Dasung is a Chinese startup that is the only company to have produced an E-ink monitor. They call it the Paperlike, and launched their first model in 2015, then followed it with two more models only one of which, the Paperlike Pro, was worth buying).
Now Dasung is launching what it calls its 3rd-gen monitor, the Paperlike HD. This model launched in China in December and can currently be bought on Ebay for around $1100. Dasung has just started their international promotion, and has promised to send me one (it should arrive in the next few weeks).
The Paperlike HD features a 13.3″ E-ink monitor with a screen resolution of 2200 x 1650. a significant improvement over the last model (1200 x 1600). It’s not clear how else the HD is better than the Pro, but I will know more when my unit arrives.
Like previous models, the Paperlike HD has a standard VESA mount on the back, and connects to your computer via HDMI. Unlike the similar-sized ereaders from Onyx, the Paperlike HD does not have a CPU, touchscreen, or frontlight.
With Amazon about to ship a new Kindle and Onyx teasing new models, everyone is wondering whether they should wait for new devices that may or may not be in the pipeline.
In fact, I just got asked that question this morning:
Do you think there will be major developments in the world of ereaders next year? i.MX 7, ACep, other E-ink screen…? What does your intuition tell you?
Is that I like the new kindle Oasis… but I would hate that next year there would be important news.
My recent record of predicting new hardware is mixed (for example, I was only half right on my Kindle prediction from January). That’s why I am hesitant to speculate about what is coming next, but I can relate what we know is coming.
Edit: I goofed; it turns out the new Kindle Oasis has an i.MX7 dual-core chip.
Yes, there’s all sorts of hype, speculation, and promises by component makers, but the simple fact is that no ereader maker has committed to using the tech in their devices.
Sure, new tech would be spectacular, but without a firm commitment from a device maker we might as well be talking about rainbows and unicorns.
Here’s what we do know is coming, and also what we can reasonably expect to be released.
Amazon is going to ship the new Kindle Oasis at the end of October. It has a 7″ E-ink screen, costs $249, and will be one of the two best ereaders on the market the day after it is released.
That Oasis is most likely the only new Kindle we will see this year, but a lot of hope being pinned on the Kindle’s tenth anniversary on 19 November. Many think Amazon will release a new Kindle on that day; however, there are no rumors or leaks to suggest that will happen.
Kobo’s latest ereader, the Aura One, features a 7.8″ screen and was released about five months ago.
Edit: I goofed. The latest Kobo ereader is the Aura H2O2. The Aura One was released last summer.
There are no current leaks or rumors to suggest that Kobo is going to release a new device this year. That said, Kobo has a history of releasing a new device in the late spring or early summer, and I would expect to see one then.
This Chinese ereader maker is at the same time both the awe-inspiring and the most disappointing. Yes, Onyx has new devices in the works and they look awesome but we also do not know for sure when the new models will hit the market.
Not counting the (usually 6″) models launched in Russia, Onyx has three ereaders in the pipeline for the western market. According Onyx’s German retail partner, here’s what Onyx is working on:
Onyx Boox MAX2 PRO (13.3″flexible Carta E-ink)
Boox Note (10.3″ flexible Carta E-ink)
Boox Canvas (9,7″ Carta E-ink with frontlight)
The Note and the Max2 are going to run Android 6.0 on a quad-core 1.6GHz CPU with 1GB RAM.The Canvas is going to run Android 4.4 on a 1GHz single-core CPU with 1GB RAM.
All three models will have both an electromagnetic stylus and a capacitive touchscreen as well as a speaker, mike, headphone jack, and USB-C.
Edit: And here’s something new: Booxtor, the German retail partner, said that Onyx had matched the Floyd mode on Dasung Paperlike Pro. Onyx has "implemented the Floyd-Steinberg Dithering". This is a different algorithm than what Dasung uses, and it’s not clear how they compare.
We do not know when the new devices will ship or how much they will cost. The official word, and I am quoting here, is:
There is no official schedule yet. At least Onyx doesn’t reveal it. Internally I was promised to get a small quantity of the first batch of new devices in the first weeks of 2018.
Barnes & Noble Nook
B&N stopped developing their own ereaders years ago, and now licenses them from Netronix. The last Nook model was released in 2015, and there’s no way to predict if or when B&N will license a new design.
