Dasung has been using E Ink displays to make unusual devices for years, including tablets and monitors with paper-like black and white displays.
But the Dasung Link might be the company’s weirdest product yet: it’s a 6.7 inch portable touchscreen monitor meant to be paired with a smartphone, allowing you to view and interact with your mobile apps on an E Ink screen. First introduced in China in December, the Dasung Link is now up for pre-order worldwide through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.
Prices start at $299 for a “Link Wired Version” which is designed to connect to compatible phones with a USB cable. Basically if you’ve got a phone that supports video out over USB-C, you can probably use this model, but make sure to check out the crowdfunding page for a list of officially supported models.
There’s also a “Link Wireless Version” going for $330 during crowdfunding. This model should work with most other phones including Android and iOS devices as it relies on a wireless connection.
The Wireless model also comes with a battery case that features a 6800 mAh battery to power the display, since it can’t draw power from the phone. The case also has a 3.5mm audio jack.
Otherwise both models are pretty similar. The Dasung Link has a 6.7 inch E In display with 300 pixels per inch. The high-contrast greyscale display is meant to be easily visible in direct sunlight or other brightly lit environments using only ambient lighting. But there’s also a front-light with adjustable brightness and color temperature.
E Ink displays are known for offering a more paper-like viewing experience that many people find reduces eye strain. But they’re also known for having pretty lousy screen refresh rates, which makes them a poor fit for watching videos or playing games. E Ink does support partial screen refreshing though, which basically lets you trade speed for visual clarity. If you’re okay with a little bit of a ghost image remaining on the screen, you can speed up screen refreshing until it’s kind of fast enough for motion graphics.
So Dasung offers a few different screen adjustment options, letting you choose faster or slower screen refresh modes or selecting from presets for image quality including “graphics,” “text,” and “video” modes.
The Link has a touchscreen so not only can you use it to view the contents of your phone on an E Ink display, but you can also touch the screen to interact with your phone. There’s a small amount of lag shown in Dasung’s demo videos, but it’s slight enough that you might not even notice it if you’re phone is in your pocket and you’re treating the Link as if it were your phone.
That said, E Ink displays weren’t really designed for many of the things we do with smartphones. For example, even with fast page refreshing, web browsing scrolling isn’t quite as smooth on the E Ink display as it is on a typical smartphone screen, but it can be fast enough to easily navigate websites. Browsing a Twitter timeline over a wireless connection does look a bit janky though. And some full-color graphics look awful when converted to black and white.
So I’m not sure if I’d want to use the Dasung Link as a full-fledged replacement for my phone’s primary display for day-to-day tasks. But it could provide a handy way to read eBooks, documents, or other content without switching to a separate eReader or E Ink tablet.
Whether that’s something worth spending $299 to $330 on is probably up for debate.
The wireless model seems like it would be very beneficial for outdoors use, but perhaps only if it had a decent IPxx rating.
I would be interested in mounting something like this on my bike handlebars, and keep my phone safely in my backpack.
I’ve often thought it would be nice to see a rugged device like this.
If only a Kindle could do this.