Sony Digital Paper – a review
Do you have to read and/or edit a lot of text and have you ever wished you could do that on an eye-friendly background? Actually, this is one of the reasons why people still print a lot. It is just easier to read on paper than it is on a screen. E-ink readers have helped reading text in digital format, but how do you edit? Well, here, the Sony Digital Paper can come in handy. I had the chance to try it out and would like to share my experience with you.
First of all, the Sony Digital Paper has about the size of a normal paper (letter format). I guess, this is done to really imitate the paper you would usually write or read on. However, I think it is to0 big to carry it around in a small bag. You would really need a backpack or a briefcase, something that can hold a paper format device. Also, after having spoken to a couple of people, I got the general feedback that it is too big to only hold it in one hand while you are standing and wanting to write on it with the other hand. So, my conclusion is that it is rather a device that you have at home, or at the office where you have a desk or your lap you can put the device on.
It comes with a stylus that allows you to write and draw on the paper like on a normal paper. However, the e-ink line shows a small delay before it fully appears. This can be confusing at first when you are a fast writer. But you get used to it. If you’re writing slowly or making edits in a document then it’s perfectly fine. You can also select among different colours for the pen. It will not be shown on the Digital Paper as it is only e-ink, however when you synchronise the document with your PC/Mac then you can see the different colours. It might make sense when you are editing a document and you want to highlight the important parts in red, or so.
Talking about synchronisation, if you’ve ever thought, it would be great if you could get your notes on paper onto your PC in a fast way without scanning, then the Sony Digital Paper could also be interesting for you. You can synchronise any document with your PC. You do that either via a USB connection, or using ShareFile – the Citrix cloud file sharing service. I wish they had more cloud file sharing options (like Dropbox) available as not everybody uses ShareFile. Wireless sync has become a basic requirement. If you’re travelling you do not always want to carry the USB cable and go through a complex sync process. Nonetheless, for offline use, USB is a good option.
Playing a bit with the Sony Digital Paper, I’ve found 4 use cases:
It is extremely easy and very intuitive to edit text. It’s a wish that comes true for everybody who has to edit a lot of text and is tired of doing it on the PC (due to eyestrain and complicated editing methods). I used to edit documents on my iPad. I used an annotation app like iAnnotate and would use sticky notes at the text locations I wanted to have something changed and type the text into the sticky note. However, sometimes the technical editor didn’t see exactly to which part of the text the sticky note belonged, as the conversion from iPad to PC was not 100% accurate. Still, I think this is a quite handy method. But editing on the Sony Digital Paper is fun! I am not sure if I got the highlighting to work, though, as it does not show on the Digital Paper.
If you like to take your notes by hand then the Sony Digital Paper could be a good alternative to a usual paper pad. You can write and afterwards synchronise with your PC, or ShareFile. There will be no more papers lying around and piling up on your desk.
I also see it as a practical device for students. You can draw graphs, calculate math equations and keep all your notes and homework in ones place. Even sharing with class-mates is possible.
Easy reading (Kindle-like)
If you prefer reading your documents on an eye-friendly background, like paper, then I recommend e-ink screens. You know it from the Kindle. The Sony Digital Paper works with the same technology. You can look at a document in portrait and landscape format and you can swipe between the pages like we know it from our smartphones and tablets or the kindle.
Access to remotely saved documents (Sharefile)
If you are using Citrix and particularly ShareFile then the Sony Digital Paper gives you access to all your ShareFile documents in the cloud. You can read, edit and share them with co-workers and business partners.
All in all, I think the Sony Digital Paper has its purpose for the above mentioned use cases.
If you love writing by hand and crossing off your to-do’s from a list manually then you could give it a try (if you want to afford its price of about USD800). To me, it is too big and too limited in its functionality (no other document formats than PDF, no other cloud services). It features a browser, as well. It might come in handy if you are in the middle of writing or reading something and you want to look something up. Otherwise, I would always prefer the browser on my smartphone or tablet, as an e-ink browser is not that much fun.
If you want to draw, it is good for sketches and mockups, however, for real colourful paintings on a digital device, I would recommend the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. I tried it out and the experience was amazing! But this is another story.
- Great for handwriting
- Easy editing
- Sync of handwritten notes and edited documents
- Too big
- Too limited
I hope I could help you with your decision on whether or not to get a Sony Digital Paper. If you want to see it in action, please check out the below video.
For the ones who already own a Digital Paper. What is your experience and what are your use cases? I would be happy to hear about it!
Have a great day!
PS: Thanks to @crod on Twitter, I learned that you can connect your Dropbox via the WebDAV interface DropDAV. However, it’s a paid service that costs 5$/month.