Feeds

Multi-colour e-ink to splash down in six months?

Red and yellow and pink and glee (eventually)

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Electronic ink is going colour - but you should probably wait a bit for your rainbow-friendly e-reader.

A year ago we looked at e-ink technologies, and suggested it would be 2011 before we saw colour e-ink devices on the shelves. On this occasion it seems we got it about right; though if you can wait until the latter part of the year, and are prepared to pay for it, then you'll get video as well, as e-ink and traditional technologies get closer together in good ways and bad.

On Tuesday E-Ink Corporation demonstrated its Triton colour screen technology, as well as announcing the first device to use it - from Hanvon and priced at around $440 for a 10-inch colour screen that only consumes power while its being updated. But Qualcomm would have us wait until January for the first product using its own technology, despite demonstrating it more than a year ago.

E-ink screens rely on reflected light, so work better in bright sunlight than under the covers; most of them can't be back-lit even if it were desirable, so a reading lamp is essential. They are also static - once an image is displayed it remains, as opposed to the constantly-updating LCD or CRT technology that can make even modern screens uncomfortable to use for long periods.

For an electronic ink technology, the most important factor is how much light the screen can reflect, or absorb on the black bits, and even modern electronic ink tends to be grey-and-slightly-darker-grey rather than black-and-white. The speed with which the screen can update is also important for usability, and overly-reflective glass can affect the users' experience too, but it is colour that everyone has been waiting for.

E-ink isn't just a technology, it's also the name of the E-Ink Corporation. Their greyscale screens already adorn e-book readers from just about everyone.

The latest incarnation, the E Ink Pearl, can be seen offering much better contrast in Amazon's Kindle 3, as well as Sony's latest generation of readers, though it still works on the same principle as earlier designs: tiny beads that are raised or lowered within a pixel to make white or black dots (or slightly raised to make grey):

e-ink_corporation

The beads are suspended in goo, driven to the top by an electrostatic charge

Adding colour to that process is difficult, but can be done by putting different coloured filters on top of adjacent pixels. Make the pixels small enough and the human eye will blur them together to make colours defined by the relative brightness of the sub-pixels, which is what the E Ink Corporation's latest "Triton" screen that was demonstrated last week does:

Sub-pixels of the Triton screen

The pixels are so small that they blur together

Obviously this reduces one's resolution by four, but that might be an acceptable price to pay for colour, which is hard to achieve any other way.

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.