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Displays Hardware

Rollable E Ink Displays Get Real 116

An anonymous reader writes "Two years ago Philips unveiled a prototype of a functional electronic-document reader, called the Readius, which could unroll its display to a scale larger than the device itself. Unfortunately, that was only a prototype. According to Cnet, however, Polymer Vision, which spun out from Philips in 2006, has redesigned the Readius and turned it into a real product that it is going to be available by the end of this year. There are some notable differences between this Readius and the prototype version, in particular, the ability to display 16 shades of grey instead of just 4 and the connectivity options. What doesn't make sense though, is given the energy efficiency and easy-to-read high contrast functionality of E Ink, why other than Motorola with its Motofone, has no other cell phone manufacturer incorporated E Ink technology into its handsets?"
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Rollable E Ink Displays Get Real

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  • Oh, it's coming (Score:3, Informative)

    by evil agent ( 918566 ) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @12:19PM (#18060052)
    this summer []. Everyone who's been saying, "I just want a phone that's just a phone" might just get their wish.
  • amazingly ink-like (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @12:27PM (#18060124) Homepage Journal
    A friend brought over a non-rollable unit (think tablet) that was loaded up with several books. It uses that E-ink also. I don't recall who makes it, (phillips?) but it was easy to read with just ambient light in the room, and had a backlight for low light use. The screen looked like crisp jet-black typeset ink on a slightly off-white page, it was very easy to read and did not put any strain on the eyes. It did take a second or so to switch pages though which I was not expecting. I don't know if that was a limitation of the device or of the screen, but when it switched it was a snap switch, not where you see the text being drawn vertically.

    It wasn't very portable in the modern sense though. This unit was about 5.5" x 8", hardly pocket-size. I don't know how portable they will be able to get these - you can only roll it in one direction, so at best that one would have to be at least 5" in some direction. This screen was perfectly flat of course, and I wonder how much it would mess with your vision to read a page with a curl or warp to it? I know it bugs me to try to read a newspaper if it's not laying flat. I suppose this would be ideal for say, a long plane flight or while waiting for a connecting flight at a gate.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @12:34PM (#18060190)

    What doesn't make sense though, is given the energy efficiency and easy-to-read high contrast functionality of E Ink, why other than Motorola with its Motofone, has no other cell phone manufacturer incorporated E Ink technology into its handsets?

    It can't display video, or serve as the display for a camera phone. Seriously- the update cycle on eInk is up to half a second or more, something they don't like to talk about. That makes it a pain even for scrolling through your address book.

    Related rant: All I want is a phone with a extendable antenna for good reception, a message indicator LIGHT (my SE phone has a message indicator on the screen, but the screen goes blank or to a clock. It even HAS a LED in the joystick, but it's not used for anything!), bluetooth, and a fully functioning address book (ie: I want to be able to see an address, not just a #, and I want the phone to support contact groups in iCal.)

    Why won't anyone make it? If they do make it, why aren't they doing a better job of marketing it? I understand all the cameraphone crap is to get me to buy more services; I don't give a shit about video or MMS or cameraphones, and I'm unlikely to EVER buy those services- so just sell me a GOOD PHONE. And NO, I don't want a large phone, even if it does run Linux...

  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:10PM (#18060404)
    For low end phones it will be useful, it will also be good for devices where colour isn't really needed.

    Like a book, you mean?

    The idea of e-ink isn't that it's b&w, but it's very low-power -- you only need to use electricity to update the screen, and after that whatever's "written" on the "page" is permanent until it's updated again. Very useful for e-book readers, not very useful for phones or much of anything else.
  • by lucyfersam ( 68224 ) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:21PM (#18061262)
    The reason none of these rollable devices have been brought to market yet is not the E-ink display, their grey scale display is quite good, and already used in consumer products (the Sony E-reader for example). The problem is the flexible back plane needed to drive the display. Currently, every system demonstrated including the Readius uses organic polymers for the drivers, which have a shelf life of a couple of days if you're lucky. They are incredibly sensitive to moisture, and the only system so far capable of protecting them requires the deposition of many layers of transparent metal oxides, which alone cost somewhere in the range of $60/ square foot. Anytime you see news about a flexible display, look to see if they are using organic drivers, if they are and they don't explicitly address the moisture issue, the product will never reach consumers.
  • Re:Audiobooks (Score:2, Informative)

    by BigLug ( 411125 ) <<rickm> <at> <>> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @06:29PM (#18062514) Homepage

    I'm certain LibriVox [] would be happy to record some more 'educational' books .. only they only have access to works in the public domain. Everyone else seems to want to be paid for their work. Because of this, most of their books are very old. Educational works that are old enough to be in the public domain will likely teach that the sun orbits the earth :)

    If you have a source for public domain works that you'd like to hear as audio books, that's the place to submit them.

    Rick Measham
    (disclaimer: I'm a volunteer reader for LibriVox)

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll