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Dasung Paperlike

Dasung’s 13.3″ E-ink Monitor is Now Shipping

dasung paperlike 1Over the past couple weeks many readers have asked for a status update on the Paperlike E-ink monitor I bought back in April.

It has finally shipped, and FedEx says that it will arrive next week.

The Paperlike is a one of a kind USB-powered monitor based around a 13.3″ Fina E-ink display. It first made an appearance at CES 2015, but despite press reports to the contrary this device has not yet been released to the market. Production has so far been limited to a total of 50 units which were pre-sold in April. I got one, and I’m looking forward to its arrival.

And so are many other people. This monitor is the work of Dasung, a Chinese tech company, and it has captivated our attention because its E-ink screen promises to offer a unique solution to the LCD headache problem.

LCD screens don’t bother me that much but some people get migraines and vision problems when they stare into a backlit screen for too long. Since E-ink doesn’t have a backlight, it is viewed as a possible solution for office workers who have found that a Pixel Qi screen simply doesn’t cut it.

Pixel Qi makes a type of LCD screen which degrades from color to grayscale in full sunlight, and (on some models) also offers a backlight which can be turned off. Some users swear by it, but others say that it is a less than complete solution (they still get headaches).

The Paperlike cost about twice as much as a Pixel Qi monitor, and it’s not without its own problems. E-ink has a far slower refresh rate than LCD screens and only offers 16 levels of grayscale, and to get around the refresh limitation Dasung has developed new refresh modes, including  mode with only 5 shades of gray as well as a mode with 2 (black and white, basically). That black and white mode hearkens back to 1980s era monochrome monitors and is said to be nearly as fast as an LCD screen.

I’d take that with a grain of salt; that claim was made about a display unit on the show floor at CES 2015. We have yet to receive any reports of real world performance.

But that will change next week.

Dasung’s 13.3″ E-ink Monitor Goes up for Pre-Order: $950

The Paperlike combines a 13.3″ Fina E-ink display with custom driver software and a standard USB cable. It first showed up at CES 2015, but it is still under development and won’t be going into production until this fall.

Now a lucky handful of early adopters will be getting a chance to buy a buy one before anyone else.

paperlike dasung 4

Earlier today I got an email from Dasung. The company wants to test the market and get feedback from enthusiastic users, so it has decided to produce a limited number of units. Ray Chen, co-founder and CTO of Dasung, told me that later this month Dasung will produce 50 (yes, fifty) Paperlike monitors and sell them first come, first serve.

Anyone who has previously contacted Dasung and begged, pleaded, or threatened bodily harm will be getting an email which invites them to buy a Paperlike.

Half the units are earmarked for China, where it will be sold for 4999 yuan (~$806 USD). The other 25 units will be shipped internationally. The price is a flat $950, shipping included, and Dasung plans to ship in June.

While that is a damned high price, I am expecting that this first production run is going to sell out within days.

LCD screens may not bother me a bit, but I’ve heard from dozens of people who get headaches and suffer other health issues from staring at a computer monitor too long. Even with the high price tag, the Paperlike is going to be a godsend.

While this isn’t the first time an E-ink screen has been used as a secondary monitor, the Paperlike is the first to be developed with that goal in mind.  Unlike the many ereader/monitor hacking projects on Youtube, the Paperlike will be running custom software which was developed specifically to give the Paperlike a response time as fast as an LCD screen.

As I discovered at CES 2015, the Paperlike has 3 display modes. In addition to the standard 4-bit 16 level grayscale mode found on your ereader, there is also a mode with only 5 shades of gray as well as a mode with 2 (black and white, basically). The faster modes sacrifice color shades for speed, resulting in a refresh rate which is almost as fast as an LCD monitor.

Here’s a brief clip to show you the Paperlike in action:

Here’s a longer clip I shot at CES 2015.

If you would like to try your chances at getting a Paperlike, you can reach Dasung at [email protected].

I will be buying one, of course. I am also planning to sell it again a couple weeks later, so at least one person who missed out on the early production run will have a second chance.

Sony Puts its 13.3″ eReader On Sale for $799

DPT-S1-PDF-Reader[1]When Sony launched its 13.3″ digital writing slate in the US last March, it cost a staggering $1,100. The price has come down a bit since then, and today you can pick up the Digital Paper DPT-S1 for a mere $799.

Unlike your average ereader, the DPT-S1 was built for the business customer. It features a 13.3″ Mobius E-ink display with dual touchscreens (stylus and IR), Wifi, and 4GB of storage. It does not, however, support very many features to justify the high price.

The DPT-S1 supports reading and editing PDF files, but it doesn’t support Epub nor does it have any apps. It can’t, for example, let you read your emails.

It does, however, make a nifty blueprint reader. Thanks to the plastic-backed Mobius E-ink display, the DPT-S1 is more rugged than your average mobile device. But due to the size and limited production, it is also more expensive, hence the high price tag.

2014-09-26 DPT-S1 in Sunlight 001

The DPT-S1 is 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 reaching the market.

Similarly, the Chinese device maker Dasung has developed a 13.3″ USB monitor based on this screen, but that unit is not available either.

E-ink Demos a 13.3″ Second Screen E-ink Monitor at CES 2015 (video)

E-ink’s fancy looking wall hanging got a lot of press this morning due to their press release but that’s not the most interesting gadget in their booth.

In addition to the Yotaphone 2, a new messaging platform, and that aforementioned wall hanging, E-ink also had a prototype 13.3″ USB monitor on display. It’s called the PaperLike (I think).

dasung 13.3 e-ink monitor

In case you were wondering , yes, the stripe down the center of the E-ink screen is a defect.

The monitor was on loan from DaSung, one of E-ink’s Chinese partners. It was launched late last month in China but only came to my attention today. It uses a 13.3″ Fina E-ink display (screen resolution 1,600 x 1,200) to mirror what you see on the paired laptop.

It’s powered by the USB connection to the laptop, and is surprisingly fast. As you can see in the video below, the monitor has several display modes. In addition to the standard 4-bit 16 level grayscale mode found on your ereader, there is also a mode with only 5 shades of gray as well as a mode with 2 (black and white, basically). The faster modes sacrifice detail for speed, resulting in a refresh rate which is almost as fast as an LCD monitor.

I was told by E-ink that it is still under consideration, but according to what I read on Chinese language sites, the monitor is available now with a retail price of 4,999 yuan, or about $804.

Allow me to take a moment and express what we are all feeling: Damn.

I don’t know about you but if this were offered for $400 I would have ordered one already. But at this price I’m going to have to lean on E-ink to get DaSung to lend me one.

Well, at least it looks pretty.