Steven Sasson, an engineer with Eastman Kodak, revolutionized photography with the invention of the digital camera in 1975, but many people were reluctant to jump from analog to digital in its early days. As the technology developed and people began to recognize the benefits, digital photography found its place as a key player in visual communications. Cameras are just one of the tools that photographers use that have gone digital. Another tool we rely on more often than we realize is our notepad. While some people might still use pens and paper, then benefits of using a digital  notepad far outweigh those of the old school method. In this review, we’re going to check out the BOOX MAX Lumi 2 and focus on its key features, highlighting some of its significant benefits for photographers and other content creators.

MAX Lumi 2

Advantages for photographers of taking digital handwritten notes:

• Organize your notes with ease: When you deal with multiple clients, assignments, or taking photography workshops, organizing your notes at the end of a long day is pretty tiresome. With digital notebooks, you can organize and rearrange your notes at your convenience. Instead of using colorful post-its, use digital bookmarks to quickly jump to the relevant pages and documents.

• Access from anywhere: Since all your notes can be synchronized and connected to cloud services, accessing them from any device or the web should not be a problem. That is a feature that is extremely useful for travel photographers or visual content creators who are constantly changing locations, such as wedding photographers.

• Never lose your notes again: Tapping on the advantages of cloud storage, digital note-taking through apps helps store a huge amount of information. Also, you have an endless number of papers to write on. Plus, running out of pages is outdated, and you do not need to use your notepads cover as a last resort (yes, we have all done that).

• Search within your notes: Another obvious reason for photographers to adopt digital note-taking is the ease of searching. You can completely avoid flipping through pages just for that one bit of information. Base your search on keywords, phrases, or tags and you have the information you need. In that way, you can quickly access the content you captured for specific clients, photography projects, administrating your photography business, or if you are taking courses about visual content creation.

• Simplified customization and quick sharing: Digital notes are convenient because you can use different tools to move and resize objects on the page, or even change their color of them. Also, you can erase or undo mistakes without leaving ugly eraser marks on your paper. Sharing or exchanging notes can also help build healthy professional relationships with other photographers.

MAX Lumi 2

About ONYX BOOX and the MAX Lumi 2

The Onyx Boox Max Lumi 2 sets the bar high for large-format E Ink computing devices. It lets you read, annotate, download, and upload documents using your favorite applications on an expansive 13.3-inch screen. The device was designed to read A4 documents, so it is ideal for PDF files, magazines, and newspapers. If you frequently work with or consume large-format documents, a smaller device simply will not work as well.

It uses one of the latest generations of Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, 6GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage, so you can sideload tons of content. It is running Google Android 11 and has full access to the Play Store, so numerous free and paid apps are available. The Lumi 2 shines when used to draw or edit PDF files and eBooks. The device has a fingerprint scanner that identifies the user and ensures the protection of personal data.

MAX Lumi 2

Design of the MAX Lumi 2

Weighing 570g and measuring 310 x 228 x 7.9 mm, the MAX Lumi 2’s aluminum-magnesium alloy chassis feels slim and strong. Though almost identical to its first-gen version, this one lacks an HDMI output so cannot be cabled up to work as a secondary monitor (though there is an app to do that wirelessly if you so wish).

Centered below the screen is the home button, and there is a power button located on the upper-right edge. There are no volume buttons, but you do get two rear-facing speakers. There is a USB-C port centered at the bottom edge.

Included in the box is an excellent Wacom stylus, though sadly there is no magnetic zone on the MAX Lumi 2 to attach it to. However, the case provided does include a small loop to secure it, though we did notice that the case covers the on/off switch and makes it difficult to press reliably. Overall, it is a very plain, non-controversial, and business-like design.

The MAX Lumi 2 is comfortable to hold in your hand, with rounded edges and reasonable heft for the size. You can easily hold it one-handed, and it is easy enough to tote around, though I worry the ultra-thin frame could bend.

