First seen all the way back in 2014, the Sony Digital Paper is a 13.3-inch E ink reader that’s targeted at professionals like lawyers, university researchers, and whoever else that finds their work life buried in paper. The vision for Sony since the DPT-S1 was unveiled almost four years ago has been to replace paper with a more elegant (and for you and I, Sci-Fi) solution.
The DPT-RP1 is now a culmination of that idea, taking what was a fully working product a few years ago and improving upon it. So what’s changed with the Sony Digital Paper compared to its predecessor? A lot, it seems.
Perhaps the most important upgrade to the Digital Paper is what’s not there – weight. Sony claims the RP1 is no heavier than 30 stacks of pages which for lawyers and academia members is a drop in the bucket compared to what they need to typically take with them throughout the day. Sony could have put together the most mind blowing product and if it weighed too much, it soon would turn into a paperweight, pun intended. As you’d imagine, with the reduced weight (349g) comes a thinner design (5.9mm thick) that Jony Ive with be pleased with.
As far as usability is concerned, Sony has also dramatically increased the unit’s speed and resolution. Where its predecessor had a 1200 x 1600 dots display, the RP1 offers 1650 x 2200 dots, making it easier on the eyes, another important factor for long term usability.
So while all that sounds good, how does it work? The Digital Paper is based on PDF technology and PDF only, meaning whatever you’re to read and annotate must be in the proper format. To make that task easier, Sony has created a Digital Paper App for Windows (unclear if there exists a macOS version) which allows you to convert documents and websites to PDF and wirelessly transfer them.
For those interested, luckily while the specs have risen, the price has naturally fallen. Where the DPT-S1 was introduced at $999, the DPT-RP1 is priced around 80,000 yen (roughly $719) and is expected to go on sale come June 5th.
For Sony, this is an interesting product that targets non-consumer sectors that aren’t as price sensitive as a typical buyer if it can deliver something exceptional to them, and saving a ton of paper sure does that. The challenge that remains for Sony is targeting those professionals and letting them know this solution exists.
On a personal note, as a daily 13-inch iPad Pro user, I can absolutely see the appeal of this product. Using what is basically a slab of glass is one of the most amazing things that makes you feel a step closer to the Sci-Fi worlds we see depicted in movies, if not the magical world of Harry Potter. If Sony can figure out a way to penetrate markets that could find a use for this product, though the audience won’t be as large as the consumer space, it will give the company a much needed victory in the electronics division that could halo into other products they sell. After all, if this product keeps up with your professional life, who is to say their Xperia phones or noise cancellation headphones couldn’t bring added value as well?
The last word of caution I would include for Sony however would be software. As amazing of a piece of hardware this might be, Sony must ensure the software component, which involves converting documents into PDF’s and seamlessly syncing between desktop and Digital Paper, is as effortless as possible. A good piece of hardware today without proper software implementation is something that people no longer put up with and an area that Sony has struggled with.
Could you see the Sony Digital Paper being useful at your work, or in your home for that matter?