"This is a PDF document. You can page through it with your finger.Of course, you can also write comments and draw lines in the PDF document. Also, if you choose the marker, and move your finger over text, you can highlight text like this..."
-Kenji Matsunaga, Marketing Manager at Sony Business Solutions
A4 size papers are now a thing of passé. Sony has recently launched an A4 sized equivalent 13.3" digital paper notepad, using E Ink Mobius. It's commonly referred to as the "A4 Sized Digital Paper Notepad" (how unsexy), but this is because they have not named it yet. The device will be sold to universities, in bulks - so that they come handy in lecture note-taking, hand-outs, and so on.
Here are the exact specifications:
- Weight: 358g
- 13.3-inch touch capable screen e-ink display
- 1,200 x 1,600 pixels
- 233mm x 310mm x 6.8mm
- 16 shades of grey (here come the lame jokes...)
- Electromagnetic stylus
- Built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery with up to approximately 3 weeks usage
- Wi-Fi connectivity - IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4GHz) compliant
- Storage: 4GB internal memory plus microSD card slot
- File support: Complies with specification PDF (. Pdf), the PDF 1.7
"What's So Special About It? It's Just Like A Tablet..."
Number 1: It's plastic, it's fantastic. Sony developed this technology by forming high precision thin film transistors on plastic instead of glass, making it easier to place your hand on it while you write.
Number 2: It's light and flexible. In fact, the display weighs 50% less than it would have if glass was used. The Marketing Manager of Sony Business Solutions, Kenji Matsunaga went further to explain:
"Usually, devices are made by sandwiching TFTs between glass sheets. But these panels use plastic instead of glass, so they're much lighter. Another feature is that, unlike glass, these panels are very durable."
Will You Use It?
At the moment, it's intended for educational markets, like I suggested at the beginning. But wouldn't it great to have an A4 sized e-ink device for your personal use? Having a stylus input and annotation would be great!
"This is still at the prototype stage. But we're designing it to work smoothly. Also, with paper, you can rest your hand on it while you write, but with a tablet, you can't always do that. This digital paper makes it possible to write while resting your hand on the panel," Matsunaga added.
By the end of this year, the company will be mass producing the digital paper. Being a university student, it will be great if I could participate in the trials, but Sony is planning to do trials locally, at Waseda, Ritsumeikan, and Hosei universities. I should have studied in Japan.
But not to despair, fellow world citizens: "We also plan to release a commercial version during this year."
I know I'm getting one if I can get my paws on it - are you? What do you think about this device?
Some people have told me that "[they] can see it selling like crazy if 1. it's more responsive than they have it now, but then again having a 'responsive' (yes, very subjective) e-ink display is really hard IMO. And 2, the price point is at a level where it hugely undercuts tablets. How many of those who get tablets for 'educational purposes' really end up using it /just/ for educational purposes? ...On second thought though, that was a pretty biased opinion since I hate e-ink displays for their lack of responsiveness (which is pretty much just crap user experience)."
"Sony should overcome its HW centric business model. Otherwise they will be knocked down like HP. The world has been changing from SW centric environment. However this player just miss its Glory. Same message for Samsung."