Cracking Open: Boogie Board Rip
March 1, 2012, 8:11am PST | Length: 00:03:46
Bill Detwiler cracks open the Boogie Board Rip. Inside the eWriter, he finds a flexible, cholesteric LCD from Kent Displays, a Waltop Pen Input system, and Texas Instruments MSP430 MCU. He also discovered that the Boogie Board Rip would be a great pen and paper replacement if it weren't missing two key features and wasn't priced so high--relative to low-end tablets. For a detailed list of the e-writer's hardware and a text version of this video, check out his article, Boogie Board Rip Teardown: Overpriced and a few features short.
>> Bill Detweiler: If you'd like to ditch the paper notepad for a digital device but don't want a full-blown tablet, an e-Writer may be the perfect gadget. I'm Bill Detweiler, head technology editor at Tech Republic, and I'm going to crack open one of these electronic note-taking devices, the Kent Display's Boogie Board Rip.
>> Bill Detweiler: Opening the Boogie Board's plastic case wasn't difficult but did require a little finesse. To begin, I removed the four external torque's T6 screws. Then using a thin metal tool, I popped loose the front cover from the back half of the case, taking care not to break too many of the small plastic tabs that hold the case together. Once inside the device, I detached the battery and stylus antenna connector from the motherboard. I removed the LCD and motherboard assembly, removed the battery, and removed the stylus antenna. I then separated the motherboard from the LCD and removed the LCD from its plastic holder. With that, our teardown was complete. So what did we learn from our teardown? Well, first, I was surprised by how thin and light the Boogie Board Rip is. At half an inch, it's a bit thicker than your average tablet but not by much, and at 11 and a half ounces, it's much lighter than any of the ten-inch tablets I've cracked open. Despite these characteristics, this e-Writer felt surprisingly sturdy in my hands. I never once worried that I would break it. Now the next interesting feature is the LCD. Developed by Kent Displays, the Boogie Board's screen uses colosteric phonetic liquid crystals, which allow the screen to retain an image without power, and because the LCD is made from plastic, it's both rugged and flexible. Another nice feature of the Boogie Board Rip is the eight megs of internal storage. Now according to the manufacturer, this will let you keep about 200 images, saved as PDF's, on the device. Beyond that, you'll need to transfer them to a computer. One thing I don't like about the device is the need to use the included stylus. Although any hard-pointed object, even your fingernail, will create an image on the LCD, the device can't save these lines. This is because the Boogie Board Rip uses a large antenna to detect the position of the stylus as it moves across the LCD, not the pressure of the writing instrument. After using the Boogie Board Rip and cracking it open, I can say that I like the device. It's well built and works as advertised, although it's not really designed to be cracked open. Yet, it still has three significant limitations that keep it from being a great note-taking tool. First, there's no way to view previously saved images on the device. Once you erase a saved image, the only way to see it again is on a computer. Second, you can't synch the device wirelessly. Now using the included USB cable is easy enough but a bit cumbersome. Lastly, the Rip version of the Boogie Board is relatively expensive compared to low-end tablets, which offer a lot more functionality. At $129, it's only $70 less than the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook tablet. If the Boogie Board Rip was under a hundred dollars and had the features I just mentioned, it would be my note-taking tool of choice. As it is, I'll stick with my tablet. For Tech Republic, I'm Bill Detweiler, and this has been a cracking open of the Boogie Board Rip.