Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sony Digital Paper Review

digital paper

Sony is getting out of the consumer e-reader sector and focusing their efforts on devices aimed at businesses. The first commercially viable product is the new Digital Paper (DPT-S1) which is a super advanced PDF Reader. How viable is this new product for the corporate audience or end users? Today, Good e-Reader is proud to bring you the first true hands on review.



The Sony Digital Paper features a 13.3 inch e-Ink Mobius e-paper screen with a resolution of 1200 by 1600. It was designed to give you a true A4 experience, displaying PDF files as they were originally intended. The lightweight nature of Mobius gives you amazing clarity in the fonts and pictures. It also one of the most lightweight products in its class, clocking in at .08 pounds. To give you some comparison, The Kindle DX has a 9.7 inch screen and weighs 0.91 pounds and the iPad Air is 1.3 pounds.

The Digital Paper features a capacitive touchscreen display panel, which allows you to navigate menus, browse the internet or flip pages with your hands. The device really shines with the accompanied Stylus, which has advanced options for left and right handed people. The touchscreen panel is so amazing, that you can hold your wrist down on a document and it does not register as an interaction, provided the pen is actively touching the screen. This allows you to organically write on the Digital Paper, the same way you would write in your notebook. There is also a highlight button the stylus to allow you to quickly edit a document on the fly.

Underneath the hood is a ARM Cortex A8 1GHZ single core processor and 4GB of internal memory. There is support for a MicroSD card to enhance the memory up to an additional 32GB. Battery life is superb with a 1270 mAh lithium ion, which should garner you over a month of constant use.

The design of the Digital Paper is entirely unique and no e-reader has ever managed to pull off the practical sensibilities. It has a home, back and settings button that are not softkeys, but they have a bit of torque. By firmly pressing down, and hearing a small click, you know you interacted with a specific function. The settings menu does different things, depending on if you are reading a document or using the internet browser. There is a small power button on the right hand corner of the unit, on a small curved part of the bezel.

The Sony DPT-S1 is beguiling to behold. Its lightweight nature allows you to hold it in one hand for long reading sessions. The clarity of the screen makes image heavy PDF documents really shine. Sony has really refined the role a stylus plays in their consumer side of e-readers, since their first touchscreen PRS-700 back in 2007. If you are heavily invested in PDF documents at work or in the home, this is a must purchase.



The Digital Paper reader was designed with the express purpose of reading PDF documents. It is the first e-reader ever to show a document as it was intended to be read in glorious A4. There is no need to employ pinching or zooming to find that sweet spot, like the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura does. That is not to say you can’t pinch and zoom, you can, its just mostly unnecessary.

There are times when you are browsing the web or want to show off how pretty an image looks by making it full screen. Due to its capacitive nature you can easily pinch and zoom using two fingers to make take up the entire screen. During this process the rendering engine kicks in, limiting the amount of e-ink refreshing that occurs. This is where the 1GHZ processor really shines because its all done with the ease of use of doing the same thing on a smartphone or tablet.

The home screen comprises of your Last Read, Recently Added or Saved Workspaces. On the navigation bar are entries for Home, Documents, Notes, Workspace, Browser and Settings.

Workspaces is the bread and butter of this device and bears a resemblance of the way browser tabs work on Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer. You can have many documents opened at once and jump between them by clicking on the tab. Lets say you are a lawyer working on a class action suit, likely you will have a pile of PDF documents that constantly need to be referenced. You can have 10 tabs opened at once for the interview phase and seamlessly jump between each one, taking notes and making highlights for key points. Workspaces can be saved and loaded, so you can jump between them with ease right from the menu.

Editing a PDF document allows you to write with the stylus anywhere you want. You can make notes, highlights or annotations and quickly go back to reference any changes you made on the fly. Once you made a bunch of changes you can save the PDF, preserving all of your augments, so you can export it to your e-Reader, smartphone, tablet or work PC.


When editing a PDF file, there are four different pen styles to select, from the very fine line to one that bears a resemblance to a marker. If you elect to take a note there are two main processes. One allows you to use the touchscreen keyboard to type in changes and the other incorporates the stylus to hand draw.

I really dig the dedicated note taking app. It gives you a lined sheet of paper, similar to the ones we all used in grade school, complete with margin edges. You can doodle, draw or just write in text with the stylus and save these are independent files.

The internet browser is your gateway to access PDF files via the internet or just kill some time on Twitter. It has options to disable pictures, Javascript and to disallow the saving of cookies. Most websites that have gifs or animations tend to load slow, due to the refresh issues that permeate all e-readers.

e-Reading Experience


The Digital Paper was designed to be a true PDF Reader with most of the RND efforts focusing on minimizing screen refreshing and advanced editing options. It does not have support for EPUB, MOBI, TEXT or DOC files, so it is quite limiting to read eBooks.

