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Old 03-04-2015, 07:00 AM   #1
azw409
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Onyx Boox M96C First Impressions

Hi All,

I received my M96C today from EReader Store and I thought I'd share my first impressions.

Firstly, it feels reasonably solid and not too cheap. It it is quite heavy and overall feels similar in size and weight to an iPad although it is plastic, of course, rather than metal.

The screen is disappointing, the home screen has plenty of contrast but if you use a standard Android app like Google Play Books or GMail, it's fuzzy, indistinct and lacking in contrast. Trying the A2 refresh mode makes it even worse in that the text becomes illegible and often the screen doesn't even update. I don't really know the purpose of this mode as it seems like you'd never want to use it.

The finger touch system is very poor in that it's fussy and generally unresponsive - you have to press several times before it gets a hit on things like form fields. It's particularly bad around the margins of the screen e.g. on the status bar. I thought I'd try the Android recalibrate option but, for me, it always fails when I touch the first calibration point. I will try a stylus and see whether that helps.

I updated the firmware to the latest on the site 'Update 2015-02-04' which all went well but I didn't really notice any appreciable difference in responsiveness.

I uploaded my books from Calibre and then tried using the built in library and book reader. These worked reasonably well and had much better contrast than Play Books. A large PDF book that I had, opened no problem and fitted on the screen nicely. The text rendering wasn't great though and smaller text was difficult to read - probably as a result of the relatively low resolution of the screen. Opening an ePub and the text was good and it was good to get more text on the screen than with my Kobo touch.

Overall I'd say the touch system was noticeably worse than the Kobo Touch, the screen maybe marginally clearer, the Android better but stock Google apps are disappointing.

If you want a large screen, my recommendation would be to go for the M96 with stylus rather than this one. I'm hoping that a future firmware update, for the M96C, will improve the touch system and contrast but both are not good considering this is a $350 device.

Hope that's useful to others.
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:37 AM   #2
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Thank you for you review.

The more I read about the M96C, the more I feel like this reader may be vastly underwhelming and unsatisfactory for my purposes.

I would like a reader that betters my Kindle DX-G.

I'm reasonably certain (based upon opinions here at Mobileread) that the regular M96 is a bit better.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:38 AM   #3
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I also got my M96c from booxtor and it has manual contrast adjustment under the Quality/Performance mode selection which you can adjust to make text clearer on apps and webpages. I use it a lot. I agree the touchscreen is quite unresponsive and inaccurate and annotating is quite difficult but I got used to it after a while. It still is my favorite device for reading ebooks, pdfs and rss. I also use it for typing with a bluetooth keyboard just to have a break from my desktop's dual lcd monitors.
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Old 03-04-2015, 01:31 PM   #4
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If you don't want to carry a stylus, the C makes it possible to select words to use the dictionary.
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:44 PM   #5
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If you don't want to carry a stylus, the C makes it possible to select words to use the dictionary.
Daydreaming.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:25 PM   #6
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No, after selling my M96 and buying an M96C, I can finally use the dictionary.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:35 PM   #7
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The A2 mode is for when you don't want the screen to keep refreshing as per most e-ink devices. So for example when browsing, scrolling will not flash. Instead the screen will scroll smoothly like LCD. A downside is the screen becomes monochrome b&w instead of grey scale. I find it essential for browsing and reading pdf files.
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Old 03-05-2015, 05:52 AM   #8
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Having tried the A2 mode, I can see that it gives smooth scrolling on web pages which is impressive for an eInk display but unfortunately you can't read the text once you've stopped scrolling which makes it pointless really. It's a shame it can't use A2 for panning and zooming and then refresh normal mode once you stop.

Having used the device a bit longer, I've got more used to the awkward touch system but really find myself using the hardware buttons where I can because the work every time. I've also followed aswang's advice and played around with the contrast settings in other apps and got a usable compromise of black and smudgy where you can read the text.

Viewing PDF's is great though using the built in OnyxReader especially with the auto-crop zoom feature. I'm also trying music scores too and these are pretty good in landscape mode although I'm not sure how the page turns will work.

The low res of screen is beginning to really annoy me though as some small text isn't very legible and even bigger text is blocky looking particularly if you turn the contrast up.

Overall it's acceptable although I can't help thinking the stylus model would have been a better option and it's expensive for what it is particularly considering the low-res screen.
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:37 AM   #9
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Thanks. I'll stick with my existing M96
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Old 03-06-2015, 05:53 PM   #10
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I got my M96C on Monday from eReader Store. So far I like it a lot, but I don't have any other e-readers to compare it to (beside my phone, a Galaxy Nexus). Could the screen have greater contrast? Yes. Could it be higher resolution? Sure. But I think it's still very usable, especially for reading PDFs that you can't read on other e-readers, which is what I'm using it for. It's light years ahead of the first generation iPad, I once used one of those to read a 300 page PDF file from archive.org. My eyes hated me. Now they like me.

Last edited by Queso; 03-06-2015 at 07:10 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-07-2015, 02:33 AM   #11
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Download Bookery, Amazon's new e-reader font, or Caecilia, one of their earlier typefaces. They work well on the M9x readers.
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Old 03-07-2015, 11:01 AM   #12
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Download Bookery, Amazon's new e-reader font, or Caecilia, one of their earlier typefaces. They work well on the M9x readers.
You'll have recompile the pdf with the new font. Not sure how. But yes, definitely try different fonts to improve contrast. I use bold caecilia.

I'm not sure that I want to drop the significant investment to pay for this device + shipping + insurance + the danger of having to return it. Hopefully they'll improve and there will be more choice, but I'm glad Onyx is leading the way.
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Old 03-07-2015, 11:05 AM   #13
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Having tried the A2 mode, I can see that it gives smooth scrolling on web pages which is impressive for an eInk display but unfortunately you can't read the text once you've stopped scrolling which makes it pointless really.
Really? It works okay on my Nook ST. No blurring in Opera Mini.

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It's a shame it can't use A2 for panning and zooming and then refresh normal mode once you stop.
Maybe you can? It's probably possible to set up some kind of on-screen shortcut to the icon that turns A2 on and off. I use a tool that allows me to bind the A2 app to existing icon in the status bar. I can also access it via button-saviour by holding the Home button so that it brings up a list of recent apps.

You have to be a tinkerer to get these ground-breaking and flexible devices to do what you want. It's half the fun.
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