Home > Hardware, TI MSP430, Video > $20 Boogie Board is an “Etch a Sketch” LCD Tablet

$20 Boogie Board is an “Etch a Sketch” LCD Tablet

If you’re old enough (or have followed the US 2012 presidential race), you must know an Etch a Sketch is a drawing board that you can erase by shaking it. The Boogie Board LCD eWriter has basically the same functionality, but instead of using aluminum powder, it’s using a Reflex LCD display and a stylus, and instead of shaking it to erase content, you’ll just press a button. Like E-Ink, reflex LCD displays do not use power when content remains unchanged. The first version was released in 2010, and appears to be relatively easy to find in the US (online retailers, Wallmart…), but not so in the rest of the world.

Boogie_Board

There are 5 versions of the Boogie Board, but the last 2 that will only be available for Xmas 2013:

  • Original 8.5 – 8.6″ display, external adhesive magnets
  • Original 10.5 – 10.5″ display, replaceable batteries
  • Jot 8.5 – 8.6″ display, replaceable batteries, kickstand, and built-in magnets.
  • Jot 4.5 – 4.4″ display, kickstand
  • Sync 9.7 – 9.5″ display, rechargeable batteries, wireless connectivity, and save capability.

The full technical specifications are not available, but here’s what’s listed on Improv Electronics website (The manufacturer) for the original 8.5″ Boogie Board:

  • Solid Colors – Black, Red, Pink, Cyan, Green, White
  • Pattern Colors – Soccer, Flower, Camo
  • Materials – Pressure-sensitive, plastic Reflex LCD with scratch-resistant hardcoating, plastic case
  • LCD Size – 8.6″
  • Power – Non-replaceable 3V watch battery
  • Dimensions – 223mm x 142 x 3
  • Weight – 119

Somebody did open it, however, to find out a Texas Instruments MSP430 MCU powers the thing.

The Boogie Board comes with a Stylus, User Guide, Clip-on stylus holder, and self-adhesive magnets. The magnets allow you to attach the device to your fridge or metallic cabinet. The battery can’t be replaced (in theory), but the company claims it’s good for 50,000 erase cycles. Boogie Board Original 8.5 can be purchased from Amazon for less than $20, but for $31.28 you can get the Jot 8.5 with replaceable batteries, built-in magnets, an erase lock, and a stylus holder, all of which can’t be found in the original version.

Watch the video below if you want to see what the device (Jot 8.5) is capable of.

Alternatively, you can also checkout an article on minimachines.net that includes a video of the original version (in French), and/or visit the manufacturer’s website.

Thanks to onebir for the tip.

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  1. onebir
    August 15th, 2013 at 17:12 | #1

    So these Reflex LCDs must be very cheap, wonder why they don’t show up in other products… There’s also one called ‘Rip’ which seems to be like ‘Sync’ but without wireless capabilities:
    http://www.amazon.com/Boogie-Board-9-5-Inch-Writing-PR02105GRYA0000/dp/B00AAFPBYA/ref=sr_1_10?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1376561135&sr=1-10
    At the moment I’m not sure how useful these are, but with a bit of refinement (eg linking to a tablet via Bluetooth) I think they could be…

  2. roel
    August 15th, 2013 at 17:27 | #2

    Hello,

    i bought a ‘rip’ for around 50€. It doens’t have magnets, but you can store your drawings and notes on the build in storage in PDF. With a usb cable you can get them to your computer. It connects as a normal usb storage so it works in linux also.

  3. August 15th, 2013 at 19:10 | #3

    @onebir
    @roel
    I’ve seen the Rip too, but I think it’s phased out (they don’t mention it on their website), probably because it was too expensive.

  4. onebir
    August 15th, 2013 at 19:30 | #4

    @cnxsoft
    Perhaps the Sync (~= wireless Rip) replaced it?
    I’m still scratching my head wondering why these displays aren’t getting into ebook readers. Or even the back of a tablet…

  5. August 15th, 2013 at 20:58 | #5

    @onebir
    Very difficult to find a comparison. Most applications require a “white” background, and maybe the “white” of the Reflex LCD is not as good as E-Ink, and the display may appear too grey.

    In the video above, the writings are quite clear, but I first watched another video where it was very difficult to see anything written in the thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAhhlTP0oA0

  6. renw0rp
    August 15th, 2013 at 23:07 | #6

    engadget mentiones ” 50,000 erase cycles” – if it is true then it explains why it is not used in ebook readers.

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/22/improv-electronics-boogie-board-brings-the-chalkboard-into-the-2/

  7. August 16th, 2013 at 10:50 | #7

    @renw0rp
    I initially understood the 50,000 erase cycles limitation was due to the non-replaceable batteries, not the display itself. But now I’m quite not sure…

  8. onebir
    August 16th, 2013 at 13:50 | #8

    Even if it’s the screen, it must cost what, ~$5? & 50,000 cycles is a year or so @130 pages a day.

    So make it user replaceable, and sell it like a toner cartridge?

  9. onebir
    August 16th, 2013 at 13:53 | #9

    @onebir
    And **** sapphire glass when a replacement screen’s $8 or whatever ;)

  10. renw0rp
    August 16th, 2013 at 20:29 | #10

    @onebir

    actually if its small screen like basic kindle/nook you need to count each actual book page as ~2-3 screens (either zoomed in PDF, or some EPUB/MOBI reformatted for the screen)

    also all the animations, effects, scrolling, browsing etc affect its lifespan. Its not just displaying actual book but also menus etc.

    I agree if its properly priced (like $20) actually it should not matter as most of the products/electronics (mostly made in china) is not intended to be kept forever, but to be made cheap and replaced soon to keep all the manufacturing going.

  11. roel
    August 19th, 2013 at 02:43 | #11

    @cnxsoft
    The screen is indeed not so bright, but You can read everything OK. In my opinion it’s perfect for its purpose.

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