Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best E Ink tablet I've used is not by ReMarkable or Kindle

The Boox Note Air 3 C provides an excellent note-taking experience for those looking to get organized and productive.
Written by Allison Murray, Staff Writer
Person holding up a Boox Note Air 3 C tablet with notes on its screen
Allison Murray/ZDNET

ZDNET's key takeaways

  • The Onyx Boox Note Air 3 C is a color e-ink tablet built for note-taking that costs $500. 
  • The tablet is packed with templates and productivity features while offering an impressive pen-to-paper experience. 
  • It's a little lacking for video or browsing the web, and the library of e-Books is not very extensive.  

As a writer, it's always a concern when you fall into a productivity or creativity slump. I recently found myself in this situation and in a desperate attempt to organize my life and get my creative spark back, bought two paperback notebooks. I carried these around for while, opening them a handful of times but ultimately they didn't do much to jumpstart my inner muse. Then, I tried the Onyx Boox Note Air 3 C.

Also: The best note-taking tablets you can buy

This color e-ink tablet finally revitalized my productivity with its array of note-taking templates. I found my creativity creeping back by using the stylus, which has virtually no lag and feels as smooth as your favorite ballpoint pen on a smooth pad of paper. The screen has a color 1240 x 930 (150 PPI) resolution and a 2480 x 1860 (300 PPI—the same as the Kindle Scribe) resolution in black and white. 

View at Amazon

While it doesn't have as crisp a color display as a traditional tablet like an iPad, this tablet's purpose is for note-taking, and it does an excellent job. Forget fancy note-taking apps; the Onyx Boox Note Air 3 C has all the best features of the best apps, like templates, audio recording, color-coding, inserting links and attachments to notes, and more. Plus, built-in artificial intelligence allows for text recognition, shape perfection, and a strikethrough erase feature that makes erasing much easier.

Also: The best digital notebooks you can buy in 2024

From organizing to-do lists to drafting daily planners to just acting as a space for journaling my thoughts, this tablet replaced all my bulky notebooks into one slim design (it weighs less than a pound). And, I still got the satisfaction of writing things down on paper. I even downloaded a coloring app from the Google Play store (you can download almost any app to your heart's desire) that replaced my daily scrolling habit for a much more mindful experience.

Split screen feature on the Boox Note Air 3 C
Allison Murray/ZDNET

The tablet has several features that make it a productivity machine. For example, there is a split-screen feature that allows you to switch between two different apps. This came in handy when planning my garden bed layout: on one screen, I was able to draw out what herbs I would plant where, while on the other screen, I was looking up on the web which herbs grow best together and which herbs to avoid growing near each other.

Also: The best drawing tablets of 2024: Expert recommended

In addition, if you need to use this tablet for work or school, you can easily send files to the tablet from your computer or smartphone using BOOXdrop. It takes mere seconds, and you can annotate PDFs and other Word documents with ease. I found it extremely useful for editing stories and planning content for my daily work.

While you could use the Note Air 3 C as an e-reader, Boox's library of available books is greatly lacking. Luckily, you can download the Kindle app, which allows you to access more titles and color highlights within your books. Since it's a color e-ink screen, I found it great for reading magazines. Just remember you won't be able to use features like handwritten notes or adjust the page appearance in the Kindle app (and most third-party apps).

Also: The best reading tablets

As with all e-ink displays, you sometimes get a ghosting effect due to a refresh lag. I noticed this only in certain apps, especially third-party ones. Browsing the web works well enough, but again, it's an e-ink tablet. There's a built-in speaker that was helpful for watching a YouTube video about growing rosemary, although the sound was a little harsh and provided little bass.

ZDNET's buying advice

If you're looking for a note-taking tablet to get your groove back, I couldn't recommend the Onyx Boox Note Air 3 C more. Its color e-ink screen puts it ahead of the Kindle Scribe and the reMarkable tablets, and the writing experience and availability of templates make it easy to organize your thoughts.

Editorial standards