E Ink displays are often associated with eBook readers like Amazon’s Kindle and B&N’s NOOK line of products. But they’re also used for digital signage and other applications, and Chinese company Dasung has been selling E Ink monitors for a few years.
Now Dasung is preparing to launch a different type of product: an Android tablet with an E Ink display. It’s called… the Dasung “Not e-Reader.”
The company hasn’t announced pricing or availability details yet, but Dasung plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign soon and the company has posted a preview page on Indiegogo.
Update: The crowdfunding campaign is live and the Not e-Reader is expected to ship in March, 2019. The retail price is set at $499, but backeres of the crowdfunding campaign can reserve one for as little as $369.
The Dasung “Not e-Reader” will feature a 7.8 inch E Ink display with 300 pixels per inch, an unspecified quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It has a 5,300 mAh battery and Android 6.0 software.
Dasung says the tablet has a “cold & warm front-light,” which I assume means you can toggle between white light and night-mode illumination which removes blue light.
While you can use the device to read eBooks, Dasung says it can also be used as a PC monitor, a video player, a tablet, or even as a monitor for a smartphone.
There are a few advantages to using an E Ink display in this type of device. They’re easy to view outdoors or under bright lights because they don’t need to be illuminated (you can shot off the front light altogether and still see the screen using just ambient light). Some folks find them easier on the eyes than the sort of illuminated screens you tend to find on laptops, tablets, phones, or TVs. And generally speaking E Ink displays tend to use less power than LCD or OLED displays.
That last bit is at least partly due to the fact that E Ink screens can display a static image indefinitely without using any power. It’s only when you change the image the the screen draws power from the battery. So if you’re reading an eBook, the text on the screen only needs to change once or twice a minute as you “turn” the page.
If you’re going to watch videos or play games on an E Ink screen, you may need to refresh the screen 30 times a second or more, which helps explain why Dasung put a 5,300 mAh battery in this device. Kindle eReaders, by comparison, tend to have battery capacities of around 1,500 mAh or less.
All told, the “Not e-Reader” seems like a niche device. I doubt most tablet users are clamoring for a device with a grayscale display to replace their full-color iPads or Samsung Galaxy Tabs.
But having covered E Ink devices for this website over the past decade, I know there are definitely some electronic paper enthusiasts that would rather have a high-contrast, low-power, sunlight viewable display than a full color screen. There are already a bunch of eReaders that are powered by Android which can be used as tablets in a pinch… but they tend to have smallish batteries and low screen refresh rates.
The Dasung “Not-eReader” seems like one of the first devices that’s intentionally designed to blur the lines between an eReader and an Android tablet.
Hopefully it doesn’t cost as much as Dasung’s Paperlike E Ink monitors… which tend to sell for around $1,000 and up.
Update: The retail price is expected to be $499.