This Android tablet has a wild display. But is it worth $230?

The TCL NxtPaper 11

Tablets are an interesting product category — somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop. It can be hard to find a good use for a tablet, to be honest, but one of its greatest use cases is for media consumption. Whether reading or watching videos, tablets can excel in that area.

But when you look at the tablet market, Apple’s iPad largely dominates it, and it’s difficult to find an Android tablet that stands out from the crowd — especially for the lower to mid tiers. That’s where TCL and its NxtPaper devices come in.

The TCL NxtPaper 11 is a budget Android tablet with a distinctive, paper-like matte display that makes it a great reading tablet. Is it worth a buy? Let’s find out.

TCL NxtPaper 11: design

TCL NXTPAPER 11 in hand showing back.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The overall design of the TCL NxtPaper 11 isn’t groundbreaking. It’s your typical slab of tablet, with flat edges that have become standard on almost every tablet since Apple started doing it with the iPad Pro.

Though the TCL NxtPaper 11 would be considered a budget tablet, the build quality doesn’t quite feel that way. The aluminum frame and body are remarkably slim and lightweight, making it comfortable to hold and carry around. On the back are a simple single-lens 8MP camera module, the TCL logo, and a darker-colored antenna strip along the top edge.

Even though the NxtPaper 11 is a budget tablet, it has a premium look and feel.

Along the top edge (horizontal orientation) is the volume rocker and microSD card tray. Along the sides are the quad speakers, and the sleep/wake button is on the left edge.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 on bench showing display with home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Again, even though the NxtPaper 11 is a budget tablet, it has a premium look and feel. But that doesn’t extend to the front, as there is a thick bezel around the display. However, that’s to be expected with a lower-tier tablet, and it’s just something you’ll get used to after a while.

TCL NxtPaper 11: display

TCL NXTPAPER 11 reading mode e-book.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The most unique thing about the TCL NxtPaper 11 is the display. It sports an 11-inch 2K display with 2000 x 1200 pixel resolution. It’s certainly not the highest resolution out there, but it gets the job done. However, the brightness only gets up to 500 nits, and the refresh rate is only 60Hz, and it definitely shows as you use the tablet.

But that’s not the interesting thing about the display. No, the most unique thing about the display is that even though it’s an LCD panel, it’s reminiscent of an e-reader thanks to a nano-material layer on the top, giving it a matte and anti-reflective look and a feeling similar to paper. This layer also affects what you see on the screen, which is why not everything looks as sharp as you’d like.

TCL claims this layer is supposed to eliminate fingermarks, but that is not entirely true — I experienced fingerprints and smudges like a regular tablet or smartphone display.

The NxtPaper display technology is also supposed to help reduce the eye strain you get with standard LCD screens. There are also different viewing modes that you can toggle on through NxtVision, including a dedicated Reading Mode that turns the display into a grayscale screen like a Kindle, or Eye Comfort Mode that filters out all blue light from the display.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 showing Google Photos.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

While I like how the display looks overall, especially the anti-reflective part, I’m not a fan of how easy it is to get fingerprints and smudges all over. And because it’s basically another layer on top of the display, this isn’t the best option for consuming video, as visibility is affected. The TCL NxtPaper 11 is great for reading, though.

The 60Hz refresh rate is also disappointing, as it is very apparent when you do pretty much anything on the tablet. There’s stuttering as you switch between apps or return to the home screen, and scrolling through things is not smooth. A 60Hz display is not as noticeable on a small smartphone screen (like the iPhone 15) but much easier to notice on larger tablet displays.

TCL NxtPaper 11: performance and software

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TCL NXTPAPER 11 showing NXTVISION with visual enhancement mode.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends
TCL NXTPAPER 11 showing NXTVISION Reading mode.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Since this is a budget tablet, don’t expect any flagship chips or processors, especially for the price. The TCL NxtPaper 11 comes equipped with a MediaTek Helio P60T chip, 6GB RAM, and 256GB storage that is expandable up to 1TB through a microSD card.

The Helio P60T chip is a chip that’s often been seen in Chromebooks. The Helio P60T isn’t the most performant chip out there, and it definitely shows as you use the TCL NxtPaper 11 — especially when it only has 6GB RAM.