MAX Lumi 2

Display

The Max Lumi 2 features a 13.3-inch E ink Carta 1250 and Mobius display with a resolution of 2200×1650 with 207 PPI. The screen is completely flush with the bezel and there is a protective layer of PMMA glass substrate that is made of acrylic. You will be able to read at night with the front-lit display via the white LED lights, and it also has a series of amber LED lights to provide a warm candlelight effect. Out of the box, the screen has a relaxing yellowish light, though you can easily tweak its color and intensity.

As on all ONYX BOOX products, there is a choice of different refresh rates to keep the E Ink display as clean, or as fast, as possible. ‘Speed’ and ‘A2’ are the refresh rates that compromise sensibly between refreshed pages and concise-looking text and images. You can even set the refresh rate for when you are just scrolling through the menus. A 13-inch screen is better for side-by-side note-taking. For example, you can read and directly annotate on the left half of the screen and also take freehand notes on the right half.

MAX Lumi 2

Screen front light

The MOON Light 2 technology allows you to use the device in the dark or poor light conditions without harming your sight. This function creates a soft glow on the screen that is optimal for dark rooms. The front light has a color temperature adjustment and has no flickering thanks to the Flicker-Free technology.

MAX Lumi 2

Customization of the MAX Lumi 2

There is a brand-new option on the Lumi 2, that is not available on any other model. This is called E INK Center and it provides several advanced customizations. Dark color enhancement, which makes all the blacks lighter or darker, depending on how you want your device to look. Light Color Enhancement emphasizes all the greyscales, whether you want this lighter or darker. You can think of these as global contrast settings, some users will want to tweak these settings to get an ideal screen layout.

E INK Center also provides quick access to the speed mode system, such as Normal Mode, which is the default. Speed Mode slightly degrades image quality and increases performance. A2 mode is typical for almost all e-readers and tablets. X-Mode is something very compelling, this is where you can do some light gaming and watch YouTube videos, although they still have framerate issues. X-Mode is ideal for streaming music, podcasts, or audiobooks from dedicated apps, like Spotify.

Multi-tasking

Notes also play a strong element in side-by-side view or split-screen view. You can decide what you want on one side of the screen, such as a PDF file, app, web browser, or anything else, and have the note-taking on the other side, so you can take notes or make references. You can also have 2 PDF Files side by side or even two apps.

MAX Lumi 2

Stylus

The pen works best in ONYX’s note-taking app, which lets you take notes or sketch in four colors, as well as export to PNG or PDF. When you use the pen with the built-in drawing app, you will not experience too much lag, which is unnoticeable if you are in a note-taking flow or sketching. ONYX has developed a new stylus for their latest generation hardware. It has an improved nib, which renders a close-to-paper writing experience. An ergonomic shaft with grooves can help you grip firmly.

The new stylus was developed in conjunction with the innovative writing film that is installed at the factory level. It is designed to provide some friction when writing on the display. The nibs do not need to be replaced as often, which should save some money.

The pen has 4,096 degrees of pressure sensitivity, which is standard. The harder you press, the thicker the lines become. This is a great tool for not only the average user, but also graphics, character, or environmental artists.

Battery life of the MAX Lumi 2

Another plus of the MAX Lumi 2 is that it packs a 4300mAh battery, enabling weeks of use on a single charge. The battery simply is not a concern with this device, even if you always use the backlight.

Input audio

Next to the USB port is a small microphone, this was put there to take advantage of the voice-to-text system in the ONYX drawing app, where you can make audio dictations and will convert them to text. It also works for voice communication apps such as Discord, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage.

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Output audio

Unlike the previous version, the MAX Lumi 2 does not have a headphones slot, though you can use its Bluetooth 5.0 chops to link a pair of earphones or a Bluetooth speaker. Wired USB-C earphones can be connected. The MAX Lumi 2 also has two tiny speakers, one on each side of its lower back.

