The Boox Poke 3 is my new favourite e-reader


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There are many e-readers to choose from on the market, but by no means sufficient for me. I’m all the time questing for the one that may make me overlook that there are others obtainable, and within the Onyx Boox Poke 3, I feel I've discovered it — no less than for now. The Chinese language e-paper system maker has nailed the dimensions, the display, and added a sprinkle of versatility that I didn’t know I was missing.

The Poke 3 matches in the same “unique taste e-reader” category because the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Clara HD: 6 inches, 300 PPI or so (which makes for very clear text) and someplace between $100 and $200.

These readers fit easily in a pocket, in contrast to the larger Oasis and even bigger Forma; they have a tendency to lack something but an influence button and are very targeted on books and saved articles.

However the Kindle and Clara each have major flaws. The Kindle is tied to Amazon in all the ways I can’t stand, together with on-device advertisements by default, and the Clara… properly, beside the display, the hardware is truthfully simply dangerous. Kobo made my earlier favourite e-reading gadget, the compact and flush-front Aura, and I’ve lastly found a worthy successor to that beloved gadget.

The Poke three is the newest gadget to return from Boox, the e-reader line from father or mother firm Onyx. The corporate has principally been a presence in Southeast Asia, notably its residence nation of China, so don’t be stunned in the event you’ve by no means heard of it. Boox makes a wide variety of e-paper units (which I'll evaluate in a separate article), and the Poke three is the only and smallest of them.

A Boox Poke 3 e-reader in a hand.

Picture Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

I’ll spotlight the gadget’s strengths first. Most importantly, it is a pretty piece of hardware. The flush front is a pleasure to learn on, as there isn't any raised bezel to shade the textual content or acquire grime. The facility button is nicely situated and clicky. There’s just enough border to carry onto without worrying about smudging or activating the display, and a bit of extra area at the backside allows loads of snug grips.

It’s thinner than the competitors and the build high quality is superb. The front is hardened glass from companion Asahi, which can hopefully forestall it from needing a canopy.

A Boox Poke 3 e-reader side-on.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

The finish is, to be trustworthy, one thing of a fingerprint and oil magnet, and could possibly be grippier. The Paperwhite has it beat on texture however I want the graceful again to the bizarre perforated one of many Clara.

At 150 grams it’s 16 lighter than the Clara and 32 lighter than the Paperwhite. That doesn’t sound like rather a lot, however if you’re holding a device for hours straight, every little bit counts, and at this measurement it additionally helps with stability.

Its six-inch display is just not meaningfully totally different from the Kindle or Kobo units out there when it comes to decision or font rendering. I scrutinized the Poke 3 subsequent to the Clara HD and Forma and found no differences that anybody would discover studying from 10-20 inches away.

Screen of a Boox Poke 3 e-reader

Picture Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

It does differ in its strategy to illumination, though whether meaningfully so is a matter of opinion. As an alternative of getting a brightness slider and a temperature slider, it has a warm and cool slider, and growing or reducing both one modifications both the brightness and temperature. You may as well turn both one off solely or link them collectively so they are adjusted as one.

If it sounds extra difficult… it's. I don’t see that it adds any real new capabilities, however when you get the feel for it, it isn’t that a lot more durable to use, either. I do want that if you linked the two sliders, they stored their positions relative to at least one another. The entire system seems a bit baroque and I hope Boox streamlines it. That stated, the quality of the sunshine is equally good and once you dial it in, it seems to be nice.

Sort formatting is sweet, and has plenty of options for tweaking how any of the various (too many…) included fonts look, even weight and contrast changes to actually effective tune them. Including customized fonts is as straightforward as dragging and dropping them, identical to paperwork.

The working system of the Boox offers much more choices than both Kobo or Kindle. Amazon keeps tight management over its ecosystem and out of doors of a handful of related providers the units can’t do a lot. Kobo at the very least permits for extra file formats to be loaded immediately on, and now has wonderful Pocket integration for saving articles from the online. Boox takes issues two steps further with a custom Android launcher onto which you'll be able to obtain full apps.

A Boox Poke 3 e-reader

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

Now, there are actually solely so many apps that you simply truly may need on an e-reader like this one. And not the whole lot works as well as I’d like. However for the first time I can truly get Simplenote on my e-reader.

It’s not so simple as it might be on an peculiar Android gadget, though. As a result of the Poke 3 comes from China, it doesn’t have entry to Google providers right off the bat. You'll be able to add it by way of settings, which isn’t exhausting, however there’s additionally a sideloading retailer inbuilt with current (if not fairly brand new) set up packages of fashionable, vetted apps for the system.

Let’s simply admit right now that in comparison with the simplicity of Kindle and Kobo, this is already a bit out there. And whether you are feeling snug logging into a version of Evernote that you could’t (with no bit of labor) verify the contents of… nicely, it’s not for everyone. However to be clear on this, Boox isn’t some fly-by-night operation — they will not be well known over right here, nevertheless it’s arduous to argue with the standard of the units. The problem is just that localizing an OS constructed for customers in China has some elementary challenges.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

Fortuitously for everyone, the essential capability to load books on there and skim them is strong and it’s what you’d be doing more often than not. There could also be a busy interface if you’re doing other stuff, however you possibly can simply cover all indicators like progress and title when you’re studying, dedicating every square inch of the display to actual studying.

It has 32 gigs of inner reminiscence, making storage of audiobooks (it has Bluetooth for sound) and hulking documents straightforward, and connects shortly as a drive if you plug in its USB-C twine.

The Poke 3 will cost $189 when it ships subsequent week, which is on the excessive end for this kind of gadget. That’s $30 greater than a Kindle Paperwhite and $70 greater than a Clara HD. But I truthfully assume it is well worth the premium. This can be a higher e-reader, interval; regardless of the typically fussy interface, I take pleasure in utilizing it, and recognize that it offers capabilities that its competition doesn’t. When you want easy and don’t mind an affordable construct, the Clara is a superb cheaper choice, however for a step up contemplate the Poke three.