Icarus / Boyue
Boyue (AKA Boeye) is a Chinese OEM and Icarus is a Dutch retailer that rebrands ereaders.
Boyue has an irregular release schedule, making it hard to predict when their next model will show up.
This Ukrainian company used to be one of the more innovative ereader makers, but they kinda dropped out of the race. They updated three models in the past three years but have released nothing new in that time.
I don’t expect to see new hardware from Pocketbook any time soon.
This brand from Poland’s Arta-Tech primarily licenses and rebrands 6″ ereaders from Chinese companies. It is hard to say whether it will release new models, but my guess is that they will not have cutting edge tech.
Stare at a computer screen everyday for years on end and eventually you’re going to develop vision problems. It might be headaches, or simply an inability to keep both eyes in focus.
That is exactly what happened to me, and I consider myself fortunate that my vision problems only took a turn for the worse after I met Dasung’s E-ink monitors.
Paperlike is a line of monitors based around a 13.3″ E-ink screen. The first model came out in 2015, and (to be frank) was crap. The drivers weren’t finished and didn’t work, and a lot of buyers reported that their units died in just a few months.
The second-gen Paperlike came out last year, and it was pretty good. It was still slow (and hella expensive) but it could be used for basic activities like typing.
The third-gen model, the Paperlike Pro, came out this summer. It’s still expensive but Dasung finally got the hardware and drivers right, and I feel I can finally say this is the one you should buy.
In fact, I am writing this review on the Paperlike.
For the record: I bought an original Paperlike with my own money. Dasung gave me the two later models. (Nevertheless, I still think the second-gen model is only worth using if you are absolutely desperate).
Pro & Con
non backlight/frontlight means no eyestrain
HDMI cable (the Pro works out of the box with any computer that has a compatible port – or even an iPhone)
Works great for typing, some types of web browsing, email, etc
ships with a crappy stand (you should really invest in a monitor arm)
The Dasung Paperlike Pro features a 13.3″ E-ink display with a screen resolution of 1600×1200. With a 150 PPI, it is a relatively low resolution screen compared to the Kindle Paperwhite (or a lot of smartphones) but it is still sharper than the screen on a lot of laptops.
The Pro, is designed to work as a secondary (or even primary) display for your computer, which is why it lacks a CPU, or any type of input. It is strictly a display, and it fills that role well.
It has exactly three buttons on the front: screen refresh, power, and "M" (for changing the display mode).
I have had one for about two months now. At first I just fiddled around with it, but for the past month or so I have been using it just about every work day. I installed my Pro on a monitor arm, and whenever I need to do a lot of typing, or whenever I feel my eyes are getting tired, I swing the Pro in front of my laptop’s screen.
I am typing this post on the Pro right now, and I type a lot of posts using this monitor. It is a permanent addition to my workspace, so much so that I am planning how I might take it with me on trips.
I m so committed to the Pro that I even spent time finding the best software tweaks to get the most out of it.
The Paperlike Pro runs off paired HDMI and USB cables, so it is (mostly) plug-and-play e-ink monitor.
I qualify that statement because if you don’t install the drivers (and run them every time you use the Pro), a nag screen will pop up every few minutes, telling you that your Paperlike Pro is going to explode into a million pieces.
But even when you do install the drivers, you will only be using about 60% of the Paperlike Pro’s full abilities; if you want to get the rest of the way there you will need to learn the software settings and how to optimize apps so they work well on the Paperlike Pro.
The Paperlike Pro has 3 display modes (A2, A16, and Floyd) and natively supports two screen resolutions (1600 x 1200 and 800 x 600). It can also be set to "mirror" one of your existing monitors, and duplicate what is shown on the first screen.
My preferred choice is to use the Floyd display mode and set the Paperlike Pro as a mirrored monitor because it is the easiest to use. Yes, I am missing out on the full 1600 x 1200 pixels, but I am okay with that.
I did try using the Paperlike Pro as a second monitor, but I found that the different screen resolutions meant I had to keep adjusting font sizes every time I switched between the Pro and my laptop. It was just too much of a bother given that I had to go back and forth every few minutes (I like using the Paperlike Pro, but its grayscale screen misses a lot of nuance).
