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Pocketbook Unveils Thinner, Lighter, 13.3″ CAD Reader Flex

When Pocketbook first unveiled the CAD Reader last December it had a chunky design and was no where near ready to hit the market. A year later the CAD Reader is still months away from being shipped, but now the prototype is thinner and prettier.

While we still don’t know what the production model will look like, Pocketbook says they’re now showing off a new CAD Reader Flex which measures only 6.5 mm thin. 

The new model still has a 13.3″ E-ink display with a screen resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, only now it is a plastic backed Mobius screen and not the Fina E-ink screen which was on the prototype when it was first unveiled last year. Pocketbook changed the design in June because the Mobius screen is more impact resistant.

Aside from the new screen, the new CAD Reader Flex looks to have more limited specs than the original design. Gone is any mention of Android; now the CAD Reader Flex runs Pocketbook’s software on a dual-core 1.5GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 8GB internal storage.

And while the CAD Reader Flex also has Wifi and Bluetooth, the new design appears to lack a frontlight or touchscreen (or at least they’re not mentioned in the press release, even though the d-pad and page turn buttons are mentioned).

Update: I was right; Pocketbook has confirmed that the new CAD Reader Flex doesn’t have a touchscreen or frontlight, and it doesn’t run Android.

Assuming that Pocketbook didn’t trip themselves up and forget to include key details in their press release (I’m still waiting for confirmation), the new CAD Reader Flex is a much less appealing design than the prototype that Pocketbook lent to E-ink for CES 2014.

That earlier design ran Android 4.0 and had 2GB RAM, and while the CAD Reader was supposed to be simply a locked down ereader for displaying blueprints, the OS and specs hinted that an industrious hacker would be able to turn the CAD Reader from a simple ereader into an E-ink Android ereader.

This would have let us install other reading apps, but now it looks like that is no longer possible. I don’t know about you, but I suddenly find this design far less appealing.

Pocketbook is showing off the CAD Reader Flex at Autodesk University this week in Las Vegas, NV. If you have a chance to put your hands on it I would love to hear what you think.

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Name (required) December 2, 2014 um 1:27 pm

It is still exciting news.
I have been waiting for plastic-backed e-ink screens for years and years. Remember Plactic Logic and their single large device they showed on many occasions?

The only device with a plastic-backed e-ink screen that I am aware of is WEXLER Flex ONE. And that one very mysteriously vanished very shortly *after* it was put on the market. I had a discussion with a distributor for my European country and he refused to say why the import contract fell through. There were some quite unfavourable reviews at the time.

Six years ago there was also readius device with a wrap-able e-ink screen That one too never reached a market.

Nate Hoffelder December 2, 2014 um 1:34 pm

Actually, the Readius did hit the market. The first model was launched with an Italian telecom, but then the company lost its financing when one of its backers was charged in a money laundering scheme.

And the Wexler device never made it out of Russia, for reasons I was never able to suss out. But it did later show up for $50 on Amazon.

TheGreatFilter December 2, 2014 um 3:09 pm

This is the same screen as the Sony, no? And I agree. No Android, and the device becomes about 10% useful as it would have been. I could have used this as an e-ink monitor for my computer. No longer…

Nate Hoffelder December 2, 2014 um 4:30 pm

Same as the Sony, yes.

Hrafn December 2, 2014 um 7:55 pm

Light, thin and rugged are all features I like to see in an eReader. I just hope that this technology will eventually trickle down from outsized and specialised products into more normal-sized and mainstream ones.

does December 2, 2014 um 9:35 pm

Looking forward to hear about this reader every December for years and years.
No touchscreen in 2015? Sounds like they’re really lost.

fgh December 2, 2014 um 10:56 pm

I am not up dto date with touch screen technology. Are there any flexible touch screens available already? If not, they’ll certainly follow some day, considering the general trend to thinner and ultimately form-flexible displays. I wonder whether the new design allows PocketBook to build the CAD Reader Flex any cheaper than anticipated. Since there’s WLAN and Bluetooth, it might still be possible to control the device externally. Realistically though, I don’t expect to see too much foresight from PocketBook. There will just be enough novelty in it to attract some buyers, but the device will leave users hungry enough for future products, which are bound to follow some day and which will be designed with the same pattern, unless competition forces a higher degree of innovattion.

Nate Hoffelder December 3, 2014 um 6:48 am

There are smartphones with curved screens that also have touchscreens, but I don’t know of a flexible touchscreen.

But I seriously doubt that the Flex will actually be flexible, so that shouldn’t matter.

kiuhgv December 3, 2014 um 10:27 am

At least the renderings show the device in both curved and flat states. Do you believe that PocketBook will sell two different versions? I wouldn’t be surprised if the device was actually flexible to some degree.

kiuhgv December 3, 2014 um 10:59 am

OK, the latest status seems to be that this device will be cheaper than the normal CAD Reader and probably launch a bit earlier. So this is actually a new device in addition to original one.

Nate Hoffelder December 3, 2014 um 11:07 am

Given that the CAD Reader would have been Pocketbook’s first Android E-ink device, I bet that they hit roadblocks in developing Android and instead decided to go with their own OS. I am betting the Flex will be released in place of the more capable CAD Reader.

Have you heard anything different? I would love to be wrong. link?

kiuhgv December 3, 2014 um 11:16 am

Forkosigan said there will be two devices in the comments here:

Nate Hoffelder December 3, 2014 um 11:17 am

Thanks! » Flexibles E-Ink im DIN A4-Format: CAD-Reader Flex von Pocketbook December 8, 2014 um 8:10 am

[…] (via […]

haksell December 9, 2014 um 6:11 am

You’re right. It’s high time we get some eink monitor. 1600×1200 is more than enough: I can use it with vim/tmux or display pictures. Refresh rate is far from perfect but good enough (at least with ssh on my kindle).
How could we get there? Should we launch some kind of crowd funding campain?

Sony Puts its 13.3" eReader On Sale for $799 | The Digital Reader July 23, 2017 um 9:58 pm

[…] the only device on the market to use this screen, but several competing devices are in the works. Pocketbook, Netronix, and Onyx have each announced that they are working on a design, but none are close to […]

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