The Kindle is not enough for me. For a long time, I referred to the Amazon Kindle Oasis as the platonic ideal of e-readers, with its physical page-turning buttons, sharp display, and unique design. I felt like I had reached the end of the e-reader game. I started reading galleys from publishers directly from the Kindle, and it felt like it was getting in the way of what I wanted to read.

I started buying tablets from China because I wanted to combine the flexibility of the E Ink tablets with the quality of the Amazon ones. I think the new $199 Leaf 2 has it. For now, this is my e-reader of choice.

  • It’s got Android!
  • Works with any reading app
  • Page-turning buttons always work
  • Battery life is fine
  • You have to install Google Play Store yourself

It is okay if you don't know about Onyx Boox. The only way to get the company's products in the US is through Good e-Reader, a site that reviews e-Readers and also sells them, or through Amazon. The company is mostly based in China. Complicating the situation even more is the fact that Onyx Boox shares its name with a Russian company with a similar product lineup. This brand feels like a scam.

I have interacted with real people from the Chinese company, received embargoes and pricing information, and purchased at least three different products from its website with no issues.

Although they have been making tablets for years, they tend to be more expensive than other tablets. The $199 price of the Leaf 2 is a lot more than you will pay for a basic eBook reader, but it is a full $150 less than the premium one. The price includes 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, a seven-inch E Ink display, and a microSD slot. This isn't a deal-breaker for me since I don't usually settle into a bath to read.

A close-up view of a microSD card slot, a speaker, and a USB-C port.
Along the handle, there’s a microSD card slot but also a weirdly located USB-C port for charging. This would have been better on the bottom or top of the device.

Text is easy to read and the display is almost the same as the one found on the latest Amazon device. Black-and-white comics look as good on it as they do on an iPad, and the front light gives you the ability to adjust the brightness of warm and cool lights individually or separately so you can always adjust them to the perfect brightness. If I have other light sources, I leave them off.

The page- turning buttons on the Leaf 2 make it one of the best e-readers I have ever used. The internal G-sensor on the Leaf 2 allows it to quickly orient itself when you switch hands.

The buttons will work with any app, even if it has a built-in feature to recognize page- turning buttons. An accessibility feature that turns the volume buttons on a phone into page-turning buttons is used by Onyx Boox and other tablets. The page turning buttons on the e-readers would be mapped to volume and voil, just like the native e-readers.

There is an alternate setting in the menu that allows you to force other apps to recognize page turning. I use the Volume Button setting with the Nook app and the Turn Page Button setting with the app that doesn't have a page turning feature at all. It is difficult to use if you are reading multiple apps daily, but it also allows me to neatly turn pages in Libby, a thing I haven't been able to do before.

A close-up of the Boox logo on the handle. Below it are the two silver buttons used for turning pages.A close-up of the navigation ball on the display. It has multiple buttons for navigating the device by touch.<em>The page-turning button settings page.</em>

It was 1/2.

These buttons work surprisingly well.

It depends. You can expect a week or less of battery life if you have a lot of apps on your phone. I usually only have to charge when the wi-fi is turned off.

The flexibility of the Leaf 2 is one of the reasons I like it so much. The Leaf 2 has its own mediocre app store, and because it is a Chinese e-reader, it can't be found in the US. It can take up to 48 hours to get the Play Store working, but you can get a guide from Onyx Boox.

Once the store was up and running, it was easy to download books from NetGalley, which handles book galleys for publishers, as well as from other stores. laggy black-and-white versions of YouTube and TikTok aren't an ideal way to use either app, so I wouldn't recommend it

Agree to Continue: Onyx Boox Leaf 2

Every smart device has a set of terms and conditions that you have to agree to before you can use it. It is not possible for us to read and analyze all of them. We started counting the number of times you have to agree to use devices when we review them, since these are agreements most people can't negotiate.

You agree to set up the Boox Leaf 2.

You can add the play store. You are agreeing to it if that is the case.

There is a privacy policy on the terms of service.

There were two optional agreements and one mandatory one.

EinkBro was an automatic download that I used. If you want to read a 200,000-word coffee shop on Archive of Our Own, you can use EinkBro, which is fast and will paginate websites instead of requiring you to scroll.

The Leaf 2 has a lot of other apps that are meant to make it more like a tablets than it is. An audio recorder, a gallery, a music player, and a calculator are included. I didn't use Boox's app store with the Play Store installed. I haven't missed anything because I've never set one up for either of them.

The Leaf 2 is one of the most pleasurable ways to read books, even though it has many drawbacks and quirks. I don't have to make weird compromises to read what I want because I'm not constrained by anyone's garden. I have buttons that I can use to turn pages. I have been looking for an ideal e-reader for a long time and the Onyx Boox Leaf 2 has finally given me one.

Amelia Krales is a photographer.