Silly Rabbit! Like Trix, color e-readers are for kids
Laws of physics keep saturated e-paper color from grown-ups
CES 2013 If you're expecting rich, vibrant colors on your next ebook reader, you're going to be disappointed – the laws of physics are against you.
"Somebody like the National Geographic is still not going to be happy with our product," Sriram Peruvemba, chief marketing officer of E Ink, the company that creates the e-paper displays for such devices as the Amazon Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and others, told The Reg at CES 2013.
"It's a physics challenge," Peruvemba told us. "Basically we need a lot of light going into the system." The reason for this is that to produce a color image, a color filter is put on top of each monochrome e-ink pixels, which reduces the amount of light going into the display that can be reflected back for your viewing pleasure.
E-ink displays have a pair of big advantages over backlit LCD and self-lit AMOLED displays, namely extremely low power needs and readability in sunlight. Unfortunately, Peruvemba said, "When you wanted to keep all those features and add color to it, it was a challenge."
That's not to say that E Ink hasn't produced a color e-reader display. Their 4096-color Triton Imaging Film has been adopted by OEM customers in China, Russia, and elsewhere, and is currently being used in educational settings.
What's more, the company recently upgraded their Triton displays. "Essentially we wanted to make the color contrast better," Peruvemba told us. "We've achieved enough color saturation for children's books and things like that." But not for the National Geographic.
Still and all, providing children with a thousand books on a good-enough-for-kids color e-reader that can be used for a month on one charge, Peruvemba opines, ain't chopped liver. "I woudn't even call it an e-reader," he said. "I'd call it a library."
He also noted that e-readers with his color displays are being used in educational settings in developing countries, where children often read outdoors. "Outdoors our color looks better because there's more light shining into it," he said.
Although you may not find magazine-quality color e-paper displays on your next e-reader, you may run into them elsewhere – and not just in your kid's e-reader "library". E Ink is working on advertising-oriented displays that may soon appear on a billboard near you.
"If we increase the size of the pixel," Peruvemba said, "the color saturation improves to the point where it looks almost as good as LCD." So good, he claims, that "If you're at least 15 feet away, it looks gorgeous."
But that gorgeousness won't scale down to color e-reader size in the forseeable future – "not anytime soon," as Peruvemba put it. Nor are there any US OEMs currently working with E Ink to bring a color e-reader to market – or, more precisely, none that have been publically announced.
"If I told you who we were talking with," he told us on the CES ShowStoppers exhibition floor, "next year you would be here, but I wouldn't." ®
Re: @GW -- P.S.
Remember to tell him how to change the stored image on a Kodachrome slide using electronic methods.
> analog technology
It has nothing to do with "analog".
You could call it "bulk technology" or "undifferentiated chemical processing", but certainly not "analog".
Dividing technology into "analog and digital" is like dividing the world into "blue objects" and "green objects".
Completely the wrong end of the stick
I don't know what article you lot were reading, but it sure sounds different to the one I read. He wasn't making excuses, he was saying ... we've made a colour display, but it's not that great for up close quality viewing, we're trying to make a better one but it's a bit tricky, we need to try harder.
Nice to see some one being honest for once.
As to you other idiots, if you think it's that easy go do it yourselves....
But good enough for *occaisional* use?
After all the Windows UI guidelines required 16 colours to work.
This is good for 4096 (4 bits of each color) at 12fps (which Plastic Logic demonstrated) of video.
So you've the ability for a friend to throw you a youtube video of some gory mishap and it's good enough to store for up load to your main machine.
Seriously how many people want to run blender or Autocad on their phone to generate content?
Apple built a product line on stuff that cannot do that either.
So occasional use for quick looks of stuff should be OK. The big USP of eInk remains the huge battery life you get with it. I think people would be OK with a system that allowed instant access to media for detailed viewing later. It might knock the battery life from 1 month to 1 week.
Remind me again how long most laptops and phone run off their batteries.
It is a lame excuse
Triton is basically monochrome e-ink with some colour filters sitting on top. It's like tinting a black and white photo.
It's too bad Mirasol suffered yield issues because that tech produced far more vibrant images than Triton did.