Here are a few details about the display modes:
A2 – This mode shows only black and white. It is by far the fastest but it also loses a lot of detail.
A16 – This mode lets you use the same 16 shades of gray offered by ereaders. It offers the highest degree of detail but it is also as slow as the Kindle (which means it’s a poor choice for things like web browsing).
Floyd is the display mode I use the most. It has its issues (sometimes I have to refresh the screen so I can see what I am looking at) but this is the mode that really makes the Paperlike Pro usable. It’s a feature competitors will have to copy or duplicate should they release an E-ink monitor.
Really, though, the 3 display modes are just the beginning; to get the most out of this monitor you’ll need to tweak the settings and learn how to tweak apps so they play nice with E-ink screens.
The Paperlike Pro settings menu lets you change display modes, micro-manage the contrast, and there’s also an option to change from your computer’s native color theme to a gray or white option. (You _will_ want to use one or the other option, trust me; they make tabs on Chrome actually legible on the Paperlike Pro’s screen.)
You should also look into how you can get apps to look their best on E-ink. Chrome, for example, has a high-contrast extension that effectively changes everything to grayscale. That extension makes twitter and other websites actually usable on the Paperlike Pro, and without that extension the web browsing experience is just frustrating enough that I would have given up on the idea.
And that, in a nutshell, is the experience of using the Paperlike Pro.
There are some products like the Kindle Paperlike that are finished consumer products that work just awesomely out of the box.
But then there are other products, like the original Kindle, which benefit from learning just a few subtle tricks and tweaks in a beginner’s guide.
The Paperlike Pro definitely falls in the latter category. There’s a half-dozen small things you can do, and effectively double its usability with each one.
Install the drivers? 2x
Learn how to use them? 2x
Tweak apps to play nice? 2x
I am not pointing all this out to complain about the Paperlike Pro; I think the extra work is worth it.
What I am trying to say is that anyone who doesn’t want to put in the extra work will not get the most out of this expensive device, and shouldn’t buy one.
E-ink monitors like the Dasung Paperlike Pro are still a niche product, and an expensive one at that. This unfortunate combination means that users will have shelled out a lot of money and then had trouble finding help with their new device.
That is exactly the situation I found myself in when I got a Paperlike. I wasn’t terribly happy with how Windows and the apps I use everyday looked on my Paperlike, and I couldn’t find advice on how to make everything more legible on an E-ink screen.
So when the Paperlike Pro came out, I went looking for ways to make apps look their best on the new monitor. I have so far solved three of my problems, and I hope by sharing them that I can help others crowdsource solutions to their issues with E-ink monitors.
What We’re Going to Do
In general terms, what we need to do to get the best performance from an E-ink monitor is to look for "high-contrast", "color blind", or grayscale options.
What these options will do is change the colors displayed on a screen from bright colors to shades of gray. These options were originally developed for users with vision problems, but they can serve a dual purpose by making your computer work better with an E-ink monitor.
Here are a few of the grayscale solutions I have found.
I can’t say for sure whether this works on other versions of Windows, but Windows 7 has a high-contrast mode. It only works on the Windows desktop and menus but not app icons or app content, so it’s only a partial solution, but it does make it easier to navigate Windows.
You can enable the high contrast mode by pressing alt+ (left) shift + Print Screen. (source)
I spend most of my day in Chrome, so after I had Windows squared away I went looking for a way to make Chrome look better on an E-ink screen. I found a solution, but it turned out that I need unique solutions for most of the websites and services I use.
The general solution for Chrome is an extension called Gray Scale Black & White. It changes all the colors in Chrome to shads of gray. It works wonders on Twitter:
This is a great solution for a lot of sites, but it also causes problems for WordPress and Gmail (and probably other sites I have not identified yet). They both became illegible when viewed on my Paperlike Pro.
Fortunately, this was an easily solvable problem.
The trick to making Gmail look good on a grayscale screen is to switch to a different color theme. Gmail, has over 4 dozen theme options, including a light gray option that is the next best thing to grayscale.
The gray theme looked great on my Paperlike Pro.
You can change the theme by clicking the "gear" menu button, selecting the "Themes" option, and then scrolling down until you see the gray theme option.
There are a couple ways to make the admin pages for a WordPress site look good on an E-ink screen.
