Why Such a Lack of Onyx Boox N96 Reviews?

Onyx Boox N96

The Onyx Boox N96 is a 9.7-inch E Ink ebook reader with an Android operating system and pen-enabled touchscreen.

There are two models of the N96 available, one with a frontlight and stylus touch and another with stylus and hand touch but no frontlight.

Both Onyx N96 models started selling in early 2016.

Banggood started selling them in March and they were selling on Amazon and eBay in May.

Ten months later it’s surprising how few reviews there are for the Onyx N96.

There are a handful of reviews on Amazon and Banggood.

Outside of that I can’t find a single in-depth review of either Onyx Boox N96 anywhere, not even in a foreign language.

There’s not a single detailed video review on YouTube, just a few basic videos from like 9 months ago that provide little insight into the hardware or software.

Personally I’d like to get a closer look at how the frontlight looks on a 9.7-inch screen, but it’s been almost a year and there’s still virtually no information available about it.

It’s disappointing there hasn’t been more interest in these type of large hybrid E Ink ereaders. Is it because of a lack of innovation? After all the N96 isn’t a whole lot different than the previous model, the Onyx Boox M96. Both generations have the same screen, the same Android software version, and many of the same features overall.

It makes you wonder about the viability of this type of niche product moving forward with such an obvious lack of interest.

16 Responses to “Why Such a Lack of Onyx Boox N96 Reviews?”

  1. Hi There

    Yes this is disappointing to say the least. I wonder if this is because ONYX-BOOX just havent sold enough units or perhaps the value proportion just isn’t there for THIS model for the guys that would be inclined to make an un-boxing video.

    Personally, I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to buy a model that has:
    1. E Ink Carta or E-Ink Regal
    2. Faster Processor IMX.7 dual core processor.
    3. A screen Resolution of 1080 x 1430 PPI 300
    4. Stylus
    5. Front Light
    6. Running Android 6/7?

  2. Size and pen-enabled screen are exactly what I’m looking for.

    Mediocre screen quality and resolution, and antiquated version of Android, are deal killers.

    • Yup, you’ve pretty much summed it up correctly. I’m talking from experience currently using an N96. See my comments below.

  3. I believe these devices are not for normal users. Case in point, the Amazon description details how the user has to manually download and update the device straight out of the box. This immediatly starts to limit the target audience. Add in the high price: a normal user can pick up a 32G iPad Air 2 for about the same price. It’s too much money for too little performance for most people.

  4. I’d suggest that the reason is that the devices are Heavy, and that a polycarbonate screen, like the Sony, could improve user acceptance considerably.

  5. Read the user comments on Amazon and you’ve got your answer. Amazon comments are always iffy with respect to accuracy but these seem to be legitimate … and portray the reader in less than favorable terms.

    Its Android OS is also a problem, at least for me. It’s basically a pain in the neck if the default reader programs are lousy — and the reviews say they are with this device — because you have to jump through lots of hoops to get to another replacement reader, each time you open the device. Good replacements are available, they’re just not as convenient to access as Kindle, Kobo or Nook.

    I’ve a Kindle DX that’s a great size but not very workable with its software and hardware deficiencies. I’d like a replacement 9.7″ device but not this one.

  6. hi!!!
    i have the onxy c67ml carta 2! i bought it mostly for google play books. Problem i have is that when i start turning pages, every new page starts a little to the left so after a few pages i cant read the first letters of the left side! any suggestions???

    thanks a lot!!!!

  7. Hi,

    I purchased the N96 Dual Touch (that is, the one having capacitive touch as well as stylus touch, without the front light) online. Received a very well packaged and completely sealed/new unit a couple of days back delivered at my place in New Delhi. I’ve been a long-time user of e-readers, and I currently own my six-year-old Kindle Touch as well as a one year old Kindle Voyage. I have also separately ordered for a Yotaphone 2 (the android phone that has an E Ink screen on the reverse). I had also ordered for Good E-reader 13.3 inch android-based e-reader, but subsequently cancelled my order since the delivery dates are extremely vague and I was informed that I will likely receive my e-reader “months” from now (I wasn’t prepared for a vague timeline, and hence settled for the N96). Overall you may note that I’m a huge fan of E Ink technology and of niche e-readers. I am a voracious reader and consume a significant number of books, magazines and newspapers every month, and being a lawyer also love reading my work-related documents on my e-readers.

    Now that I have established my credentials as someone being genuinely interested in e-readers/E Ink technology, and as someone who has significant prior experience using e-readers over the past 5-6 years, let me summarise my three main reasons for not exactly being head over heels for my new N 96:

