Feeds

Fujitsu demos next-gen color e-paper

iPad lite

Reducing security risks from open source software

Fujitsu has announced its next-generation color e-paper, ushering in the possibility of lightweight color ebooks with long battery life and fast - well, tolerable - page-refresh rates.

The announcement by Fujitsu Laboratories claims that the company's new e-paper has improved the display's color quality, plus tripled its contrast and doubled the refresh speed of the first-generation technology, announced in 2005.

Fujitsu color e-paper, first generation

Fujitsu color e-paper, first generation...

Fujitsu color e-paper, second generation

...and second generation - better, but still trading vibrancy for weight and battery life.

That earlier technology found a home in Fujitsu's FLEPia ebook - or, in Fujitsuese, "mobile information terminal" - which debuted in Japan in 2007. The FLEPia weighed 385 grams (13.6 oz.), was 12.5mm (0.5 in.) thick, had a claimed battery life of 40 hours, and could display 260,000 colors on its eight-inch display.

In comparison, Amazon's monochrome e-paper Kindle with a six-inch display weighs 290gm (10.2 oz.), is a hair over 9mm (0.36 in.) thick, and has a battery life that Amazon claims to be "up to 1 week" - and that's with 3G wireless turned on.

Apple's iPad eschews the low-power, low-weight advantages of e-paper, and weighs in at a noticeably chunky 680 grams (24 oz.) for the WiFi-only version and 730 grams (26 oz.) for WiFi + 3G model. The "magical and revolutionary" Cupertinian tablet is 13.4mm (0.53 in.) thick and has a battery life of around 10 hours.

The iPad's 9.7 inch display is, of course, both color and back-lit - and a lot better looking than color e-paper. But we have found its weight makes a long stint of reading with it in hand a somewhat tiring experience - a problem not found in lightweight monochrome ebooks.

But the first-generation color e-paper Fujitsu's FLEPia met with tepid reviews when it appeared in 2009. Not only was its color rather washed out, but its page-refresh rate was turgid and its price of approximately £750 ($1,115) attracted only the most ardent early adopters.

With its new color e-paper technology, however, Fujitsu hopes to revive its color ebook prospects. (And may we suggest a more euphonious name than FLEPia, as well?) Based on cholesteric LCD technology, the new e-paper maintains the advantage of "remembering" what color to display when power isn't flowing to the LCD pixels, but improves reflectivity by 1.3 times to 33 per cent, resulting in brighter colors.

The display's contrast ratio has been increased to 7:1, which Fujitsu claims is a three-fold improvement, and page-refresh time for a 1,024-by-768 pixel display has dropped to 0.7 seconds, "roughly twice as fast" as previously.

Fujitsu plans to "commercialize" the technology later this year in the Japanese market, but provided no specific product plans. But if you happen to be in Tokyo this Thursday or Friday, you can check out the new e-paper at Fujitsu Forum 2010, and ask a friendly Fujitsu rep about when you might be able to pick up a next-generation color ebook reader.

And make sure to also ask them whether they're talking with Amazon about a color Kindle - or even with Google about Mountain View's rumored ebook plans. There's a lot more to a successful ebook than hardware - content and a content-distribution system, for example. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
Child diagnosed as allergic to iPad
Apple's fondleslab is the tablet dermatitis sufferers won't want to take
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
For Lenovo US, 8-inch Windows tablets are DEAD – long live 8-inch Windows tablets
Reports it's killing off smaller slabs are greatly exaggerated
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Seventh-gen SPARC silicon will accelerate Oracle databases
Uncle Larry's mutually-optimised stack to become clearer in August
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.