Still, the advanced user will be able to easily download comics, manga, eBooks, magazines or newspapers in PDF form. If you have a collection of DRM-Free eBooks, from Project Gutenberg Pottermore or TOR you can easily use Calibre to convert your standard digital book from one format to another. We tested this during the review and comic books tend to look a bit dark, but eBooks actually worked amazing. Sony is clearly not hyping the fact this is an e-reader, but the functionality does exist to convert your existing collection and port it over.


When you are reading an EPUB book converted to a PDF the large screen is a pure joy. There isn’t any options to make the text bigger or adjust the line spaces or margins like there are on the Nook, Kindle or Kobo, but there is no real need. By default, the text is readable by the naked eye, and you can employ zooming to make the fonts appear better. You can also highlight, take notes, or look words up on Google.

The internet browser is your gateway to access your preexisting eBook collection on Dropbox, Evernote or Pocket. Most of the Read it Later services all allow you to even save your favorite blog in a PDF file, allowing you to reference it later. In addition, corporate clients are a big focus for Sony and there are advanced networking options to configure direct access to dedicated server or VPN. Once connected, new options appear when editing a document to automatically push your revised document to the central server. If many people have access to the same PDF File, it perseveres versioning, to make sure the newest document is always accessible.

Wrap Up


The Sony Digital Paper is simply the best e-reader made for editing PDF files. We did a head to head comparison against the iPad, Kindle DX, Icarus Excel and most other large screen e-readers and tablets on the market. This model blew them all away with response time and ease of use. It has a very small learning curve and is a perfect replacement for paper.

I spoke with the team leads of the DPT-S1 earlier last week and they told me thousands of hours of development were made to make this reader a reality. They literally had full days of internal meetings where they would figure out how to shave off a millisecond of load time.

The price on this model is quite high when compared to other consumer e-readers out there. The DPT-S1 is not positioned in a race to the bottom, to be the cheapest device out there and appeal to the largest demographic. Instead its solely aimed at entertainment, law firms, medical, transportation and other verticals. I was told “it is meant to be a replacement of paper and your second screen to your PC.”

If you are heavily invested in PDF documents, this e-reader is the best one ever made. It is worthy the price of being both a large screen eBook reader and excels at its sole task, replacing paper.


Light as a feather
Most Advanced PDF Reader ever made
Long Battery Life
Note taking has no latency
Virtual Keyboard is responsive


No support for EPUB, MOBI, DOC or TXT
Sony does not sell these to everyone, you need to be interviewed

Rating: 10/10

Sony Digital Paper Review is a post from: Good e-Reader

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The Usual Suspects: Guaranteed Bestsellers


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Amy Bloom – Lucky Us
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Critics agree that this final book in Grossman's trilogy is the best of all. The series has been called Harry Potter for adults, but it's more than that. It follows the adventures of a richly drawn young group of magicians as they grow from adolescence into adulthood and deal with the questions of humanity and identity. Best Fantasy Books Blog Most Anticipated Books of 2014. io9: All the Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in 2014. 150,000 print run. Booklist & Kirkus starred reviews.


Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life
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Emma Healey – Elizabeth Is Missing
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Kevin Hearne – Shattered
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Rebecca Makkai – The Hundred-Year House
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Gothic, charming, witty, mischievously funny, this book begins in 1999 and rewinds back to 1900 as a young couple, living in the carriage house of their family's estate, dig through the records of an artist colony that once existed there, but are hampered by the ghost of the woman's great grandmother, who is determined not to let them find the truth. The Millions’ Great 2014 Preview. Makkai has had pieces in Best American Short Stories for four years running. Booklist, Library Journal & Publishers Weekly starred reviews.


Jamie McGuire – Beautiful Oblivion
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Liane Moriarty – Big Little Lies
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Vicki Croke – Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
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John W. Dean – The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It
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Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation,John Dean, Nixon's legal counsel who testified against him at the Watergate hearings, puts together a chronology to show what Nixon knew and when—and says he has the answer to what was on the eighteen and a half minutes of missing tape recordings. 100,000 print run.


Paul Finebaum – My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football
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Roxane Gay – Bad Feminist: Essays
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Matt Higgins – Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight
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An account of the most treacherous extreme sport on earth—BASE jumping—which means jumping off of a Building, an Antenna, a Span, to land on Earth…oh, and you do it with just a "wing-suit" which makes you look a little like a flying squirrel. This book covers the history of the sport and some of its most flamboyant characters. Kirkus & Library Journal starred reviews.


