I spend a significant amount of my time reading and writing, and in the digital age, this means staring at a screen for extended periods of time. So a couple of years ago, I decided to switch to a screen that would be nicer to my eyes. I already wear prescription glasses with blue light filters, but the less screen time the better anyways. I knew I had to settle on an e-ink display but the popular Kindles are just to read and not much else. Then I stumbled upon the niche, full-Android e-readers. They promise the full Google Play suite and a touchscreen like an Android tablet does but with a reading-friendly e-ink display. This was a winning combination for me as the device would essentially be an extension of my Android ecosystem, allowing me to have access to my mails, browse the net, stream music and, of course, read and write all while avoiding eyestrain.
Following further research, I found a budget-friendly option, the 7.8” Likebook Muses from Boyue. The screen was smaller than what I was used to but it was exactly what I expected it to be: an Android tablet with an e-ink display. It even came with a cover and a WACOM pen for note-taking, document annotation or doodling. It ran on Android 6, but still, the apps I wanted to use would work. Overall, I was very satisfied with the Muses and used it everyday since; checking the news in the morning, researching sources online for my upcoming articles during the day and reading books at night.
So when I had the opportunity to test Boyue’s latest e-ink tablet, the Likebook P10, I was excited to see if a bigger, 10” e-ink touchscreen tablet with a newer operating system would deliver a better experience. The specs of the device are as follows:
The Likebook P10 alone costs $340 on the official AliExpress store while bundling it with its dedicated pen costs $365. Thankfully, Boyue affixes a screen protector when shipping the device and the unit reviewed indeed had its screen protector on and without any bubbles trapped underneath. If the price scares you, you might consider what else is on the market first. The 10.3-inch Onyx Boox Note Air, which is a direct competitor to the Likebook P10, is priced at $479 (but runs on Android 10 and has slightly better specs). Other e-ink devices that we reviewed cost even more. The reMarkable 2 starts at £399 for the tablet alone while the Supernote A5X costs $500. These two are trying to “replace paper” and don’t offer much functionality other than note taking and sharing. And while they might excel at doing so, the lack of functionality is personally a let down, especially in the digital age. The A5X does include a modified version of Android but it seems like it doesn’t exploit the OS’ full potential.
But the Likebook P10 isn’t meant for note taking but is rather an e-reader with note taking features. With the Android-powered Likebook P10, I am able to load it with my favourite apps, synced to my preferences and content while also being able to read and annotate documents. For example, I can open and edit my article drafts from Google Docs and access them from my other devices, read/send emails and even have my Spotify playlist run in the background while performing those actions. Indeed, music listening is easy-peasy on the P10 as, unlike the Muses, the P10 has a speaker located on the lower left end which is great for this purpose or simply to hear when you get a notification. It’s a single speaker, so the audio is offset to its location but it’s already more than what’s possible with other e-readers.
If the mono speaker feels bothersome to you, you can always use your favourite Bluetooth headphones (or plug one through the USB-C port) to listen to music. The P10’s Bluetooth functionality also means that you can pair a Bluetooth keyboard to type more comfortably than with the virtual, on-screen one. That’s how I wrote this very review, in fact, and the experience was just great. If you've never used an e-ink device before, you should know that the screen has a low refresh rate, so typing looks like typing on a typewriter and scrolling through apps with the touchscreen feels like doing so on an aging device--but all of this is due to the nature of the screen. Thankfully, the P10 has an “A2 Mode” that has a faster refresh rate and is recommended to use while browsing online or using other third-party apps as it allows for faster scrolling and interactions but it comes at the expense of the image quality. With A2 Mode off, screen refreshing is slower but the images are more crisp, so it’s better when reading books, comics or manga. That said, the 10-inch screen really makes reading and writing better than on the 7.33-inch Muses but otherwise, the functionality is the same and even the lightly-modded launcher is the same.
What is also the same is that you cannot rotate the screen orientation of apps downloaded from the Google Play Store or sideloaded apps as the device does not feature an accelerometer, nor does it include a feature to manually rotate apps’ orientation. For example, Google Docs is oriented in landscape mode and to type I have to place the P10 on a stand. It’s usable but definitely not ideal, especially since the cover that comes with this e-reader has two grooves to position the device horizontally.
I really hope that Boyue includes the ability to rotate apps at will with a toggle from the drop down menu as this would greatly enhance the experience with several apps. Thy have been listening to community demands in the past, like enabling customization of the backlight by mixing between the white “day light” and yellow “night light” to find the sweet spot for your eyes, especially when reading under dimly-lit conditions. So Boyue team, if you are reading this, please do include the screen rotation feature for all apps!
I’ve talked a lot about the Likebook P10’s features as an Android device but it is still first and foremost an e-reader. And for that, just like the Muses, it works as one perfectly. The device’s launcher features a “library” where you can browse your books and documents right off the home screen. Tapping on one opens the file with the built-in reader that supports A TON of file formats (XT, CHM, FB2, MOBI, HTML, RTF, HTXT, EPUB, PDB, DOC, PRC, PDF, DJVU, ASW, PRC, CBR and CBZ).
