Fujitsu has released two new digital e-notes in 2021 and they are very compelling. Each one is designed to appeal towards specific use case scenarios. The A4 has a 13.3 inch screen and is ideal for people who need to read and edit PDF documents that are the same size as an 8.5/11 piece of paper. Examples would include digital textbooks, academic and offices that need to replace paper. The A5 has a 10.3 inch screen that this is great for viewing flyers, leaflets, marketing mailers, greeting cards and stationary. It will easily read formats that have been optimized for 5.83 by 8.27 inches.
The Quaderno A5 and A4 are employing brand new E INK technology called Carta 1250. It has a thinner film, which results in a wider gamut and higher contrast ratio. It also leverages the same updates of Carta 1200, which provides lower latency when using a stylus, currently it is 30 milliseconds. PDF files will load faster and the pages will turn faster.
One of the most compelling aspects of these two devices is that they do not use a layer of glass, that is protecting the e-paper display. Instead, it is exposed e-paper. This is beneficial for numerous reasons, there is no glare when using it outdoors and there is lots of friction when drawing on the screen with a stylus. Drawing on a glass based display has its drawbacks, sometimes it does not really feel like you are drawing on paper.
The Quaderno A5 Gen 2 features a 10.3 inch E INK display with a resolution of 1404 x 1872 with 227 PPI. The Fujitsu Quaderno A4 Gen 2 has a 13.3 inch E INK display with a resolution of 1650 x 2200 with 207 PPI. Both products have a capacitive touchscreen display, so you can use your fingers to pinch and zoom PDF files and also interact with the UI. The other big upgrade is the inclusion of WACOM display, instead of an EMR that was on the Gen 1 models. The inclusion of WACOM means that the accompanied stylus never needs to be recharged and many other stylus on the market is compatible with it, so you are not stuck using the stock Quaderno Stylus or the co-branded Lamy Pen.
The A5 and A4 are both using the same hardware. They are running a Cortex A53 Quad-core 1.8 GHZ processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which is good for storing around 10,000 PDF files. It has a USB-C port, which is great for people who want one cable for all of their devices. It has WIFI, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC support for FeliCa (screen unlock) and NFC Forum Type 4 Tag (easy connection with QUADERNO Mobile App). This is great to basically lock your device and make it inaccessible from people who pick up when you are not around or if it gets stolen. You will easily get up to 4 weeks of usage before you have to recharge it.
The dimensions on the A4 are 222.8mm x 301.1mm x 5.7mm and weighs 368g. The dimensions on the A5 are 173.2mm x 242.5mm x 5.9mm and weighs 261g.
The Fujitsu Quaderno A4 and A5 2nd gen are both running the same Google Android operating system that is heavily skinned. One thing I noticed with the A4, is that the text appears darker and blacker, whereas the A5 tends to show more greys, so the blacks are not pronounced. This is evident when comparing them side by side and looking at the icons in the drop down menu, that allow you to quickly navigate to the file manager, where you can access all of your PDF files, and also continue with writing an existing workbook, schedule or make a new note. Underneath this UI, are all of the files that you have recently opened, there is a file format icon and the name of the file, which is normally pure text. Side by side, the pure text on the A4 is also darker, it makes it standout from the grey screen, the A5 blacks are also lighter here too.
The only formats these can read are PDF files, it can’t read EPUB, MOBI, AZW, CBR or CBZ. If you have DRM-Free titles you can easily convert them to a PDF file using free software like Calibre, but there are tons of online convertors that will do the work for you. This is useful if you want to read magazines, newspapers, manga, comics and other digital content on your Quaderno. After all, you can’t work all the time.
The new E INK Carta screen really dials up performance on both of these products. Page turns on PDF files are super quick, faster than Onyx, Supernote or Remarkable. You can read PDF files in landscape/portrait mode, but also read them in a two page spread, or even use split screen view, to read 2 different documents at the same time.
The drawing experience on the Quaderno is not as advanced as Onyx, Remarkable or Supernote. These products are primarily aimed at technical or artists, but I feel the Fujitsu is more aimed at students and professionals, who need something not overly complicated and will get the job done. Freehand drawing has enough features to keep you interested, they are saved as PDF files, so they are easily shared or copied over to your PC.
In terms of overall sales on the Good e-Reader Store, there is no comparison, the 13.3 sells like hotcakes. It has a bigger display and the contrast ratio is better than the A5. I think lots of people need to read PDF files on a device that gives them native support and doesn’t scale anything down, the 13.3 basically never needs to have text zoomed in just to read what is on the screen. You have to do this lots with the A5, if you are reading text heavy documents.
I believe Fujitsu hit a home run with both of these devices, but I would recommend the 13.3. There are very few of these on the market right now, the only alternatives are the Onyx Boox Max Lumi, which is $100 more, or the Quick Logic Papyr, which has innovative collaborative sharing technology.
The Fujitsu Quaderno 13.3 A4 2nd gen retails for $789 from the Good e-Reader Store and the Fujitsu Quaderno A5 is just $569.99. Both of them will ship within a few days of your order.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.