Lenovo has announced an e-ink tablet called the Smart Paper, which appears to be aimed at Amazon’s writing-focused Kindle Scribe. The Smart Paper features a 10.3-inch display, a pen that doesn’t need to be charged, and the ability to detect when you’re tilting the stylus, as well as 4,096 levels of pressure.
The screen Lenovo’s using, while not as pixel-dense as the Kindle’s, should be high-res enough for both reading and writing at 1872 x 1404. It also features front lighting with adjustable color. Another neat trick is that the Smart Paper can record audio while you’re jotting with a pen, and you’ll have the ability to hear exactly what was being said as you wrote a specific note — a handy feature if you’re keeping track of meetings or classes.
One of the Scribe’s biggest annoyances is syncing, according to my colleague Alex Cranz’s review. Its notebooks do sync via the cloud, but marks you make on PDFs or books do not. It does seem like the Smart Paper could solve this issue; Jeff Witt, a spokesperson for the company, told The Verge in an email that users will be able to import epub and PDF formatted content. Additionally, he says that the Smart Paper app for Windows, Android, and iOS devices will be able to sync books, notes, and documents.
The company’s spec sheet says the Smart Paper is running the open-source version of Android 11, so it may be possible to sideload apps onto it — though whether or not it’ll be easy to do is an open question.
At $399.99, the Smart Paper is more expensive than the cheapest Scribe you can get, which starts at $340 and includes a “basic” pen and 16GB of storage. However, Lenovo’s version comes with a case and has 50GB of storage. The Kindle, meanwhile, has a $390 32GB version and a $419 64GB version.
The Smart Paper isn’t the only e-ink product Lenovo is announcing at CES — the company is also showing off a new generation of the ThinkBook Plus, continuing the series of laptops with regular and paper-like displays. With the previous iterations, the e-ink panel lived on the back of the lid, which meant you had to use it with the computer closed. Now, with the ThinkBook Plus Twist, the display is on a hinge, which lets you flip the e-ink screen around and use it with the keyboard.
Both screens on the Twist are an upgrade from 2021’s ThinkBook Plus Gen 2 — the “main” 13.3-inch screen seems to be getting a slight resolution bump to “2.8K” (a term Lenovo has used before to denote a 2880 x 1800 screen) and will now feature a 60Hz OLED panel, compared to the previous version’s IPS LCD display. The 12-inch e-ink display, meanwhile, has been upgraded to support color and also includes front lighting. While e-ink screens that can show more than just black and white can be hit or miss, the inclusion really makes sense on a laptop that lets you use one as your main display. Washed-out colors are still way more useful than no colors at all — and if you want to go from typing up a document to watching a video, that OLED panel is just a flip away,
The ThinkBook Plus Twist also has some upgraded internals as well — you can get it with 13th Gen processors instead of 11th Gen ones, the webcam is now full HD instead of 720p, and it supports Wi-Fi 6E. It does, however, start at $100 more than the previous version did; the base configuration will cost $1,649 when the laptop becomes available in June.