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Hanvon to Unveil First Colour E Ink Reader

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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

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