The BOOX Max2: An E-reader For Serious Readers

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Max2 e-reader
The new e-reader from BOOX, the Max2 (Image from Onyx International)

It wasn’t too many years ago when there were quite a few e-readers on the market and then the Kindle seemed to dominate. I wasn’t much of a Kindle fan until I started reading a lot more books.

Once you begin reading for an hour or two or more each day and even more on the weekends, you start to appreciate how nice having a device that is dedicated to *just* functioning as an e-reader can be. But what if you take it up a notch and want to not only ready but take some serious notes while you do it?

That is where the BOOX Max 2 comes in.

What is BOOX Max2?

The BOOX Max2 is the first Dual-Mode e-ink display device that not only functions as an e-reader but also as a 2nd display and allows you to take hand-written notes.

Max2 e-reader
The Max2 is designed to be used and a 2nd monitor when you aren’t using it as an e-reader(the stand shown is for example only and is not sold with the Max2) (Image from Onyx International)

BOOX is a line of e-reader devices from Onyx International. Onyx International formed in 2006 and specializes in high-end electronic books or e-readers.

Below are just a few of the features of the Max2:

  • Large e-ink display (13.3″ with a resolution of 1650×2200 DOTS, 207 ppi)
  • Supports 3rd party applications from the Android App Store like the Kindle app
  • Paper-like writing experience, smooth, pressure sensitivity, no time delay in writing
  • Take notes in a split-screen mode right alongside the material you are reading
  •  Export all notes and highlights either as a separate exported file or merge your notes in-line with the text you are reading
  • Use the Max2 as a 2nd monitor without having to install any drivers
  • Android 6.0 operation system
  • Built-in reading statistics
  • Support for a large number of e-book formats such as PDF, Epub, Mobi, Docx, TXT, HTML, FB2, CHM, DJVU, JPG, CBR, CBZ
  • E-music score display
  • Powerful PDF reading experience, supports Font Reflow, Manual crop, Comic Mode, and Contrast adjustment

Why Would You Need a BOOX Max2?

I came across the BOOX line of e-readers at CES this past January in Las Vegas.

BOOX Max2 e-reader
One of the folks in the BOOX booth at CES 2018 was a bit of an artist and drew up a quick sketch on the Max2 (Image by Skip Owens)

What really caught my eye with respect to the BOOX line of e-readers, and the Max2 specifically, was that it was an open platform and it supported the ability to take hand-written notes.

Why would this combination of features be such a selling point?

If you are simply reading for pure enjoyment and entertainment, then these features aren’t all that important. But if you are reading and want to take a lot of notes or are doing research, then these features are quite important.

A Kindle is perfectly fine if you are just reading to read (in fact it is more than fine which is why it is such a popular choice for many people). The Kindle can even allow you to highlight various passages and then export out those highlights as a separate document.

But what if you wanted to take it a step further? What if you want to either annotate with typed text or hand-written notes right on top of the content you were reading? That just isn’t possible with a Kindle e-reader and isn’t very practical with most of the modern tablets on the market. And let’s face it, a tablet like an iPad isn’t very well suited for consuming a large number of books. Reading for a long period of time using a modern computing screen can cause eye strain, so for long reads, a dedicated e-reader with some kind of e-ink technology is really the only way to go.

So if you do a large amount of reading and need to take notes (more than just highlighting a few passages) then you need something more powerful and flexible than a Kindle. Also, if you do research, it helps to have multiple documents open at once. The Max2 with its large screen and open format system allows you to open and read multiple documents at once (up to four).

How I Have Been Using the BOOX Max2

I’m not a researcher but I was interested in the ability to do more than just highlight passages while I read.

Last year. I started reading more (a lot more) and starting keeping a notebook called the “Commonplace Book.” I will be publishing a series of articles soon on GeekDad about keeping a Commonplace Book but for the purposes of this article, all you really need to know about them is this: a Commonplace Book is a way to take notes about everything you read so you can add your own thoughts on top of the material you are reading and then combine those thoughts and ideas with other thoughts and ideas you have about other books you read in the future.

So, as I read a book, I like to highlight quotes and passages that I think are either something that I want to remember later or I have thoughts about and want to expand on. Highlighting passages is easy and can be done on a device like a Kindle or an iPad. But if I want to add my own thoughts to the text I have just highlighted, this simply isn’t possible on the Kindle and, in general, can’t be done practically with the iPad.

For example, on the iPad, if I am reading a book using the iBooks application I don’t have the ability to make my own notes within the iBooks application. I would need to open up a second application and then take notes within that applications and then combine the highlighted text within iBooks with my own notes manually.

While using the Max2, there are two different ways I have found that I can take notes while reading books. One way is to put the Max2 into a split-view mode with the Kindle app on the left side of the screen and the Max2 note-taking application open on the right side of the screen.

BOOX Max2 e-reader
The Max2 allows you to take hand-written notes side-by-side with the text you are reading (Image by Skip Owens)

This works well if I am only taking hand-written notes, but if I want to take notes about a particular highlighted passage, I somehow need to link the highlighted text within the Kindle app to the hand-written note I just wrote on the Max2 note-taking application. This can be done manually after I am done reading the book and export my highlight from the Kindle application but it is still work.

The better solution, especially if you are doing some kind of research, is to combine the material you are reading, the highlights you make, and any annotations or hand-written notes all into the same document. This can be done with the Max2 if you are reading something in any of these formats (PDF, DJVU, CBR, CBZ).

That way when you are done reading, you have a single file that contains everything you need all in one place…the perfect solution for someone who does a lot of research.

Verdict On the BOOX Max2

With a $799 price tag here in the United States this is not an e-reader for your average everyday person.

But if you are someone who does some serious reading, either in academia or as research (or even has a specific use like keeping a Commonplace book), then this is a device that was designed with you in mind.

The build quality of the Max 2 is impeccable. Despite its size, it is still comfortable to hold and extremely lightweight. The touchscreen interface is very responsive and the inclusion of physical buttons at the bottom of the device is a nice professional touch (a feature that is only available in the top of the line Kindle devices).

Physically writing notes on the Max 2 with the supplied stylus is very natural and fluid. I didn’t notice any lag and given the large screen, it felt like I was writing notes on a pad of paper. Also, because the Max2 has such a high-resolution screen, it makes a really great second monitor. Simply connect it to your computer (no need to install any drivers) and you can take advantage of that extra screen when you aren’t using it as an e-reader.

If you are interested in picking up a Max2 the easiest way to do that here in the United States is by going to Amazon.com. The Max2 is also available from other international vendors by visiting the Onyx International site directly.

Disclaimer: Onyx International supplied me with a Max2 demo unit for the purpose of this review but had no input into my review.

 

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