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Summary:

Tablets keep getting thinner, but how thin can they realistically get? Perhaps no thicker than a few pieces of paper. Plastic Logic is demonstrating its PaperTab project, which is powered by an Intel Core i5 and uses a bendable e-ink display.

PaperTab

Plastic Logic, an e-ink display company that has had its shares of ups and downs — mostly downs — is back with a new innovation: a paper-like tablet. Later this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Plastic Logic will be showing off the PaperTab prototype but on Monday shared a brief video of the technology. By all appearances, it looks like it combines a thin, flexible display with a computer chip and sensors:

Indeed, the 10.7-inch touchscreen PaperTab is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor. By slightly bending the display, you can turn a page and data can be shared between two PaperTabs by tapping them together.

We’re still early in the tablet days, so don’t expect to see this product on a retail shelf anytime soon. As we’ve seen from both successful tablets and slates that haven’t sold well, the platform, interface and applications are all important pieces to the tablet puzzle.

I think this tech is geared more towards reading activities than all of the various things a tablet can do. But the idea of carrying a lightweight, bendable piece of plastic paper is intriguing for various future products; enough for me to try and stop by to see the PaperTab with my own eyes later this week.

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  1. I don’t like this at all. I think that their introduction of the idea or product, should be more attractive. This doesn’t appeal to me at all and I love new tech. It they’re going to make paper tablets, and you use several as shown in the video, it looks like tech in reverse going back to paper. Put a few together and you have a book. Kids could tell their teacher, “The dog ate my tablet.”

  2. Just give me an android-based e-ink tablet (large format) and I’d be happy.

  3. Astrokitty Comics Monday, January 7, 2013

    This is clearly just a tech demo…but it’s really exciting. No one is going to want these, as they stand now, but if we look just a few years into the future, we’ll be seeing full-scale tablet PCs using technology like this (i.e. flexible, thin, interactive surfaces). At that point, we might actually see it impact the book industry and comic/magazine market more than even iPads and the like have so far. “Every tablet is an app” is not what people want. They want a convergence device and something in hi-res color. All of this will come down the pike eventually. Sooner, rather than later. The next step is to make the OS and interface something people enjoy and is intuitive. After that, price point will play a big part. Once the item is ubiquitous, you’ll see people choosing these things more and more over paper. Can you imagine a doctor’s office with a few of these “chained” to a table? Loaded with a ton of magazines and the like? The advertising opportunities alone are staggering when you’re dealing with a dynamic, interactive display that can assess user interests with just a few “clicks”. A school with these assigned to every child or available in every classroom? With dedicated “locks” on them in an OS, allowing the teacher to tailor the way the student interacts with the material on the tablet? It’s exciting. Once the resolution of these things can replicate a comic/magazine page and the bending/paper-like sensation is perfected, the print industry will be used primarily for “art” items…or something people choose for the sense of nostalgia or interactive preference. Sort of like LPs are now. Heck, even CDs and cassette tapes have made “comebacks” at times. There will always be a market for print, but the days of print being the primary medium for dispensation of information, art, images, and story are numbered.

  4. Plastic Paper vs wearable glasses?
    Which is more likely to be the future of technology?
    It depends on which drivers are more important
    Technology is driven by the coolness factor however it is even more likely to be driven by which materials are easier and cheaper to obtain.

  5. If they can be made cheap enough, they might be ideal for self service menus.

    They could be left in a bin on the table, take the order via touch, and then a runner just brings the food out.

  6. pretty frustrating to us who like or need to read larger format things (e.g. A4-sized PDF)… there are so few large-format e-ink devices out there any more. I just acquired a Pocketbook Pro 912 (9.7″) and I am deeply unimpressed by the technology here… for the price. But I had to because of the eyestrain issue.
    PLeeeeease can someone come up with a large, fast, paperwhite, e-ink device. Personally I’d be prepared to pay top dollar.

  7. This is really something new and its a great idea. But its still in it early stage and the tablet market is new so may be they should wait a little, just to keep the charm of the tablet products coming in the market. If you want to get more background about the current mainstream tablet market & market shares of the platform leaders, you may find the Uniqloud tablet market overview insightful.

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