Get your hands on the Daylight DC1 e-reader and its game-changing display

Daylight DC1 Hero Decay

long story short

  • Yesterday, a new startup called Daylight Computers launched the DC1, an AOSP-powered tablet that uses the company’s new Live Paper display technology.
  • The company says Live Paper solves one of the biggest problems with e-ink displays, which is poor refresh rates, while still being readable outdoors without a backlight.
  • We have photos and videos of the device from the Daylight live launch event, showing off what the tablet will look like.

Back in late August last year, I suddenly received an email from a person named Anjan Katta. He messaged me from an email address associated with Jangle Inc., a startup that apparently still operates in secret. He showed me a project the company has been working on for the past five years: an e-reader with a new display type that solves e-ink’s biggest problem—poor refresh rates—without having to do much Transaction – Unlike reflective LCD displays. After our call, I didn’t hear much about the project for the next few months, until this week it suddenly came out of stealth and unveiled a product that has the tech world excited: the DC1.

How does Live Paper compare to e-ink and reflective LCD?

DC1, short for Daylight Computer 1, is the startup’s first product to feature a new display technology they call Live Paper. Most e-readers feature e-ink displays, a brand of electronic paper display technology developed by E Ink Corporation. E-ink is the closest display technology to delivering a paper-based viewing experience. In fact, it’s so good at it that almost every tablet designed to provide a paper reading or writing experience uses it. The problem with e-ink is that, due to how it works, it has serious ghosting issues and very slow refresh speeds, making it almost unusable for watching videos and a pain to browse the web.

Live Paper is not e-ink, so it shouldn’t have the same inherent issues with ghosting or refreshing. However, the challenge with using more traditional display technology such as LCD is making it operate in direct sunlight. Most LCDs use a backlight for visibility in direct sunlight. Using a backlight to light a display not only results in higher power consumption, but also reduces the paper-based viewing experience. Reflective LCDs can eliminate the need for a backlight by using mirrors to reflect ambient light onto the LCD layer, but there are still some trade-offs. Live Paper is said to solve these problems.

CEO Anjan Katta explains Hacker News The company hopes to solve some of the problems with reflective LCDs through Live Paper. First of all, he said that Live Paper solved the problem of “reflectivity” [percentage], metallic appearance/not papery enough, viewing angle, white state, rainbow color spots, parallax, resolution, size, lack of quality backlight, etc. Their goal is to create “the most paper-like e-paper display, with no ghosting and high refresh rates – 60 to 120 fps.” Their work to develop this display technology began in 2018, and the first proof of concept was born in late 2021. [their] Japanese display factory.

Even with these advances, he said, e-ink will still be better in some areas, such as “bistability, viewing angles, white state color, etc.” However, he believes the display technology developed by the company is not only suitable for the needs of e-readers, but can also be used for general computing tasks, such as coding or browsing the web. In fact, the company’s ultimate goal isn’t just to sell tablets, but to demonstrate the utility of its display technology. Katta said the company hopes to use cash flow from sales of the DC1, which sells for $729, to make “monitors, phones and laptops.”

Daylight DC1: The first tablet with Live Paper

Considering that many e-ink tablets typically run much cheaper, $729 is quite expensive for the Reader. The DC1’s price can be explained by its novel display technology and lack of scale, but it’s still a tough sell for many consumers. Potential buyers really need to believe in the company’s vision, the promise of its display technology, and the practicality of the DC1 it’s selling on.

In terms of specifications, the DC1 features a 10.5-inch Live Paper display with a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 and a ppi of 190. Katta said this resolution was chosen because it “allows for a larger aperture ratio, which results in a brighter screen.” He said that when testing 220-240ppi, the company “couldn’t really see the resolution. “difference”, but “the difference in brightness is obvious”. To enable reading in low ambient light, the DC1 also features a “pure amber backlight” that users can choose to turn on. It also supports Wacom’s EMS pen writing technology, weighs 550 grams, and has stereo speakers and a microphone. It doesn’t have a camera, but it does have a microSD card slot and some POGO pins, but it’s unclear what those pins are for.

The DC1 is powered by a cheap MediaTek Helio G99 chip and comes with 8GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6 support and Bluetooth 5.0 support. The tablet is equipped with an 8,000mAh battery that can be charged via a USB-C port that supports USB Power Delivery. Katta claims the tablet can last up to 67 hours with the backlight turned off while reading, 30 hours with the backlight turned off while watching YouTube, and 30 hours with the backlight at 30% brightness while reading. .

In terms of software, DC1 runs Android 13 with some minor modifications. The company says it disabled notifications to reduce distractions, but otherwise the software is very similar to the stock AOSP version MediaTek offers for the Helio G99. While the company didn’t confirm whether the DC1 has Google Mobile Services (GMS), one of our readers, a user named Lord Reset (@LordServerReset on the X) attended the launch event and shared photos and videos with us This shows that it has Google Apps. (Lord Reset graciously provided all of the photos and videos of the DC1 used in this article.) Interestingly, our readers also reported that the devices at the launch event were using the Niagara Launcher as the home screen launcher app. I asked Katta if the company planned to include GMS and the Niagara Launcher in retail DC1 units, but I didn’t receive a response before this article was published.

Although the product page says the tablet supports refresh rates up to 60Hz, our readers noticed that Android’s refresh rate overlay shows the device running at up to 120Hz. Katta said this is because the monitor technically supports a variable refresh rate of 60 to 120Hz, but the bundled PDF renderer and software don’t support that high a refresh rate. Therefore, they are waiting for a software fix before announcing that the device supports 120Hz.

Kattar did confirm a question I had about whether the company plans to allow developers to hack the device. He confirmed that the company plans to release a bootloader unlocking tool in the near future that will allow developers to flash their own versions of Android or other operating systems onto devices.

While I personally haven’t had a chance to try out the new DC1 yet, I’m very excited about its potential. I’ve always wanted an e-reader device that didn’t suffer from e-ink ghosting and refresh rate issues. If the DC1 performs anywhere near as good as the company claims, I hope we’ll see a wave of new e-readers using the company’s Live Paper technology.

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