Sharp is readying a 6-inch digital notepad it says has 60 hours of battery life under continuous use.
The monochrome "Digital Note" features a pen-shaped stylus and has enough storage for 1,000 pages of hand-written notes. It synchs with a computer using a microUSB connector, and has a low-power LCD touch screen.
While the device can be used to scribble notes on a blank screen, Sharp will also release a series of background templates for download in the future. Concepts for the templates include simple designs like lined notepaper, as well as resume forms and tables for entering figures, so the notepad could also be marketed to companies and storefronts for basic data entry.
Sharp is aiming to sell the notepad more as digital stationary than as a scaled-down tablet. Simple digital devices for taking notes are a growing category, with foreign competitors like the black-screened Boogie Board already selling in Japan. The Boogie Board has a 9.5-inch version that can run about 40 hours on a single charge and costs $180 in Japan.
Sharp's device will cost around $178 when it goes on sale in Japan starting on Jan. 18. The company plans to produce around 8,000 of them per month. The company said it currently has no plans to sell the device outside of Japan.
It will still compete with cheaper tablets like Amazon's basic Kindle Fire, the full-color device which has been priced in Japan at around $152.
Sharp has tried to position its effort as part personal organizer. Users can search for entries by flipping through a calendar, or organize notes into different notepads. Notes drawn onto the device are saved and transferred as 600-pixel by 700-pixel bitmap images, with 16 colors of grayscale.
The Digital Note weighs 7.4 ounces, or 11.11 ounces with its case and stylus. It measures 4.4 inches wide, 6.1 inches tall, and 0.4 inches thick.