The Onyx Boox Max Lumi is a huge e-ink tablet that...

I really want a remarkable 2. She looks so slim and pretty, and my colleague Andrew is not going to shut up on the writing. But the Remarkable 2 is a $ 450 ($ 628) device that is easy to handwrite and markup documents. The 13.3-inch Onyx Boox Max Lumi can do all of these things and play videos, read books, surf the web, and most importantly, backlight everything. I like it so much that it borders on love.

But maybe it’s unfair to compare the two devices. It’s like comparing your multitool to your chef’s knife. The Remarkable 2 is specially designed to restore the pencil-paper experience with e-ink. Remarkably, the backlight skipped because it interfered with the writing experience. Onyx built in the backlight as the much more expensive Onyx Boox Max Lumi considers handwriting to be one of its many functions.

Onyx Boox Max Lumi


A 13.3-inch e-ink tablet that can act as a monitor.


1.299 US-Dollar


It’s incredibly flexible, handy and just plain neat.


It’s huge and incredibly expensive.

It is really an e-ink Android tablet that can perform most of the functions of Android tablets. It comes with Android 10 and a custom launcher. A 2017 Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 chip has enough power to meet all of the needs of an e-ink display – which are much less resource-intensive than most OLED and LED displays. It has a massive 13.3-inch e-ink display with a resolution of 2200 x 1650 and 207 dots per inch. Text, handwriting, and black and white comics look good on this thing, but aren’t quite as good as on smaller devices with 300 dpi displays. In fact, it reminds me a lot of an oversized Onyx Boox Note Air that has similar guts but is based on a small 10.3-inch display at 227 dpi. The devices are similar enough. I’ve kept looking at the $ 1,299 Boox Max Lumi and wondering why it’s worth it compared to the $ 709 Boox Note Air.

The appeal of the Onyx Boox Max Lumi is that it is big. Really massive. I feel like a toddler reading books with it and turning to put it in landscape mode like my iPad or my interface. Even then, it is not intended to be held with one hand. It’s so thin and incredibly light. I am careful to toss it in my bag when going to the park with the dog for an afternoon. But it’s wonderful to take notes. There’s a bit of a lag compared to Remarkable 2 or even Note Air, but not enough to bother me when I’m taking notes while on a call or scribbling during a meeting. I have tiny chicken-scratched handwriting and tightening it for a smaller display causes hand cramps. I just don’t get these when using the Max Lumi for taking notes.

While by no means an artist, I asked a real one to sketch on it, and while she also noticed the lag, she appreciated the support for varying degrees of pressure. Just like on an iPad or high-end Android tablet, the harder you press, the thicker the lines. That’s because of the Wacom layer included in the tablet, though you’ll likely want to invest in a better pen if you make a lot of art on it. The included pen is good for quick note-taking, but it is far too small to be used naturally for long periods of time. Even my tiny hands felt tight after a good use.

Because the Onyx Boox Max Lumi is so large, it can also process most PDF files without the need to scroll or resize them. You can just flip from page to page and take your notes. The built-in note taking app was more than enough for me. An Onyx account is required to sync, but it has worked so far. I would appreciate the help of Google Keep or other note taking programs with the syncing process, but it’s not the end of the world and it’s easy enough to convert notes to text and transfer them that way. The app did a shockingly good job of converting my chicken scratcher to English as it’s a Chinese company and the English language materials on the tablet include some English gaffs.

Split-screen mode is another welcome feature. (Photo: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo)

But if you’re careful about adopting Onyx and the apps it comes with, that’s fine! Since this tablet is based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 636, it also works quite well with other apps. On the last Onyx device I tried, Libby was left behind and Nebo absolutely choked. Both work well with the Max Lumi.

It also has built-in speakers so you can play music or watch a video … if you really want to. I mainly appreciated this thing when a file finished downloading. Bluetooth 5.0 is far more welcome as it lets you pair a keyboard and turn the Max Lumi into an e-ink typewriter. Bluetooth also means that you can use it to play music through your headphones. Since there is no audio jack, you will only work wirelessly or rely on the USB-C port. I grabbed my smartphone to listen to music, but I appreciate that I can do it with this extremely expensive e-ink tablet too.

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

The Max Lumi has several update modes that lower the quality to make it easier to use for web surfing or in this case as an external monitor. This is the fastest update mode. That means low quality, but a mouse that moves across the screen in real time.

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

This is a good middle ground mode that improves quality with relatively little ghosting.

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

Foto: Alex Cranz / Gizmodo, Inhouse Art

This is the typical reading mode. Perfect for books. Terrible for Gizmodo on safari.

I also appreciate that I can use it as a monitor for my computer. There was a bit of screaming when I first plugged in the micro HDMI cable and brought up the built-in monitor app. A laptop’s apparently dark mode doesn’t translate well into e-ink. But once I got that sorted out, it was just absolutely delightful to see macOS and Windows on a large e-ink display. Would I use it in the real world? Absolutely not. Do I like this feature as most tablets don’t have it? Absolutely yes.

I liked controlling Sonos with the Max Lumi. But mostly I just liked it as a great iPad alternative – something to write, edit, and consume media. It is absolutely excellent at doing these things! The problem is, at $ 1,299, it’s incredibly hard to justify buying.

The Max Lumi offers a lot more than the Remarkable 2 for $ 400 ($ 558), and comparing the two devices, there’s no advice to go for the Remarkable 2 when the Max Lumi is so capable (and has a backlit display). But it’s also twice as expensive! More importantly, the Note Air (search for a review soon) does almost everything that the Max Lumi does at half the price – and all I have to sacrifice is a few inches of display. I really like that Onyx is out there showing everyone that e-ink doesn’t limit a display technology the way a multitude of Kindles, Nooks, and Kobo e-readers have led us to believe. Still, I can’t love the Onyx Max Lumi. At $ 1,299, it’s just too expensive for most people.

Read me

  • It’s a huge e-ink tablet that charges for weeks and handles Android apps with ease.
  • It can handle A4 size things! And all the PDF markup you could want!
  • It has handwriting recognition and the ability to run two apps on the screen at the same time!
  • At $ 1,299, it’s way too expensive for most people.

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