Recently I’ve purchased an Onyx Boox Note 3, at first I was skeptical, but after having it for little over a day I decided it was so good I needed to write an article about it.

This article will focus on using the O’Reilly online learning platform on the Onyx Boox.

What is it?

Onyx Boox are e-ink readers running on Android 10, that offer a larger range of flexibility than your usual ereader. As a developer I had a few hard requirements for what I wanted to do with a reader.

  1. Read O’Reilly - if you haven’t discovered O’Reilly (originally called SafariBooks), check it out, as it offers literally thousands of books on every language, frameworks, concept, or idea.
  2. Take notes during meetings - I’m starting a new job in a couple of weeks, and with that I know an inveritable deluge of note taking is coming.
  3. Read PDFs, and other documentation in a paperless, off my computer, way.

After digging, for what some may consider an inordinate amount of time, I came across Onyx Boox. The ability to have a tablet running android featuring an e-ink screen got me drooling. Searching online I found to my dismay that unfortunately there is scant information about running the applications I was interested in. I did however find a large amount of grumbling about the poor support for android apps beyond the boox specific ones.

I’m here to tell you that concerns about running non-boox apps on boox devices is largely unfounded, and with a few tweaks applications become completely usable.

Examples

O’Reilly Books on Boox

From the one reddit post I could find discussing running O’Reilly on a boox device, I was concerned. The comments read like a laundry list of problems, from odd rendering of text, to not being able to search for new content. All of this I found to be untrue and false, and to demonstrate this, here is a screenshot.

Onyx Boox O’Reilly Reading View

As you can see the book renders as you’d expect it to on an e-ink screen (Yes the font is a little bold, but is it really the end of the world?).

Searching for new books

One of the key complaints I noticed about running O’Reilly on the Onyx Boox was the lack of the ability to discover new content as you normal would be able to in the O’Reilly app, or on the web. When you first open the app on your boox device there is the startling absence of any top menu usually containing a search icon and menu button. This is due to the fact the boox, in whatever infinite wisdom, believes all apps should be “whitened” by default (I’m searching for a way to default this off).

So here’s what you do…

Go to the Optimize settings for the O’Reilly app, and deselect the “Whiten Apps Background” option. That’s it. Now you can discover books, search, do pretty much everything in the app you’d normal do on an android phone, or on the web. I’ve attached some screenshots below to prove it works.

(Note: I also set the DPI settings to 290, but this is personal preference, and I’m not sure it makes a difference as the app seems to ignore it)

Onyx Boox O’Reilly Optimize

Onyx Boox O’Reilly Front Page

Onyx Boox O’Reilly Side Bar

Onyx Boox O’Reilly Discover