TCL’s unusual NXTPAPER tablet won’t ruin your sleep

TCL’s NXTPAPER is no ordinary tablet. It’s the first device to use TCL’s clever new NXTPAPER screen technology, over an LCD or AMOLED panel, which has many of the benefits of an E-Ink screen but in full color and with a refresh rate high enough to make Google Android a usable operating system on it. It’s part of TCL’s CES 2021 announcements and further evidence of how it’s bringing its screen tech prowess to mobile.

The full-color screen measures 8.8-inches, has a 1440 x 1080 resolution, and is based on IPS technology similar to many LCD screens found on tablets, laptops, and (in few cases) smartphones. The difference here is there’s no backlight, and the NXTPAPER technology reuses natural light to brighten the display. This means there’s no flicker and no harmful blue light, making the screen safer and more comfortable to use for long periods, and removing worry it’ll ruin your sleep patterns. TCL has secured 26 different patents related to eye protection for the NXTPAPER’s screen technology.

That may remind you of the benefits of e-ink or e-paper displays, often used on e-readers like the Kindle. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a tablet only for reading e-books though — this is a full-featured display with a full range of color reproduction and a 30Hz refresh rate. It’s just as much at home playing video or games, and it’ll do so for many hours too. There’s a 5,500mAh battery inside and the NXTPAPER screen is 65% more power-efficient than standard LCD screens (it helps that there’s no backlight). TCL says the tablet will last more than a full day of use. An unnamed octa-core processor provides the power, there’s an 8-megapixel rear camera, and a 5MP front camera for video calls. Finally, there’s both a Wi-Fi and a 4G connection too.

Because the NXTPAPER display is very thin, the tablet itself is similarly svelte at just 7.4mm thick, and it weighs only 316 grams (0.7 pounds). In most circumstances, the lack of a built-in backlight won’t be a problem, but for those times when there isn’t enough natural light for the tech to work its magic, TCL has packaged an external light pack inside the box. At the moment, the NXTPAPER tech is designed for large-format hardware like tablets, and there’s no indication when or if it will make its way down to smartphone-sized devices.

For now, TCL is pushing the NXTPAPER tablet towards people who use large-screen devices for productivity, such as in education and the workplace, due to how the technology can reduce eye strain and long-term damage, along with the battery life improvements too. Initially, the NXTPAPER tablet will be sold in Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa from April and cost 350 euros, or about $425. If you’re looking for other tablets from the show, take a look at the best tablets of CES 2021 for more concepts.

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