You get Android 13 with TCL’s custom UI on the NxtPaper 11. The overall experience with it is not as smooth as I hoped. I experienced noticeable lag and stutter when navigating the home screen and menus, opening and scrolling through apps, and sometimes even the Wi-Fi feels a bit slow. During my initial setup, I remember it seemed to have an issue connecting to my Wi-Fi network, which I’ve never experienced before when testing countless different smartphones and tablets.

TCL NXTPAPER 11 reading mode app drawer.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

On the software front, it’s a pretty clean take on Android 13. You have your typical Google suite of apps, and I didn’t get a lot of bloatware on my unit. The drop-down panel for notifications is slightly different from most other Android tablets I’ve tried, but the functionality is the same.

TCL does have an optional T-Pen stylus that has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, but I did not get one with my unit. It’s a bit odd, though, as this is the kind of tablet you would definitely expect a stylus to come standard; the paper-like screen is just begging for it.

Overall, the performance of the TCL NxtPaper 11 is not too impressive. You shouldn’t go into a tablet at this price expecting breakneck performance, but even considering the price, the NxtPaper 11 is disappointing.

TCL NxtPaper 11: cameras

TCL NXTPAPER 11 camera module.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

No one buys a tablet for the cameras — at least you shouldn’t. I’ll always be part of the group that thinks it’s never okay to use a tablet for capturing photos unless you really can’t get to your smartphone. Regardless, the TCL NxtPaper 11 does not impress with the cameras.

The TCL NxtPaper 11 has a single 8MP camera on the rear and an 8MP selfie camera along the longer edge of the display. It can also record video at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second.

Most devices have at least 12MP cameras, so the NxtPaper 11 does not take good photos. They lack detail, the colors don’t look great, and the selfie camera is even worse; it made me look orange as I sat at my desk. I immediately deleted it because it looked horrendous.

You could use the selfie camera for video calls if you absolutely must, but it won’t look great. And I suppose it’s decent enough to scan documents if you need to. But beyond that, don’t expect much more at all.

TCL NxtPaper 11: battery and charging

TCL NXTPAPER 11 on bench showing back.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

TCL put an 8,000mAh battery in the NxtPaper 11, which is pretty good for a tablet of this size. It will last at least a full day or two with moderate to heavy usage and several days with lighter use. Of course, this doesn’t quite match up to a standard e-reader, such as Kindle, as those can last weeks, not days.

But the worst part of the TCL NxtPaper 11 is the charging. It comes with a 5W charger in the box, which is incredibly slow. If you use it, it’ll take about four hours to get a full charge. TCL says it can support up to 18W fast charging, but for an 8,000mAh battery, that will still be painfully slow.

While the NxtPaper 11 has impressive stamina, that slow charging is a real drag. This is absolutely one of those devices you’ll need to charge up overnight.

TCL NxtPaper 11: price and availability

TCL NXTPAPER 11 reading mode home screen.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

The TCL NxtPaper 11 comes in two colors: dark grey and digital lavender. It retails for $230, and you can find it directly on the TCL website. However, it appears to be out of stock at the moment, so if you want to buy one, you’ll have to check back.

Though the TCL NxtPaper 11 offers a unique display reminiscent of an e-reader, there are other alternatives you could consider if you want to stay strictly in this price range.

For example, there’s the Amazon Fire Max 11, which is in our best tablets roundup. While it’s not the absolute best tablet out there, it does give you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s an 11-inch tablet that is lightweight, easy to use, and packs a decent amount of power in a small package. It does have its own set of quirks, like not coming with the Google Play Store by default, but it’s one of Amazon’s better offerings lately. And you can’t beat the price — $230, currently on sale for less, and readily available.

TCL NxtPaper 11: verdict

TCL NXTPAPER 11 in hand outside reading comic.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I was initially drawn to the NxtPaper 11 because of the unique display. And for that, it’s great — especially if you do a lot of reading. I love the matte finish because it’s anti-glare and easier on my eyes. But I was also disappointed that it’s just as easy to get smudges all over, despite TCL’s claim that it isn’t.

The overall performance of the NxtPaper 11 is also disappointing. There’s a lot of stutter and choppiness when just navigating around, and when you combine a mediocre chipset with a 60Hz refresh rate, well, things just aren’t smooth. And while the battery life is great, I don’t know what made TCL think that including a 5W charger with an 8,000mAh battery tablet is okay.

While it has a solid build and promising features, it’s very evident once you use the TCL NxtPaper 11 that this is a budget tablet. It’s a decent option to consider mainly for its NxtPaper display tech, but beyond that, you can do better elsewhere.

Source: digital trends

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