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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  • groundhogdaze - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    I'm wondering why there aren't more competing products? I definitely want one and I'm assuming there's a reasonably large market out there for this sort of device. I do own a kindle DX but the DPT-S1 would be so much nicer :)
  • JoeMonco - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Based on what evidence do you believe that there's a large market for such a device? The very lack of very many competing devices would prove just the opposite.
  • sungamer - Monday, December 21, 2015 - link

    Actually I think it's due to engineering problems. Large format e-ink displays are still difficult to make, and the fact is unless you're using a flexible system (such as Mobius used by Sony here) they're very much prone to breakage. Mobius is also very expensive (last I heard a 13.3 inch display would cost about $600, but I'm SURE that has come down a bit now), so the combination of price and engineering problems means that this category of products is at its infancy, rather than a lack of demand.
  • benzosaurus - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Speaking as an engineering student, I'd buy that thing in a heartbeat to replace my old iPad 2— if it cost, like, $100.
  • digiguy - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    I had considered this but the price of over 1000$ was too much for something that can only display PDFs. Whats more, in Europe, it could only be bought from Japan, with menus in Japanese only. My ipad pro with similar size and aspect ratio, and a mat screen protector, can do much more for a similar price....
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Except that iPad Pro weighs a lot more and is bound to result in eye strain under continuous use.
  • melgross - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Yes. It does weigh more, but the eye strain concept is a lot of hooey. Billions of people use tablets and smartphones without getting eye strain. Billions more use laptops and desktops without having eye strain. The few that do get it are either sensitive to bright light, or simp,y have everything g adjusted improperly.

    Medical experts have already said that there's no difference to the eye with reflected or transmitted light screens. People who have the problem should either raise the brightness, or lower it, depending on how they have it set. It will make a difference.

    And a tablet, like the iPad Pro, or others, are just vastly more useful than something like this, particularly at the price point.
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    All I can say is: Give an E-Ink device a try for a week and also repeat a similar workload with a carefully adjusted tablet / backlit display for a week, and you will be sure to feel the difference.

    Personally speaking, I tried reading a technical eBook on a tablet and also on the DPT-S1. I was able to read more pages in one go on the latter.
  • digiguy - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    I really think it depends on what you read.... and how... First of all, I think a mat screen is a must. I really don't understand why people don't use them. All my tablets have a mat screen, including the Surface pro 3 (and the pen works perfectly). Then it's also a matter of adjusting brightness... Then there are books where colors are important and this device has no colors... As far as the weight is concerned, I think it depends. I never hold the ipad pro or surface pro 3 with just one hand vertically. Instead, the lower part is on my legs if I am sitting or, if I am standing, I hold it like a pizza. And it's not heavy at all like that. Now my main use was for sheet music. And for that weight is irrelevant. I wanted an A4 format, and Surface pro 3 was a bit smaller than ideal... Ipad pro is perfect, as close to A4 as it gets. Also for a large majority of my ebooks and scores 4:3 works better than 3:2. Now, I am not saying that weight and eye strain don't matter or that this device is not better on these 2 points, but that I believe there are workarounds that make then "less relevant". It's all a matter of trade offs. And at this price point this device means giving up a lot of what an ipad pro can do. Sure the price has come down, but this is IMO an already old device (thats probably why Sony paid for this review) that should probably be refreshed or upgraded and/or sold at a more reasonable price point....
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    (thats probably why Sony paid for this review)

    whoa, dude! I paid $800 of my own money for this (Sony is not very liberal with review units unlike other manufacturers, btw) because I saw some value in it for my professional work as well as hobbies (solving crosswords and reading books). I thought AnandTech readers would like to hear the plus and minus points associated with the e-reader, and that is why I decided to write the review.

    This type of blanket statement surprises me greatly.

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