(This post has been contributed by Joe Quiney, a resident of Sydney, Australia)
I love to read. As do my 6-year old twin daughters, Ellie and Lucita. We have this weekly thing of reading a nice ebook on Saturday nights (I do the reading, while they do the listening, of course) on my personal Amazon Kindle. Now, I am not much of a gadget expert – but I’ll say this…the Kindle is a pretty amazing ebook reader. It’s just that I might just have come across another device that is as good, or probably better.
I first came to know about the nextPaper digital paper tablet from the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The makers (Companion) were proudly proclaiming it to be the ‘most practical paper tablet in existence’. I have this inclination of trying to know more about new things – and this curiosity led me to the official website of the manufacturer. Impressed by what I saw, I got in touch with Companion and managed to get a prototype of nextPaper delivered to my address. I have been using it for over a week now…and let’s just say, this device lives up to its hype.
The best thing about nextPaper is that it is not limited to being an ebook reader only. Ellie, in particular, loves to draw – and she absolutely loves to make sketches and rough line drawings on the new paper tablet. Inspired by her, I have also tried my hand at writing a few words (well, okay, I tried writing my own name!) on the tablet, with the nextPen stylus. I found the screen to be very responsive, and there was hardly any input-lag time. Sketches can be easily erased too, and it is possible to ‘undo’ an action. I like my electronic gadgets to be nice and prompt, and nextPaper seems to be just that.
It would be something of a cliche to call my daughters thick as thieves, but Ellie and Lucita are truly a living example of that phrase. They are always doing things together – and it was Lucita who found that the sketches her sister was making on nextPaper can be shared/sent directly to our iMac computer. I had initially thought that the drawings will have to be scanned to make them viewable on other devices…but hey, the combination of Lucita and nextPaper proved me wrong! I only just finished editing Ellie’s new drawing (I am a graphic designer by profession, by the way) – created on nextPaper – on the Mac.
Ease of reading is one of the biggest reasons me and my two angels became big fans of the Kindle. Once again, I feel that nextPaper has the potential to do even more – and expand the range of reading options for users. No longer is our reading list limited to ebooks from a single online bookstore. I can now pick out books from practically any bookstore – and in any format (MS-Word, PDF, ePub, Mobi and more) – and read them on my nextPaper reader. With all due credits to the Kindle, I will stick my neck out and say this: the reading options on nextPaper are greater.
I happen to be a fan of Apple, a big one at that. I have an iPhone 6, have the iPad Pro, use a Mac (with a spare Windows PC) and a 5th-gen iPod Touch. The nextPaper is probably the very first Android-supported device (Android 4.0 and later versions) that I have ever used. I was delighted to find that all the ebook apps listed in Google Play Store can be accessed and used on this digital paper tablet. Earlier on, it was only about reading kids’ stories for my daughters…but now, I download and read stuff for myself as well – things ranging from blog posts, interesting items from reddit and HackerNews, and informative articles on designing, to textbooks and PDF docs. nextPaper has given me the leeway to read whatever I want (well, almost!)…a big thumbs-up for that!
The arrival of nextPaper in our household has also made my daughters (Ellie in particular, ‘coz Lucita is the slightly lazy one!) more interested in actually reading books on their own. I found out that this digital tablet has a cutting-edge e-ink screen (it works as an e-ink monitor) – and reading from it for extended periods does not cause any type of ‘eye fatigue’ – unlike traditional LCD display screens. The fact that nextPaper offers an ads-free reading experience is also great. I do not have to wonder about the suitability of the ads my kids might see while reading books online…on this tablet, there are no ads whatsoever. Just quick, easy reading.
(nextPaper has introduced me to the world of e-ink devices. I found out from Companion’s website that they were planning the create the world’s first exclusive e-ink app store. If they are successful, that would be great).
Now, I love my iPad – and I think it is a very nice device to get my daughters familiar with smart gadgets. This familiarity is important, given the rate at which the importance of education technology is rising (Ellie and Lucita already have computer classes at school). However, I don’t think that the iPad is a particularly great as a reading device only. Lucita earlier used to read rhymes from the iPad, and I have often found her getting distracted by the pre-installed games on it. The Kindle has no such distractions, and neither does nextPaper. As a smart education/reading companion, the latter would certainly rank above the iPad.
Books can be smoothly transferred from my Mac computer to the nextPaper tablet as well. Since the tablet is optimized for ebooks in all formats, reading them is a lot easier than doing the same on my computer or even the iPad. Oh, and I can also upload Ellie’s sketches from nextPaper to Dropbox and Google Drive quickly and seamlessly. I have intentionally left the tablet on my daughters’ bed a couple of times – and I have seen them operate it on their own. That’s how user-friendly the controls and basic operations of nextPaper are.
Speaking of ease of use, the nextPaper has got to be one of the very few devices I have been able to master on my own, without having to look around for a instruction manual or a tutorial. This is one ebook reader that anyone can use…and that includes children. My daughters would vouch for that.
While the features and capabilities of nextPaper are excellent, it is a very good-looking gadget as well. The beautiful pearl-coloured 9.7” display screen caught the attention of my daughters first, and I really like its neat form-factor. There is a definite air of efficiency about the nextPaper tablet. The display resolution is a terrific 1280×825 pixels, and the quality of the capacitive electromagnetic touchscreen has been, till now, top-notch. Ellie is particularly fond of checking out images in 1024×768 resolution on the tablet. It also has a 2.5 mm earphone jack.
Me and my daughters love to read, and we download a lot of ebooks – and for heavy users like us, the nextPaper is an ideal device. The built-in internal memory of the tablet is a cool 16GB – and I have also added a 32GB SD card on it. I can now download books on the device, without ever having to worry about running out of memory space. Ellie, Lucita and yours truly are working together to create our very own bookstore on nextPaper.
The usability of Companion’s breakthrough digital paper tablet is further enhanced by the reliable 3000mAh lithium polymer battery. The device easily runs for 2-3 days on single charge – doing away with the need to keep the microUSB charger within reach at all times. Lucita is in charge of charging the nextPaper on Friday evenings…and we get through a weekend of some heavy-duty reading without having to charge it again.
Impressed by the features and capabilities of the digital paper reader, I also searched whether a mobile app version was also available. In fact, I put this query to the manufacturers – and was told that nextPaper indeed had an Android app. It has been created by Teksmobile, the company who has also made Story Time For Kids – by far Lucita and Ellie’s favourite storytelling application.
I am, for most purposes, a fairly old-fashioned person. I like reading books in their physical format – but times are changing. Digital reading is here to stay, and with high-quality e-readers like nextPaper, it is pretty straightforward for people like me to read books/magazines in electronic format. For my daughters too, nextPaper has been a great sketching, writing and reading tool. What’s more, the e-ink technology and digital paper is environment-friendly – offering paper-like reading/writing experiences, without using actual paper. I really wish the makers (Companion) all the very best for this open-source crowdfunding project…after all, coming up with a digital paper tablet that rivals (or even betters!) the powers of the Kindle is not a matter of joke!
Okay, I need to be off now…it’s time to drop the twins off to school. Did I tell you that I typed out this entire thing on the nextPaper?