How We Made A Slim and Solid BOOX Note Air

How We Made Note Air Slim and Solid

The story behind the 5.8mm thickness.

Slim and solid Note Air

The introduction of Note Air unveils a tip of the iceberg of how we made the 5.8mm thick Note Air. In this article, we will unfold the full story and lead you into our engineering office to see how we made Note Air thin and solid.

Start With The Specially Structured E Ink Screen

When receiving the 10.3’’ Carta screens from E Ink, our hardware designers frowned their brows. 

Unlike the Mobius flexible screen that we’ve applied on Note2, Max3, Max Lumi and other models, the 10.3'’ E Ink Carta screen determines that the screen FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit) has to be arranged on the side.

Screen FPC on the side
The screen FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit) has to be arranged on the side.

Based on this fact, we make a wider bezel for Note Air and introduce the ergonomic design for our users to help them grasp the screen effortlessly.

Several months ago, we made out a dummy of the original Note Air, which has only around 370g and 4.7mm without the front light. While we were thinking that “okay, it’s done, let’s move to the next part,” our product manager, factoring in the versatility of a digital device, decided to equip Note Air with the front light.

The dummy of original Note Air without front light
The dummy of the original Note Air without a front light

The front light added around 50 grams and 1.1mm. The extra weight and thickness is a trade-off for convenient, eyestrain-free usage in any light. Even if we had to sacrifice a lightweight feature that would please more customers, we still wanted to make a device that can fit in more purposes to benefit our users in the long term.

The front light added around 50 grams and 1.1mm.
Comparison of Note Air with and without a front light. The front light added around 50 grams and 1.1mm on Note Air.

Reinforce Down to the Nano Level

Although the wider bezel offers a broader grip area, it also determines that people will usually apply force on one side. And here was what our concerns rooted.

As we’ve shared in our Note Air unveiling article, we used to consider splicing the screen with the broader bezel together. But such a way will shift the gravity to the screen, the larger part of the device. The inequivalence of force will put the high-cost HD Carta screen at risk. 

So we decided to go in another way that can provide the screen with large support.

Draw on Note Air
Note Air

The aluminum case is our optimal choice. We put a single high-quality aluminum sheet into the CNC machine. The toolings precisely milled out the shape of the case and spaces for hardware components. Then we created the nano-scale dimples across the surface and injected the quality resin into them to achieve a strong bond with the aluminum. 

It is the first time that the Nano Molding Technology (NMT) has even been used on an E Ink product. Such an advanced technology can build out a lightweight, rigid case for Note Air featuring lasting longevity. More importantly, the nano parts can enhance signals to improve the BT and WiFi connectivity. 

The part using Nano Molding Technology
The parts using Nano Molding Technology

After machining such a one-piece solid aluminum case, we vertically pressed the EPD (Electronic Paper Display) module consisting of several layers into it. So we built a slim device that can dissipate force evenly.

The one-piece aluminum case firmly holds the EPD module.
The one-piece aluminum case firmly holds the EPD module.

Remain Intact in Large Pressure

Before the Note Air was released, we tested its durability with a pressure test and a torsion test. 

The pressure test put a 2kg roller on the 5.8mm-thick, 420g device and rolled on it in all directions. The torsion test clamped the Note Air with two manipulators and twisted it in opposite directions with the torque of 1N/m, at the frequency of 15times per minute, and tested it for 200 times.

The result turned out that the hardness of the Note Air screen can reach to 6H. The force in the tests didn’t break down Note Air or even created a crack, and Note Air could function well afterward.

24-Pin USB Type-C Port With Special Reinforcement

There is a power button, a USB Type-C port and a speaker on the “spine” of the Note Air.

Look from the side of Note Air
Look from the side of Note Air

The interface was not placed on the side but on the left top initially. But we gave up the placement on the top for a reason: it’s too fragile to be in that place. 

If the USB port is placed on the left top corner, the welding joint will be too close to the edge to maintain rational strength. That’s to say, it will risk loosening after a long time of use. 

To fix this issue, we finally decided to place the USB Type-C interface on the side and used NMT to reinforce it with quality plastics. So it can endure at least ten thousand times of plugs and unplugs. Also, Note Air adopts USB 3.0 and employs 24pins in its USB Type-C port to provide large data transfer speed.

Specially reinforced 24-pin USB Type-C port
Specially reinforced 24-pin USB Type-C port

Last For At Least Four Weeks and Charge Fast

Note Air is not only a digital notepad, an ePaper, or an eReader.

