Digital technology is increasingly taking the paper out of paperwork, but there's always something nice about handwriting notes. A few years ago, Sony tried to bridge the gap with its business-focused e-paper tablet, and now the company has updated the device with higher resolution, bigger memory, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity, a new pen-friendly screen and a few bonus workflow features.
The Digital Paper tablet (also going by the clunky title of DPT-RP1) has a lot in common with its predecessor. Both are built with e-ink screens, which makes them easy on the eyes after hours of poring over documents, and they won't glare up in direct sunlight. Physically it's slightly smaller than the earlier model, measuring 224 x 302.6 x 5.9 mm (8.8 x 11.9 x 0.2 in) and weighing less than 350 g (1 oz).
Although it still sports the same size screen, Sony has crammed more pixels into those 13.3 inches, upping the resolution to 1,650 x 2,200, which should allow smaller text to be more readable, as a result of improving both clarity and contrast.
Held horizontally, the Digital Paper can display two pages side-by-side, and includes seven preset backgrounds depending on how you format your note-taking, including a spreadsheet grid, college-ruled, or a daily planner. Users can also mark important sections for future reference by marking an area with a star or asterisk, and find them later with the document file search function.
The included stylus uses two buttons to switch between writing, erasing and highlighting text. Normally, using that kind of pen to write or draw on a touchscreen just doesn't feel quite right, but Sony has tried to mimic the feel of writing on paper by roughing up the surface a little. A proprietary panel full of tiny grooves has been fitted over the screen, to add the missing factor of friction and keep the stylus from slipping.
The Digital Paper's internal memory has received a sizable upgrade as well, up to 16 GB from the original model's 4 GB. That's big enough to store an office full of paperwork in PDF format, with Sony boasting it can hold up to 10,000 files. Those files can be shared to Windows and Mac devices through a USB cable, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and it can reportedly be easily integrated into a network of file servers and cloud storage.
NFC functionality is another new addition, allowing users to unlock the tablet by hovering their smartphone or other NFC card over the device.
There are no details on pricing yet, but it will probably be in the ballpark of its predecessor's price, which currently hovers around US$1,000. Sony's DPT-RP Digital Paper tablet is due for release on June 5, although so far it's only been confirmed for Japan.