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E Ink Demos Clearer, Rugged Next Gen eBook Reader Displays

Gordon Kelly

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E Ink had been the talk of the tech industry until the iPad came along and made everyone think they could read books on high contrast LCD screens once more (hint: you can't). Perhaps this will again get eyes focused in the right direction...

E Ink's Sriram Peruvemba has been showing off the company's next generation technology and the emphases is on not just improving image quality, but also making the displays far more durable.

In the first instance this means a highly welcome (and somewhat overdue) move away from the standard 16 shade grayscale, 7:1 contrast ratio, 0.74 second refresh rates seen on all current E Ink devices with a sizeable leap up to 12:1 contrast ratios and refresh rates fast enough to carry basic animations. Say goodbye to those laggy page turns.

"We are approaching paper-like quality now," said Peruvemba in an interview with bloggers Red Ferret. "It looks superb outdoors, that's the beauty of this technology," he added. "The more light the better, unlike an LCD... which always loses when it fights with the sun." {nice dig sir}

In addition, next gen E Ink displays will also be slightly flexible meaning they can better absorb blunt impacts - as shown in the video directly above. Try doing that to your average LCD screen! Battery life will be "around the same" as current E Ink displays meaning hundreds of page turns from a single charge.

Availability? Peruvemba said the screens will ship to partners by Q4 and while he expects some products to debut in time for Christmas, the bulk should be arriving next year.

Get those readers under £150 and I'm sold...

In related news The LA Times reports that experts have found reading on LCD screens can cause insomnia "because direct exposure to such abnormal light sources inhibits the body's secretion of melatonin... Melatonin signals are sent through the brain as a response to darkness, telling the body to prepare to shut down for the night." This is essentially the same effect as when you watch TV late at night.

By contrast an E Ink display "is easier on the eyes than the screen on a computer (tablet or otherwise)." So once again for the cheap seats: don't read books on an LCD screen!

Links:

E Ink

Red Ferret

Stelph

April 26, 2010, 1:39 pm

Looks good, especially now that animations are working well! It really does seem that eventually e-ink will completely replace LCD in the portable sector (especially if they keep getting the refresh rates up and manage to do colour and touchscreen versions)





Now if these researchers could bring out this fast book scanner:





http://www.physorg.com/news188...





or if someone could bring out a better system for e-books then I would be sold on the idea. At the moment it just seems that prices are just too high for ebooks to be of any value to me over a normal book.





What would be nice would be if there was a "library" for e-books, so that you could go a rent a book for a set amount of time (quite easy to do with an electronic copy), which could be subserdised with a monthly cost and/or advertising, plus with the option to buy the book at the end (as I do sometimes when I really enjoy a book in the library)

benhar

April 26, 2010, 2:17 pm

The LA Times article you refer to does not actually support your view that it is a bad idea to read books on LCD screens. The article specifically refers to reading immediately before you go to bed, and also references another article in the Wall Street Journal, which quotes a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford Medical School as saying that "neither {LCD or E Ink} technology offers inherent advantages. Reading with both kinds of screen could cause eyestrain because it has relatively little to do with the function of the eye... Eyestrain is caused by placing too much stress on the brain and body by doing one thing for too long. The only solution for eyestrain is taking more regular breaks." Speaking personally, I have read numerous academic articles in PDF and other formats on the LCD screen of my mobile (HTC TouchPro2) without any problems.

John Wards

April 26, 2010, 2:22 pm

Get the device under £150 and get the Library services signed up and I am yours forever. Contrast is so much better and those animations look great.

Gordon394

April 26, 2010, 4:04 pm

@benhar - I'd suggest scientific evidence showing reading from LCD screens can stop you getting to sleep is just another reason why it is bad to read from them. I'm glad you're ok with academic articles, but I certainly couldn't recommend anyone to expose themselves to prolonged reading from an LCD.

StephenW

April 27, 2010, 5:55 pm

I must agree with Gordon. I'm a classics student and have had to read a fair amount on LCD. I'm careful with brightness/contrast...but now I've got an e-ink screen (Sony PRS-600) I wouldn't go back. I look forward to new generations with larger screen sizes, better contrast and better display options for PDF files with quicker load times for larger documents...but I value my eyes too much to wait.

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