One option is to change the color theme. WordPress offers a dozen color themes for its admin pages, and I thought the "blue" theme was the most legible of the default color schemes on my Paperlike.
But I would not recommend that you enable it, because I have a better option.
What you should do is install a couple plugins, Fix Admin Contrast and High Contrast Admin. These plugins were designed to make existing admin menus easier to see by improving the contrast, and they work. They make the menus easier to read on my LCD screen.
But they don’t help any on my Paperlike. In fact, they conflict with the GS B&W plugin, and make the menus even harder to read.
Fortunately, that problem has a simple solution.
The High Contrast Admin plugin also comes with its own custom color themes (two, to b exact). I have found the "High Contrast White" option looks best on my Paperlike Pro.
It’s not perfect, but it is so close and is so much more legible than any other solution I have found that I am willing to forgive its shortcomings (the plugin menu is difficult to see, though).
All in all, the solutions I found have made my Paperlike Pro much more useful that when it came out of the box. It’s gone from being an interesting curiosity to a screen I might start using on a regular basis.
So, what solutions have you found for using an E-ink screen as a monitor?
Do you have a problem you can’t solve? If so, leave comment and let’s see if other users can help fix it.
The Paperlike Pro is basically the be-all and end-all for E-ink monitors. It’s the only model on the market with an HDMI port and it has the best software drivers, and even works well with an iPhone.
It’s a pretty good monitor, but it does have its limitations. For example, in spite of optimistic claims by Dasung, the Pro can’t really display video or 3d games.
A couple weeks back a reader challenged me to how what the Pro could do with video. He thought the official demo video from Dasung looked pretty impressive because it briefly showed the Pro playing video, but as anyone who follows tech news can tell you, we simply cannot trust an official demo video to be honest.
Device makers frequently stretch the truth – or at least give it a good polish – in order to make their product look its best.
That’s why I shot this quick demo video showing the Paperlike Pro playing a Youtube video.
The Paperlike Pro has a 13.3″ E-ink screen. The official resolution is 1200 x 1600, but I have found that it works best to simply mirror my laptop’s screen (with a 1366 x 768 resolution display). This stretches the screen' contents a little but it’s still quite usable for many uses like typing.
Just not for video. It’s not only that videos don’t look good, but also that the signal was lost at least twice during this brief demo.
So video is out – and so are games, for that matter.
And that really is okay, because the Pro was never intended for gaming or videos. It’s an E-ink display, and it was really intended for work – word processing and the like.
I would not have criticized its inability to display a video if I had not had to debunk a claim made by the manufacturer, but here we are.
When Dasung announced the Paperlike Pro E-ink monitor a couple months ago, they said that it was significantly faster than the previous model. As you can see in the following demo video, that isn’t strictly true.
As the only person who owns both a Paperlike and a Paperlike Pro, I thought it would be useful to show how they compared.
The newer Pro model both is and isn’t faster. When both units were in the 16-shades mode, it was a toss up which was faster. T
his might not be clear in the video, but I have been using both Paperlikes for a couple weeks and it was pretty obvious to me.
The Pro does have one advantage, though. Its drivers support a third display mode called Floyd. This is a reference to Floyd-Warshall, an algorithm which explains how to find the shortest path in a weighted graph.
That doesn’t really make any sense here, but what it means for this screen is that the drivers are finding shortcuts to speed up the screen refresh by trading off quality for speed. In many ways it is an improvement, but as with any tradeoff there is a downside. But since the new Floyd mode is optional, I think it is a net positive.
BTW, I am going to post more videos (including videos using apps for color-blind users), but if I have sold you on the Paperlike Pro, you can buy one at Sol Computers.
And here’s the script I typed during the video:
Greetings. You are watching a demo video for the Dasung Paperlike E-ink monitor.
The unit on the left is the older model, while the one on the right is the recently released Paperlike Pro.
I thought it would be best to conduct a silent demo so that you could get the most out of the experience.
Let’s see how this works.
First, the specs.
Both models have a 13.3” E-ink screen (resolution 1200 x 1600). The Pro connects to my laptop over HDMI (plus USB for power) while the older model uses simply a USB cable. They have different drivers, with different features, but are otherwise quite similar.