MAX Lumi 2

MAX Lumi 2’s Software

ONYX is heavily invested in the Google Android ecosystem for all of their devices and each major product release often provides an updated version, giving users not only a modern OS but all of the benefits, including security. The Lumi 2 is running Android 11 and has full access to the Google Play Store. In this release, they improved the Neoreader e-book reading software. The document layout engine now has better support for faster page turns for sideloaded EPUB/TXT/DOC/DOCX files. They have also introduced a new feature called Boox Drop, which makes it easy to transfer e-books and notes from the device to your PC and from your PC to your BOOX device.

ONYX BOOX has made some software optimizations to some third-party drawing apps. They have reduced the latency and improved stylus interactions with OneNote, Evernote, and WPS, which now make them an extremely viable alternative to ONYX’s drawing app.

The home screen is likely going to be the first thing that you see, and where you will spend most of your time. The UI is based on the sidebar and has icons that link to the bookstore, library, notes, storage, apps, and settings. The library is your default screen, it lists all of the content on your device, if you just bought it, this will be blank, unless you download content from the BOOX Store, or sideload in your content. You can sort books by format, author, and date, and browse by list view or image view. The store is primarily populated with royalty-free books, such as the ones you would find on Project Gutenberg, they are all free and do not cost any money.

Note-taking experience in the MAX Lumi 2

The note-taking app also has some new improvements, which help make it a better creative tool. There is a customized pen brush slot, which you can establish your pen layout and save it to the toolbar. There is also vector export, after you finish drawing, you can export it as a vector quality layout, for further editing on your PC with professional design software.

Drawing is really where the Lumi 2 Shines and it all starts with the Note-taking app. It has two main UI bars, one on the side and one at the top. The top bar is where you are going to make adjustments on what type of writing utensil you wish to employ. Options include brush, pencil, pen, ballpoint pen, and highlighter. Each one has sixteen different shades, including very dark and ranging to very light. Although this is not a color e-note, it does have red, green, and blue, which are only seen in color when the note is exported as a PNG or PDF file.

One of the best features is the layering system. You can create five total layers, which is useful if you are drawing with fine detail. Layer 1 can be a house, Layer 2 can be the hill, layer 3 can be the sky, layer 5 can be fine details, and you can edit/erase/import things into each layer. This also ensures that you can get incredibly detailed on what you want to do, this is remarkably like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

Pros

• 13.3-inch screen (bigger than average)
• Runs almost all Android apps
• Slim, robust, and light

Cons

• Expensive
• No magnet to hold the stylus
• No HDMI port Vs. first-generation

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Price

You can pick up the MAX Lumi 2 for $879, a price tag that will be tough to swallow but nobody said using bleeding-edge hardware like this prime device would be cheap. So yes, the Onyx Boox Max Lumi 2 is still an expensive gadget, especially as far as standard e-readers go. This isn’t your grandparent’s Kindle, after all. This device offers viewing and editing full-size documents with top-notch technology with premium details. So, if you don’t mind spending a little extra for a dedicated but purpose-built experience, then there’s a lot to like about the Max Lumi 2. Otherwise, there are more affordable options in more compact sizes, such as the new Note Air2 Plus.

Final thoughts on the MAX Lumi 2

It does not matter what kind of photography we do because, at the end of the day, we spend a considerable amount of time editing, planning, and annotating our ideas or experiences into paper. Now we have the opportunity to speed up our workflow and have more fun with it by digitalizing our writing experience. As film allowed us to welcome digital photography some decades ago, now we have the chance to become paperless and add this device to our digital workflow.

The ONYX BOOX MAX Lumi 2 is the most powerful e-note in the world and nothing else comes close. From the processor to the RAM to the internal storage, there is enough to handle the most demanding tasks. Access to the Play Store cannot be understated, there are no other e-notes out there that have it and this has built an extraordinarily strong loyalty to the BOOX brand.

If you are looking for a solid e-note that is geared towards A4 documents, there is nothing more customizable or advanced than this device. The MAX Lumi 2 is the only 13.3-inch E Ink slate available stateside and is the best one among its few global competitors. We recommend it without reservation to the people who may prefer its specific size and look forward to having a digital writing experience.