Ben Macintyre – A Spy among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
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Hampton Sides – In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
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An image-processing robot for RoboCup Junior

Helen: Today we’re delighted to have a guest post from 17-year-old student Arne Baeyens, aka Robotanicus, who has form in designing prize-winning robots. His latest, designed for the line-following challenge of a local competition, is rather impressive. Over to Arne…

Two months ago, the 24th of May, I participated in the RoboCup Junior competition Flanders, category 'Advanced Rescue'. With a Raspberry Pi, of course – I used a model B running Raspbian. Instead of using reflectance sensors to determine the position of the line, I used the Pi Camera to capture a video stream and applied computer vision algorithms to follow the line. My robot wasn't the fastest but I obtained the third place.

A short video of the robot in action:

In this category of the RCJ competition the robot has to follow a black line and to avoid obstacles. The T-junctions are marked by green fields to indicate the shortest trajectory. The final goal is to push a can out of the green field.

RPi line follower RPi line follower2 RPi line follower3

This is not my first robot for the RCJ competition. In 2013 I won the competition with a robot with the Dwengo board as control unit. It used reflectance and home-made colour sensors. The Dwengo board uses the popular pic18f4550 microcontroller and has amongst other functionalities a motor driver, a 2×16 char screen and a big, 40pin extension connector. The Dwengo board is, like the RPi, designed for educational purposes, with projects in Argentina and India.

As the Dwengo board is a good companion for the Raspberry Pi, I decided to combine both boards in my new robot. While the Pi does high-level image processing, the microcontroller controls the robot.

The Raspberry Pi was programmed in C++ using the OpenCV libraries, the wiringPi library (from Gordon Henderson) and the RaspiCam openCV interface library (from Pierre Raufast and improved by Emil Valkov). I overclocked the Pi to 1GHz to get a frame rate of 12 to 14 fps.

Using a camera has some big advantages: first of all, you don't have that bunch of sensors mounted close to the ground that are interfering with obstacles and deranged by irregularities. The second benefit is that you can see what is in front of the robot without having to build a swinging sensor arm. So, you have information about the actual position of the robot above the line but also on the position of the line in front, allowing calculation of curvature of the line. In short, following the line is much more controllable. By using edge detection rather than greyscale thresholding, the program is virtually immune for shadows and grey zones in the image.

If the line would have had less hairpin bends and I would have had a bit more time, I would have implemented a speed regulating algorithm on the base of the curvature of the line. This is surely something that would improve the performance of the robot.

I also used the camera to detect and track the green direction fields at a T-junction where the robot has to take the right direction. I used a simple colour blob tracking algorithm for this.

A short video of what the robot thinks:

Please note that in reality the robot goes a little bit slower following the line.

Different steps of the image processing

Image acquired by the camera (with some lines and points already added):
Image acquired by the camera

The RPi converts the colour image to a greyscale image. Then the pixel values on a horizontal line in the image are extracted and put into an array. This array is visualized by putting the values in a graph (also with openCV):
Visualizing pixel values along a line

From the first array, a second is calculated by taking the difference from two successive values. In other words, we calculate the derivative:
Calculating the derivative

An iterating loop then searches for the highest and lowest value in the array. To have the horizontal relative position of the line in the array, the two position values—on the horizontal x axis in the graphed image—are averaged. The position is put in memory for the next horizontal scan with a new image. This makes that the scan line does not have to span the whole image but only about a third of it. The scan line moves horizontally with the centre about above the line.

But this is not enough for accurate tracking. From the calculated line position, circles following the line are constructed, each using the same method (but with much more trigonometry calculations as the scan lines are curved). For the second circle, not only the line position but also the line angle is used. Thanks to using functions, adding a circle is a matter of two short lines of code.

The colour tracking is done by colour conversion to HSV, thresholding and then blob tracking, like explained in this excellent video. The colour tracking slows the line following down by a few fps but this is acceptable.

HSV image Thresholded image

As seen in the video, afterwards all the scan lines and some info points are plotted on the input image so we can see what the robot 'thinks'.

And then?

After the Raspberry Pi has found the line, it sends the position data and commands at 115,2 kbps over the hardware serial port to the Dwengo microcontroller board. The Dwengo board does some additional calculations, like taking the square root of the proportional error and squaring the 'integral error' (curvature of the line). I also used a serial interrupt and made the serial port as bug-free as possible by receiving each character separately. Thus, the program does not wait for the next character while in the serial interrupt.

The Dwengo board sends an answer character to control the data stream. The microcontroller also takes the analogue input of the SHARP IR long range sensor to detect the obstacles and scan for the container.

In short, the microcontroller is controlling the robot and the Raspberry Pi does an excellent job by running the CPU intensive line following program.

There's a post on the forum with a more detailed technical explanation – but you will find the most important steps below.

