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E Ink Unveils Color E-Reader Display 164

Kensai7 writes with news that E Ink, the company who builds the displays used in Amazon's Kindle, Barnes and Noble's Nook, and Sony's Reader, has launched a color version of their e-reader screens. It will first be used by a Chinese company called Hanvon Technology. Other companies will be watching and evaluating how well it works before integrating it into their own designs. Quoting: "Unlike an LCD screen, the colors are muted, as if one were looking at a faded color photograph. In addition, E Ink cannot handle full-motion video. At best, it can show simple animations. These are reasons Amazon, Sony and the other major e-reader makers are not yet embracing it. Amazon says it will offer color E Ink when it is ready; the company sees color as useful in cookbooks and children’s books, and it offers these books in color through its Kindle application for LCD devices. Sony is also taking a wait-and-see approach."
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E Ink Unveils Color E-Reader Display

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  • Magazines (Score:4, Informative)

    by Quantus347 ( 1220456 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:56PM (#34165998)
    It says the big US companies are waiting to see whether it will be useful for cookbooks and children's books, but wouldn't the color aspect of it have an immediate market with the magazines and periodicals that those same companies are pushing so hard to distribute on their devices?
  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:12PM (#34166238)

    The quality of the colour is why they're not using it yet. Black and white e-ink is significantly better than the original versions of the product. Only in the last generation or two has it approached print quality in terms of contrast ratio. Undoubtedly, the same will be true of colour e-ink for a while. Presumably, Amazon and others will wait for a generation or two for the technology to improve sufficiently.

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:14PM (#34166252)

    The article is not currently behind a pay-wall, and does not currently require registration. But then, you knew that, because you only complained about this after trying to access the article, right?

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:34PM (#34166528) Journal

    How is the contrast ratio on a recent one?

    For "Pearl" displays (which is what the recently released Kindle 3 and Kindle DX Graphite use), the claimed contrast ratio is 10:1. For paper, it all depends on the quality of both paper and print, but I've seen numbers for books (which are higher than newspapers and the like) which go from 1:10 to 1:15.

    Neither Sony nor B&N use the new screens yet. For the older stuff, the contrast is 1:7, IIRC.

    Either way until ebooks cost less than paperbacks I am not interested.

    They usually cost about twice as cheap on Amazon store - at least those few titles which I've bought there.

    That said, you'll need to buy quite a lot to cover for the price of the reader. Right now it's still expensive, so it's all down to whether you are willing to pay for the convenience of having your entire library with you, and a screen which can be read for hours without tiring the eye (any more so than a paper book).

  • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:48PM (#34166762) Homepage
    As far as I know, newer sony readers (PRS-350 and 650) do use pearl displays.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:50PM (#34169454)

    Whoever wrote this article is an idiot. "E-Ink" is a high-contrast, bistable liquid crystal display. Please refer to an active-matrix TFT as such. There are many types of LCDs, all with different properties.

    I'm afraid if anyone is being an idiot, you're it. The "LC" in LCD refers to a family of substances which are completely absent in E-Ink displays, because E-Ink displays use fundamentally different principles of operation.

    LCDs are planar sandwiches of electrode arrays, polarization filters, and LC material (and, in the case of color LCDs, color filters). LCD pixels are tunable light filters: by manipulating the electric field passing through LC material, it's possible to twist the polarization of the light in a controllable way. Combine with known fixed polarizers between the light source and LC material and the LC material and your eye, and you get a controllable intensity filter.

    E-Ink displays use microcapsules filled with charged ink particles suspended in a fluid. Positively charged particles are one color (say, white) and negative the other (black). By applying an electric field one can attract/repel the particles such that the top surface of the e-ink display facing the user has either white or black ink.

    The main similarity between the two is the use of electric fields to control the pixels. Aside from that, everything else is different. E-ink is purely a reflective technology and does not use liquid crystal material at all. LCD is a controlled polarization technology using LC material.

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