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Hanvon to Unveil First Colour E Ink Reader

David Gilbert


First Colour E-Ink eBook Reader Announced Tomorrow

With all the furore surrounding the impending tablet wars in the coming year, e-readers seem to have taken a back seat lately – until now that is.

Ever since the first e-reader emerged from the digital ooze in the mid part of the last decade, advances have been slow with current models looking a lot like their original counterparts. That is set to change tomorrow however with Chinese company, Hanvon Technologies, set to unveil the world’s first e-reader with colour E Ink technology.

To create the colour image, E Ink uses its standard black-and-white display overlaid with a color filter. As a result, battery life is the same as its black-and-white cousins, measured in weeks rather than hours. We all know the iPad can operate as an e-reader and has a colour display, but unless you can speed read War and Peace in a couple of hours, you will need to recharge the device several times to get through any book.

The iPad and the recently announced colour version of the Barnes and Noble Nook, both have LCD displays while the er-eader from Hanvon will have an E Ink display. E Ink screens have two advantages over LCD – they use far less battery power and they are readable in the glare of direct sunlight.

On the negative side, E Ink displays are not as sharp as LCD and E Ink cannot handle full-motion video – at best, it can show simple animations. It is for this reason that Amazon, makers of the Kindle and Sony, makers of market-leading Reader-series are not jumping on the colour, E Ink-display bandwagon just yet.

Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading business division told the New York Times: “On a list of things that people want in e-readers, colour always comes up. There’s no question that colour is extremely logical. But it has to be vibrant colour. We’re not willing to give up the true black-and-white reading experience.”

Though almost completely unknown in the US or Europe, Hanvon is the largest seller of e-readers in China with a 78 per cent share of the Chinese market. The first 9.68in colour e-reader from them will be available in March at a cost of $440 in China ($150 less than the iPad) and will come with WiFi and 3G as standard. They have indicated they may offer the device for sale in the US and Europe as well.

Source: New York Times


November 8, 2010, 6:34 pm

Obviously it's early days, but at last an e-reader that I will seriously look at. Colour opens up so many possibilities for guide books, travel, history, & many academic subjects; good news I reckon!

Shi An De

November 8, 2010, 7:05 pm

Agreed. My wife & I are seriously considering an Amazon Kindle, but it won't stop me from buying magazines or newspapers because of the lack of colour. Something like this, with a subscription to e-versions of the magazines, etc we read, would be fantastic.

David Gilbert

November 8, 2010, 9:37 pm

@Shi An De @mark the potential for cook books, magazines and guide books would be huge. I think the technology is obviously only in the early stages but it definitely has potential.

I also think people will hold off until the more mainstream manufacturers (Amazon, Sony) get behind the colour devices which in turn will drive up the amount of content available which takes advantage of the colour.


November 9, 2010, 12:57 am

The few times I've read magazines on the Kindle, it's not the lack of colour that's put me off, but the badly scanned photos and charts coupled with the lack of magazine-like layout. That's just laziness by the publishers - the Kindle has a very high resolution screen that can show many shades of grey.

Look at the Kindle screen savers to see what could be done if publishers cared enough.


November 9, 2010, 10:49 am

Nook Color is better for $249. The Nook Color will not run apps straight out of the Android Market, but that does not mean it cannot run them. In fact, they have done a lot of tests on apps from standard Android smartphones and they pretty much run on Nook Color, which has Android 2.1 under the hood. (The Nook native interface and apps are just standard Android application layers.) Barnes & Noble special Nook SDK runs on top of the standard Android one and gives developers access to exclusive extensions and APIs for the Nook and its interface. So porting Android apps is not difficult. B&N says it is more like optimising them for Nook than porting them. Nook Color screen is supposed to be better (less reflective) for reading than iPad thanks to new LG screen with anti-reflection coating. It allows to watch videos, listen to the music, view Office documents and PDF's. If you prefer e-Ink screen, the original Nook is still available from BN.


November 9, 2010, 1:11 pm

Glad to see a colour e-reader finally arrive, though I will be reserving judgement to see the quality of the colour and general responsiveness of the screen which is still my biggest bugbear with e-ink. I, for one, am still somewhat underwhelmed with all e-reader and tablet devices to date, although the pricing of Kindle does, I must admit, tempt me. So for now, I will hold out until I can get a machine as follows:

- The usability of an iPad

- The battery life of e-ink readers

- Colour & B&W

- The form-factor of the Plastic Logic Que (boy, was I disappointed when this was cancelled!)

- The responsiveness of LCD

- The inclusion on 3G, Wifi, SD/microSD, Bluetooth (or their next generations)

- The price of a Kindle

I guess I'll be waiting for a while, though the much anticipated Notion Ink Adam will probably get me to put my hand in my pocket sooner - if it lives up to its potential, it will be the nearest we are likely to get for a year or two


November 10, 2010, 7:47 pm

@hereone, I take your point about the Nook Colour but I think I am right in saying that (certainly at present) you only get books for it in the States; does that look right or can you get them in the UK?

Mind, as mentioned earlier it is early days, but I do think things are at last moving in the right direction.

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