Both models can display either a black/white mode (A2) or 16 shades of gray. The Pro also has a new mode called Floyd.
Here, let me switch so you can see the new mode.
Floyd is a little faster because it uses a new algorithm to make minimal changes to what is on the screen.
The older 16-shade mode has to refresh the screen more often, and that slows it down.
Let me show you a demo.
Floyd is an improvement, but there’s a tradeoff in terms of image quality.
Er, Floyd is faster but sloppier.
I have had the Pro for a couple weeks. It is pretty good for things like typing but I don’t find it usable for basic web browser.
That is at least partially my fault; I think it would be more useful if I would seek out grayscale alternatives to my usual apps.
Let me explain it a different way – if you get a Paperlike, you should also spend time researching apps for color blind users. Those apps will have ways of translating the color ques into grayscale patterns that would work better on an E-ink screen.
Or at least that is what I believe is possible. I plan to look for those grayscale apps before posting my demo next video.
Dasung is a Chinese startup that has so far released three monitors based on a 13.3″ E-ink screen under the brand name, Paperlike.
The third model, the Paperlike Pro, was announced last month. It features the same screen resolution as before (1600 x 1200) but on the upside the Pro works over HDMI and the screen was upgraded to Carta E-ink.
My unit just arrived today. I haven’t had a chance to really test it yet, but I wanted to invite requests.
I can confirm the technical details mentioned above, and I can also add that while the HDMI port is terribly convenient, the frequent crashes are not.
The Pro crashes about every five minutes, forcing me to press the C (for "clear") button to get it working again. (I’m going to ask Dasung why as soon as they wake up tomorrow morning in China.) While the Pro does appear to be a tad faster that its predecessor, that stability issue pretty much cancels out any gains.
It is a nifty toy, nonetheless.
What would you like me to try out?
P.S. There’s no touchscreen, one feature I would have liked to have
The current model cost $700 when sold through Indiegogo last summer, and it was simply the best solution for Computer Vision Syndrome.
And now there is a third model. While it has the same screen resolution ( 1200 x 1600), the new HDMI port means that the new model will respond faster. And as you can see in the video, the newer screen tech simply looks and works a lot better than the screen on the current model.
I don’t have details on how much the new model will cost, but I will have that info by the time my review unit arrives next month.
Dasung hasn’t said when the ereader will be released or how much it will cost, but I will be following this story closely and will post the new details as soon as Dasung goes public.
Thirteen-inch ereaders are still as rare as hens teeth, but this Paperlike ereader still won’t be the first. Sony released a writing slate based on a 13.3″ E-ink screen several years ago, and Onyx has also released one.
They are still relatively expensive, though. The Onyx Boox Max costs close to $700, and the Sony DPT-S1 costs even more. This drastically limits the market, but if Dasung can beat the price of the Max then they will attract a lot of readers who had previously balked at the high prices.
Today’s news about the 32″ E-ink street signs in Singapore reminded me of a story I had been doggedly pursuing.
The signage announced today is based on an E-ink screen which was originally launched in 2014. Those screens sported a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440, and were reportedly developed in cooperation with a signage manufacturer, GDS.
One might assume from the mention of a manufacturing partner that the screens would be turned into a commercial product which could be bought through the appropriate wholesaler, but it turns out that is not the case.
A couple months back I got it into my head that I wanted to buy, or at least borrow, one of these screens, and so I started bugging GDS for information on sales, distribution, specs, etc.
If you know where to look online you can buy the giant LCD signs found in AMC Theatres, Walmart, Popeyes, and other businesses, but the 32″ E-ink screens just weren’t listed with any of the wholesalers I found online.
And so I asked GDS. At first they gave me the run around, but eventually I wore them down and my emails were forwarded to a spokesperson who admitted that the 32″ screen was less a commercial product than an ongoing project in the design and development workshop.
"Unfortunately, the E-ink product is not a production unit, so samples are not available and we don’t have finished products in distribution," I was told by email. "It is a 'skunkworks' type product that is currently under development for a number of projects. The solar powered unit that we installed with the City of Boston was a showcase installation to show the capabilities."
Yes, in the two years since this screen was announced, no one has used this screen in a commercial product.