    (1) The most striking letdown is definitely the ancient resolution. My Kindle Touch is also ancient and uses the same 150 PPI Pearl screen, but the N96 is a letdown compared even to my ancient Kindle Touch. Perhaps the bigger screen size is the culprit, but I will be lying if I don’t admit my extreme disappointment with the resolution. Text is highly jagged (at least by my expectations). It doesn’t mean text is unreadable, but even by my Kindle Touch standards the text seems highly pixelated. By my reckoning this is the most likely reason why the big screen e-readers have not taken off (which I think fuels the vicious circle of low demand resulting in continuing high prices of these devices). Some YouTube videos recommended “bolding” the font to make it more readable. To an extent it works, but the extreme lack of sharpness in the text is still disconcerting.
    (2) Compared to my Kindle Voyage, the physical weight is significantly high. One hand reading is out of the question. Nighttime bed reading is also relatively inconvenient compared to the more portable smaller e-readers. Having said this, fact of the matter is that this is a 9.7 inch screen and the weight is comparable to even the supposedly premium 9.7 inch iPad (I think there is a difference of only about 40 gms).
    (3) The Internet experience is also very average, and fairly clunky. One of the main reasons I wanted to invest in a big screen android e-reader was with the expectation that I will significantly cut down on my screen time on my multiple Macs, iPhone, and Sony Xperia phablet. While the web browsing experience has turned out to be definitely better than the “experimental” browser found on my Kindles, but given the expectations one has for smooth web browsing, the clunky feel of web browsing on N96 is a letdown. The speed of web browsing is fairly okay, it is the low screen resolution, and most importantly the constant refreshing required for proper reading, that are the two reasons of this feedback on the Internet experience. Many of the apps found on the android play store are either not compatible with this device, or even if installed are not optimised and thus the experience is not great at all. I have installed the Kindle app and while it’s not as if you’re unable to read your Kindle books, the experience is once again clunky. The text is grey and light and not very sharp, the page turns have a slight jarring feel, and the main bookshelf interface of the Kindle app takes a long time to load. I installed the Gmail app as well but the experience wasn’t very pleasant, so I ended up uninstalling it.

    It wasn’t as if I wasn’t expecting some of these drawbacks having seen many of the YouTube videos of similar products (the video reviews that you get of the older M-series are pretty useful since there isn’t a lot of difference between the overall experience between the M and the N series). Despite this pre-existing setting of expectations, I was still let down because of the reasons I mentioned above. Does this mean it’s a completely useless device? No, it’s not and the fact is I have been using it for hours since the day it landed. Battery life without the Wi-Fi is good. But is it a device of any significant value-add? For the price it commands, I will have to be honest: it does not justify any additional value-added. Had this device been at least 50% cheaper than what it is priced at currently, perhaps things could be different. The downside is that isn’t much happening on the big screen e-reader scene so there isn’t a lot of choice, notwithstanding the Good E-reader 13.3 inch launch and the reMarkable writing e-reader scheduled to be launched later this year.


    • Hi Anand,
      Thank you so very much for your detailed review.
      I was thinking of getting the Onyx N96. But am not sure whether it would answer my needs…
      How can I contact you for more information?


    • Did you try setting the refresh mode to A2/partial refresh before using the browser. Doing this helped the browsing experience on my rooted NST and Sony PRS-T1.

      It still isn’t perfect, but works fairly well for static, textual pages. I wanted it because I find myself on wikipedia a lot an generally prefer to read than watch on the internet.

  8. Hello Anand,
    thanks a lot for this review. I own a very cheap bought PocketBook Pro 912 (in fact it was sold as not working, but a simple hardware-reset solvend the problem) and want to use it for reading magazines in A4 (similar to US legal oder letter) outside of rooms, in bright daylight, where tablets etc. are not useable. But the letters are so small that reading is very hard and due to the complex construction of the PDF-pages it takes to long to change the page. Simple A4-documents, only text or only a few graphics, with “normal” letter-size can be readed in a sufficient way. But this is not the purpose I want to use the device.
    So my idea was buying the N96 Dual Touch, to simply and fast zoom-up the parts of the page I want to read, as I can do it with every tablet (not possible with the PocketPro 912).
    Maybe you can add some words to your review in respect of this matter.
    Regards, Michael

  9. Personalmente , me parece un gran producto: poco peso , tamaño ideal de pantalla, resolucion mejorable pero aceptable de hecho no noto diferencia ni limitacion para leer pues es tecnologia carta y es mejor que la mejor de kndle dx que era pearl .
    Respecto a por que no se habla y promociona este producto co deberia, tal vez se trata de alta politica de boicot a productos relacionados con Rusia

  10. Do you guys think Boox N96 can cope with college tasks? Such as reading heavy textbook PDFs (100-400mb, a thousand pages) and notes taking? I use my Windows Surface 3 a lot for that along with the Surface pen. But because of eye strain after long study sessions, I was considering Boox as a substitute. The BOOX N96 ML is 340 euros in Amazon. That’s expensive for me. But do you think it would be worth for my case?

    Thanks for your reviews!

    • It’s hard to say. The performance is definitely going to feel like a considerable downgrade from the Surface with the single-core 1GHz processor. If you’re the patient sort it might work okay but the newer Note and Max2 are much better devices overall with the upgraded hardware and newer software. Onyx seems to have mostly abandoned the N96 at this point so I doubt there are going to be any software updates in the future. You could hold out for the Boox Note S that might be getting released soon. It’s similar to the N96 but it has a quad-core processor and Android 6.0.

      • Thanks a lot, Nathan. Very useful advice. I’m reading about Boox Note S, it might be released soon. I guess I’ll just wait a little…