One Week With Dasung’s 13.3″ E-ink USB Monitor (video)

paperlike dasung 4E-ink screens are the holy grail for those who get migraines from staring at LCD screens, but when it comes to monitor alternatives there are few available options.

I had the good fortune to get in on the limited production run of the Dasung Paperlike when it went up for pre-order back in April.

First revealed to the world at CES 2015, the Paperlike is a USB-powered monitor built around a 13.3" Fina E-ink screen.

I've had my unit for about a week now. I don't think I'm ready to write a full review but I did want to give you a taste of what it looks like in use.

The short answer is that the Paperlike shows promise but the software is woefully inadequate.

The general hardware quality is good but the driver software doesn't work very well. It's clearly not finished, and does not support all the promised features.

The Paperlike can either act as a mirror of your LCD monitor or a second monitor which show two different desktops. In the first mode it is limited to a resolution of 800 x 600, but in the second mode you can use the full screen resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 (or 1,200 x 1,600).

And to be clear, you might be able to use the second mode; I cannot because the driver software is incomplete. It is lacking the digital signature required by my version of Windows 7, so I can't use it at the full resolution.

I can only use the Paperlike as a duplicate of my laptop's screen. That limits me a screen resolution of 800 x 600 on both screens, leaving about a quarter of my laptop's screen black.

Not only is the driver incomplete; it is also unstable. Sometimes it crashes when I try to run it, leaving me with a black screen on my laptop (I have to reboot). And if any app dares change my video settings then the Paperlike is left with a garbled screen until I switch it back.

But even though the driver is unstable and incomplete it does kinda sorta work.

To be clear, the Paperlike works to a limited degree; I don't think it is usable in its current state.

My problem is that the apps I use, the websites I visit, and Windows are all unusable at the current screen resolution. They were all built on the assumption that the screen resolution would be a lot higher than 800 x 600, and they don't scale well to such a low screen resolution.

This is a fixable problem and I am going to keep working at it, but it is still a serious problem.

Here's the video I shot (and here's the elephant gif mentioned late in the video). It is not a great demo video, but I'm uploading the video warts and all because I'm not sure whether we're seeing  user error or a recalcitrant device.

About Nate Hoffelder (11594 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

34 Comments on One Week With Dasung’s 13.3″ E-ink USB Monitor (video)

  1. For something like this to be useful to me it needs to work as an independent second screen. With Win10 able to support independent desktops, this would allow Word Processing and monochrome apps to display directly to the eink monitor (preferably in portrait) and color apps to display on the LCD.

    Low resolution mirroring is pretty much useless, no?

  2. Thanks for the quick preview. Can you do another video showing how quickly it can keep up with text input in Word or Wordpad? I think that’s the primary purpose of this thing.

  3. Just disable driver signature inforcement and install the proper driver.
    https://support.hidemyass.com/hc/en-us/articles/202723596-How-to-disable-Driver-Signing-check-on-Windows

    • I already did disable signature enforcement. I don’t think it worked.

      • If you disabled it via the boot menu then that’s just temporary for the one session.

        • So each time the driver crashes and I have to reboot, I have to do it again?

          That I did not know.

          • No, I mean, if you once long ago disabled driver signature check via the boot menu, and rebooted your PC after that, and now you want to install the driver, then that won’t work. That special boot mode has to be selected manually every time when you need to install an unsigned driver. (I mean, just the initial installation, not regular usage of the device).

            So, if that was the method you used to disable signature check, then you have to do it again for this device.

            Or use any other of the four methods in the article that I’ve linked. They provide a permanent solution.

          • I had tried one of the solutions before. I don’t think it worked.

            This time I tried three of the solutions. One must have worked. I can tell that because it’s radically changed the behavior of my computer in ways I don’t want or like.

  4. Test it with with just text processing.

  5. Price?

    I am more interested in the 13.3″ reader from Netronix, hope it indeed comes to market soon at a reasonable price range.

  6. Thanks to Reichsputin’s help, I now have the Paperlike working at its full resolution as an external monitor. I’m currently uploading a video which shows how Kindle, calibre, Libre Office, Nook Study, and Chrome look and behave on 16 shades of gray.

    I didn’t, however, use Libre Office as requested. I’m working my way up to that in a longer video (these short videos are to help me learn as I go).

    The apps work and look okay, but the driver is still showing that it needs more work. Parts of the screen kept not refreshing when I pressed the (C)lear button.

    And FYI: the apps didn’t look good when I switched to the black/white mode. They worked, but were much harder to navigate.
    https://youtu.be/sX_IhYLh2Jw

    • You definitely should consider setting your camera to manual focus mode. 🙂

      The display looks nice.

