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Boox Note Air3 review: A solid e-ink book reader, but a little niche

Boox Note Air3

Boox Note Air3

3.5 / 5

Last updated

The Boox Note Air3 is a fantastic entry into the e-reader market, but its weight and larger screen compared to some of the smaller models by the company can make it a bit cumbersome to cart around.

We love e-ink tablets. Not only are they easier on our eyes, but the increased battery life means we can just toss one in our bag and know it's always there when we need it.

Boox's new Note Air3 is an iPad Air-sized e-ink tablet that bridges the gap between e-reader and full-featured tablet.

Boox Note Air3 review - under the hood

The Boox Note Air3 features a 10.3-inch HD Carta 1200 glass screen roughly the same size as the iPad Air. It boasts a resolution of 1404x1872 (227 ppi).

Like the iPad, you've got the option to use it with your finger or a stylus. When used with the stylus, the tablet has 4,096 pressure levels, making it a fairly decent drawing tool.

One of the Boox products' standout features is the backlight color temperature management. You can adjust the warmth or coolness of the light to suit your environment and reading preferences.

It has a 2.4 GHz Octa-core CPU with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. As this is an e-ink tablet, we feel like 64GB of storage isn't too bad. After all, you won't be putting many large apps on here. If you need a bit more storage, there is a microSD card slot, which is nice.

Boox Note Air3 review: An included microSD slot allows you to expand your internal storage
Boox Note Air3 review: An included microSD slot allows you to expand your internal storage

The 3,700 mAh battery isn't bad for a device this size. If you're not turning up the brightness on the screen to the maximum, you should be able to get quite a few day's worth of use out of it, depending on what you're doing.

We used the Note Air3 for a few hours a day and consistently got a full week of use before we felt we needed to charge it again. If you're the kind of person who charges your devices nightly, you'll probably never run out of battery.

Boox Note Air3 review: reading text heavy websites on the Note Air3
Boox Note Air3 review: reading text heavy websites on the Note Air3

The Note Air3 supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing you to download new books, browse the web, and sync your reading progress. Additionally, it has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity for wireless headphones, speakers, or keyboards.

As an e-ink reader, it's designed to handle a wide variety of text and ebooks, such as:

Supported formats

  • PDF
  • DJVU
  • CBR
  • CBZ
  • EPUB
  • AZW3
  • MOBI
  • TXT
  • DOC
  • DOCX
  • FB2
  • CHM
  • RTF
  • HTML
  • ZIP
  • PRC
  • PPT
  • PPTX

It also supports image formats such as PNG, JPG, BPM, and TIFF, as well as audio formats like WAV and MP3.

Boox Note Air3 review - performance

Like the other Boox devices we've tested, the Note Air3 is solid. It was very easy to set up. Once we customized it to our liking, we found ourselves routinely going back to it when we wanted to read or browse text-heavy websites.

If you've used an e-ink device before, you know how much better they feel on your eyes. In fact, we enjoyed pairing a keyboard to the Note Air3 and typing up part of this very review on it.

Boox Note Air3 review: Taking notes on the Note Air3 is a joy
Boox Note Air3 review: Taking notes on the Note Air3 is a joy

Its ample space for taking notes is where the Note Air3 shines over others in the lineup. Like the iPad Air, the Note Air3 is the perfect size for writing and drawing. And sure, we wouldn't replace our iPad Air or iPad Pro when creating digital artwork, but this tablet still feels surprisingly nice to draw on.

Because it runs Android 12, users can access the Google Play store, and although it may not support the latest games, it can still run some of your favorite apps. For instance, we could import our Kindle library using the Amazon Kindle app and install productivity apps such as Evernote and the Google productivity suite.

While the device may not be as fast as your iPhone or iPad, it's not much of an issue since it is primarily designed for reading. Even when browsing text-heavy websites using reader mode, we found the speed to be more than adequate.

If there is one area where the Note Air3 falls short, it's the speaker and microphone quality. The speakers do not have fantastic audio quality or much volume.

Of course, we also don't think this is a deal breaker— most people will probably just pair it with Bluetooth headphones.

Boox Note Air3 review - size matters

The Note Air3 is sizable, especially compared to other e-ink readers like many of Amazon's Kindle lineup or Boox's Boox Tab Mini line. In fact, it weighs in at just under a pound, making it a bit tedious to hold while reading for a long time.

This extra weight and screen size make it feel like its target audience has narrowed down a bit. If you're an avid reader of novels, it probably feels a bit big to keep on your nightstand or in your bag for your morning commute.

Boox Note Air3 review: It can be a bit heavy to hold during extended reading sessions
Boox Note Air3 review: It can be a bit heavy to hold during extended reading sessions

While it might not be perfect for every case, there's certainly a niche for the Note Air3 e-ink tablet. Sure, the ample screen size might not feel like it is designed for your favorite novel. However, as one AppleInsider staffer pointed out, it would be perfect for housing a digital library of tabletop gaming books.

And it doesn't have to be a gaming book, either. Many textbooks would also translate to the screen beautifully.

And, of course, its large screen size makes it ideal for taking notes or browsing the web.

Boox Note Air3 review - Pros

  • Lengthy battery life
  • Lots of customization for screen lighting
  • Easy to write on
  • Great for browsing text-heavy websites
  • Great for reading textbooks, TTRPG rulebooks, etc

Boox Note Air3 review - Cons

  • Weight can get tiresome to hold after a while
  • Larger size may not be comfortable to read smaller works on
  • Can be slow when using certain apps
  • High price point
  • Poor speaker and microphone quality

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It's not easy to rate every item on a one to five scale, especially when many things come down to user preference.

While we still think that the Boox Tab Mini C is still the model we recommend for most users, there's no denying that the Note Air3 may fit some users' requirements better. This is especially true for those who plan on taking a lot of handwritten notes or reading text-heavy books.

Boox Note Air3 - Where to buy

Note Air3 can be purchased from Boox for $399 directly from the Onyx Boox website, as well as from Amazon for the same price.

There is also a Boox Note Air3 C, the color model. We've looked at Boox's color offerings and found them nice, though the feature isn't explicitly needed for most uses.