LingQ on Color eInk device

I bought a Boox Nova 3 Color, an 7" eInk tablet that runs Android and can show colors. eInk is a paperlike display that the Kindles are using and more easy on the eyes than LCDs.

On b/w eInk LingQ is hardly usable because of the color coding. With color eInk it gets usable and I thought it could be interesting to read for some people here how it is. I used the Android app.

Contrast and saturation are very low compared to LCD. The three yellow color tones are nearly impossible to differentiate. Would be great if LingQ could let you configure these colors and styles. I’d like to put black borders around the colored words for instance so they stand out more (yellow and blue are very bright and washed out on eInk).

The slow refresh speed is not really a problem with LingQ while reading. I use it in a slower pace anyway. Other apps like AnkiDroid where I go through cards very fast are very problematic on eInk, it slows you down. Maybe it’s the same in LingQ’s vocabulary section, I don’t use that.

What gets extremely annoying is the tutorial bubbles you get when first using this installation of the app. The heavy ghosting and the slow pace make it a real pain when the LingQ app explains you things you already know for years. I would really appreciate a “Skip all infos, I know this stuff!!!” button.

The device has a speaker so the speech synthesis and MP3s work just fine. It doesn’t have a headphone jack but you can use bluetooth headphones with it.

Annoying is the slow cpu. LingQ takes a lot of cpu power if it lists a course with a lot of entries. I have some courses with 500 news entries. They load maybe three seconds on my 2018 iPad Pro and take around 20-30s on the Nova 3. Sometimes it doesn’t work at all and you have to go back and try again. After loading it gets really painful because LingQ puts the new entries at the bottom. It’s already annoying to scroll down 500 news entries with an iPad but on a slow Android eInk device it is a nightmare.
Courses with around 20 entries load fast and you can scroll down quickly. They are no problem.

At bright daylight the eInk display is a joy for reading. In the evening you can activate a backlight but you lose the advantage of eInk then and something like an iPad is a better choice because it is much more responsive.

Overall not so great experience but usable. But sitting in the park in bright sunlight and reading texts in LingQ is quite nice that way.

You can also install the Kindle app on it. Textbooks with photos and illustration look much better with color.

While reading the device doesn’t draw much power. I get a much longer runtime than with my iPad. My iPad Pro usually lasts around one day and the Nova 3 lasts around one week if I don’t use the background light too much.


Thanks for posting this review. It is something I had been wondering about. Some of the new beta versions of lingq have the option to underline lingq’d words using different kinds of yellow dashed lines instead of using different shades of yellow highlight. If that gets implemented in the android version I think it would help with differentiation of word level on e-Ink.

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If the underlining is yellow I don’t think you could see it anymore. Yellow on eInk is very desaturated. And even if so you surely wouldn’t be able to differentiate between, say, dashed or dotted underlining.

The best solution would be user configurable and device dependent coloring and styling. E.g. I would prefer something like dark yellow - orange - green - turquoise - blue for the different levels. And all with a thin black border so it will stand out better against the ghosting artefacts. And maybe no background color but a dotted black border for phrases. They are hardly recognizable now with the light gray.

Even on the highest quality (and slowest refresh rate) you still get ghosting artefact by the dictionary box that appears in the upper or lower part. And that really messes with the background colors, especially the light gray for phrases. A dark border would improve that very much.

I won’t expect an eInk mode from LingQ, it’s too much of a niche. But I discovered that AnkiDroid actually has such a mode and it works a bit better that way. I also played around with individual app settings where you can increase the redrawing rate which removes the ghosting. I went through 100 cards on the device yesterday and it was usable. But still a bit sluggish which is annoying for cards you instantly know. For cards where you have to think two seconds or more it doesn’t matter that much. And it flickers like hell with the increased redrawing rate when a new card is shown.

It’s no good device for language learning but if you have a decent level in a language and you’re reading books with LingQ where you have only one or two unkown words per page, it’s really nice because the reading experience on eInk is just the best after paper.

I’m reading Harry Potter in Japanese on it where I don’t have to lookup many words and that’s definitely a more pleasant reading experience than on my iPad. The resolution (300dpi for black, 100dpi for color) is also nice and makes reading complex kanji enjoyable.