Sony’s Got A 13.3-Inch E-Reader With Pen Input, Which Is Sort Of Like A Dodo With Antlers

Posted: May 14, 2013 in GT, Sony

I’ve heard some suggestions that our extreme
fascination with Google Glass is more a symptom of
desperation for some kind of genuine gadget
innovation than anything to do with the product’s
merits, and a new gadget from Sony (via The Verge)
has me wondering whether or not other companies are flailing about for something novel. Sony introduced a
new 13.3-inch e-ink prototype reader device today,
which seems new but also remarkably old and
washed up all at once. The device is called Digital Paper, and is a flexible
13.3-inch display that uses the battery sipping e-ink
tech we’re used to in dedicated e-readers like the
Amazon Kindle. The large display is more like the one
you’d find on a MacBook Air than the one on a typical
e-reader, however, which is one of its most unusual qualities. Big-screened e-readers don’t exactly have a
super-successful track record, you might recall, as
the Kindle DX was seen by most as an overly
expensive, overly large iteration on the core Kindle
concept, and two offerings in the category that were
even larger from Skiff and Plastic Logic hit the deadpool prior to even launching at all. Sony wants to change things up a bit with a
capacitive touch panel and stylus to give users plenty
of input options for a change. That’s bound to come in
handy for taking notes in class, as this is aimed at
the education market and will be entering trials at
three Japanese higher ed institutions over the course of the next year. But even with a pen strapped to it,
it’s still a big, dedicated e-reader, and it’s hard to see
that offering much value for users in a world full of
much more feature-rich, multipurpose devices like
smartphones and tablets. When the e-reader first debuted as a product
category, it made sense, in that it was a bridge
device for users who had grown up with paper books
and were looking for a format that closely mirrored
that experience. But now, for students especially,
devices and digital media are a long-accepted fact. Digital natives don’t need devices that harken back to
older tech, even if they do offer longer battery life and
a format that may or may not be easier on the eyes,
depending on which study you trust. Education has shown a keen interest in devices like
the iPad and Kindle Fire, and Sony is barking up the
wrong tree with an e-reader device as an attempt to
appeal to that market. Still, if nothing else it should be
interesting, which seems to be the main thing driving
consumer device innovation these days.

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