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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  • xthetenth - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    How is the lag between writing and stylus input appearing on the screen? That's a major concern I'd have with an e-ink screen. Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    The writing part is pretty much instantaneous - not that different from writing on paper (I assume some software is involved to refresh only that area of the screen, as whole page refreshes do take up the long time customary in E-Ink devices).

    However, the writing aspects needs some getting used to. Additional calibration is necessary to adapt to each user's writing style.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Previous generations have had problem with partial updates - the "pixels" at the rectangle area showed visible artifacting, so the whole screen had to be updated for the sake of uniformity. Maybe this is finally resolved?

    At any rate, I think people would rather take a video of the response time rather than someone's word, weighted by someone's standards for latency. The same applies for noise testing - dB is not all, and different frequencies are perceived at different levels at the same sound pressure. Any particular reason AT reviews don't include video and sound samples?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Sure.. the folks at Goodereader have taken a lot of effort in their coverage of the Sony DPT-S1. You can take a look at one of their videos linked below (the writing process on the Sony DPT-S1 starts around 3:30 onwards)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyTwNHDJwHY

    As for our reviews including video and sound samples - it all depends on the device being reviewed, and the amount of effort / time that we can allot to a particular review. Sites like GoodEReader dedicate themselves to covering one particular area in detail. We cover a wide variety of products and try to give details in as much depth as possible within the time constraints.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    It looks adequately responsive. I suppose the trickery involved is not even using a rectangle area for the refresh, but going down to the individual pixels, potentially masking the artifacts.

    You know what they say - a picture is worth a thousand words. And a video is worth a thousand pictures. Therefore, a video is worth a million words ;)
    Reply
  • moozooh - Friday, December 18, 2015 - link

    E-ink screens have several modes of screen update (IIRC YotaPhone's programmers used at least four of them) which dictate the overall refresh rate, color depth, and artifacts (in the form of high-frequency noise and ghosting, i.e. residual afterimage). Tight mode control can work wonders. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Looking at the buttons on the device, I have to ask: Is it running generic linux; or a heavily customized Android fork? I know there've been a few Android/EInk devices made by small tier companies over the last few years; so I know it's technically possible, but an entry by Sony would give much more credibility to such implementations. Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    I think it is a heavily customized Android fork since there are some Chinese sites offering rooting for this device and allowing installation of external Android apps. Obviously, nothing that I can confirm - so I just left it at 'Linux kernel' in the article. Reply
  • Murloc - Friday, December 18, 2015 - link

    I have a much older sony reader e-reader and it's a heavily modified Android fork.

    You can indeed root my reader too and play angry birds on it, I saw a video of that.
    Reply
  • haukionkannel - Thursday, December 17, 2015 - link

    Interesting device! Make it a little lighter and make it with bigger memory, it would be ideal e-book / A4 document replacement.
    Just have to hope that there will be somewhat cheaper alternatives in the future though. I really would like to have it, but when weighting what else can be get with 800$...
    Reply

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