It’s easy to think Amazon is the only company making ebook readers, as it sells the vast majority of ebooks around the world, but it’s not. The Boox Note Pro is one of the most compelling alternatives we’ve seen in a while. Not only does it have an attractive design, but it also has access to an app store that increases its functionality many times over.
Let’s talk about the look first. That’s a 10.3-inch screen on the front with a 1,872 x 1,404 pixel resolution, and it’s crisp, sharp, and beautiful. It’s set underneath a flat piece of glass, which is flush to the body, making it look modern and stylish.
The back is covered with a grippy material with minimal branding — giving it the same classy look as many Kindles. It’s very lightweight at 370 grams, and only 6.8mm thick too. You can easily hold it in one hand, although frustratingly it often recognized our fingers on the touchscreen when handling it this way. There’s only two physical controls, a home button under the screen and a sleep/wake key on the top.
New for this generation of Note Pro is a backlight, which can be adjusted between cool and warm light via a slider. It’s easy to use, and if you’re staring at the screen for long periods of time, we expect many to find beneficial. The control is found along the top of the screen, as part of a newly-designed interface. This is another marked improvement over the models we saw at last year’s CES show.
The Boox Note Pro runs Android 6.0 with heavy customization over the top, and no access to Google Play or other Google services. Menus run down the side of the screen, and are responsive to the touch. The one marked Apps leads to Boox’s own application store, which contains many of the top writing and reading-related apps including Microsoft Word, Excel, and crucially Amazon’s Kindle.
While most ebooks come from Amazon, there are plenty of other eBook stores around the world, and it’s nice to have a choice. On the Note Pro you can read Kindle ebooks, PDFs, and a range of other file types. The touchscreen also supports styli from Wacom to make it more suitable for work, note-taking, or even writing music too. Text looks great, and the high resolution screen made graphs and other graphics look good as well.
The battery has a 4,100mAh capacity and should be good for around 20 days use, or around five days if it’s used all day. This isn’t as good as some of the smaller Kindles, but considering everything that’s packed into the Note Pro — stylus support, a big screen, and apps — it’s a fair tradeoff. An unnamed quad-core processor powers the ebook reader, along with 4GB of RAM, plus a massive 64GB of internal storage. Performance was snappy, although it did stutter and slow down when zooming in and out of text quickly.
Boox will release the new Note Pro around April, and has yet to confirm the price. The current model costs $500 when purchased through Amazon, and we should expect the new Note Pro to cost a little more. We like it a lot, especially the versatility, as it could arguably replace all reading and note-taking devices — and even be suitable for light work.