New e-paper begins chapter for color e-readers

E Ink debuts its color e-paper, known as E Ink Triton, with Chinese manufacturer Hanvon set to release its first color e-book reader next March.

E-book readers that use e-ink are getting a splash of color, courtesy of a new e-paper technology.

Hanvon's upcoming color e-reader will use new display technology from E Ink.
Hanvon's upcoming color e-reader will use new display technology from E Ink. E Ink

Display maker E Ink announced today the release of its new color e-paper, called E Ink Triton, which will offer e-book makers a way to add color to their e-ink devices. The new technology will make its debut with a color e-book reader set to be released in China next March by Chinese e-reader vendor Hanvon, an E Ink representative told CNET.

"E Ink Triton marks a major milestone in the e-book revolution," Hanvon's Chairman Liu Yingjian said in a statement. "E Ink has the right technology, manufacturing capability, and know-how to transition Hanvon's product vision into reality. With E Ink Triton technology, Hanvon is enabled to release the world's first [e-ink-reliant] color e-book reader today."

The new e-paper is being geared to show off a variety of applications and content, including charts, graphs, maps, photos, comics and, of course, advertisements. Screens using the new Triton e-ink can display thousands of colors, as well as 16 levels of gray scale, according to E Ink. The text and color graphics are also designed to be fully viewable in direct sunlight and are maintained on the screen, even when the device power is turned off.

E Ink is touting the speed of its new electronic paper, claiming that displays made with Triton can perform up to 20 percent faster than ones made with older e-ink technology.

"E Ink Triton is a response to market need for a color ePaper display that mimics the printed paper experience," E Ink Chairman Scott Liu said in a statment. "Triton will compliment our monochrome product line to enable new markets."

Offering Wi-Fi and 3G connections, the Hanvon color e-reader will sell in China for a starting price of around $440, according to The New York Times. Liu said that selling the device in the U.S. was a possibility as well.

Other e-reader vendors have been splashing into the color market. In August, Pandigital launched its 7-inch color e-reader, the Pandigital Novel, sporting a price tag of $170 to $180. But the Novel has been hit by a number of negative reviews, many citing its poor screen quality.

Barnes & Noble also recently unveiled a color version of its Nook e-reader. But unlike its black-and-white counterpart, the color Nook uses an LCD display, which some people find less friendly on the eyes than an e-ink display. Liquid crystal display technology, also used by the Apple iPad, typically chews up more battery life and is harder to read in direct sunlight.

The new color E Ink display has some limitations of its own, according to the Times. The colors tend to be more muted, almost like those of a faded color photo. And although E Ink touted the speed of its new technology, the display can't handle full-motion video, the Times said.

Featured Video

Tim Cook's blurry iPhone picture takes world by storm

What is the iPhone 6's "Error 53"? The new Apple tvOS brings new features and Tim Cook takes bad pictures.

by Brian Tong