That seems to be the philosophy behind Chinese company Dasung’s Indiegogo campaign to sell the Paperlike, a $799 13.3” e-ink monitor that connects to your computer via microUSB. The low-power nature of e-ink means it doesn’t need a separate power cable—just a USB line. Aimed at writers, office workers, and coders, the Paperlike promises a lot less eyestrain for people who have to stare at their computer screen all day.
It seems like a clever idea. E-ink’s slow refresh rate limits it to applications that don’t require a lot of sudden screen changes, like e-reading. But writing doesn’t require a lot of sudden screen changes, either—generally, you only change the screen by one character at a time. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints about Michael Kozlowski’s e-ink tablet Indiegogo campaign is the lack of a Bluetooth connection so you could use the tablet for keyboard-based writing. The Paperlike monitor, while it wouldn’t be perfect, would at least retrofit e-ink to a desktop or laptop so you could do your writing on e-ink that way.
Dasung is up-front about e-ink’s limitations, even though they boast of making advances to reduce or minimize some of them. In light of those limitations, targeting the monitor at writers, office workers, and coders is pretty clever—by and large, the applications they use won’t be too crippled by e-ink’s slower refresh rates. And they seem to have done a pretty good job so far—the campaign just passed $28,000 in funding on a $10,000 flexible goal.
The company showed off one of its monitors at CES, so it’s not vaporware from a design standpoint. Nonetheless, the usual risks in hardware crowdfunding projects apply. And $799 seems like a lot to pay for a monitor. Still, if you spend that much time in front of a computer, and want the eyestrain reduction of e-ink, it’s possible that $799 could be a good investment for you.
Update: I’m embarrassed to admit that I somehow missed noticing that Nate Hoffelder, of The Digital Reader, actually received one of these monitors last week, and has given a first-hand review of how it’s worked out for him.
After reading those, it’s pretty clear the Paperlike absolutely isn’t vaporware, and it might just be worth the price after all—though that’s still a hefty sum of money from my perspective. I hope this will be the first of many e-ink monitors to come, and the price on subsequent models might fall.
(Found via The Verge.)