Electrical wiring
Both devices are interconnected by two small boards—one attaches to the RPi and the other to the Dwengo board—that are joined by a right angle header connection. The first does with some resistors the logic level converting (the Dwengo board runs on 5V), the latter board also has two DC jacks with diodes in parallel for power input to the RPi. To regulate the power to the Pi, I used a Turnigy UBEC that delivers a stable 5.25V and feeds it into the Pi by the micro USB connector. This gives a bit more protection to the sensitive Pi. As the camera image was a bit distorted I added a 470uF capacitor to smooth things out. This helped. Even though the whole Pi got hot, the UBEC stayed cold. The power input was between 600 and 700mA at around 8.2 volts.

Last year, I almost missed the first place as the robot only just pushed the can out of the field. Not a second time! Having this in thought, I constructed two 14cm long arms that could be turned open by two 9g servos. With the two grippers opened, the robot spans almost 40 centimetres. Despite this, the robot managed—to everyone's annoyance—'to take its time before doing its job', as can be seen in the video.

Building the robot platform
To build the robot platform I followed the same technology as the year before (link, in Dutch). I made a design in SketchUp, then converted it to a 2D vector drawing and finally lasercutted it at FabLab Leuven. However, the new robot platform is completely different in design. Last year, I made a 'riding box' by taking almost the maximum dimensions and mounting the electronics somewhere on or in it.

This time, I took a different approach. Instead of using an outer shell (like insects have), I made a design that supports and covers the parts only where necessary. The result of this is not only that the robot looks much better, but also that the different components are much easier to mount and that there is more space for extensions and extra sensors. The design files can be found here: Robot RoboCup Junior – FabLab Leuven.

3D renders in SketchUp:

RCJ_Robot_2014_render3 RCJ_Robot_2014_render5

On the day of the RCJ competition I had some bad luck as there wasn't enough light in he competition room. The shutter time of the camera became much longer. As a consequence, the robot had much more difficulties in following sharp bends in the line. However, this problem did not affect the final outcome of the competition.

Maybe I should have mounted some LEDs to illuminate the line…

Scribd Enhances eBook Discovery


Scribd was the first company to really make the entire notion of Netflix for eBooks viable. They have attracted some major publishers to contribute their content and they have over 500,000 titles available. This can be really overwhelming to find a novel you might dig. Today, Scribd has unveiled a new set of discovery tools and enhancements to aid you in the quest to find your next read.

Scribd's new browse experience brings the familiar elements of perusing a neighborhood bookstore into the digital realm, from personalized staff picks, to shelves for every category and special interest niche imaginable.

The foundation of the new browse experience is a proprietary category structure that allows readers to browse both at a high level, like Fiction & Literature, and a very niche level, like Biographies of Outlaws. Scribd also has a new team of curators that will change editorial content to put the spotlight on books they like.

"Scribd's subscription model does wonders for book discovery, because it eliminates so much of the friction that usually exists to begin reading a good book," said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO. "Meanwhile our new browse feature alone is a huge step forward for book discovery. Ultimately we believe it's the combination of the subscription model with our innovative book discovery offering that will create a magical experience for readers, and this is just the beginning of more to come."

Scribd Enhances eBook Discovery is a post from: Good e-Reader

Learn About Art for Free with the Google Art Project

Did you know you can visit some of the world's best museums from your living room couch? The Google Art Project lets you do just that.

Barnes and Noble Unveils Same Day Book Delivery Service


Barnes and Noble is teaming up with Google to delivery books the same day you order them online. Books will only be shipped to a few key markets, but the intention is to use Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area as a pilot for an eventual Nationwide rollout.

Google has been running Shopping Express only for only a year and only recently expanded out of California a few months ago. The premise Express is to partner with companies like Costco, Guitar Center, L'Occitane, Smart & Final, Staples, Target, and Walgreens and allow people to get things delivered to their house the same day the order is placed.

Barnes and Noble is betting on a few factors to make their same day book delivery system work. Shopping Express is offering a free six month subscription to get free shipping. Alternatively you can simply pay $4.99 for each shipment, instead of subscribing. Amazon's same-day service costs $5.99 for members of its Prime program, which also has an annual rate of $99.99.

So what B&N stores are participating in this pilot project? The Union Square store in Manhattan, the Marina del Rey store near Los Angeles and a store on Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose. They will all have a dedicated person on site to assist customers in placing online orders for books, toys, games, magazines and other items. Google will collect the orders and hand them to a courier. Barnes & Noble stores have 22,000 to 163,000 titles, depending on the store size.

We live in an age of instant gratification. This is why the eBook industry exploded in the last few years and major publishers trumpet that they account for 21%-28% of their entire revenue stream. It is all too convenient to buy a book on your e-reader, smartphone or tablet and instantly be able to read it. Barnes and Noble is betting that same day deliveries will encourage more people to buy the print edition.

Barnes and Noble Unveils Same Day Book Delivery Service is a post from: Good e-Reader