requires iPhones to use USB-C instead of Lightning (what is Lighting?). Unfortunately, the Mira doesn"t have a mobile app, so I don"t know whether the Mira supports iPhones or Android.

I found that using the Mira wasn"t that difficult, although there was a learning curve. For example, the biggest difference from an LCD screen is the Mira"s variable refresh mode. Unlike an LCD, the Boox Mira cannot display both moving video and high-resolution, static images at the same time. To display high-resolution images, the Mira must slow its refresh speed. Conversely, in order to display video (at less than 30 Hz), the Mira must reduce the resolution. To toggle between modes, Onyx installed a rotating wheel. Rotating the wheel to the left or right changes the mode. Each mode more or less trades image fidelity for fluidity, at varying rates.

For example, if you want to display video, you turn the wheel until you reach video mode. In video mode, the image quality becomes extremely poor, but it can refresh the screen somewhere around 20 Hz, which is like watching gray soup congeal on a plate. On the other hand, you can boost the image resolution to its maximum, but then full-screen refreshes become jarring, stuttering affairs.

Keep in mind that no matter what mode you"re in, the screen will remain black and white. That means some websites or applications won"t display properly. Some applications, like Photoshop, may be almost impossible to use, regardless of what mode you"re in. Onyx partially compensates for these compatibility issues, though, by allowing the user to c