Onyx Boox Nova3 Color – Electronic Ink

Onyx Boox Nova3: New book with color electronic ink

Devices for reading ebooks that are also capable of displaying color on large screens, ideal for reading comics, are beginning to reach the market

In 2020 and so far this year, several e-ink ebook readers have hit the market that promise a fundamental change to a technology that has hardly changed in the last 15 years.

Between the first Sony PRS (2006) or the then new Amazon Kindle (2007) and the current models, not much has changed, at least when we think about the electronic ink that gives them life. Now the screen is tactile and has more resolution, the background is whiter to offer more contrast and the black and white spheres that make up the pixels move faster (a download takes them to the front or the bottom of the screen). It is not little, to be sure, but they are essentially the same.

Onyx Boox Nova3 Color - Electronic Ink
Onyx Boox Nova3 Color – Electronic Ink

The Onyx Boox Nova3 has a 7.8-inch color e-ink screen; it is sensitive to the touch and serves to draw or annotate text; you can also use android apps
Last year we began to see a fundamental change at this point with the arrival of the first color electronic ink panels. A little over a year ago, Hisense showed a cell phone with a color electronic ink screen; In mid-2020, the Onyx firm, which manufactures several electronic ink readers, presented a model with a color screen, the Poke2.

More than an ebook. Just like a tablet

The attractiveness of these teams is not in supplying a tablet: they are not used to watch videos or anything that has fast movement (they will look, but very bad). But for reading comics in color, consulting textbooks that have illustrations and so on, it’s great, because it combines the best of two worlds, with the ability to see things in color, but with the excellent visibility of electronic ink displays, which they can display an image permanently without consuming power (they only consume battery when they renew what they are showing), and they can be used without inconvenience in the sunlight.

Onyx Boox Nova3 Color

One of the most recent equipment is the Onyx Boox Nova3 Color, with a 7.8-inch screen of Carta HD electronic ink with the Kaleido Plus color filter that E Ink, the manufacturer of the screens that uses Onyx, presented today in society .

The detail of the names is important: Kaleido Plus is a system that applies a filter of three colors (red, green, blue) on the monochrome electronic ink pixels. The result is that the screen has a resolution of 1872 x 1404 pixels in black and white, but to display color it only reaches 624 x 468 pixels (each one composed of three subpixels red, green or blue) to display 4096 colors.

Onyx Boox Nova3 Color - Electronic Ink
Onyx Boox Nova3 Color – Electronic Ink

The electronic ink works with white or black capsules that are moved by an electrical discharge; a light filter lets you add colors

It is the most advanced technology of the moment, and better than the original Kaleido that debuted in 2020; This version has more contrast, a better viewing angle, and allows to manufacture thinner and cheaper panels, which in theory will reach other Kobo or Barnes & Noble devices (best known firms in the world of ebook readers).


The Onyx device is more than an e-book reader: it also allows you to draw on the 7.8-inch screen (most e-book readers use a 7-inch screen); take handwritten notes or edit documents; listen to music; and even run conventional Android 10 applications with its eight-core processor and 3 GB of RAM, but it will not work for YouTube, Netflix or video games, because the refresh rate of the screen is still very low. 

Onyx Boox Nova3 Color - Electronic Ink
Onyx Boox Nova3 Color – Electronic Ink

Draw in color in one of the alternatives

Draw in color in one of the alternatives of the new electronic ink readers that include color screens
However, this color technology lacks some maturity, even though it now works very well: above all, making the color panels have higher resolution and achieve fuller colors; today they are a bit washed out, although they are much more attractive than the classic monochromatic epub reader. Today a color electronic ink screen is around 100 ppi (pixels per inch, in English) against 167 of the most basic Kindle. Monochromatic high-definition panels are already around 250 ppi.


Amazon eBooks

Amazon ebooks had its own technology to make color panels similar to electronic ink, Liquavista, but abandoned it in 2018; Today it uses the same E Ink panels as the rest of the industry, and it is likely that at some point it will integrate this new Kaleido Plus technology, but historically it has been quite reluctant to add new technologies before they drop a lot in price, so it is likely Let it be a few years before a colored Kindle appears.


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