Do you know all of the photos of the display units at trade shows, the ones which showed a finished monitor with case, screen, and mounting hardware? They are essentially vaporware. They were all promise, and no delivery, or all hat, and no cattle.
And that is a shame because a 32″ monitor based on one of these screens could make a useful alternative to the Dasung Paperlike.
The Paperlike is a one-of-a-kind monitor which costs $700 to $1000 and features a 13.3″ E-ink screen. A 32″ screen would be about six times as large, enabling you to show a lot more work at one time.
Sure, that larger monitor would cost at least twice as much as a Paperlike, that could be worth it for those who have computer vision syndrome, the class of medical conditions which prevent users from looking at LCD screens.
A 32″ E-ink monitor would let them finally have the same massive monitor setup many geeks enjoy – only without the migraines. And frankly, the rest of us could benefit from this monitor as well.
Don’t you think you spend too much time staring into a bright screen?
The NYTimes published an article last week which reminds us why an expensive toy like Dasung’s E-ink monitor is less an indulgence than a necessity.
The article delves into computer vision syndrome, a spectrum of physical symptoms caused by sitting and staring at your computer screen for unhealthy lengths of time.
Do you know how your mother told you not to sit so close to the screen? Well, she was right:
Studies have indicated 70 percent to 90 percent of people who use computers extensively, whether for work or play, have one or more symptoms of computer vision syndrome. The effects of prolonged computer use are not just vision-related. Complaints include neurological symptoms like chronic headaches and musculoskeletal problems like neck and back pain.
The report’s authors, Tope Raymond Akinbinu of Nigeria and Y. J. Mashalla of Botswana, cited four studies demonstrating that use of a computer for even three hours a day is likely to result in eye symptoms, low back pain, tension headache and psychosocial stress.
Still, the most common computer-related complaint involves the eyes, which can develop blurred or double vision as well as burning, itching, dryness and redness, all of which can interfere with work performance.
I think that they’re overstating the seriousness of the problem. With most people, you can cure their symptoms simply by changing their work environment or or their work habits.
Adjusting the height of a monitor, repositioning a chair, or changing work routines, will help half or more of those with CVS. The fix is so simple that I almost hesitate to use the word syndrome, but then there are the people who aren’t helped by such simple measures.
Some CVS sufferers aren’t just inconvenienced when they stare at a screen too long; they’re put on the sick list. They get pounding migraines in just a few short hours, and often have to ration their computer time.
"I had to take weeks off at my job because I couldn’t stand to watch any monitors, (even TV, projectors, any that emits light)," a reader told me last year. "I’ve been having headaches for years, and just reached my limit. I got back at my job recently, but the nightmare is still going on: every day is a struggle."
For the more extreme cases of CVS, the Paperlike monitor, with its 13″ E-ink screen, is not an optional expense any more than a screen reader app is for the visually impaired.
And that’s why I was so thrilled to see the Paperlike launch on Indiegogo last week.
I’ve covered the software features of the Paperlike before, so I won’t repeat myself here.
Dasung is raising funds for its next production run by pre-selling the Paperlike monitor. They’re asking $800 for a monitor that retails for $1300 (sometimes it helps to buy from the manufacturer).
The campaign is now up to $57 thousand, far exceeding its goal of $10,000, and it’s still growing. Unfortunately it’s only sold 71 units, which means this is going to stay a niche product rather than going mainstream.
With two limited production runs and a single retail partner, it’s not exactly easy to get your hands on a Paperlike E-ink monitor, but now is your chance to get in line to pre-order a Paperlike at a discount.
A few days back Dasung quietly launched an Indiegogo campaign for the Paperlike. (The launch was so quiet that they didn’t even tell me.) The campaign is three days old and has already achieved its goal of $10,000, and that means it is now on schedule to ship the monitors in August 2016.
The Paperlike is currently the world’s first and only E-ink monitor, and thus one of the few types of screen which sufferers of computer vision syndrome can use. (LCD screens give them migraines.)
It’s built around a 13.3″ E-ink screen, and connects to your PC via a USB cable which supplies both power and data. It has a screen resolution of 1600 x 1200, and supports two plus native display modes. The Paperlike can mirror your existing monitor or act as an external monitor at resolutions of 800 x 600 or 1600 x 1200. Also, the latest set of drivers will also let you mirror your existing monitor at its current resolution.
