Sony unveils 13.3-inch e-reader destined for students


May 13, 2013

Sony's prototype 13.3-inch e-reader uses a new flexible electronic paper display technology called Mobius

Sony's prototype 13.3-inch e-reader uses a new flexible electronic paper display technology called Mobius

Most popular e-readers available today tend to be based around a 6-inch screen. Though you can read technical manuals, textbooks (with graphics and tables), comic strips or electronic magazines on these devices, the roughly paperback-sized display does tend to feel just a little cramped. The Kno double-screened digital textbook offered hope of bigger display real estate a few years back, but dedicated hardware was abandoned in favor of a multi-device app. Together with E Ink Holdings, Sony has developed a new flexible electronic paper display technology called Mobius, that will make its debut in a new 13.3-inch Reader prototype at EDIX 2013 in Tokyo between May 15 and 17.

The "flexible" part of the recently-detailed Mobius e-paper display technology doesn't necessarily relate to its ability to bend, but rather to its lightweight, shatterproof or rugged characteristics. It's based around a thin film transistor technology that's formed on a plastic substrate rather than glass. This results in significant weight savings over equivalent glass-based products, meaning that Sony can increase the display size without making a reader that's just too heavy to handle.

The prototype is reported to tip the scales at a student-backpack-friendly 358 g (12.6 oz), which is not too bad at all for a device with dimensions of 233 x 310 x 6.8 mm (9.1 x 12.2 x 0.26 in).

The e-reader has a 13.3-inch, 1200 x 1600 dot resolution screen – that's roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper – with a 16-level gray scale, and is topped by an electromagnetic induction touch panel for page swipes and menu options. Rather than having to type notes on a virtual keyboard, though, students will also be able to write in the margin using a pen stylus.

There's 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 4 GB of included storage (with microSD card expansion), and a Li-ion battery that offers about three weeks of usage between charges (with the wireless technology switched off). At the moment, the prototype appears to be limited to PDF file support only, but that will likely change prior to release.

Sony has announced that it will now field trial the new Reader in collaboration with three universities ahead of commercial availability later this year for an, as yet, undisclosed price.

Sources: Sony Japan, E Ink via Engadget

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Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Looks great - I'd love to have one!

Joel Detrow

This thing will be acceptable for some stuff, but lets face it, you can't surf the web (largest source of info for students), and it will not support a lot of the major formats, eg Outlook, Excel, Word, Pdf. Yes, I know it will claim it, but in reality there will be incompatibility and scaling issues, because of lazy programming, royalties, and all the excuses under the sun not related to actual engineering challenges (as usual)

In summary, they need to combine e-paper technology with LCD. A combined matrix perhaps. This will offer the compatibility of a tablet with the power saving of an ebook.

ie - Use the tablet as you would, then for ebook, press a button and deactivate the LED component. Touchscreen and epaper component stay active, albeit at a 1fps rate. With the battery power of tablet, CPU/RAM in ultra low power mode you would be able to achieve better then current ebook battery life.


isn't Sony the originator of the DRM concept? This thing is likely to be as heavy on DRM protections as to be nearly unusable. The marketing pitch to universities, rather than to ordinary users, only confirms it---the main content available on this platform is likely to be copy-protected proprietary textbooks at $200 a pop, that erase themselves as soon as the user ceases to be registered for the course.


I've never met a student who would use a monochrome device as her tablet of choice.

Maryland, USA
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