Technology against "antiquity": a review of the reader ONYX BOOX Chronos

Now it will be difficult to remember when e-books (in the sense, devices with E Ink-screens) appeared in the lives of book lovers: the boom was sudden, the hype was short-lived, and now there is some kind of lull as if there was nothing. This did not prevent many manufacturers from earning money on readers in a short time (the demand was overwhelming), and nowadays there are still a lot of worthy e-readers, although it’s foolish to hide that their stores have become noticeably less.

Modern bukridery significantly different from what we saw in the cars of the Moscow metro a few years ago: the screens have become larger, the lights - not so flickering, besides added "buns" like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. What can the e-reader market offer in 2017? Today we will meet with one interesting specimen.

If you put aside all paper books and talk only about devices, it was enough even a brief acquaintance of E ink-reader to understand that reading from a smartphone, tablet or laptop screen can not be compared with the sensations from reading from the screen on electronic ink. But the book book is different - as practice has shown, the happiness of the owners of noname-readers is not as complete as the owners of "thoroughbred" devices. Therefore, if you now choose a similar device for yourself, it is better to look in the direction of the manufacturer who specializes in them (and preferably on nothing else). This is a kind of guarantee that even the device will not be without support a couple of months after the purchase.

One of these brands is ONYX BOOX, represented in Russia by the company MakTsentr . This is not just a company that glues its nameplates and resells devices - ONYX BOOX develop technologies themselves and implement them in their products, and in the model range of devices there is a solution for any reader's caprice. In this article there will be a story about one unusual device from the company's arsenal - the reader of ONYX BOOX Chronos .

It is always interesting when the manufacturer calls new models of their devices not just “MVGFF1284” (which is not only difficult to memorize, but also difficult to pronounce), but lays some meaning in the names. So, for example, the Razer company calls its gaming mice the names of snakes, the keyboards - the names of spiders, the audio system - altogether the names of sharks. ONYX BOOX also got confused and started giving names to their e-books by the names of famous historical personalities (though not always real): Cleopatra, Monte Cristo, Darwin, Robinson Crusoe and others. Our guest today, Chronos, is one of the first gods of ancient Greek mythology; the god of time, born out of primary chaos and gave birth to three elements: fire, air, and water (as a result of the merging of which the Earth later appeared). Apparently, for this reason, the manufacturer has posted on the cover, box and screen saver a large number of hours.

However, the “ancient” Chronos (now we are already talking about the reader) cannot be called “stuffing” - there is already a 9.7-inch E Ink Carta screen, MOON Light backlight, touch control and support for the SNOW Field operation mode. Let's understand what lies behind all these names.

By the way, there is also another Chronos in Greek mythology - the 12th son of the sky god Uranus and his wife Gaea. According to the prophecy, Uranus had to fall from the hands of one of his sons, so he sent all his children under the ground. Only Cronosa's wife was able to save up to adolescence, and he made his father a chik-chik. Often Chronos is depicted with a sickle or scythe — the very instrument with which he made the black work.

The E Ink Carta display is the pinnacle of E Ink technology. One of its advantages compared with the screens that we saw in the 3-year-old reading rooms is a higher contrast (15: 1 against 10: 1 and 7: 1 in previous technologies) and a light substrate. And of course, the higher resolution is at Chronos 825x1200.

Full list of specifications ONYX BOOX Chronos:
touch, 9.7 ", E Ink Carta, 825 × 1200 pixels, 16 shades of gray, 15: 1 contrast ratio
MOON Light
Touch screen
Capacitive multisensory
operating system
Android 4.2
Lithium-polymer, capacity 3000 mAh
Rockchip RK3026 1 GHz, dual core
512 MB
Internal memory
8 GB
Memory card
MicroSD / microSDHC
Supported Formats
Graphic: jpg, png, gif, bmp
Other: PDF, DjVu
Wireless connection
Wi-Fi 802.11b / g / n, Bluetooth 4.0
258.2 × 177.3 × 9.5 mm
450 g


The device is sold in a white box of thick cardboard - if it were not for the inscriptions on it, it would seem that this is a box of some super-expensive candy or some kind of gift edition of a rare book. Anyway, it’s really not a shame to present such a box as a gift to someone who reads a lot.

