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A startup called Daylight has unveiled a unique new Android tablet featuring a custom 10.5” e-paper-like display boasting a 60fps refresh rate. Whilst e-ink devices like the reMarkable and Kindle Scribe have developed a niche following, they have remained held back by slow refresh rates leading to laggy writing and navigation. Daylight claims to have developed a new “LivePaper” variable refresh rate “epaper” display that solves these pain points whilst maintaining the benefits of e-ink like sunlight readability and reduced eyestrain.

Under the bonnet, the Daylight Computer tablet packs a MediaTek Helio G99 SoC with 2x Arm Cortex-A76 cores at up to 2.2GHz plus 6x Cortex-A55 cores at up to 2.0GHz. This is paired with 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and an Arm Mali-G57 MC2 GPU. Whilst not a flagship chip, this should provide decent performance for an e-ink class device.

The real star is of course the custom LivePaper display developed in-house by Daylight over several years. Whilst compared to e-ink, it is actually a unique transflective monochrome LCD that uses a reflective layer and low-power backlight. This allows it to achieve 60-120fps refresh rates, far beyond the ~2fps of traditional e-ink. The trade-off is no bistability (the screen goes blank when power is off) and the backlight negates some of e-ink’s power efficiency advantage for static content.

Detailed specs on the display are still sparse. The resolution is quoted as 190dpi which is lower than the latest 300dpi e-ink panels. Contrast also appears to fall short of e-ink based on supplied photos. However, hands-on impressions are needed to truly judge readability. LivePaper also uses a Wacom digitiser layer supporting 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity for low-latency stylus input.

On the software front, Daylight has created a custom Android 13 based OS dubbed Sol:OS that they claim is optimised for the display and a distraction-free experience. However, it’s a bit disappointing to see another customised Android fork rather than a fully open platform. Daylight states they plan to release a bootloader unlock tool for power users to install alternate OSes though.

Battery life is one of the biggest open questions. Whilst e-ink devices often quote weeks of usage, Daylight is only stating “days” for the 8000mAh battery. Real-world testing will be needed to see the actual efficiency of this new display tech under various workloads.

Pre-orders are open now starting at a steep $729 (£600) for the tablet, stylus, and case, with orders slated to ship in batches starting in October. However, many tech enthusiasts balked at the high price for a first-gen product compared to established e-ink devices and traditional tablets. The company states the pricing reflects the high cost of the custom low-volume display but hopes to drive down prices in the future.

Daylight has ambitious plans to bring LivePaper to a range of devices like phones, monitors, and laptops. A large group of users are already clamouring for an external monitor using the tech that could be paired with laptops and desktops.

The Daylight Computer certainly shows some intriguing innovations in an attempt to merge the benefits of e-ink with the speed of LCDs. But many key questions remain around real-world performance, longevity, and software ecosystem. Whilst there is no shortage of excitement and early adopters eager to test the product, it’s fair to remain somewhat sceptical until we see objective analysis of this new display technology and overall execution.