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Boox Note Air3 (B+W) Unboxing & First Impressions

I finally bit the bullet and bought the monochrome Boox Note Air3.

I only had the funds to buy one e-ink tablet in January and I’d convinced myself that Boox would release a new 13.3″ device. This did not come to pass, so I opted to spend my budget on the Note Air3 (it’s Sod’s Law that a new e-ink tablet will be released now and I won’t be able to afford it lol).

Here’s my unboxing experience and initial review of the Note Air3 (henceforth to be abbreviated to NA3).


The unboxing process was almost identical to that of its sibling, the Note Air3 C (NA3C).

Within the box, you get the tablet itself, the Boox standard stylus (Boox Pen Plus) that does not have an eraser at the end, a USB-C cable, and the little tool for opening the MicroSD card tray. And, of course, the obligatory literature and warnings that no-one reads.

The folio is not included in the package if you buy from Amazon – it is an additional $50. If you buy from the Boox Store (or Boox Euro Store), the cover is thrown in for the same $400 cost, however the returns policy is more difficult (and costlier).

I bought it from Amazon without the folio because I already had a folio for the NA3C (full review here) that I could use with it.

Which leads me nicely onto my next point – in terms of design and build, the NA3 and NA3C are virtually identical. They use exactly the same metal casing, with the only difference being that the NA3C is about 20g lighter (in practical terms this weight difference was imperceivable to me).

NOTE: I explore the full set of differences between the NA3 and NA3C here.

Having both the NA3 and NA3C side-by-side did highlight one of the compromises of colour Kaleido 3 colour screen technology – it makes the whole screen several shades darker. This difference is highlighted in the image below:

So, with the monochrome NA3, you get a background that is a nice white colour (like a brand new T-shirt), and with the colour NA3C you get background that’s muted ( like a T-shirt that’s been run through the washing machine 100 times).

However, this does depend on the ambient lighting and the screens on both devices can be me made brighter by turning on the fronlight (although this brings with it a bit more battery drain).

NOTE: I discuss the pros and cons of colour e-ink screens here.

Initial Setup

I went through the initial setup in the same way that I have with lots of previous Boox tablets.

Firstly, the setup wizard, where I chose my language, agreed to the user agreement and privacy policy, and selected my timezone.

Then I configured the wifi connection ready to update the latest firmware (but I was pleasantly surprised that this was already up to date). I then connected to my Boox account to synchronise my existing notebooks with the NA3, and binded my Google Drive so that I could access my cloud-based book library.

And I disabled the annoying little Navigation Ball, which always gets in my way. Pro Tip: You disable the NavBall in Apps, not Settings as you might expect.

First Impressions

My first impression of the Note Air3 is that it has all of the qualities that I loved about its predecessor, the Note Air2+, whilst also offering some enhancements (e.g. MicroSD card slot, fingerprint scanner, Android 12). The hardware specs have also been updated, which makes the device feel snappier and more responsive (although I’m not sure yet if this is real or imagined).

At the same time, it resolves some of the gripes that many people had with the NA3C. The default screen contrast without the frontlight on is brighter and the battery is likely to last much longer before needing a recharge.

But these are compromises due to limitations in current technologies; Kaleido 3 and Boox Super Refresh (BSR).

If you want a colour screen, you have to accept that the screen will be darker. And if you want fast refresh rates in third-party apps, you have to accept that it is going to drain the battery faster. The flip side is that if you want long battery life, you can’t really have the fast refresh rates, and if you want a screen that does not look subdued without the frontlight turned on, you have to forsake colour.

Note: I’m not sure if the battery drain caused by BSR could be fixed with software (e.g. and option to turn it off, perhaps) but this would solve one of these issues.

Boox have made making this compromise easier by offering two distinct but similar e-ink tablets. The NA3 competes with the features of monochrome note-taking tablets like the Supernote and Kindle Scribe, whilst the NA3C competes with the features of higher-end productivity tablets with an e-ink screen, like those made by Bigme.

I feel that the NA3C also competes with the (very similar and more expensive) Boox Tab Ultra C Pro, and is probably a better choice in many cases.

Final words

Over the next few days, I’m going to be using my Note Air3 and hope to bring you my full review next week.

About the author

Me and my e-ink tablets
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Dan Dutton is passionate about E-ink writing tablets, which bring together the pleasure of writing on paper with the power of digital technology. When he bought his first tablet, he realised that there wasn't a lot of unbiased information available for people that were considering buying an E-ink tablet, and so he built eWritable.

3 thoughts on “Boox Note Air3 (B+W) Unboxing & First Impressions”

  1. You go for Sod’s law? Usually I am under the tyranny of Murphy’s Law.

    That being said, somewhat true to their laws, a coloured 13 inch is now in pre-order at Goodereader for readmoo. Nothing I would likely spend money on. Perhaps it will start a 2024 trend? They are going for the “first evar” 13 inch coloured tablet…

    Maybe Dasung will come along and give us the first ever 13 inch coloured monitor, and bigme will bestow upon us an the first ever all-in-one 13-inch coloured pc tablet on kickstart?

    • Haha, it’s usually Sod’s Law to us Brits 🙂

      I tend to avoid GoodEReader for news because they make so many product announcements that eventually come to nothing. There’s some good stuff on there but you have to hunt around for it amongst all the tripe that they publish….what I mean is, it’s very comprehensive for news but quantity is not always a good thing.

      There’s got to be a new 13.3″ tablet (colour or not) being released soon, hasn’t there? Whether it’s Boox, Bigme, Fujitsu or even some new player in the space…

      • I remember you mentioning something about GoodEReader, but I don’t think you were explicit as to why at that time. I do find that their website has a lot of “bloat” news- news for news sake. I suppose if they are paying people they have to give them something to do…


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