The Onyx Boox Max3 is the latest device from Onyx. Like earlier Max models it has a non-frontlit 13.3-inch E Ink screen, but they’ve updated the design on this newer model and they upgraded some of the hardware components and updated the software to Android 9.0.
One of the main differentiating features on Onyx’s Max model is the addition of a micro HDMI port so you can use the device as a secondary computer monitor in addition to being an ereader and digital notepad.
Personally I have no interest in using an E Ink monitor, but I know that some do so I wanted to try it out and post a video review showing how the Onyx Max3 performs when using it as a secondary monitor.
Current E Ink technology is best suited for reading applications because of the low refresh rate and lack of color.
If you know this going in and have reasonable expectations, the Max3 can be used for basic tasks like text editing, coding, web browsing, etc.
But the fact is using the Max3 as a monitor is not going to be a pleasant experience for most people. Frankly, it’s surprising that there’s a market for E Ink monitors at all considering the large amount of ghosting (afterimages) and lag.
The lag is especially off-putting at first when trying to move the cursor around but you do get used to it after awhile. Messing with the mouse speed settings might improve matters some.
Onyx suggests having the Max connected to a power source when using it as a monitor because using it as such requires more battery, but it will work with just the HDMI cable plugged in.
The Max3 comes with an HDMI cable (full size to micro) and USB-C cable in the box, so it comes with everything you need to use it as a monitor, except it does not come with a power adapter.
It’s also worth noting the touchscreen can’t be used to interact with the secondary display at all for things like scrolling and selecting.
Monitor Mode Settings
There are three different refresh modes to choose from when using monitor mode: Text Mode, Speed Mode, and X Mode. You can adjust the contrast and refresh frequency for each setting.
The minimum refresh setting is 1 minute. There’s also the option to manually refresh anytime using an onscreen refresh icon, which can be disabled in settings if you don’t want to see it.
There’s also the option to rotate the screen orientation in settings.
As the name implies, Text Mode works best for text-based applications by enhancing contrast, but the contrast bump makes most images look black.
X Mode is the fastest setting but it puts a visible grid over the screen that looks terrible. I have no idea why anyone would want to use this mode.
Speed Mode is a nice compromise between the two, with readable text and visible images.
I would not recommend buying the Onyx Max3 to be used solely as an E Ink monitor. It’s way too expensive for that considering the wonky performance of E Ink in general. The device is a much better ereader and digital notepad than it is a secondary monitor.
Frankly the monitor mode feature seems more like an afterthought. Onyx hasn’t put as much effort into making it work as smoothly as it could. Dasung’s E Ink Paperlike monitors appear to have less lag and better refreshing from their videos, but I haven’t reviewed one so I cannot say for certain.
Regardless, the Max3 is a better value if you plan to use it as an ereader too because it’s much cheaper than Dasung’s monitors, and it does work well enough for tasks like basic text editing so the monitor feature can be useful for some things if you don’t like staring at an LCD screen all day.