The TCL NXTPAPER was officially announced at CES 2021, and it’s an interesting piece of engineering in itself: the first electronic ink-like device with a color display, a combination that’s both easier on the eyes for a long time and a little more battery-friendly than traditional tablets with LCD screens. That all adds up to what could be the best device yet … for reading comics.
Comics, comic books, ‘the funny pages’, sequential art – they are a groundbreaking part of the modern media landscape and the source material for the superhero movie genre that has dominated cinemas for the past decade. And yet reading digital versions of comics has been a legitimate pain: given their full-page A4 format (roughly the size of lined paper), they don’t really fit on the screens of modern phones or computers.
Conversely, they are great for reading on tablets, which provide the best screen area to read entire pages at once since comics were meant to be read. (Well, technically two pages at a time for those wide spreads, but digital beggars can’t be voters.) Still, draining a powerful tablet’s battery to read static pages feels like overkill, akin to taking a sports car to the supermarket.
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The ereader for comics?
The TCL NXTPAPER tablet could be a better solution for reading digital comics, in the same way that ereaders are a much more efficient way to read digital books. Part of this is the battery: The NXTPAPER display technology, which TCL debuted at IFA 2020, is “more than 65% more energy efficient than a typical LCD,” said one press release.
We expect the NXTPAPER’s 5,500 mAh battery to last much longer than other modern tablets when it comes to displaying single pages, especially as the ‘standby time’ will power it for 400 hours, or just over 16 days if left unattended. It doesn’t take much longer when playing video and should only take about 11 hours when streaming shows over Wi-Fi. However, static images should take serious advantage of the screen’s efficiency.
But the NXTPAPER’s best asset is a subtle one: the eponymous electronic ink-like technology is said to make the display very easy on the eyes, and TCL claims the display zero blue light or flicker. In short, comic readers will be able to go through issue after issue, trade paperback after trade paperback, and their eyes shouldn’t get nearly as tired as if they were staring at a traditional tablet. It will also no longer keep them awake because there is no blue light.
Heck, it even could Screen strips more like real pages, given the NXTPAPER’s screen, which TCL describes as ‘papery’ – suggesting it’s a bit more textured and less glossy than the reflective glass atop clear LCD screens on most contemporary tablets.
There is one huge caveat here: NXTPAPER technology, like many early e-ink ereaders, is not backlit. So it’s totally reliant on atmospheric light, and as any ’80s or 90s kid looking for nearby lighting to play their Nintendo Game Boy at night can attest to, this is quite a feat in some circumstances . TCL has promised to include a standalone bulb with every purchase of an NXTPAPER that clips onto it and runs on battery, but this is essentially an issue that modern devices have solved long ago.
NXTPAPER: champion reading at home?
However, if you read comics in the digital age, chances are you are doing it at home, with commercial papers from ComiXology or Marvel Unlimited, and the NXTPAPER seems to be a great companion for those who read their favorite funny pages on a mobile. device – whether on the road (in well-lit transit) or at home.
And it has to be said that the NXTPAPER is a respectable tablet in its own right, with an 8.8-inch HD IPS (1440 x 1080) display with a 60Hz refresh rate – enough to watch YouTube videos or a show here and there. see. It also includes an 8 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera, 64 GB storage (expandable up to 256 GB with a microSD card up to 256 GB) and 4 GB RAM. It runs Android 10, which is fine if not impressive.
The TCL NXTPAPER isn’t quite as cheap as an ereader – it will go on sale worldwide in April 2021 for € 349 (around $ 424 / £ 313 / AU $ 549) – but at that price, you can seriously compete with the Apple iPad and other regular tablets to weigh your needs. We haven’t heard exact prices or a release date for the US, UK or Australia yet.
Considering comic strip fans’ digital comic options awkwardly read it on their computer, drain their tablet’s battery, or struggle to see it on their smartphones, the TCL NXTPAPER is an intriguing fourth choice. It’s a device aimed at college students, but it could just as well take advantage of the comics fan who automatically downloads their Wednesday stack to their ComiXology account.