In addition, this reader app has a plethora of customization features, allowing you to pinch-zoom files, edit fonts to your preferred type, adjust the size of characters and spacing for the optimal reading experience. On the Muses’ 7.3” screen, I had to zoom in a lot, especially with PDF files, but the P10’s 10” screen offers enough real estate to view pages without zooming in. But some EPUB files do need adjustments occasionally as they might not always scale properly. But I’ve never had an instance when the reader’s options didn’t enable me to read a document comfortably.
With the built-in reader app, you can open up to 4 documents simultaneously and these will remain bookmarked on the page you last opened. Even if you close a document, opening it again will bring you back to where you left as the app automatically bookmarks pages. Navigation is also easy by swiping left or right and the app further lets you customize how swiping works (i.e. tapping which area of the screen does what) and if the document has the feature, you can access chapters and even jot some notes in a separate notepad that accompanies the page you are on.
There’s also a dictionary feature to look up words but you’ll have to manually copy the required files to the device’s root for it to work. And yes, the built-in reader does allow you to adjust the orientation of the document you are reading, so it is possible!!!
And if you are somehow not satisfied with the built-in reader, want to access your Kindle library or favorite manga/comics app, you can always switch to a dedicated Android app.
Comics look gorgeous on the P10’s display, even if images are shown only in black and white. The quality is crisp and details can be well appreciated. And no need to zoom in really as a whole page fits in a readable way, although there are thin, black bars on either side of the page. Manga look even better given their black-and-white nature and each page similarly fit the whole screen without the need to zoom. But the black bars do persist here as well.
When opening documents of any format via the built-in reader, you can also annotate them with the device’s pen and it’s really great to be able to do so on files you’ll need to come back to or find something particularly interesting to highlight in. The built-in reader allows you to choose between the type of pen (felt-tip or fountain pen), the line thickness and “ink” color (black, blue, red, green, white), and, although they’ll appear black on the device, if you transfer it to a PC or other device with a regular screen, you’ll see the note with the selected ink color (white appears white though, and looks like a finer eraser). There’s also an actual eraser function to remove notes or part of them, should you have made a mistake. Of note, between the pen types, the fountain pen mode is pressure sensitive while the felt-tip one isn’t.
To keep the cost of the P10 affordable, Boyue opted for an e-ink Carta screen over a WACOM display, so it isn’t really a handwriting-optimized device (and isn’t advertised as one) but it nevertheless supports note taking with the pen. While it’s not trying the paper-replacing thing, scribbling notes or making doodles in its notepad is more than serviceable and offers similar features as when writing on documents (different ink colors, 2 pen types, line thickness adjustment and eraser) and you can then export your notes to the device’s storage or to an app. It also has an AI-to-text feature which converts your handwritten notes to typed text but takes quite some time to do so.
Without a WACOM display, the P10 won’t support most pens that other e-readers use but rather uses a proprietary, capacitive one which is battery powered. This is one of the major downsides of this device as if the pen needs replacement, it will be hard to find. Unlike the Muses’ WACOM-friendly pen, you cannot use the butt of the capacitive pen as an eraser which would be a very useful feature. Moreover, it uses a AAAA battery (yes, that’s 4 As) akin to the one used for pens of Windows Surface tablets. These aren’t as easy to come by either but the pen apparently doesn’t use the battery when not in use, so it’ll last for some time.
The P10’s own 3,900 mAh battery built-in battery is itself very generous. Boyue says that it offers a standby time of up to 6 weeks and if you use it for reading offline, you’ll definitely get to use it for more than a week. I myself use it daily to check news online with Feedly, draft articles offline and occasionally stream music and can easily get around a week of use.
Regarding the build quality, the Likebook P10 looks and feels like a premium device with a sleek aesthetic, screen flush with the bezel and a metallic blue colored back and sides. If you have a soft spot for the minimalist appeal, you’ll love it's design as there are no buttons on the device save for the power button at the top. There is an oval-shaped icon below the screen but it is a touch-sensitive panel (not a physical key) that serves as the back button. The back features stripes which are grooved in between and serve as grips.
The device also comes with a sleek cover (whether you purchase the pen or not) and it protects the screen from scratches and damage. But I wish it were more like the one from the Muses, which protected the device on all sides. For the P10, the sides are exposed and even if the build quality is quite sturdy, it’s not as protected by the cover as I wish it were. At 458g, it’s not so heavy to hold but the cover does add some additional heft to it.
While the Likebook P10 does not support expandable storage, the 64 GB of internal storage will hold a lot of documents. If you need more storage, you could connect an external storage via its OTG USB-C port.
All things considered, the Boyue Likebook P10 offers great value for money on the e-reader market. It might be worth keeping an eye on the company's future products as they seem to constantly provide quality, yet budget-friendly, e-readers. The Likebook P10 is itself indeed a super-charged e-reader with a lot of features and apps thanks to the Google Play suite. If you are an Android user, such a device serves as a great starting point to get into the world of e-readers. It does run on a dated OS but if you‘re an avid reader and writer, the apps you’ll need are well compatible and you’ll be able to indulge in those activities and forget about eyestrain.
If you are considering getting a Boyue Likebook P10 for yourself, you can head to the official AliExpress store here. The P10 with cover but without its pen costs $340 while with a pen, it is priced at $365.