      • The weird thing is it doesn’t do that for photos. And it only started doing it after I drowned the camera.

        And you know, it just now occurs to me that I should use Youtube’s tools to cut that part of the video. (I’ll do it in the future.)

    • Test word processing in black/white mode. That should look OK and be fast.

      • Yes.

        What I should do to test this is start in 16g mode, navigate and open Libre Office, and then switch modes. That would be realistic, I think.

        I’m not used to thinking in manually changing graphics modes like that, but it is a trick which needs to be highlighted.

        • Or just use notepad? Or Wordpad to test rich text formating? In any case, do it with black text on white background for best results I imagine.

  7. Nate, I would be very interested to know how correctly installing the driver changes your impressions concerning the use of this monitor. Is it still unstable? The resolution limit on mirroring has been lifted, but what about using it as a second monitor? Would you consider it a viable solution after all? Thanks!

    • The driver is working, but it’s also not. There’s all sorts of minor issues that would be ignored by anyone who is desperate enough to pay $1,000 for an E-ink monitor.

      One niggling issue is that my laptop can’t play certain newer games (Left4Dead 2, for example) due to what I did to let unsigned drivers work.. I don’t suppose that will matter much to people who need a Paperlike for work, but it bothers me.

      But more importantly, I showed in the second video that the screen refresh was still buggy. It kept leaving text in the screen.

      Also, Dasung’s driver is behaving in a way I have not seen before. Even after I’ve disabled their driver and unplugged the Paperlike, the driver still makes my computer think that there’s a second monitor attached. I sometimes lose windows off to the right.

      Speaking of disabling the driver, the only way to do so is to find it in the process tab in Task manager and kill the process. That’s a nuisance, and it’s messy.

      • I think i’m right in saying that they are doing this limited run in order to test the software and get it right before the general release. So would expect some bugs.

        Mine is currently in customs and I’m very hopeful it will cure my migraine problems

  8. I’ve got mine working on my Mac but can’t for the life of me get it going on Windows 7 64bit.

    I disabled the signature enforcement and the driver seemed to install, but when I checked device manager, the Paperlike is listed there as a monitor but with a warning that the driver is not installed. I’ve tried uninstalling and reinstalling the driver but no luck.

    Does anyone have any thoughts?

    • First, that driver needs to be run every time you use the monitor. And if you had it running before, you’ll need to go into processes tab in Task Manager and stop it, and then run it again.

      The first time you run the driver app, the driver should install and give you a clear sign that it had. If it’s not clear that the driver installed then it didn’t, and you didn’t actually disable the driver signature issue.

      Scroll up to the comment with the link to instruction on how to disable the driver detection. Follow several of the instructions, reboot, and then try the driver again.

      • Thanks, I’ve now tried the three ways of disabling driver detection, and still getting stuck at the same place. Will try again tomorrow but a bit stumped.

        I click the new green icon and it asks if I’ve got the Paperlike plugged in. I say ok and then nothing happens, whereas i think it is supposed to continue with the next stage of the install?

        • Frustrating, isn’t it? For some reason, it’s not working for me either, today. It keeps telling me it can’t find the extended screen, and that I have to disable the signature check – again.

          • I have it up and running, the Chinese guys were pretty responsive.

            In case anyone is interested, this is what I needed to do:

            right-clicked on “Paperlike Driver”, the menu option ‘run as administrator

            If it does not appear.
            . Right click on ‘Paperlike Driver’ application and select Properties – Compatibility – Privilege level. Check the box “Run this program as an administrator’ and then click ‘OK’. Now open ‘Paperlike Driver’ application to install drivers.

          • Yes, whoops. You have to do that first. I forgot to mention it, sorry.

  9. Why on Earth did they not give it DVI or HDMI connectivity instead of USB?

  10. I see on their twitter (https://twitter.com/dasungtech) that they released a driver update. Did you manage to update your drivers and is there any improvement? (Note: it took some minutes for me before their website loaded and I managed to download the driver.)

    Also, the people who have it working – I would be really grateful if you could make video demos. I’m interested in how the monitor behaves in the three different modes. So far I haven’t seen a demo which switches between the modes and shows us what kind of difference there is between them. And also I haven’t seen web surfing and text processing, which would be nice to see.

  11. Sue Occupational Therapist // 17 September, 2015 at 3:59 pm // Reply

    Do you get headaches from LCD screens? If not, have you tried this with anyone who does? I would like to know how helpful it is. I think using it as a duplicate monitor for reading text (no video) is exactly the application I am looking for, for a number of clients! Thanks for your thoughts.

  12. I have bought some Paperlike to resell in Italy and Europe, if you are interested: ideaconsortium at libero.it. Ciao!

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