At the Consumer Electronics Show earlier last week, Quirk Logic introduced Quilla - the world’s largest connected E Ink display. Upon first glance, the device looked like a Kindle made love to a giant white board and nine months later, out popped a 42” wall-mountable baby.
In a day and age when connected whiteboards are a thing and people share screens through connected software, I wondered what the benefit of a giant E Ink board could really be. Yet, there on the signage around Quirk Logic’s booth, one claim called out to me: “Look and Feel of Paper and Pen”.
Could a giant E Ink display with a chunky plastic stylus really replicate the experience of using pen and paper? The short answer is unequivocally no. The longer answer is that there is nothing about the look or feel of paper and pen that comes across when using the Quilla.
In the time I spent playing with the Quilla, I found the stylus to be bulky and the screen to be slow to respond. The stylus is all plastic, including the tip. The screen, too, is plastic. While everything feels surprisingly light, all of the materials together feel cheap, even if the aesthetic looks fairly refined and minimalistic.
While the Quilla offers some neat sharing features and can be mounted or carried, the writing experience leaves a lot to be desired. The plastic stylus tip feels exactly like one would expect it to feel when writing on another piece of plastic: it feels bulky and dense. Unlike a normal pen, there is no ink to lubricate the surface either, which makes the whole experience feel industrial. The best way to describe the feel of the stylus on the Quilla screen is try using a ballpoint pen on a shampoo bottle. Now, magnify that feeling a couple of times. That’s what using the Quilla feels like.
Comparing the Quilla to Apple’s Pencil and iPad Pro, there is a fairly remarkable difference, even though both offerings include a plastic stylus and a screen. The Quilla feels far inferior to using an Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. With the iPad Pro, the glass screen feels smoother when using a plastic-tipped stylus. Further, the tip of the Apple Pencil is far smaller in diameter, which makes the writing feedback feel more intricate and less broad. If the Apple Pencil would be equivalent to a 0.5 mm fine point gel pen, then the Quilla stylus would be more like a Sakura 16 mm extra-broad industrial marker.
As for the other half of Quirk Logic’s claim, the look of paper and pen is nowhere in sight. While the writing on the screen is legible and fairly sharp, it does not look like ink (or marker or any other analog medium for that matter). Writing looks digital on the Quilla. Further, there is a slight, yet noticeable delay between the time you use the stylus and the time your markings appear on screen.
E Ink is great for reading, but I don’t think it’s ready for writing. Quirk Logic’s claim that the Quilla looks and feels like pen and paper is just that: a claim. It’s nothing like pen and paper in my experience.
Quirk Logic plans to release the Quilla for sale later this year.