The Sony DPTS1 Digital Paper System: All your Documents on One Slim Device

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Sometimes you look at a product and make a snap judgment, especially if the design is not unique. You see a tablet on sale and think, “That looks just like every other tablet, I don’t need another one;” or you tell yourself, “What’s so special about the Surface or iPad Pro? They look just like each other.” No one can blame you—in the battle for tech dollars (and there’s a lot to go around), if you don’t start out with something fresh, you could be looking at dismal sales.

But not everything is as it seems. Take the Sony DPTS1 Digital Paper System. At first glance, it seems like a complicated, overpriced Kindle. It even looks like the classic Kindle e-Reader, except it’s got 13.3" of screen area. My first impression when picking it up: this is not for me.

Tough Under Duress

It’s easy to overlook the feature set of this device. It’s got crisp 1600 x 1200 native resolution, clearer than most e-ink readers, and strong even in direct sunlight. It has multi-touch support, so you can pinch, swipe, and zoom. It’s so light and thin that it borders on fragile, but even under duress, this tablet is tough. After weeks in my shoulder bag, not so much as one scratch, one vibration-centric malfunction, one errant command—it’s a survivor.

Add to that a microSD card slot, Wi-Fi connectivity, and an included stylus pen, and now you have my attention. Factor in the fact that the tablet is made for one specific purpose, to replace the mountains of paperwork that afflicts millions of us every day, and you suddenly realize that this reader is not for everyone.

It’s just for those of us who need professional management of our paper trails.

Download and Annotate Documents Digitally

The Sony Digital Paper System is made with a very few professions in mind, but it fits perfectly in the ecosystem of those professions. Those in the legal profession love this device: you can download or side-load court documents (up to 2,800 PDF documents fit on the internal memory alone, which means that a 128GB microSD card holds about 100,000 files) and amend them, annotate them, make corrections, or call out testimony directly on the document. Instead of carrying a briefcase loaded with heavy paperwork, you simply load up your court documents and read them at your leisure. Try doing that on a subway ride to court with 8 million people jostling for a seat around you.

You can even set up the Digital Paper to connect with public Cloud Storage Services (like Box.com and ShareFile) that support the WebDAV file transfer protocol. PDF-formatted documents within the account can be viewed, annotated, and deleted from the Digital Paper. Any changes made to documents on the Digital Paper will be reflected in the Cloud Storage Service account (although it may not support all cloud service file management functions).

Rewrites Go Faster

Here’s another scenario. Your television or movie script is being doctored in real time, with dialogue changes being made or amended as others are viewing their Sony DPTS1 server-connected units. All scripts are centralized and can be called up securely on multiple paper systems, so that the whole crew can see what’s being changed. This cuts down on costly production stoppages due to rewrites and script changes. And it cuts down greatly on printing out brand new pages every time a change is made. Save a forest, save your movie. Let’s think locally and act globally, people.

Another group that benefits from a system like this is contract writers and on-site managers. Call up a set of PDF floor plans, and make changes in real time while others on the same network view your changes. Now instead of sending plans back and forth between job sites, you have a reliable networked system to share and deliver your most important documents. Or, write a proposal, send it to a client, and receive the edited document back without the need for email wrangling, laptop hustling, or missed communications.

To add even more functionality, you can convert MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files to PDF and save, view, and annotate them on Digital Paper. If you don’t trust the Wi-Fi network in your area to digitally protect your data, you can use the integrated USB port to transfer files via Flash drives or external drives.

Leave the Tomes at Home

Finally, this could be a great boon to educators and students alike. Imagine having all of your textbooks, workbooks and study guides converted into PDF, and ready on a single, paper-thin lightweight device. No more back-breaking backpacks, no more sloughing through the halls weighed down by all your educational tomes. Instead, you can annotate in the margins, doodle in the blank spaces and write nasty remarks about your professor in sticky notes on your Digital Paper.

Can you ask for much more? How about the fact that you can view full size 8.5 x 11" pages on the 13.3" screen? You can also use a highlighter function to annotate scripts or documents, and bookmark certain pages to call them up in one quick swipe. The pinch and zoom functionality makes swiping through pages a breeze, and you can even post virtual “sticky” notes to any page for later reference. In addition to all that functionality, the super-slim rechargeable lithium-ion battery incorporated in this unit lasts up to 3 weeks on a single charge.

There are some minor drawbacks to the unit. The stylus, though intuitive, is not always super responsive—there is some lag to writing notes. You’ll soon notice where your cursive writing stands when you start annotating projects, as well. The web browser is not for web-surfing—don’t expect a PC experience with the web browser. And lastly, although you can read books in PDF format, it does not allow the reading of more popular eBook formats like EPUB and .mobi. Don’t fret, though, you can use a quality converter (my favorite is caliber, a free converter that works with almost any format) to change any file into PDF, and then side-load it into the device. You may lose some formatting and juggle some other structure issues, but it may be worth it. But if e-Reading is your main focus, get a Kindle.

In a world where we rally against the destruction of natural resources, the Sony Digital Paper system seems like an intelligent and reasonable solution to carrying, printing, and eventually recycling mountains of paper. If everyone got on board with these, the trees would be the first to thank us.

10 Comments

So Sony has created a dedicated OneNote device?

Hi PDL -

Yes they have - and it's a beaut!!!  It's the perfect tool for the legal professional, script writer, musical annotator, legislator, researcher and anywhere that handwritten notetaking and collaborative work is valued.  There are no tablets that can perform in way as elegantly or as well. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

This product is so cool and intriguing, that even though I'm not in the target market for it, I really want one. I'll have to visit the NYC Superstore and hold one to make the final decision. Great article! Thanks.

Cubby X2,

Thanks! It's cool if what you need is a way to cut down on mountains of paperwork. When you hold it, you'll be surprised at the lightness of the product - it doesn't feel any heavier than a stack of papers. But once you really get into it, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. I miss the demo copy we had.

Was thinking about getting one. Then I saw the price. Even Apple wouldn't price it that high.

Mikegoo,

I know, the price is daunting - unless this is in one of the fields I suggested. Those in the legal profession or script editors would probably not blink at the price when they realize what it can do, but for the rest of us, we really have to justify the pros and cons here. Used as a networked paper editor or text book replacement? Maybe. Oversized Kindle? Probably not.

I'd like one for sheet music but it needs to be A4 not Letter.

Price is $499 from WorldOx... of course B&H will not publish this, will they?

Chapeau

Is this correct? Finally the price is right, but do they sell to private individuals overseas?

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