Onyx’s ebook readers are among the best E Ink devices for reading PDFs. The Onyx Neo Reader app has a lot more features than a typical ereader, and they just updated it to version 3.0 with the last 2.1 software update.
While other Onyx models like the 10.3-inch Note and 13.3-inch Max are better suited for PDF files because of their larger screens, the 7.8-inch Onyx Boox Nova Pro can still function as an adequate PDF ereader when using Onyx’s zooming features and landscape mode.
At $319 the Nova Pro is considerably cheaper than its larger siblings, and it has the same PDF software as the more expensive models.
The specs are basically the same as well with the 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and Android 6.0 software, so overall performance is similar.
The Nova Pro is open to install Android apps so you can use other PDF apps if you want, but the Neo Reader app is optimized for E Ink and it’s going to work best with the included stylus for adding notes.
The PDF software on the Nova Pro looks different now since the 2.1 update, and they added a couple of new options, but overall the features are largely the same as before so this review is mostly a reprint of the Onyx Note PDF review from last year.
Zooming Options – One downside with the new software is there aren’t as many zooming and cropping options as there used to be. Now there’s just a zoom dial to zoom in by increments, along with fit-to-width and fit-to-page presets. You can also zoom in and out using a pinching gesture. There’s a new “crop step” setting but it doesn’t seem to work properly so I don’t know what it does.
Navigation – There are various navigation settings to customize how the app pages forward and in what order parts of the screen are shown. For example, with two column PDFs you can set the navigation settings to follow the columns from top to bottom and left to right, and with manga you can set it to go from right to left.
Notes and Highlights – You can add handwritten notes and drawings to PDFs by writing directly on the PDF with the Wacom stylus. There’s also a sidenote feature for landscape mode to add blank note pages to a PDF file. You can press and hold to add highlights with either the pen or a finger. You can also attach text notes to highlights, and there are a number of settings and options. All notes and highlights can be exported.
Multiple Documents – With Neo Reader you can have up to four documents open at the same time. Tabs show at the top of the screen to switch between documents.
Contrast Adjustment – The app includes a contrast adjustment tool to make text appear bolder and darker. You can adjust images and text separately.
Text-to-speech – TTS works with PDFs but there isn’t a speaker on the Nova Pro so you have to use Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
Reflow – The Neo Reader app offers PDF reflow, which works best for basic text-based PDFs. This makes a PDF appear more like an ebook and gives it adjustable font sizes and layout settings.
Dictionary – Onyx uses StarDict for the dictionary, with different languages ready to install, and you can download more online. Holding a word opens the menu showing a definition or you can search the dictionary manually.
Misc – The Onyx Nova Pro also offers search, table of contents, you can set page refresh frequency, add bookmarks, use hyperlinks, rotate the screen in all four directions, jump to pages, go forward and back, it can automatically turn pages, and you can view 4 or 9 pages at once. The new software has the option to set custom tap zones for paging. Another new feature they added is the ability to view two pages at once in landscape mode.