From www.androidauthority.com

Daylight DC1 hero rot

TL;DR

  • Yesterday, a startup named Daylight Computers launched the DC1, an AOSP-powered tablet that features the company’s new Live Paper display technology.
  • The company says Live Paper solves one of the biggest issues with E Ink displays, their poor refresh rate, while still being readable outdoors without a backlight.
  • We have photos and videos of the device from Daylight’s in-person launch event, showing what the tablet is like.

Back in late August of last year, I received an email out of the blue from a person named Anjan Katta. He messaged me from an email address associated with Jangle Inc., a startup that was clearly still operating in stealth. He showed me a project the company had been working on for the past five years: an e-reader featuring a brand-new type of display that solves the biggest problem with E-Ink — its poor refresh rate — without making as many trade-offs as reflective LCDs. After our call, I didn’t hear much about the project for the next several months, until it suddenly exited stealth this week and launched a product that excited the tech world: the DC1.

How does Live Paper compare to E-Ink and reflective LCDs?

The DC1, short for Daylight Computer 1, is the first product from the startup to feature its new display technology they’re calling Live Paper. Most eReaders have an E-Ink display, a brand of e-paper display technology developed by the E Ink Corporation. E-Ink is the display technology that most closely provides a paper-like viewing experience. It’s so good at it, in fact, that it’s used in almost every tablet dedicated to providing a paper-like reading or writing experience. The problem with E-Ink is that, because of how it works, it has heavy ghosting issues and refreshes very slowly, making it almost unusable for watching videos and painful for browsing 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 a more traditional display technology like LCD is making it work under direct sunlight. Most LCDs use a backlight to achieve visibility under direct sunlight. Lighting up the display using a backlight not only results in higher power draw but also reduces the paper-like viewing experience. Reflective LCDs can eliminate the need for a backlight by using a mirror to reflect ambient light onto the LCD layer, but there are still some trade-offs. It’s these trade-offs that Live Paper allegedly solves.

The company’s CEO, Anjan Katta, explained on Hacker News some of the issues with reflective LCDs the company was looking to solve with Live Paper. First, he says Live Paper solves issues around the “reflectance [percentage], metallic-look / not Paperlike enough, viewing angle, white state, rainbow mura, parallax, resolution, size, lack of quality backlight, etc.” Their goal was to make the “most Paperlike epaper display that has no ghosting and high refresh rate – 60 to 120fps.” Their work on developing this display technology began in 2018, with a first proof of concept born in late 2021. Finally, over the last 2.5 years, they’ve been working on getting Live Paper into production, which he claims is “exclusively manufactured by [their] display factory in Japan.”

Even with these advancements, he says, E-Ink is still going to be better in some areas, like “bistability, viewing angle, white state color, etc.” However, he feels the company has developed display technology that’s more than suitable for eReader needs but also usable for general purpose computing tasks, like coding or browsing the web. In fact, the company’s ultimate goal isn’t just to sell a tablet but rather to demonstrate the utility of its display technology. Katta says the company wants to build a “monitor, phone, and laptop” using the cash flow from selling the DC1, which costs $729.

Daylight DC1: The first tablet with Live Paper

$729 is quite expensive for an Reader, considering many E-Ink tablets generally run for much cheaper. The DC1’s price can be explained by its novel display technology and lack of scale, but it’s still going to be a hard sell for many consumers. Prospective buyers really need to believe in the vision of the company, the promise of its display technology, and the utility of the DC1 to be sold on it.

In terms of specifications, the DC1 has a 10.5-inch Live Paper display with a 1,600 x 1,200 resolution at 190ppi. Katta says this resolution was chosen specifically because it “results in a larger aperture ratio which enables a brighter screen.” He says the company “couldn’t really tell a difference in resolution” when testing 220-240ppi, but the “brightness difference was palpable.” To enable reading when there isn’t sufficient ambient lighting, the DC1 also has a “Pure Amber Backlight” that users can optionally turn on. It also supports Wacom’s EMS technology for pen writing, weighs 550g, has stereo speakers, and a microphone. It doesn’t have a camera but does feature a microSD card slot and some POGO pins, though it’s unclear what the pins will be used for.

Under the hood, the DC1 is powered by a budget MediaTek chip, the Helio G99, coupled with 8GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 6 support, and Bluetooth 5.0 support. The tablet features an 8,000mAh battery and is charged via its USB-C port that supports USB Power Delivery. Katta claims the tablet lasts 67 hours with its backlight turned off while reading, lasts 30 hours with its backlight turned off while watching YouTube, and lasts 30 hours with its backlight at 30% brightness while reading.

For software, the DC1 runs Android 13 with some slight modifications. The company says it disabled notifications to reduce distractions, but otherwise, the software is pretty similar to the stock AOSP build that MediaTek provides for the Helio G99. While the company didn’t confirm whether the DC1 has Google Mobile Services (GMS), one of our readers, a user who goes by the name Lord Reset (@LordServerReset on X), attended the launch event and shared photos and videos with us that showed it had Google apps. (Lord Reset kindly supplied all the photos and videos of the DC1 used in this article.) Interestingly, our reader also said the units at the launch event were using Niagara Launcher as the home screen launcher app. I asked Katta if the company plans to include GMS and Niagara Launcher in retail DC1 units, but I didn’t hear back prior to the publication of this article.

Although the product page says the tablet supports up to a 60Hz refresh rate, our reader noticed that Android’s refresh rate overlay showed the device running at up to 120Hz. This is because, according to Katta, the display technically supports a variable refresh rate from 60 to 120Hz, but the bundled PDF renderer and software doesn’t support that high of a refresh rate. Thus, they’re waiting until they can fix their software before announcing the device supports 120Hz.

One question I had that Katta did confirm was whether the company planned to allow developers to hack the device. He confirmed that the company plans to release a bootloader unlock tool in the near future, allowing developers to flash their own builds of Android or other operating systems onto the device.

While I personally haven’t had a chance to try out the new DC1, I’m very excited by its potential. I’ve long wanted an eReader device that doesn’t suffer from the ghosting and refresh rate issues of E-Ink. If the DC1 is anywhere near as good as the company claims, I’m hoping we’ll see a wave of new eReaders featuring the company’s Live Paper technology.

Got a tip? Talk to us! Email our staff at news@androidauthority.com. You can stay anonymous or get credit for the info, it’s your choice.

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    The post A first look at the Daylight DC1, the tablet with a potentially game-changing display first appeared on www.androidauthority.com

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