For example, my Dell laptop has a maximum screen resolution of 1366 x 768. The Paperlike can take that screen resolution and either stretch it to fit its 13″ screen or mirror my laptop’s screen in a window which measures 1366 x 768. It can also use one of the lower resolution screen settings, and display that on its E-ink screen.
The stretch mode doesn’t look great, but it is very, very usable.
You can find additional videos in the post I wrote last week.
I wouldn’t want to stick with the Paperlike for all my computer activity, but when it comes to basics like web browsing, writing, email, etc, it works surprisingly well. In fact, I am typing this post with the Paperlike.
Or at least I was until it fell over, which brings me to a problem.
The Paperlike ships with a wholly inadequate stand which isn’t really up to supporting the monitor properly. If you buy one you should also invest in a real monitor stand/arm to go with it.
Fortunately the Paperlike has the standard mounting points on the back so it should work with standard equipment.
I’ve been following the development of the Paperlike since I first discovered it at CES 2015 sixteen months ago, and I feel that today (for the first time) I can honestly say that the Paperlike is ready for consumers. Over the past couple weeks the software has lived up to the promise of E-ink screen.
Now would be a great time to get one.
P.S. Full disclosure: I bought a Paperlike in the pre-order last year. I was one of the owners' whose monitor died, and so this year Dasung sent me a free replacement. That replacement monitor is currently sitting on my desk.
When Dasung shipped the Paperlike 13.3″ E-ink monitor last year, I was hard-pressed to say anything nice or to recommend the monitor to any but the absolutely desperate. The drivers simply didn’t work, and I had heard several complaints of hardware failure.
Fortunately, at least one of those problems has been solved in the second production run, and possibly both.
A new Paperlike arrive on my doorstep last week, and I have spent the past few days putting it through its paces. The software is still far from perfect, and I have not had the hardware long enough to express an opinion, but the new model is significantly better than the original.
And you can buy one today from Sol Computer, where it is listed for $1300. (I paid around a thousand dollars when I bought one direct from Paperlike.)
There’s only minimal visible differences between the hardware of the first- and second-gen Paperlikes; the original has a silver shell and the new model a black shell. But the software is much improved.
The original drivers were not finished before the Paperlike was shipped, and installing them required a blood sacrifice of a Google intern made at midnight two nights after a blue moon.
But with the new model, the drivers simply install. I had to reboot a couple times (once after installation and a second time when the drivers froze my laptop) but it’s working now.
On the other hand, I installed the drivers on Windows 7. There is a report that Windows 8/10 users might not be so lucky.
For me, the drivers enable me to use the Paperlike as either an external secondary USB monitor, or a duplicate of my laptop’s screen. The external option offers more screen resolution options (including 800 x 600, 600 x 800, 1600 x 1200, 1200 x 1600). My only options for a duplicate is 800 x 600 or 600 x 800 (possibly because my laptop doesn’t support higher screen resolutions on its screen).
I have had the Paperlike for a week, and I have generally found it best to use it as a duplicate monitor. While I can use it as an external USB monitor, it doesn’t work well. I don’t think my computer has the graphics power to run a second monitor off USB; when I do it looks something like this:
The refresh rate can’t keep up with the cursor, which is why it jumps around the screen. It’s also too low to handle things like a scrolling web browser or video.
But that’s when I use the Paperlike as an external monitor. When I use it to duplicate my laptop’s screen, the performance more closely resembles the demo videos posted by Dasung:
As you might be able to infer from the video, Dasung is running the monitor at 800 x 600 resolution. Given that the Paperlike supports a higher resolution I think that might count as cheating, but as you can see it is very usable at that screen resolution.
In fact, the Paperlike has improved enough that I now feel comfortable recommending it.
Dasung has held a couple limited sales, but the best place to buy the Paperlike right now is at Sol Computer, the North American retail partner. Sol Computer also carries similar screen tech products like Pixel Qi laptops, tablets, and monitors.
Sure, with a price tag of $1,300, the Paperlike is ridiculously expensive. Plus, there are cheaper options (including Pixel Qi screens). But if you can afford a Paperlike and have vision problems which render LCD monitors unusable, this can help.
E-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.