For years, science fiction has promised that one day, technology will make paper obsolete. Instead of carrying around folders of dead trees and bulky books, we’ll use miraculous tablets instead that can store a limitless amount of information and knowledge in a single, easy-to-carry form factor. This is the idea that’s driving Sony’s newest digital paper tablet, the DPT-RP1.
Sony has actually been trying to put paper out of business for a while. While Amazon’s Kindle e-readers may be the household name these days, it was Sony’s Librie that pioneered the use of an E Ink display for reading. (The DPT-RP1 itself is an updated version of Sony’s original digital paper effort, the DPT-S1.)
The DPT-RP1 offers a similar 13.3-inch display as its predecessor, but dramatically improves the resolution from 1200 x 1600 dots to 1650 x 2200 dots. The screen is a “non-slip” panel, which the company says will improve the experience of annotating documents with the included digital pen. The new design is also thinner, lighter, and faster than the previous version; Sony notes that the entire device is roughly as thick as a stack of 30 pages of paper.
Sony developed a new Digital Paper App for desktop to make it easier to convert websites and documents to PDF form and send them wirelessly to the DPT-RP1. The DPT-RP1 still only works with PDF files, so you won’t be able to use it to replace your Kindle anytime soon, but it’s something that makes sense given that Sony is still positioning the DPT-RP1 for businesses, lawyers, and university researchers who are looking to cut down on their paper use.
In the time between Sony’s original DPT-S1 and now, the company has also picked up some competition in the form of the reMarkable, a similar giant E Ink tablet that was announced last year that also aims to replace paper with a giant E Ink display. That said, the DPT-RP1 — backed by Sony’s actual experience in shipping products — will be a real product that, barring any commercial calamities, you’ll be able to buy, which the startup reMarkable can’t quite claim.
One thing the DPT-RP1 shares in common with the original DPT-S1 is a huge price — the new model is expected to go on sale in Japan for around 80,000 yen (roughly US$719 or S$1,000)) on June 5th. While Sony is focusing on direct commercial sales for the DPT-RP1, individual customers looking to buy one will be able to do so at a Sony retail store.