Hardware Platform

In the previous section, we had a brief description of the external hardware aspects of the Sony DPT-S1. A few aspects not noted over there include the presence of a microSD slot on the back as well as a micro-USB charging / data transfer port just beneath the navigation / context menu buttons at the bottom. The microSD slot can accommodate microSDHC cards up to 32GB in size. The back panel also includes a reset hole that can be activated with a pin while booting up to restore the device to factory conditions.

Thanks to a forum member over at mobileread, we have some insight into the internals of the system. The pictures linked in the forum are reproduced in the gallery below.

The board shots reveal the following components:

  1. Freescale i.MX508 application processor (single core Cortex-A8 at up to 1GHz)
  2. Samsung LPDDR2 K4P8G304EQ x32 8Gb (1GB) DRAM
  3. SanDisk 4GB eMMC 4.51 19nm flash (SDIN7DP2-4G)
  4. Wacom digitizer
  5. Neonode zForce NN1001 optical touch controller

In addition, the FCC ID printed in the back (VPYLBWN572) indicates the presence of a Murata WLAN module which internally uses a Atheros AR6003G 1x1 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz radio-on-chip WLAN controller.

The stylus / pen supplied as part of the DPT-S1 is passive. It doesn't need any batteries. No recharging is necessary. The Wacom digitizer is also passive in nature. According to a forum post on mobileread, it is possible to use non-Sony digitizer pens with the DPT-S1. This indicates that Wacom's EMR (Electro-Magnetic Resonance) technology is in use. The power requirements for EMR are satisfied by the display side. The digitizer generates a magnetic field that allows energy inducement in the pen's resonator. This can, in turn, be detected by the digitzer to determine the coordinates of the pen's position and its orientation.

The DPT-S1 has a touchscreen with multi-touch support. The teardown reveals an optical touch controller. The DPT-S1 integrates a set of light emitters and detectors along the edges of the screen and an optical light guide to the neonode touch controller IC. The IC controls the light sent out and also monitors the detectors. Changes in lighting conditions can indicate the presence of a touch object. The coordinates can also be calculated by the IC once calibration is in-place.

The device contains a rechargeable Li-ion battery rated at 3.7 V DC, 1270mAh. With the supplied 5V @ 1.5A USB charger, Sony indicates that full charging can take up to 2.5 hours.

Coming back to the general characteristics of the hardware, we find that the rear side of the device is a fingerprint magnet despite not being glossy. The front screen itself, thankfully, is not that bad. The navigation and context menu buttons make an audible click when pressed. While this is good feedback, there appears to be a lack of consistency across the three buttons in terms of the force required for activation. The placement of the power button in a slanted panel works perfect, but some users might prefer the power button elsewhere. The placement of the micro-USB port is unfortunate in the sense that the device has to be taken out of the sleeve for charging purposes. All these are minor aspects in the overall scheme of things.

The physical characteristics of the E-Ink Mobius screen (8" x 10.625" with a 13.3" diagonal, 1600 x 1200 resolution and 16 levels of grayscale support) have already been discussed. Readers might be wondering if a 13.3" tablet would be a good alternative if the backlighting / eye strain issue is not a big problem.

The above photograph shows the same graphics-heavy PDF page displayed on a Sony DPT-S1 and a Dell Inspiron 13 7000 series in tablet mode (13.3" 1920x1080 touchscreen). Despite the absence of color capabilities, it is obvious that the aspect ratio of the DPT-S1 leads to a better experience with the perusal of the content.

Introduction Software and UI Aspects
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  • Denithor - Friday, December 18, 2015 - link

    I wasn't sure if he was referring to TinTin or Asterix. Both great memories from my childhood!!
  • Guspaz - Wednesday, December 23, 2015 - link

    Full-colour e-ink seems to be a long way off: their existing colour solution (Triton) just sticks colour filters in front of monochrome eInk, and looks terrible even in their marketing. They have a three-pigment solution called Spectra that doesn't look too bad, but it sacrifices grayscale to do it: each pixel can only do full black, full white, or full red. Doing full colour would likely require five pigments (CMYK and white), and it doesn't sound like that approach could do it.

    The closest we might ever get is a combination of Spectra with localized pigments, such that you have a pattern of pixels that include some black/white/cyan, some black/white/magenta, and some black/white/yellow: that would let you do full colour in a vaguely similar manner to how CMYK printing does.

    The problem is that, as far as I know, eInk has never made a display that is anything other than a single uniform sheet of eInk, meaning that the entire sheet is just tiny little granules (of random size, if you've ever seen a macro shot) that are smaller than individual pixels. Any pixel or segment structure on eInk screens comes purely from the active matrix grid they stick on it...
  • phoenix_rizzen - Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - link

    Mirasol would probably be a better alternative. Has similar properties to e-ink, only needing power to change pixel state, not to retain an image; doesn't use a backlight; etc. But in colour.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    So when will we have devices that can swtich between standard display and E-Ink modes?
  • pedjache - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    I wouldn't hold my breath on such multi-mode display, but I wonder when do we see the first device incorporating both, in 10+ inch form factor. Like, you know, what Yotaphone1/2 does in a phone...
  • name99 - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    That depends on the meaning of "device" and "switch" :-)

    If you're generous in your definitions, we have that today:
  • Murloc - Friday, December 18, 2015 - link

    that's pretty much impossible unless one of the screens is transparent and very thin.
  • Shadow7037932 - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Ouch, that price. If this was around $200-250, I'd strongly consider it since this has a stylus and I take a lot of notes at work. Currently, I use a Surface Pro 2 which works great, but this has much better battery life and works as a fine substitute for a paper notepad.
  • ironwing - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Can you provide a list of file formats the device can display? The review discusses pdf files exclusively.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    The device supports PDF only.

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