Even on the finest of iPad screens, it can be a chore to read books or even long articles. The glare from the screen makes it difficult to read for sustained periods. The TCL Nxtpaper 11 finds a brilliant solution to this, at a fraction of the price of an iPad, too.
TCL’s Nxtpaper technology is a halfway house between a conventional LCD screen and the eInk screens you find on devices such as an Amazon Kindle. The screen has a matte covering that reduces reflections and gives the screen a more paper-like texture. It also has various modes that can reduce the amount of blue light the screen emits and, best of all, a reading mode that apes the monochrome appearance of an eInk screen, making it feel much like you’re reading off a Kindle.
I was skeptical when I first read about this technology, but having tested the 11in tablet for the past week, the reading mode definitely makes it more comfortable to read for long periods. You can flick on the reading mode manually from the supplied Nxtvision app, or have it set to switch on automatically when you open certain apps.
It’s a regular Android tablet with access to the Google Play Store, so I set the reading mode to kick-in automatically when I opened the Amazon Kindle app, and thoroughly enjoyed settling down with the ebooks in my library, then watching the screen blossom back into color when the app was dismissed.
My desktop browser is Vivaldi, and I often use that browser’s Reading List facility to save long articles that are difficult to digest when you’re sat a computer desk. With the Android version of Vivaldi installed on the Nxtpaper 11, however, I could access my synchronized Reading List and scroll through those long articles in reading mode. It’s a much more comfortable experience than on my iPad Pro.
So, the screen’s great for reading text, but how well does it hold up for all the other tasks you might want from a tablet, such as watching videos or playing games? The answer is surprisingly well.
There’s a video enhancement mode that bangs up the contrast and color depth for video playback. It’s by no means as rich or detailed as an iPad Pro or even the Honor Pad X9, but it’s fine for watching Netflix or YouTube videos. My only gripe is a slightly sluggish refresh rate which smears fast-moving action. Not ideal for Drive To Survive, say.
Gaming suffers from this limited refresh rate too. It’s by no means disastrous, but the fast-moving scenery in games such as Asphalt 9 does suffer. More sedate games are just fine.
Part of that refresh rate issue might be down to the limited MTK Helio P60T Octa-core processor. It’s not unusual for apps to stutter or even web pages to pause for a split second when you’re scrolling. A mere 4GB of memory isn’t going to lift performance, either.
One advantage of these less-than-stellar specs is that battery life is solid. The 8,000mAh battery inside the Nxtpaper 11 keeps it going for well over ten hours, if you’re doing nothing particularly strenuous, such as 3D gaming.
So, look elsewhere if you want a tablet primarily for playing games or watching movies. But if, like me, you’re tired of spending hours gawping at regular screens and want something easier on the eye for reading, then it’s well worth considering. Not least because at $161 from Amazon.com, it’s very much at the low-budget end of the tablet market.