It’s a slim, 10.3’’ E Ink tablet.

Its thin batteries have to sacrifice large capacity due to the physical and technological limitations. At the same time, they have to power the Note Air, so users can achieve tasks efficiently with versatile tools.

Therefore, some users are concerned that the 3000mAh batteries in the Note Air can only last a few days on one charge.

Actually, Note Air can last at least 4 weeks on standby mode. 

Moreover, the two batteries are parallelly arranged to provide a capacity of 3000mAh in total. Such a structure enables a large space for the batteries and provides them with a higher voltage to speed up the charging. Together with Quick Charge 4.0, you can fully charge Note Air in just a few hours. 

Keep It Beautiful, Keep It Clean

Note Air is a device with a brand-new design and new materials. It is more possible to leave fingerprints on its aluminum case. So we add an anti-fingerprint (AF) coating to make the case look clean and shiny even after a long time of use.

Look from the back of Note Air
Look from the back of Note Air

Also, the PU leather part of Note Air's protective case is equipped with an anti-bacterial coating. It's proven to reduce germs' growth, including 99.98% of Escherichia coli and more than 99.99% of Staphylococcus aureus. So the protective case can help you keep the device intact and clean and prevent the bacteria from injuring your health.

The anti-bacterial PU leather part of Note Air's protective case
The anti-bacterial PU leather part of Note Air's protective case

Note Air is not the most premium, expensive model in the Note line, but it distills our efforts of innovating a slim but reliable, quality device. It also embodies the most advanced features and manufacturing solutions in the E Ink industry.

We hope you look forward to this device and benefit from the details created for better user experience.

Note Air
Note Air

You can pre-order the third batch of Note Air at the BOOX Shop now and get a full set of free accessories, including the anti-bacterial protective case. 

The first batch orders will be shipped before Oct 10, the second batch before Oct 20, and the third batch before Oct 30.

If you’re new to BOOX products, you’re welcome to join our Facebook fans group to learn what the veteran users love about BOOX🧡. 

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5 comments on “How We Made A Slim and Solid BOOX Note Air

  1. Great article. I love all the details you provide. But I have to say your product manager made a mistake pushing for the front light. It isn’t about the weight but the glass surface. At the margin, the glass takes away from the writing experience. It is subtle but it’s the reason why I don’t take notes on my iPad despite installing all kinds of note-taking apps. From what I hear, what is great about ReMarkable 2 is that you quite forget it’s an electronic device when writing on it. What is terrible about RM2 (and great about Boox) is the attention to the reading experience.

    You could have replicated the writing experience of RM2 and created the perfect device for researchers, students, professionals of all stripes who need to take extensive notes but also need to read a great deal. And we work in conditions where light is not a problem – light is ubiquitous in the modern world. You were so close! I hope in the near future, you have a version of Note Air that does away with the front light and the glass. I would have paid more for a device without the front light but a writing experience virtually indistinguishable from that on paper.

    Btw, you guys are awesome for pushing the frontier on the e-reading/note-taking.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Nary. We’ll take your suggestions into consideration and try to meed more customer needs with improved product specs and features.

    2. Glad you all went with glass on the front screen. I used other variants in the past just to end up with hazy micro scratches (e.g. Sony Dig Paper & Remarkable 1)… glass should help mitigate this and is definitely the superior material in terms of longevity and durability… writing experience doesn’t matter if your screen is going to get all scratched up when you can do nearly the equivalent with glass.

  2. Are we to understand that front lighting and lucent glass surface and inseparable? Would there be a possibility for front light + near paper writing surface?

    1. Hi Haihaola,

      The front light can come with both the E ink Carta screen HD and Mobius screen. Carta screen HD, as the upgraded version of the fourth generation E Ink Carta screen, features a high resolution and supports Regal waveform technology, which reduces the need for page refreshes. Compared to Carta screen’s glassy surface, E Ink Mobius screen is more flexible and soft, offering a more pen-to-paper feel. You can find Carta Screen HD on our 6-inch Poke2, 7.8-inch Nova2, 10.3-inch Note Air, and Mobius screen on our 10.3-inch Note2, 13.3-inch Max3 and 13.3-inch Max Lumi. Among these models, only Max3 doesn’t have a front light. Hope the info help.

      Best regards,
      BOOX Team

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