In addition to the standard set of cable like micro-USB, adapter for charging (5V / 1A) and documentation, in the box with the reader put such a useful thing as a cover.

Whatever you say, and any large screen is quite vulnerable to any mechanical stress (especially during transportation), and here the manufacturer eliminates the need to run around online stores in search of something “compatible”. Moreover, the complete leather case is “smart” - when you close it, it automatically puts the e-book in sleep mode (this was the first time we saw the appearance of the SmartCover cover for iPad).

The cover is securely fixed and does not greatly increase the weight of the device, but the thickness with it grows almost twice.

Although it is not distracting while reading, as it does not hide by a centimeter on each side, it just “sits” neatly on the device, as if holding it in the corners. Well, the manufacturer did what he could, and then, as they say, everyone reads as he wants.

The cover performs not only a protective function, it can also be used as a stand. It is useful if you use the reader to study - for example, open a textbook in horizontal orientation or rewrite notes. Or as a music book.

The black and red instruction is moderately detailed and clear - as they say, it is read in one breath, from cover to cover.

On this, the manufacturer decided to limit the scope of supply, although on the other hand, what else is needed? Is that the memory card could be added with a set of books, but as practice shows, the preferences for a set of books each have their own, as well as to the volume of the flash drive. And, as Yevgeny Grishkovets said, in order to buy a memory card for sneakers for yourself, you do not need to finish the quarter with “excellent” :)


Due to the presence of the touch screen, the reader looks a bit unusual: there are practically no buttons all around the perimeter, since all basic actions can be performed without them.

Nevertheless, the manufacturer decided not to change the traditions and placed additional controls on the right side of the front panel - two buttons for scrolling, as well as the “Menu” and “Back” buttons.

On each of the buttons there is a small convex "point" - so that you can press the desired button without looking.

Here it is worth noting one thing right away: none of the manufacturers of electronic readers has long been engaged in the production of readers with such a screen diagonal (9.7 inches is a real iPad). And of those similar devices that were previously on the market, there was neither a capacitive touch screen, nor a backlight function. ONYX BOOX, in the times of the ancient Greeks, had already produced two models with such a set of functions - ONYX BOOX Prometheus and ONYX BOOX Prometheus 2 .

Chronos is made in matt black, the case of the device is made of aluminum-magnesium alloy - despite the diagonal, it feels very monolithic and looks much more solid plastic readers. Whatever you say, and the use of metal in the device does its job.

In addition to the screen and control buttons, on the front panel there is the logo of the manufacturer, the back is completely empty. However, when using the cover from the kit (and it’s better to use it), the back end will still be completely closed.

There are also functional elements only at the bottom end - there is a power button, a microUSB connector for charging the device and a slot for microSD memory cards. There was a place and a hole for the forced reboot, traditional for electronic readers, as well as the LED indicator. The latter is lit in red when connected to a power source or blue, if, for example, the device is turned on.

Even a cursory review of the ONYX BOOX range of devices is enough to understand that the appearance of the devices has never been a problem. Chronos was no exception - it looks cool, although from a distance it still looks more like a tablet than a reading room.

Reading and display

On the 9.7-inch screen E Ink Carta fits almost any content that you want to read. The resolution of 1200 x 825 is, of course, not FullHD and the pixel density is not as great as on tablets, however, it is enough for accurate output of even the smallest elements: pictograms, small print, etc. It is pleasant to look at the screen, eyes do not strain, fonts of any size remain clear. And if somewhere and too small, there is always a multitouch zoom.

The SNOW Field technology turned out to be interesting in practice: it minimizes the number of artifacts (residues from the previous image) on the screen when it is partially redrawn — for example, when “turning pages”. You can calmly scroll the text (and not wait until it “frame by frame” is drawn) or flip through the pages - no remnants of the previous text remain.

The diagonal of the device is ideal for reading all sorts of technical documentation - electrical wiring diagrams, manuals, specs, floor plans of the house, graphs and any other files, most of which are images in the form of diagrams, tables and diagrams, since Chronos allows you to read full-size PDF and other similar documents without zoom. What can not boast of reading rooms with smaller screens and in which reading an A4 document is transformed into a whole quest.

