TCL's NXTPAPER 14 Pro is somewhere between a tablet and a giant e-reader

Announced at CES 2024, it has a dedicated button to change display modes.

Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

TCL is going for different with its new pro tablet, revealed at CES 2024. There aren’t that many premium tablets beyond the annual updates from Apple and Samsung, and TCL plans to make its new 14- and 10-inch slates stand out with their display tech, featuring its next-gen NXTPAPER 3.0. It's aimed at striking a middle-ground between e-readers and tablets. It’s not about them being sharper or faster, but gentler on our very human eyes.

The TCL NXTPAPER 14 Pro’s display features heavily focus on eye comfort, with a new VersaView interface that can switch between a black-and-white reader mode and the standard tablet views. The 14-inch 2.8K display (2,880 x 1,800) features the company’s new NXTPAPER 3.0, aimed at better reflecting, literally, how the human eye reads natural paper, but on a digital display. NXTPAPER is TCL’s display tech that tries to offer a tablet experience with a paper-like reading surface. We’ve written about earlier iterations found in devices like the NXTPAPER 11 tablet and even some of its recent budget smartphones.

The company says its next family of phones – no fewer than seven, including the TCL 50 XL NTXPAPER 5G and 50 XE NTXPAPER 5G – will also feature NXTPAPER 3.0 technology. The NXTPAPER 14 Pro is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 8020 chip, with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which is fine if unremarkable. It’s truly all about the screen.

TCL NXTPAPER 14 Pro hands-on at CES 2024
Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

TCL says its NXTPAPER series continues to filter out up to 61 percent of blue light to ease the effects on users’ eyes. Version 3.0 is brighter, hitting 700 nits on the 14-inch matte display. A new Circularly Polarized Light (CPL) screen should also light up text more naturally, while being easier to read in sunlight. TCL claims this creates a reading experience closer to reading books in natural light. There’s also DC dimming, which should also lower flickering effects experienced on some lower-refresh rate screens. In tablet mode, the NXTPAPER 14 Pro can reach up to 120Hz refresh rates, and the new CPL tech also means it maintains legibility even if you’re wearing polarizing lenses.

Meanwhile, the Tab 10 NXTPAPER 5G packs some of the same display technology (NXTPAPER 3.0) but on a 10.4-inch, 2K (2,560 x 1,440) screen. And no dedicated viewing mode button. It does, however, feature 5G support.

To really make sure you get it, TCL also created an Eye Health Assistant to nag remind you to reduce screen brightness or perhaps not stare at your new tablet at midnight. The NXTPAPER 14 Pro also has a dedicated physical button for switching between three different viewing modes. The tablet’s VersaView UI means users can switch between a standard tablet mode and NXTPAPER mode.

TCL NXTPAPER 14 Pro hands-on at CES 2024
Photo by Mat Smith/Engadget

The latter is an e-ink style (but not e-ink!) monochrome mode, which rarely features on devices headed to the US. However, this isn’t just the tablet processing the Android interface into grayscale. The interface includes stripped-down icons, like line drawings, that can still be differentiated from each other and a lot more blank space and white backdrops for reading ease. It feels like a concentration mode, which I appreciated. You’ve probably heard of the ‘hack’ of turning your smartphone system into black-and-white to make everything less compelling. This simplifies everything 2even more aggressively while ensuring that some content, like video, can still be played in full color. Swiping around the tablet, or using TCL’s stylus on the screen in both modes was fluid, and refresh rates seem much improved from the earliest NXTPAPER hardware

There are no prices for either of TCL’s new tablets yet, but the company has confirmed that the NXTPAPER 14 Pro will be coming to the US in early 2024. In the meantime, these are our reigning picks for the best tablets you can currently buy.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.