A few years ago, a number of companies like Plastic Logic, Skiff, and even Amazon tried to crack the academic market with large-screened E Ink devices, but none managed to gain any traction. Now, in 2013, Sony is trying the same idea with a new device called Digital Paper — a 13.3-inch flexible E Ink prototype device that the company is touting as a solution to dead tree media in offices and classrooms.

It's hard to overlook the benefits of third-party apps

The 12.6-ounce e-reader has a 1600x1200-pixel capacitive touch panel and stylus, and promises to let you mark up PDF documents with annotations and highlights. Sony even hopes to offer shared document editing over Wi-Fi sometime in the future. Sony has been invested in e-readers for years, and we suppose that the purported three-week battery life could make Digital Paper a contender for battery-strapped students. But it’s hard to overlook the benefits that third-party apps, fast processors, and high-resolution displays bring to today's tablets, including Sony's own Xperia Z.

Sony will be trialing the new device at three Japanese universities this year, meaning it will likely be a year or more before we see an actual retail product. Somehow, we doubt that taking the extra time to develop a dead-end form factor years after competitors tried and failed is what CEO Kaz Hirai had in mind when prioritizing speed of innovation, but we're happy to be proven wrong.