The rest of the image when reading is not much different from that issued by conventional readers. Although it should be noted the use of the function MOON Light, which makes it possible to read in low light conditions. The backlight is adjusted by smoothly swiping up and down; it has quite a lot of gradations - from barely noticeable to full lighting. Due to this, Chronos is more comfortable and safe for the eyes: surely many of you read something in your childhood (for example, comics) in low light, but your parents kept saying that “you cannot read in such a light”, “eyes for yourself you break it and so on. For devices like Chronos, no external light sources are needed, it itself evenly and fairly naturally highlights the entire surface of the screen.

It may seem that the brightness is too small, but it is not so - just the photo is not very good :) Everything is in order with brightness.

Since now we are all dealing with smartphones and tablets, where there are 2-3 buttons on the force, it’s much easier to deal with a touchscreen display than with physical controls that you still need to get used to. Therefore, the touch screen on the e-reader is an incredibly convenient solution. You can flip a page with one touch, swipe the font on the left, make a quick mark in the text, look at the word in the dictionary or interact with the menu.

Above the page turning bar is a panel for accessing book display options and useful tools. When working with files in PDF / djvu format, you can select a specific area to zoom in, read an enlarged page by fragments, crop around the page and width, change the scale, activate the backlight, go to the settings for customization. When displaying graphs and charts, the contrast can be tweaked if, for example, in the textbook on geometry, the quantities are poorly signed, and to increase the brightness at night. Preparing for the upcoming exam for the night by downloading several textbooks to the reader has become even easier (the main thing about the dream is not to forget).

As for the main technical characteristics, in Chronos they are represented by a dual-core Rockchip RK3026 processor with a clock frequency of 1 GHz and 512 MB of RAM. When the current smartphones already have 8 GB of RAM, this at first glance sounds frivolous, but in fact it is enough for the reader to quickly open the book and flip through the pages, and also quickly perform operations like zoom and smooth scrolling. Moreover, during the test, the reader never asked for a forced reboot, which the manufacturer implemented just in case by long pressing the on / off button. The device responds quickly not only to sensor signals, but also to physical buttons, and the interface as a whole is responsive; you will not notice any lags and hangs regardless of the open document: be it a small manual or a huge PDF book reader.

Another interesting feature of the device is the support of forms in PDF documents, thanks to which you can fill out forms on the device, fill in all kinds of forms or do homework in PDF books (although this format is hardly any widespread).

In general, where to get books for such readers is a purely individual question, but we prefer official sources. There are many shops in the Network where electronic versions of books are sold - like, for example, an incredibly cool book from Carol Vorderman, which turned out to be during the test not only electronically, but also in paper form. Despite the fact that the book is quite large in size, the scale of the pages in Chronos is not much smaller than the paper original, without a zoom, all the text and pictures are read without problems. Yes, the paper version is brighter, the tactile sensations from it are more pleasant, but it will be very convenient to carry it with you on the subway. And if you consider that this author has two more cool books from this series (about science and about programming), it will be expensive not only to carry them with you, but also to keep them somewhere at home. And in any reader you can download them even without installing a memory card.

For those who still have little built-in 8 GB of memory, the manufacturer has provided a microSD slot with support for memory cards up to 32 GB. Considering that just one PDF document can sometimes weigh both 100 and 200 megabytes, the decision is clearly the right one. If you use the reader to study or just for episodic reading, then 8 GB will be more than enough.

Interface and features

One of the main problems of many readers is limited capabilities. That's what the manufacturer gave, so use it. Sometimes, in addition to the minimally necessary functions, add all sorts of calculators, browsers and chess, which, frankly speaking, you will not want to use more than once.

Chronos has arguments in this regard. It works on Android 4.2.2 - this is Android, and not some kind of proprietary shell, which makes the reader suitable only for reading. The version is not the most relevant, but why such a device to work on Android 8.0 is also unclear.

On board, a full-fledged Google Play, which, thanks to the Wi-Fi module, makes it possible to install almost any third-party applications. It is unlikely, of course, that you want to run games on the E Ink-display (although experience, to be honest, is interesting), but downloading any other useful stuff is no more difficult than on a smartphone. In total, you can have anything at hand: Yandex.Maps, subway map, Twitter client, VKontakte, alternative reader, audio player, Habra and Medusa applications or something else - you will no longer have to force the browser which is traditionally weak in the reading rooms.

