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The Daylight DC1 is an attempt to build a “calmer” computer

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There’s a new company in the race to make a less distracting, more minimalist, and generally sanity-saving kind of computer. It’s called Daylight Computer, and it’s launching its first device today: the DC1, a 10.5-inch tablet with some interesting ideas about gadget design.

The DC1’s main hook is its display. Daylight calls it a “LivePaper” screen and says it looks like E Ink but is smooth and responsive like a traditional LCD. This is… not otherwise a thing that exists, at least not yet, and in general, anyone that promises an “E Ink-like” LCD screen is seriously overselling their product. But Daylight believes it has invented something genuinely new and better. If so, it would be a pretty exciting combination of iPad and Kindle. We’ll see!

The tablet also has a backlight with no blue, which means the DC1 will glow an amber color. Daylight is jumping on the blue-blocker bandwagon here, based on the popular notion that exposure to blue light can be harmful to your sleep and cause eyestrain. (There’s some evidence for the sleep part of that, though eliminating blue light is only part of the tech and sleep dilemma; there’s much less real connection between blue light and eyestrain.)

The device otherwise sounds like a fairly normal Android tablet. Well, not exactly Android: it runs an operating system called SolOS, which Daylight describes as “a custom Android-based operating system designed to facilitate deep focus.” (It’s based on Android 13.) It has a MediaTek Helio G99 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, comes with a passive Wacom stylus, and has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The whole thing weighs 1.2 pounds It appears to have all the standard Android apps and services; Daylight’s bet seems to be that just changing the hardware can change your experience of the software, too.

Daylight CEO Anjan Katta has said he started the company to both help himself combat eyestrain and distraction as well as to try to redefine our relationship with gadgets altogether. In recent months, he’s been waxing poetic a lot — particularly on crypto-friendly podcasts; Katta is evidently a big Bitcoin fan — about the problems with modern devices. “The thing I like to think about is,” he said on the Healthier Technology podcast last year, “what would have happened to, like, Tolstoy if he grew up like this. What would have happened to Maya Angelou if she had a distracting, blue light-emitting phone? Would she have still been able to write the poetry she did?”

It’s sort of Kindle-ish, at least from this angle.
Image: Daylight

It’s all a little cringe-inducing at times, but Daylight is poking at a really interesting question: are smartphones really the right idea? Companies like Light and Humane are asking the same thing in different ways, but all are trying to find tech answers to tech problems rather than just encouraging everyone to throw their phone in the sea and move to the woods. “It’s impossible to escape technology. It’s not even realistic,” Katta said on that podcast. Instead, he argued, we should rethink the computer.

Listening to Katta’s podcast tour, it sounds like Daylight is a display company more than a tablet company. He has mentioned wanting to make monitors, laptops, watches, alarm clocks, and other devices but said he believes that a LivePaper-equipped foldable phone is ultimately “how we change the world.”

The DC1 is still in the preorder phase — the company says it already sold out the first batch, which required a $100 deposit to reserve — and costs $799. It’s supposed to ship for real in June, which is when we’ll get to see whether it’s possible to build a screen that is both easy to use and easy to put down.

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