Moreover, the manufacturer provides the owners of this device the opportunity to work with a file: enthusiasts can be confused and write their own software for Chronos, using the capabilities of the Android platform.

A nice bonus was the presence of two dictionaries - English-Russian and Russian-English with the possibility of adding dictionary databases of StarDict format, since scientific literature is often only available in English, and someone just prefers to read famous classics only in the original, thereby improving the level language proficiency. To view a translation of a word, just select it in the text.

In addition to the translator there is a convenient search.

The main navigation screen of the book allows you to access the library, open the file manager, the application section, open the MOON Light backlight setting, enter the general settings, and launch the browser.

Just above, the last open books and the work that you are reading at the moment are displayed, indicating the progress and the date of the last opening of the book. Among the applications installed by the manufacturer, in addition to the browser, you can find a calendar, a clock, reading statistics, an email client and others.

Like any other device running Android, Chronos has a section with system settings, where it is possible to change the button assignment, see the power saving settings, or examine, for example, which applications take up a lot of space. The file manager, of course, is not the same as in Android 7.0, it looks more like what we used to see in e-books: a folder with files that are stored on a memory card, and another folder with documents directly on the device itself.

The status bar at the top will always report on time, battery level and other system information.

For reading books, the standard OReader application is mainly used. While reading a book, you can quickly select a font, rotate an image, make a fragment in italics, and much more.

And further:

When reading, it comes in handy as a full multitouch with support for five simultaneous touches, as well as a call to translate a word using a loaded dictionary (just touch the desired word and hold until the translation appears) and automatically memorize the last open book and page.

The range of font size changes is very wide, so if you buy this book as a gift for an elderly person, you can read from without highlighting and installing a large font size even without glasses. Yes, and if you download several school textbooks, it is better to make sure that the child does not have to break his eyes, reading the small captions under the pictures.

The reader correctly perceives the encoding of simple text files, including DOS (CP-866), Windows (CP-1251) and Unicode (UTF-8). In all cases, the Russian language is displayed correctly, without any hieroglyphs and incomprehensible characters. However, again, the best Chronos is revealed when working with scientific and technical documentation, where the viewing of complex graphics is often impossible on a small screen.

Reading will no longer be the same.

ONYX BOOX Chronos is a very interesting reader that primarily impresses with a large screen size, yet 9.7 inches for an e-book is very (and very) a lot. If for some reason this is not enough for you, ONYX BOOX has two e-books (MAX and MAX Carta) with a diagonal of 13 inches, MAX CARTA has a resolution of as much as 1650 x 2200. But they cost like a laptop) Chronos costs about 20 thousand rubles is also a lot, but if you like to read, you will surely be satisfied with the choice. The device clearly deserves the attention of not only home reading lovers, but also those who constantly deal with documents at work or school, including graphic files. Advantages of the reader include the innovative E Ink Carta display, MOON Light adjustable backlight and a special mode that minimizes drawing, typical of electronic books.

As for the shortcomings, there are probably three of them: the “sensitivity” of the case to fingerprints, a battery with a capacity of 3,000 mAh, which the last couple of years have been installed in the reading rooms with screens of 6-7 inches and the absence of a minijack. And if in the first two cases you can still bring some counterarguments (the metal case is much nicer than plastic, and with such a battery capacity this reader will still live much longer than any tablet), then the lack of a 3.5 mm audio jack is a little upset because it makes it impossible listening to audiobooks and music. Although a small plug next to the micro-USB connector suggests that the mini-jack could easily fit in its place, and the holes near the bottom edge too closely resemble the speaker grille. An alternative option could be listening to audiobooks through BT headphones and any android player, but then you will have to additionally buy headphones or external speakers, but in the end you will still return to the not very capacious battery. If you still decide, you can listen to streaming audio from the Internet (although the function is doubtful in this case), but to listen to audiobooks and other local files, you need to download the corresponding application from Google Play. From the fact that the built-in file manager does not open audiobooks (you first need to start the player, and already find the necessary file there), confirms that the manufacturer in this device did focus mainly on reading, and not on anything else.

Anyway, the advantages on the scales of Chronos are clearly greater. Quite a cool reader, from which you want to climb under the covers, put the cat in his legs and go headlong into some book, forgetting about the time and charge level. And how after this call it "a product of Chaos"? )

ONYX BOOX Chronos on the official site


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